Obama, Japan; McCain, North CarolinaOCTOBER 25, 2008
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More From Krissy Clark
In this, the penultimate weekend before the election (don't you love it when you can use that word?), you might be wondering what Obama and McCain are doing in their off-camera moments. That's what Weekend America's Krissy Clark was wondering. And she discovered that, oddly enough, Obama will be baking a lot of sweet bean cakes this weekend. And McCain will be eating a lot of turkey. You probably think we're talking about Barack Obama and John McCain. But we aren't.
By Obama, I mean Obama, Japan, a coastal city of 32,000, known for its ancient Shinto temples.
But, as the saying goes, geography is destiny, and that might explain why 1300 residents of Obama city have decided to throw their support behind Obama the man. They can't vote for him, but they can sing for him.
Earlier this year, locals wrote and recorded a song to celebrate the presidential candidate, and their town. Obama means "small shore" in Japanese. In the music video, which can be found on Japanese YouTube, dancers spell out O-B-A-M-A with their bodies, village-people style, on the beach. They wear funny hats, one topped with a spinning fish, and they carry hot pink maracas.
The song is called "Obama Is Beautiful World," and Seiji Fujihara knows it by heart. He is a manager at a hotel in Obama, Japan, and the founder of the citizen group "Obama for Candidate Obama."
The Obama craze started as a tourism stunt and has inspired a wave of new souvenirs: t-shirts, posters, and sweet-bean cakes, a Japanese treat, all stamped with the image of Barack Obama's face.
But Fujihara thinks his city, on an island in the Pacific, shares more than just a name with the presidential candidate from Hawaii. "Aloha spirit," he says, referring to the laid-back attitude that many Hawaiians embrace. He should know: Miss Hawaii visited Obama, Japan this summer, and told him as much.
The town of McCain, North Carolina, on the other hand, is neither laid back nor coastal. It, or what's left of it, is a prison, down the road from the country's largest turkey processing plant (so the prison cafeteria serves some kind of turkey almost every day).
McCain used to be a full-fledged village with a post office, dairy barn, and ice plant, back when it was home to a Tuberculosis sanatorium. But now the only people who live there are 360 sick and aged men locked up in the North Carolina state prison system, and, like the residents of Obama, Japan, they cannot vote.
"No, ma'am. They are inmates," explains Roman Jacobs, a recently retired corrections officer. He worked in McCain for 32 years and his daughter works there now. So who is Jacobs backing for President?
"Oh, I lean towards McCain," he says. He's a registered Democrat, so I ask him if he's partial to McCain the candidate because he worked in McCain the place for so long. "It has nothing to do with it," he assures me.
Jacobs says he likes John McCain's experience, and his stance on national security. But he also likes McCain's attitude on the campaign trail. It reminds Jacobs of his own approach as a guard at McCain prison.
"I treated people fair, firm and honest," he says. "And that's a big thing with McCain."
There is no "McCain Correctional Hospital for John McCain" support group. But Jacobs says on November 4, when the inmates sit down to their turkey dinners, they will be glued to the election coverage, just like the residents of Obama, Japan, and just like the rest of us.
- Music Bridge:
- Artist: Supersilent
- CD: 4 (Rune Grammofon)