A crowd of about 70 people gathered in the shaded backyard of a Des Moines home this morning, waiting for President Obama to appear.
Katie McKenzie lives a couple of blocks away and is among the invited crowd. “What I love is that it’s a neighborhood event. It is just, you know, your average Joe and Jane from the neighborhood coming in, getting to hear, getting to speak,” she says. “It’s not a political event. It’s just a conversation and so I think that’s an incredible opportunity.”
McKenzie expects to do a lot of listening.”And if I have an opportunity for a question that’s well-placed and timely and coherent, then I have a question prepared,” she says.
Dave Naughton lives up the street and got a call from his neighbor, Jeff Clubb, late last week. Clubb and his wife are hosting the event in their backyard. “I actually thought Jeff was joking with me, to be honest,” Naughton says. “But then when we talked about it, I was honored to be asked.”
Naughton did some homework for the event. “You know, I’m a listener. I’ve been thinking about maybe some of the possible questions I would ask if I had the opportunity,” Naughton says. “I have three daughters and I asked them what they would like to ask and some of the people that I work with..I told them I was going to get to meet the president today and I asked them if they had any pertinent questions.”
One of Naughton’s daughters is a studnet in the homeowner’s social studies class at the nearby Holy Trinity Catholic School. The local Catholic bishop is among the invited guests, as is the president of Drake University. Sandy Hatfield-Clubb, the co-host of this event, is Drake’s athletic director.