A perfect Friday moment: As Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton head to Oregon to woo voters, they are also wooing a new local press corps, showering time and attention on local reporters and editors. The Oregonian gets its turn, as do daily papers in Eugene, Salem and other significant locals. But when a candidate gets to some of the smaller outlets, the questions can get downright weird.
In perhaps the strangest interview front-running Obama has ever had to go through, Willamette Week, an alternative weekly in Portland, hit on the key issues important to voters in the City of Roses. Obama told the interviewer he would stop federal agents' raids on Oregon's medical marijuana farms and he would negotiate with counties affected by a wounded timber industry.
Obama had nice things to say about the state's Republican Senator, Gordon Smith, who could face a tough battle for re-election this year. But the candidate stayed on message: "I think Gordon Smith's problem is that he rarely breaks away from George Bush and the Republican agenda that I think has done this country great damage," Obama said. "But personally I think he's a perfectly decent person." Obama professed to have no opinion on the race's Democratic primary.
To finish, the paper put the really tough question to Obama: What kind of tattoo would he have? Take a look at the transcript:
Willamette Week: If you had a tattoo, what would it be and where would you put it?
Barack Obama: Uh, I cannot imagine any circumstances in which I would get a tattoo.
W.W.: If you were under duress.
B.O.: If a gun was put to my head?
B.O.: Then I suppose I'd have to have [his wife] Michelle's name tattooed somewhere very discreet.
Funny enough, in the twenty minutes the paper got with Clinton, early in April, she too indicated she would only get a tattoo under duress. "If I was under duress? Gosh, I have been asked millions of questions, and no one has ever asked me that. I have so little interest in having a tattoo, that I just am going to have to ponder this," Clinton said. "It can be really, really small, right? I think it would be really, really small, like under a microscope, and it would say 'love.'" Clinton declined to say where her body art would be featured.
We wonder if either candidate has seriously thought about a plan to fight what must apparently be the rampant rash of vicious gangs marauding through American streets putting guns to people's heads and forcing them to get tattoos.