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home : opinion : columns April 28, 2016

2/20/2013 6:00:00 AM
Column: Close to the presidential spotlight

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

In the Daily Miner's Presidents Day edition, reporter Ahron Sherman penned an interesting story about Mohave County residents who have met or at least gazed upon the president of the United States.

As a journalist, I have met a former president, Jimmy Carter; a current president, George W. Bush; and a future president, Barack Obama.

In 2008 I was working in Elko, Nev., the nation's gold-mining center.

Nevada was considered a swing state that election cycle, and Elko County was considered a swing county. The thinking went that Nevada was key to the election and Elko was key to Nevada.

As a result, virtually every candidate from both major parties and even a few fringe candidates made a trip or two to rural and remote northeastern Nevada.

The people of Elko lean so far to the right they are almost horizontal. They like their government small and hands-off.

In the 1980s, when the federal government ordered the local hospital to ban cigarette smoking and to put up signs advising this fact, the Elko County Commission complied.

Sort of - the "no smoking" signs they installed were printed in Hebrew.

I never understood why Democrats thought the trip was worth making. They were behind enemy lines.

But come they did: Obama visited on two occasions. Hilary Clinton, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and the since-disgraced John Edwards all came to Elko.

Heck, even Dennis Kucinich's wife, Elizabeth, stopped by for a chat. She is every bit as passionate in her views as is her congressman husband, but she's much easier to look at.

On the GOP side, Sen. John McCain ¬- who would go on to win the Republican nomination and face Obama in the general election - came to Elko first.

His eventual running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, came last - the day before the election.

Other Republicans to visit were Mitt Romney and California Sen. Duncan Hunter.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul was perhaps the most popular Republican candidate - his message still resonates with Libertarians ¬- but if turnout was an accurate barometer, Obama was the main event.

Thousands came out to see him on a warm and sunny summer day.

Granted, most came from the closest big towns of Salt Lake City and Reno, but Salt Lake is 240 miles east and Reno about 300 miles west. That's a lot of driving to hear a junior senator stump on the campaign trail.

I interviewed the future president a couple of times. Floating through the Internet is a photo of the two of us, talking and looking very serious and intelligent. Of course, all you can see of me is the back of my head, which happens to be my best side.

I also enjoyed my interview with Paul. He's a surprisingly gentle man with a soft voice and kind eyes, but he's no pushover.

Mitt Romney didn't know they mine gold in Elko, a fact that disturbed me since mining reform was a big issue at the time.

But since politicians and their handlers like to control the message, nobody wanted to talk about mining. They wanted to talk about immigration and the border fence. They wanted to talk about debt and an economy that was tanking faster than Lance Armstrong's reputation.

They wanted to talk about family values, corporate welfare, foreclosures and unemployment, energy and war.

And talk they did. That entire year, hardly a week went by without a visit from a politician.

Those were heady times for Elko. And they were heady and humbling times for a reporter who found himself in the middle of one of the most historic elections in the nation's history.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
Article comment by: capt. Nice

You know a couple in Elko that are not conservative and one is a teacher....wow...what a surprise a liberal teacher.
So you are saying because two people are lib's in Elko it is not conservative? I guess that makes it so...huh?
I'm pretty sure Elko is conservative as they have ranchers and miners and people who depend on their hands for their keep not obama.

Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

How could that be, A.N. who is just ga ga over meeting Jimmy and Billy Say's George is a criminal who likes to steal fingers.
Probably of all the people A.N. supposedly has Say's he met...sure he did....out of all these so called wonderful people he met, I would have been more worried about my wallet and if in meeting Bill I would have kept my wife behind me.
You would think a person who claims to be so informed would want to meet the opposition also but evidently he wears blinders.

Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013
Article comment by: me myself and I MR.C.

[Comment deleted for excessive length.]

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

I had the good fortune to meet President Kennedy at the Embassy in Berlin in June of 1963 – that was an amazing day. The people of the city truly loved him and Jackie. Following his assassination it was almost impossible for an American to buy a meal in Berlin for nearly a week – café owners and others would pick up the tab.

Years later I spoke with President Carter for a few moments and found him to be very personable and extremely intelligence. The opportunity was presented to meet with Reagan and I passed on that one – could not stand the guy. On a trip to Quantico I met with President Clinton on the long-range where he was impressed with the abilities of Marine snipers.

Overall meeting with or being in the presence of a president is a truly amazing experience – well, not with The Criminal, I’d be inclined to count my fingers if I ever shook that hand.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: biker randy

Funny you would say Elko is conservative, for I know a couple from there that were NOT conservatives. She's a retired teacher from there and he ran a small business there.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

I met Laura and George Bush in Texas years back. They were so congenial, signed a book for me, answered a couple of questions I asked.

His speech was wonderful, not at all how the libs portrayed him later and most of the crowd were Mexican. They loved him. He spoke fluent Spanish.

He and Laura (her Aunt lived in the city we were in) donned shorts and hiked to the top of a local mountain in the middle of the city with a hundred people following behind. It was amazing what good shape they were in. I sat at the bottom with my Pall Malls and watched.

I later quit smoking for good.

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