Sen. Barack Obama called into sports radio 610 WIP this morning, charming the usually rambuctious morning talk show hosts and winning their endorsements.
"People are really swept up [by this candidate]," said host Al Morganti. "It's almost like teenaged girls at a concert. It's goofy"
Before Obama's interview even began at 8 a.m., jocks Angelo Cataldi and Morganti greeted the Democratic presidential hopeful with a scatted, and offkey, rendition of "Hail to the Chief."
Obama's five-minute appearance didn't even touch on sports. The hosts, both entralled by the candidate's charisma, addressed him as if he were a rock star. It was more love fest than Meet The Press.
Both Obama and Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, are using the radio to connect with potential voters. Clinton was a guest on Chris Booker's Q102 morning show March 11.
Obama this morning sounded relaxed as he hit Cataldi and Co.'s softball questions out of the proverbial ballpark.
"Why should we elect you?" Cataldi said.
"I think we're at a moment in our history where we need to break from the past in a fundamental way," Obama replied.
The legislator from Illinois repeated his campaign's constant refrain, that culture and policies of the Federal government must change.
Obama lambasted Washington lobbyists, expressed sympathy for citizens losing their homes to mortgage foreclosure, and offered sympathy for families with loved ones deployed to Iraq.
He threw a counter-punch at opponent Hillary Clinton, whose 3 a.m. phone call commercial questioned his length on experience and cast doubts on his ability to serve as Commander in Chief.
"I have 20 years of experience," said Obama. "Hillary talks about experience, but she's really only had 8 years in the Senate.
"I was in the [Illinois] state senate for eight years before being elected to the U.S. Senate," he said. "Its not a question of how long you've been in Washington, but the kind of judgment you bring to bear on the problems that we face."
Though obviously smarting from Clinton's campaign ad, he had warm words for his opponent.
"She's a very smart lady. People feel they know her," he said. "People respect her intelligence."
The hosts asked Obama about his speech at the Constitution Center.
They zeroed in on comments he made about his white grandmother and her racial phobias.
"The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity," he said. "But she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know. . .there's a reaction in her that doesn't go away and it comes out in the wrong way."
"What makes me optimistic is that every generation is feeling less like that," Obama said.
They asked how being the first African-American to hold the nation's top job would affect his ability to govern.
Obama said he'd have bigger concerns than that if he occupied the Oval Office: health care, rising college tuitions, and bringing troops home from Iraq.
"But wouldn't that empower our enemies," one host asked.
"We've empowered our enemies by going into Iraq," Obama said. "Bin Laden is still at large.
"We've spent more money on this war than any war in our history and there's no end in sight. It has strained alliances and fanned anti-American sentiments."
Swept up by Obama's words, the hosts bid him goodbye.
"If there's anything we can do to help you carry Pennsylvania, let us know," said one jock.
Said Obama: "Maybe I can stop by the studio some time." "Could you stop by after you're President?" one responded.