However, these young women were not the only people to have been excluded from Obama's campaign pictures. Apparently, Bat Boy, that legendary figure of Weekly World News fame has also been politely told by Obama staffers, that while his support of Obama is welcome, and in fact, desired, that Bat Boy should not be featured in pictures with Obama because their appearing together could hurt Obama's chances for victory.
In a recent interview, Bat Boy shared his feelings about being excluded from Obama's campaign events. The story follows.
Bat Boy was barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent him from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.
The campaign has apologized to Bat Boy, but he feels betrayed by his treatment at the rally.
“This is of course not the policy of the campaign. It is offensive and counter to Obama’s commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “We sincerely apologize for the behavior of these volunteers.”
Building a human backdrop to a political candidate, a set of faces to appear on television and in photographs, is always a delicate exercise in demographics and political correctness. Advance staffers typically pick supporters out of a crowd to reflect the candidate’s message.
When Obama won the North Carolina primary amid questions about his ability to connect with white voters, for instance, he stood in front of a group of middle-aged white women waving small American flags.
On the Republican side, a Hispanic New Hampshire Democrat, Roberto Fuentes, told Politico that he was recently asked, and declined, to contribute to the “diversity” of the crowd behind Sen. John McCain at a Nashua event.
But for Obama, the old-fashioned image-making contrasts with his promise to transcend identity politics and to embrace all elements of America.
“I was coming to support him, and I felt like I was discriminated against by the very person who was supposed to be bringing this change, who I could really relate to,” said Bat Boy. “The message that I thought was delivered to us was that they do not want him associated with me or with other supporters who are 'different'"
In Detroit on Monday, two different Obama volunteers — in separate incidents — made it clear that Bat Boy wouldn’t be in the picture. The volunteers gave different explanations for excluding him, one bluntly political and the other less clear.
That incident began when the volunteer asked one of Bat Boy's friends if he would like to sit behind the stage. The young man said he would but mentioned he had a friend.
The men said the volunteer, a 20-something African-American woman in a green shirt, asked if his friend looked and was dressed like the young man.
The friend said no.
The volunteer “explained to me that because of the political climate and what’s going on in the world, it’s not good for Bat Boy to be seen on TV or associated with Obama.”
Bat Boy's friend, said: “I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Are you serious?’”
Bat Boy, felt “disappointed, angry and let down,” he later wrote.
Bat Boy was “let down that the Obama campaign continuously perpetuates this attitude towards those who are different — as if being merely associated [with] someone like me is a sin.”
Bat Boy's friend was “shocked” by the contrast between Obama’s message and their experience.
Bat Boy complained to the campaign, and after those complaints and an inquiry from Politico, Obama’s director of advance, Emmett S. Beliveau, called him to apologize.
An Obama aide also noted that the campaign has no policy against the candidate’s appearing with Bat Boy.
Bat Boy said he was glad Obama had apologized, but he was not entirely satisfied.
“I think this is a much bigger deal than maybe they’re perceiving it as,” he said, noting that Obama had placed a personal call to a television reporter he’d dismissively called “Sweetie.”
“An apology from him personally would be better,” Bat Boy said, then reconsidered. “If they are true to their word, I think it would suffice to have an invitation to their next rally and have seats behind him and show up on TV.”