Columbia families bring children to experience Obama, rally

Thursday, October 30, 2008 | 10:14 p.m. CDT; updated 9:10 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 31, 2008
Carrie Peter, 41, poses with her daughter Katrina, 6, at Sen. Barack Obama's rally at MU on Thursday. Peter said she thought it was important to bring her daughter from their home in Jefferson City to see the candidate during this historic election.

This story has been modified to correct some of the information about Lauri and McKenna Garman.

COLUMBIA — Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has aimed to break a lot of barriers, but now it's breaking bedtimes as well.

On MU's Carnahan Quadrangle, the packed crowd gathered to hear Obama speak didn't just include those of voting age, but children, too.


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Parents perched their children on shoulders or held them up over their heads to get a better view of the candidate. A man with a baby carrier on his back took advantage of the base of a lamp post while mothers cradled sleeping infants against their chests and covered them with blankets. 

As an adoptive mother of a 6-year-old child, Carrie Peter said she was keeping her daughter, Katrina, close by her side throughout a historical campaign, even keeping her up way past bedtime for a glimpse of the man she hopes will be the next president.

"I wanted her to be here to see him in person, to see for herself what all this is about and she's definitely going to go with me when I vote," said Peter a little before Obama stepped on the stage to deliver his speech.

Peter said coming to see Barack Obama's historic campaign is important partly because her adopted daughter is African American.

"Coming from a biracial family, I am excited that we might have the first biracial president of the country, but it wasn't the only deciding factor for me," Peter said.

Peter who has lived with AIDS for nearly 20 years, said sufficient health insurance is hard to get for people with her condition. She said Obama's plan would give her and others a chance at finding the coverage they need with a pre-existing condition.

Peter's mother, Myra Craney, who supported Hillary Clinton earlier in the campaign, worked since 4 p.m. with her daughter and granddaughter to help volunteers prepare for the presidential hopeful's visit.

* * *

Sisters Kristen Tarr, 11, and Stephanie Tarr, 10, sat on a bench near Cornell Hall and read books, while their parents, Marie and James Tarr, stood behind them.

"I came here from school and did my homework in the line," Kristen said. "I'm reading Frogs and French Kisses." 

Her sister Stephanie was reading A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning.  

Once the speech began, children quieted down and pressed up against the metal barriers, peering through the bars toward the stage. Some gripped the holes in the orange netting. Stares were briefly broken when costume characters Big Bird and Elmo passed through the crowd.

* * *

Earlier in the evening, the children dotted the long lines that wound around campus streets.

Columbia resident Regan Washington brought her godson D'Auntre Prince, 11, to the event because of its "educational" nature.

"I think it's going to be history in the making," Washington said. "It's a great opportunity for him to hear a great man speak."

Washington said that the late night was not a concern.

"Not for this, this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Washington said. "It's close to home, can't get any closer."

Lucretia Sheard, also of Columbia, and her 8-year-old son Tamar began waiting in line at 4: 30 p.m. 

"He was just as excited as I was, and he wanted to be a part of this so I brought him along with me," Sheard said.

Politics is a topic of discussion in the Sheard home, she said, "especially during this past year."

As a child, Sheard said she never had a chance to go to any political rallies, but she still remembers participating in her school's mock election when Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale were running on the presidential ticket.

Sheard said that the late night was a concern, but she felt it was worth it to allow Tamar to be a part of a historic event.

"I think it's showing America's making strides in a lot of different areas, this being the first African-American candidate to have made it this far in the process,"  Sheard said.

* * *

Amy Moser and her husband, Bill, brought their 5-year-old daughter Madeline to the event but decided to leave their 4 ½- and 2 ½-year-old daughters at home.

The Mosers said Madeline's interest in the election caused them to bring her along.

"She's been kind of following the election and was excited about Barack Obama," she said.

"It isn't often that you get to hear a presidential candidate speak," Amy Moser said. "It's the first time I've come to a presidential rally. In my opinion he will be the next president, and when will we get an opportunity to hear him speak again?"

But for the Hamilton family the late bedtime and long lines were a deal breaker.

Archie and Melissa Hamilton of Columbia had been considering going to the event but after walking by the massive line at about 5:45 p.m. they decided to take their children Ethan, 8, and Amelia, 15 months, home.

"We were hoping we'd be able to stay and hear Barack speak, but we didn't realize he wasn't going to speak until 10 p.m.," Archie Hamilton said.

* * *

Some children were so interested in politics that skipping the rally was not an option.

