January 2nd, 2008 | Uncategorized

Pancakes and politics in Centerville

CENTERVILLE, Iowa, 7:58 a.m. – We finally saw one of the candidates this morning. But it wasn’t in any large auditorium; it was in the intimate confines of an Iowan family home.

Edwards goes to a pancake breakfast, and refuses pancakes

We had heard that John Edwards would be visiting Centerville for a pancake breakfast at 5:15 a.m. this morning. After grudgingly awakening in the wee hours of the morning and departing our hotel with no idea of what we would see, we were startled when we pulled into a residential area and realized that the event would be hosted in a home rather than a public place.

The street was lined with cars; we parked a few blocks down and rushed inside, picking up a John Edwards sign from a young man standing outside. Coming in from the early morning cold, we were greeted by warm smiles and delicious food. The Kurys, along with almost fifty Centerville residents and some members of the national media outfitted with cameras and large boom microphones, crowded inside the home for a chance to see the Democratic nominee. We were taken aback by the whole scenario, but we were warmly welcomed and quickly struck up a conversation with a family friend of the Kurys.

We staked out a spot in the dining room, where the breakfast spread was located. After enjoying some ham and eggs and fresh-baked cinnamon buns, we heard a great cheer in the family room. Our man had arrived! Edwards squeezed into the crowded dining room and then gave a short speech in which he thanked the Centerville community for its support. He stressed the momentum of his campaign, but reiterated that his success still relied on the involvement of the community. “We need all of you, every step of the way,” he charged, challenging the Iowans to get their friends and neighbors to come out to caucus.

The most intense moment came when Edwards was herded into a chair for an interview with Good Morning America. We couldn’t hear the person that was doing the questioning, since he was not on location. We waited in hushed silence for Edwards’s responses, which were calculated and predictable.

But as soon as the interview completed, Edwards jumped up and yelled “Are we having fun now?” The room burst into cheers.

Unfortunately, Edwards had to leave shortly afterwards – he never did have any of the pancakes he had been invited to eat. Shaking hands that stuck out around him, he thanked everyone for their hospitality and then dipped out the door. Chris and I were unable to reach him, but Matt, who had been stalking outside with his camera, ran into Edwards as he was leaving and got the pleasure of shaking his hand.

I had never before seen a community gather together in someone’s home like this, and I got the impression that the Centerville residents grasped the monumental responsibility and privilege they were given in leading the country in this great decision.

This morning, I really felt the democratic spirit.

- Ryan Galisewski