Opinion: Ticket pool report: Barack Obama visits N.C. BBQ where not all is friendly


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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- The Cape Fear BBQ and Chicken Restaurant. Some powerful and at times ugly interaction today.

12:33 p.m. Sen. Barack Obama entered the barbecue joint where an older and majority white clientele of dozens was eating lunch after church services. At the other end of the restaurant, Diane Fanning, 54, who works at a discount club, began yelling: “Socialist, socialist, socialist -– get out of here!”


There was a lot of noise and excitement and positive reception as well and it was unclear whether Obama heard her.

The gentleman next to Fanning, Lenox Bramble, 76, flashed an angry look at her. “Be civil, be courteous,” he admonished her. Another woman, Cecilia Hayslip, 61, yelled back at Fanning (per Reuters), “At least he’s not a warmonger!”

Mr. Bramble told Reuters’ pool reporter that he wasn’t voting for Obama because he didn’t think he had enough experience. Bramble’s wife, Kit, 75, said after meeting Obama, “He was very nice” but added she’d been a conservative Republican since Barry Goldwater’s era and she wouldn’t vote for Obama.

Fanning said (after considerable public Colin Powell discussion) that she’d heard Powell had endorsed Obama but...

...that “Colin Powell is a RINO, R-I-N-O, Republican In Name Only. This is my one day off,” she muttered.

Later, Obama came to the long table where Fanning and other members of a local First Presbyterian church were gathered. He held out his hand to her to shake it and asked, “How are you, ma’am?” but she declined to shake.

He spoke at length with many of the other parishioners at the long banquet table, however, and got a much friendlier reception as he spoke about healthcare, taxes and Social Security. Fanning told the pool reporter, “Some of them are just nicer than I am. I know how some of them think.”

But several of her fellow churchgoers said their support was genuine. Betty Waylett, 76, told him, “You’re doing a great job.” She told the pool reporter she is a Republican but will vote for Obama because she likes the way he speaks and his manner.


Waylett, who is white, said Obama’s race was not a factor. “I never thought about it one way or the other.”

Pastor Randal Bremer, also at the table, said Obama told him, “Whether you vote for me or not I’ll need your prayers.” Bremer told the pool reporter, “I’m very impressed by his ability to meet people on a down-to-earth level” and that he would pray from him but that he planned to vote for John McCain, mostly because he prefers smaller government and McCain’s position on the Iraq war.

He thinks there have been important gains in Iraq and “I don’t want to see that damaged by a premature pullout.”

Bloomberg news quotes Mike Long, 33, a furniture salesman who is a first-time voter, said (per Bloomberg) that after talking with Obama about healthcare, he’d gone from less than 50% likely to vote for him to “98%” likely.

Sheila Evans, 39, who is biracial, told Obama, “I’m so proud of you.” She said Obama had chosen a restaurant frequented more by whites, while one a couple of doors down had predominantly African American diners on Sundays.

But some of the other older white diners looked surprised and slightly uncomfortable as Obama stopped at their tables to shake hands. “I’m surprised, but I’m not going to say anything else,” said diner Pat Smith who was joined by her husband.

A group of six retired women said they were mostly Democrats -– but mostly undecided about how to vote. “I have to pray about it, think about what’s best for our country,” said Dorothy Buie, one of the women.

Obama ordered some food to go for himself and aides. They ordered chicken, collard greens, baked beans, cole slaw and wings. The tab was $13.91. The visit lasted about a half hour.

--Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers

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