Outside Middlebush Hall, Clara Wright sat under a tree doing her homework. She and her twin sister, Ella, who are both in middle school, begged their mother, Jennice Wright, to bring them to the rally.

"I want to know what's going on," Ella said.

Jennice Wright said she decided to bring her daughters when they insisted, "We could be a part of history."

"Couldn't resist that one," she said.

Jennice and her husband, Scott, are both social studies teachers and encourage their daughters to pay attention to the election because they grew up in families that didn't talk a lot about politics. Clara and Ella watched some of the debates, even though they don't talk about politics in school yet.

Standing further down the ever-growing line was Lauri Garman and her daughter, McKenna, who skipped soccer practice to attend the rally.

Garman said Obama is "calm and reassuring" in a time where there are a lot of worries on people's minds.

As a child, Garman's family never addressed the issue of voting and never attended rallies. She tries to get her children involved in politics as much as possible and even takes them to the polls on Election Day. Even though McKenna's father is a McCain supporter, McKenna is an Obama fan like her mother. She has been nominated to represent Obama for her seventh-grade class in a mock debate that will precede an election at her school next week.

Garman saw Obama speak in St. Louis in January and said he was inspirational. She wanted McKenna to have a similar experience Thursday night.

"You see it on the TV, but it's not really the same. It's so much more amazing in person because you get the energy and the excitement of the crowd," she said. "You feel like you're on the edge of something big about to happen."

Missourian reporter Jenn Herseim contributed to this report.

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Bruce Sisler October 31, 2008 | 12:11 a.m.

Geez, maybe we should be teaching our kids about personal responsibility instead of teaching them that the government will fix everything when they screw up. Neither Obama or McCain can do anything on their own. Their promises are empty. Some people are SO naive and gullible! Look in the mirror, people. The person staring back at you is the only person that can help you.

(Report Comment)
Mary Anderson October 31, 2008 | 3:56 a.m.

Check this video out concerning Obama!

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 31, 2008 | 7:41 a.m.

Mary Anderson I guess you neglected to read in the papers and all media lately that both Obama and McCain are both found to be native born citizens of the good old U.S.A. as the Supreme Courts of the land decreed it as so.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 31, 2008 | 7:54 a.m.

Bruce, personal responsibility is passé. More than 40 percent of adult welfare (TANF) recipients didn't bother to finish high school. So people who did finish high school and then went on to college or trade school and now have a well-paying school must be forced to support those who did not.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 31, 2008 | 10:00 a.m.

Ayn Rand show us links to back up your claims.

Also answer my question of "What is a true disability".

(Report Comment)
Paul Gilzow October 31, 2008 | 10:47 a.m.

@Ayn Rand, have a source to back up that claim?

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 31, 2008 | 11:20 a.m.

Paul, here's the source:

Chuck, go get a job.

(Report Comment)
Paul Gilzow October 31, 2008 | 11:54 a.m.

@Ayn Rand, thank you. See? That wasn't so hard, now was it?

Now, the article doesn't say that "...40 percent of adult welfare (TANF) recipients didn't bother to finish high school." What is says is

More than 40 percent of adult TANF beneficiaries do not have a high school diploma

It does not say anywhere that they "didn't bother" to finish high school. It gives no explanation as to *WHY* they did not finish; just that they do not possess a high school diploma. You are making an assumption with no basis, at least from the source you gave. Also, for the record, the report that the 40% comes from is from 2006, but the data used for the report is from 2003 (

What's sad is that when you break that 40% down farther, 25% (63% of the 40%) made it all the way to 10th or 11th grade (doesnt break down farther than that). This means that they were only 1 or 2 years from finishing. I respectfully disagree with Ayn Rand (see Ayn, this is where I note my opinion and separate it from the true facts); I don't think the majority of these people just "didnt bother". I think there was a reason behind why they quit, and its the reason we need to be searching for.

Besides, what does this have to do with people taking their children to an Obama rally?

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 31, 2008 | 12:29 p.m.

Paul, you're splitting hairs. Not finishing high school and not having a HS diploma are the same thing. If you don't finish high school, you don't get a diploma. How many different ways do you want me to say it?

The reasons why they didn't finish HS are incidental and don't change the fact that people who lack a HS diploma make much, much less than those have one. Why should someone who does finish HS and then college be punished by having to pay more taxes to support those who dropped out?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 31, 2008 | 12:31 p.m.

Ayn Rand stop dodging my question of "What is a real disability".

