May 21, 2004

Ryan aide shadows Obama at every step 

posted by Paul Smith @ 9:35 AM
I find this embarrassing for the Ryan campaign
Like most elected officials in Springfield, Obama is out in the open as he mixes with the public and wades through crowds on his way to and from legislative hearings, rallies and debates in the House and Senate chambers. Right behind him virtually every moment is Justin Warfel, the 24-year-old Ryan staffer who is documenting virtually every move Obama makes.

"The young man who has been following me down here is literally a foot away," Obama said. "So I can't have a call. If I'm calling my wife on the phone, he's got a tape recorder in my face."

It is common for political candidates to dispatch aides to monitor campaign activities of opponents. Many also make use of researchers who pore over the private lives and public records of rivals, looking for flaws to exploit.

But Warfel's up-close-and-personal shadowing of Obama appears to step it up a notch.

An aide to Obama said Warfel went so far Thursday as to interrupt Obama while he was talking to constituents and "heckle him a little bit."
Ostensibly, the Ryan campaign is saying that they're only monitoring Barack to make sure he has a "consistent" message, but what they're actually doing is just gotcha politics, or rather trying to create a gotcha moment, upset or provoke the Senator, try to catch him in a slip and yell "Aha!" This is just degrading behavior, unworthly of a campaign for the nation's highest deliberative body. The Ryan campaign clearly knows what trouble it's in, desparately hoping for the notoriously cool-and-collected Obama to make a mistake, in effect acknowledging that they can't go head-to-head on the issues and character. And so what if he does slip? What does that prove? How are you going to spin it, Ryan folks? Will you be proud of yourselves then? In a hard, months-long race, anybody is going to display moments of human frailty. Then again, perhaps Barack should get used to this, as a political celebrity there are bound to be the fair share of paparazzi and gawkers.

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