By April, I was serving as a representative of the Obama campaign. This included giving interviews to print media reporters and doing radio and television interviews. My first major campaign event was the “Commander-in-Chief Tour” across Iowa in mid-July 2007. I joined a small team of “Obama for America” state organizers in Des Moines. Over the next week, these energetic and enthusiastic young adults nearly wore me out—we would get up early in the morning and arrive at the next hotel late. Traveling across Iowa, we had events in ten cities and stopped at many American Legion halls and other veterans’ facilities.
The taxiing V-22 Osprey stirred up a storm of sand and dust as it pulled up to the VIP terminal at Marka Air Base in Amman, Jordan on July 22, 2008. Senator Obama stepped off the rear ramp of the lead tilt-rotor Osprey. Just finishing a visit to Iraq, Senator Obama would now begin a campaign-sponsored trip that would take him to Jordan, Israel, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. I was in charge of the advance preparations and logistics for the Jordan portion of the campaign trip and I would continue on to Israel and Europe as a foreign policy advisor.
The gates had opened mid-afternoon and by 7:30 p.m., when Barack Obama addressed this enthusiastic audience, the crowd stretched at least a mile up the avenue as far as I could see toward the Brandenburg Gate.2 I had attended large campaign events in the United States, but this special evening was different. We witnessed excited people of all nationalities shouting, clapping, and chanting “Obama” as we stood on German soil. I believed this event increased the Senator’s international stature and would be a turning point in the way people in America and around the world would view our presidential candidate.
A month before the Democratic National Convention, I received a call from the campaign headquarters in Chicago, asking me to be one of the speakers at Mile High Stadium in Denver. I would be speaking on behalf of the Armed Forces. The time slot was about twenty minutes before the Senator would accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. A week later, I received a very nice letter from Governor Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, confirming my selection as a speaker. Judy and I really enjoyed Denver and our first trip to a national convention.
Approaching the time slot in the program for my speech, our group of military leaders headed down to the multistory stage with its Grecian columns and massive podium area. After Michael McDonald sang his moving rendition of “America the Beautiful,” we all filed onto stage. I was last in line and peeled off to stand behind the solitary microphone in the middle of the stage. Looking up, I saw huge Jumbotrons, each carrying my picture. In front of me, I saw the infield crowded with cheering Americans, many waving our beautiful flag. Across the stadium, I saw the large teleprompter and I began to speak with a strong, confident voice.