Oh it looks like Paul Gilzow has laid the "smack down" on your post you made about those on TANF.

(Report Comment)
Paul Gilzow October 31, 2008 | 1:15 p.m.

@Ayn Rand, I'm not splitting hairs. You stated that they "didn't bother" to get their diploma. This implies a conscious decision on their part to not finish school. But the report you cited doesn't mention anything about the motives; simply that they did not possess the diploma. You can't assume to know someone's motives unless they have told you directly, or you have been in a situation to study them consistently.

We need to fix the problem. If we don't know WHY people are dropping out when they are *SO* close to being finished, then there is a good chance that the trend will continue. And I understand that you feel slighted because your tax dollars are being used to support them, but from your comments it appears that you are taking the stance that every single one of those people consciously made a decision to NOT get their High School diploma and WANT to be on government aid.

Also, let's pretend for a moment that you get your wish, and that all government aid to these people stops. What is your solution for their children? Let them live on the streets? Let them go hungry? Let them die of some common illness when we have medicine readily available to save their life? What do we do with the adults themselves? We would be back to the days of shanty towns ( springing up everywhere. Then what do we do?

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 31, 2008 | 1:25 p.m.

Unless they've been kicked out, they chose to drop out. Period. As a result, they chose to put themselves at a disadvantage, possibly for a lifetime.

I don't care if they dropped out because they didn't like school or got pregnant. Either way, it was their choice. So it's their problem, even if they didn't know or care about the problems they were creating for themselves.

There ought to be a law that if you drop out of high school, you forfeit your right to ever receive welfare.

Why would they go hungry? The classifieds are full of jobs. Work two if you have to. But there's no reason why a drop-out can't or shouldn't work. If they and their children starve because they refuse to work, that's their problem. How many more generations of dependency are we going to enable?

Only a fool would drop out of high school. There are soooo many opportunities to get help to make it through.

(Report Comment)
Marcie McShane October 31, 2008 | 2:02 p.m.

Ditto Ayn's remarks. Well put. We have to many programs we're supporting to help people in this country. Starting with early childhood programs through adult ed and job training. These people are making a conscious choice. Why are we paying for these programs, people won't take advantage of them, so they're on welfare. Even in families where they send their children to early childhood programs, many times that learning is not reinforced in the home, which makes it a waste of time and money. So many are teaching their children dependency.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 31, 2008 | 2:39 p.m.

You Marcie McShane and Ayn Rand seem to forget those with psychological difficulties who do not get help or slip through the cracks in the system.

This is common occurrence in our society today where at times Social Workers/Councilors are so over loaded that often times people get missed.

Neither one of you can lump the whole with the few in any legitimate case which is what both of you are trying to do.

This is why that other people get the same attitude as you do because of your ignorance and your obvious total lack of education on the issue as a whole.

You see a class of people and you lump them all together rather than actually splitting up the group like you would cut a pie in into it's respective slices by percentages as it should be.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 31, 2008 | 3:06 p.m.

"Columbia Families Bring Children To Experience Obama, Rally" (with a large photo of what appears to be a mixed racial family from Jefferson City.) Just a little confusing to me.
Anyways, I think it's good to bring your youngsters out to witness history in the making.
I also think that the comments I'm reading have to do with some people resenting helping those who need help. The term "Entitlement Programs" have such a bad "ring" to them, especially when someone "feels" entitled to them or others feel like their jealous, left out, not entitled, mean-spirited or angry that they are personally "footing the bill."
If these programs were called "Humanity Benefits," or something easier on the ears, and if Churches, 501c3 health and human care agncies, corporations and government worked together to coordinate these "Humanitity Benefits," maybe some of our hearts would soften.
Expectations for those recieving benefits can be modified and even those leaving high school, due to a pregnancy or other reason, could be required to pursue a GED at the very least. Getting jobs in a tight market might be difficult for some. Especially if you have a disability.
Just some "humane" comments...

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand October 31, 2008 | 4:56 p.m.

No one is entitled to make a baby as a teen-ager and then stick responsible people with the bill, which currently is $7.6 billion a year ( ). No one is entitled to drop out of high school and then expect other people to sympathize when they can't get a job that pays more than minimum wage.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 31, 2008 | 5:43 p.m.

Ayn Rand this goes back to the parents responsibility of nurturing and proper educational values in the home from the time the child is born until they are of legal age and even then beyond as the part of mentor as well through their latter days of life.

That is how it was done from times of old but in our modern society today things have obviously changed.

