Barack Obama stops by Pat's, eats a sandwich, blows Catholic minds.
Over the next three hours the show hums through more guests--an Obama volunteer from Montana, state Sen. Anthony Williams from Philly's 8th District, Democratic campaign strategist Saul Shorr, special counsel to Bill Clinton Lanny Davis--all of them finding new and exciting ways to say the same thing regarding today's historic record turnout.
Rebecca Roberts' mother Cokie joins the party at Pat's, sits with the fruit of her loins and Mathieu for a segment or five just as a busload of the Catholics arrives. They triple the noise and commotion surrounding Pat's and the POTUS microphones. The buzz they produce is near deafening.
And then come the John Dougherty trucks. Goddamn John Dougherty trucks, three of them--tan, white and red--each canvassing Pat's, circling every few minutes, the bullhorns atop them blaring a prerecorded message: "TODAY IS ELECTION DAY. PLEASE VOTE FOR JOHN DOUGHERTY."
Roberts smiles at her producer and shrugs in a playful way that connotes, "Hey, live radio, right?" A sound engineer adjusts levels in between bites of cheese fries.
Horrible place for a live radio broadcast.
Then, a tip. POTUS '08 executive producer Cameron Gray offers with a sly grin: "Don't go anywhere, and get your camera ready."
Soon Pat's is surrounded by a caravan of SUVs and police cars. Secret Service men begin clearing a path. A river of hundreds of men bearing cameras pore around the condiment bar.
Barack and Michelle Obama step out. Catholic schoolchildren lose their fucking minds.
Tears. Screams. Pictures. Hysteria.
Soon what was a noisy-but-uneventful radio broadcast becomes the center of the universe.
Obama's so cool and collected while making the rounds, he makes Butler look schizo. He orders a "Whiz wit'" (Frommer's), and sits down to lunch with a family eating nearby, casually chatting them up while every bite of sandwich, every sip of Pepsi, is photographed by the gathering storm of news media.
After eating, he asks a member of his Secret Service team to help him up. "I'm stuffed," he says to fits of laughter from the hundreds that surround him.
He walks to the north side of Pat's, heads to the POTUS broadcast. He's not in Indiana yet. Roberts and Mathieu play it coolly, ask about the economy and what constitutes a win in Pennsylvania. (Obama's answer: "Fifty plus one.")
Obama heads back to his caravan while signing autographs. Even signs someone's cell phone.
Pat's is a terribly stupid place to broadcast a live radio show. Except, of course, when it isn't.
Letters to the Editor