A Conservative Republican caught in a Webb
I did not attend this event to cast political judgment on Jim Webb, nor is this a comparison piece to Sen Allen. I attended this event to meet Jim Webb the man and to watch his campaign at work. I have read a couple of his books and I am a fan of his latest book Born Fighting. While I support Sen Allen I also find good things in what Jim Webb says. With that said I will begin.
The website and email I received said the event started at 11am. This was wrong as it started at Noon. This was a big problem for me as now I would have to leave early. I arrived at 10:45 to find 2 people there. That was cool because I got to talk to folks as they entered. I will have more on that later. Lets talk about Jim Webb. He arrived at 11:55 with Kristian Denny-Todd. She spoke to me and asked if I was press and I told her I was a blogger who supported Sen Allen. She offered me a press packet and I told her I was a fan of his last book. That I would be leaving early since the mix up in starting times had me committed to be back sampling coal. She made it a point that I meet Jim Webb. I was treated with respect and she actually ushered Mr Webb to me. He introduced himself as did I. I told him I was a fan of his book and I admired his service to our country. His handshake was firm and he looked me in the eye. I like that. I am a in your face kinda guy also. I told him it was great that he kicked this off down here in SWVA. He said it was his home and that he did it for his family. That is to be admired I would say. I told him I admired his views and that he has a battle on his hands. He acknowledged my words and said he believes he can do it. I told him I worked at the mines and had to leave early and thanked him for taking time to speak with me. I also told him I support Sen Allen but that I was here to meet him with an open mind. He gripped my hand and said he appreciated that. He added that he would be back. Jim Webb is a good man. You have to admire him whether you are a republican or democrat. He speaks strong words. Will that make him a good politician? I don't know. Jim Webb is impressive.
I want to share some things I talked about with other attendees. There was one couple who had recently moved to this area from Texas. They were unfamiliar with Webb or Miller. They were dead set against the Christian right and the control over the republican party. They also were against the war in Iraq. They went on to say that they were against Vietnam. This will be a problem for Webb as he supported that effort. I also talked to Tim Carpenter from Lee county. He is active in the democratic party and works at a local prison. He said he was leaning for Miller but wanted to hear Webb speak. He was aware of the racial issues and he was inclined to support who the black leaders support. I admired Tim because he was one of the only people I met who had read a blog. He was like me and got there early. Both of the above will support a democrat no matter what. I spoke with Jim Webb's aunt and she said Jim comes down as often as he could. She said he loves to relax on the old farm. She said he does not come down as often as she would like as he is very busy and is going to get busier with all this. Here is what I observed from most everyone I spoke with. Most people did not have a clue as to who either candidate was. Most had not read Jim's books or knew his platform. They did not know he was Sec of the Navy under Reagan. This will be a problem for Webb as when that info was brought up they cringed. Before you think I was acting biased, I informed everyone I spoke with who I was and who I supported. I was amazed at their thirst for info. They asked me questions about Webb. Damn , where was his team? The bottom line is not many people here know either candidate. That leads into my next point.
This kick off event could have been better, way better. Here we have a war hero, acclaimed author, and senate candidate who kicks off this event in his home town. His campaign team and grass roots people let him down. First there was not much advance notice about this event. Get a grip bloggers, but most folks pay us no attention. The local paper had the time right but there was no mention of this in the Kingsport Times or the Bristol Herald. The mix up in starting times was a problem for me. The event was unmarked. No signs were out on the very busy Rt224. In fact the only sign was on the stage podium. A few well placed signs and grass rooters would have brought in some people. The UMWA retirees could have been contacted. Not one union hat or pin did I see. I did not see any TV crews and I doubt they were notified. The pictures I posted here show most of the crowd. My best count was 40 people including staff and family. There were remarks about that. To be honest I expected more, not from Webb, but from his staff. A few mailers and half page ad's in the big papers would have done wonders. Don't get me wrong, Ms Todd was a real lady and treated me way beyond what I expected. But as a whole I felt sorry for Webb since this is his home, his base. I feel Jim Webb would not like that I feel that way, but I do. Kilo has a heart. I know that money is a big issue but I really thought the campaign would have spent more dollars and time on this event. Again I say they let Webb down. When the people in his base don't know his platform or history that is a shame. It let me know that some of these self proclaimed wonder bloggers with their grass roots blogs are legends in their own minds. While blogging might be gaining ground in politics, it does not replace mailers and newspaper ad's. The democratic base here was not well informed. I hope I don't sound to harsh on them. Remember the Kilgore kick off? No reason this could not have been the same. I am smart enough to know that this is a primary. That it is small in the scheme of things. This primary will be won in NOVA not SWVA. But after that it will be big time. If Webb wins he will still have to establish his base here an todays showing was not good. He will need those votes from here. This is not Kilgore-Kaine. Webb and Miller are not riding Warner's wave. If I was Jim Webb my scots irish blood would be boiling tonight. I would want some answers as to why this event was not covered by the media. Why ad's were not placed and mailers sent out. Why Kilo was answering more questions than a grass roots member. I know you lefty bloggers will lash out and say this was a good crowd for many reasons. I disagree. I have seen 200 people at a pro art event or a veteran's speech at high noon during the week at Mountain Empire Community College. To borrow from Ben at NLS I will rate this event. Jim Webb gets a A because he fulfilled what he was suppose to do. The staff and organizers get a D- for bad planning and getting the word out.
I think I have been fair in this post. I tell it the way I see it. I want to thank Ms. Todd for her kindness. I also want to thank Jim Webb for taking time to speak to me. I am also getting readers who otherwise would not visit my blog- Thank you too. This is my opinion and that does not mean a lot. For those of you wondering, the Allen banners will stay up and he is still getting my vote. Never let it be said I am not open minded and fair. I plan on attending any event by any candidate in my area. This has been a learning experience for me. As I told Wise Girl, this was hard to do. There are over 1500 words here. Better coverage than you will get anywhere else. I hope all bloggers will do what I did today. Go to any event you can. Smile, show respect, and learn. You will be better for it.