Do not hate the system or the people running it but do look at the root of the issue and campaign for the long running educational fix that will help to rectify the problems.

(Report Comment)
Marcie McShane October 31, 2008 | 6:49 p.m.

Nobody lumped any class, except you Charles. Here are the pieces of the pie: the "cannot's", and the "will not's". Of course those who cannot need assistance. The will nots are a large source of our social problems now. And do not call us ignorant or uneducated. I've made no derogatory personal remarks directed at you.

Perhaps you, and the many like you aren't intelligent or educated enough to realize that no matter who wins this election, they are not going to "fix" anyone's life. Government cannot and should not be doing that. It's up to each individual to fix their own problems. (Again, I am separating the "cannot's" from the "will nots").

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 31, 2008 | 10:57 p.m.

Hey, Ayn: Teen pregnancies pose a lot of problems to a lot of people. Especially to the young girls who wind up having and keeping the babies. Also to the girls' parents and the babies' daddies, wherever they may be. And yes, "the system" needs to be improved to bring down these wanted/unwanted births, so that emotional mature and financially able individuals have children. Until those changes occur and "nature" and "opportunity" prevails, a "humane society" will not turn its back on these children.
Are they entitled to have babies? Of course they are. Nature allows it. Is it a wise thing? Of course not. How much are you financially paying for this...not much. In fact your website took me to a more detailed site...
It breaks down your gross billions of dollars and reports the average annual cost associated with a child is $1,430.

The report’s primary findings include:
 Teen childbearing in the United States cost taxpayers (federal, state, and local) at least $9.1 billion in 2004. Put another way, the average annual cost associated with a child born to a teen mother is $1,430.

 Most of the costs of teen childbearing are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers. These costs include $1.9 billion for increased public sector health care costs, $2.3 billion for increased child welfare costs, $2.1 billion for increased costs for state prison systems, and $2.9 billion in lost revenue due to lower taxes paid by the children of teen mothers over their own adult lifetimes.
--How much of your "forced" sympathy money is in that $1,430? Very little.
You can argue that you'd rather it be -0- and you have the right to participate in changing the laws, and you are entitled to be outraged by other people being less than perfect.
Personally, I'd like to see teenagers and adults behave responsibly. I do, however, expect more from the adults. Are you an adult?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 1, 2008 | 4:55 a.m.

Marcie McShane Again you fail due to as I said the "pie" is much more complex that you realize by lumping people only into two groups.

If you do not like that fact then post a proper presentation of the real facts and percentages properly breaking it down as it should be and presenting links to your conjectures.

Your earlier conjecture of only two groups really holds no water besides to show your total biased attitudes towards people in general with a view of possibly you view people around you like cattle instead of as real live human beings who have real human problems often times they cannot get past or actual help with. The latter is often the case of getting the proper due to a lack of Social Services and Case Workers.

Get upset with my commentary all you like as that is a good thing in reality. Maybe it will make you think of people not just as cattle to be separated into groups but as humans with real issues just as you and all of us face every day although not all humans face these issues on the same levels as you would want us to believe by your present posting.

Humans are not cattle to be tagged and bagged into groups but humans are individual people with feelings,hopes,dreams and individual needs that need to be nurtured and respected as such. When you group humans into groups and the like you put forth that humans are no better than common cattle and at that point you just tossed humanity and all it truly represents out the door. Shame on you.

(Report Comment)
Marcie McShane November 1, 2008 | 8:35 a.m.

Charles, fortunately I raised my two daughters, nurtured them, educated them, and was accountable despite many obstacles. And now they are productive, accountable young adults. It can be down in a low income situation, but you have to want to do it. Those who are physically and psychologically able to work, but choose to depend on others for their needs will never truly enjoy the freedom of this country. Those like you who think they should not be accountable are enablers.
Fortunately, I choose the other. Don't pleasure yourself by thinking your views and commentary could upset me. But since I do have work and life, I'll not be checking back to see any more of your views.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 1, 2008 | 9:47 a.m.

Yes, Ray, I'm an adult, one who is financially stable partly because I did not become a "my baby's daddy" when I was a teen-ager or even in my 20s. I'm not my brother's or sister's keeper, nor am I their child's keeper.

Feel free to dig deeper into your pocket to help them, if you feel that's necessary. You also could come out to a Pathways meeting to see first-hand some 16- and 17-year-old addicts -- male and female -- whose families bring in their kids to visit. Might as well book a room for those kids now. They'll be in there soon enough. And we'll all be paying for it via Medicaid.

Do you seriously believe that throwing more money at these problems for another generation or three is going to change it?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 1, 2008 | 9:50 a.m.

Marcie McShane congratulations on being one of the few in percentage in our society to raise your children to be responsible adults. Today's broad range of statistics you can look at across the internet say you are doing quite well in the impoverished society we all inhabit despite all of the troubles we all face today.

You obviously still do not understand but I did not expect you to understand after reading your post of you trying to group people together as you would common cattle.

See that is the difference here.

I choose not to put people into only two separate groups as you,Ayn Rand and other short sighted citizens do by your obvious discrimination of the human race itself.

I choose to look at people as individuals with individual needs and choose to break down the barriers of the "two group mentality" that permeates our society and even goes so far as to hold people back who might be looking for the simple thing as a "hand up".

I choose not to deny and to always show the entire scope of how the pie is made up instead of just the crust and the filling as the short sighted so often do.

That is what is wrong with this world is that the short sighted and this goes for most all employers as well only see the "inability" of the human race and I and others who follow my like views we choose to see the entire "ability" of the entire human race.

That is the difference here.

We are not enablers by far as you so suggest,not by far but we are among the group of people in society who will not sit back and watch people such as you,Ayn Rand and others put down those who often times might have troubles in life where they have extreme difficulties beyond your scope of education.

It is not called a hand out but it is called a "hand up" and if more people would look at that aspect along the lines of the "Golden Rule" or "Do Unto Others" or "If You Have Helped The Least Of These" frames of mind this world would be alot better place.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro November 1, 2008 | 2:11 p.m.

Ayn: I am appreciative and in awe of any person who is fortunate to avoid the trappings of substance abuse and all the other unhealthy coping mechanisms that are available and "rewarded" today. (If you think being "sick" is a reward.) Pathways is just one example of the way our community tries to deal with "the human condition." There are many caring, professional mental and social worker minded people who derive a rewarding job experience attempting and sometime succeeding in helping these youngsters. If we didn't have "sick people" there wouldn't be healthcare jobs or cash flow for this industry. Is money your main concern? You are entitled to be selfish, a miser, cheap, outraged, budget-minded or whatever. Your quality of life, perhaps spiritually, perhaps philosophically, will suffer. Perhaps these aspects of life are not important to you? So be it.
Perhaps you honestly believe that if you can accomplish something, than anyone can? Not everyone is you.
In a Judaic-Christian society, which America tends to embrace, we encourage and accept that we do have an obligation to our "brothers and sisters." Not to be enablers but to be "helpers, educators and nurturers." Just like an enabler can be set up for abuse and manipulation by the "addict" so too are "helpers, educators and nurturers." The trick is not to let the abusers destroy you and then become too narcissistic, self-centered and cold-hearted. Are you entitled to be narcissistic, self-centered and cold-hearted? You betcha...

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 1, 2008 | 5:16 p.m.

Ray: "Perhaps you honestly believe that if you can accomplish something, than anyone can? Not everyone is you."

Wow. Let's set a really low bar. Even then you'd have people tripping over it.

Is it really so hard to resist drugs, not have/make a baby as a teenager, hold down a job and finish high school? Apparently not because most of us do. Those who choose not to do these simple things deserve our scorn, not our money.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro November 1, 2008 | 7:43 p.m.

Ayn: Nice come back...

scorn /skɔrn/Pronunciation[skawrn]
–noun 1. open or unqualified contempt; disdain: His face and attitude showed the scorn he felt.
2. an object of derision or contempt.
3. a derisive or contemptuous action or speech.
–verb (used with object) 4. to treat or regard with contempt or disdain: They scorned the old beggar.
5. to reject, refuse, or ignore with contempt or disdain: She scorned my help.
–verb (used without object) 6. to mock; jeer.
—Idiom7. laugh to scorn, to ridicule; deride: Her good advice was laughed to scorn.
Origin: 1150–1200; (n.) ME scorn, scarn < OF escarn trickery)
--We're no longer in the middle-ages. The last thing they need is scorn.
Do what you can to keep your money. It's tainted by your lack of compassion.
Have a nice day...

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 1, 2008 | 9:41 p.m.

Ray, while you've got the dictionary out, look up "irresponsible" and "selfish," which describe people who choose to have children while on welfare or when they can barely pay their bills as it is.

How are you helping these people, Ray? Is it okay to post your street address so that people down on their luck can flop at your place?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro November 1, 2008 | 11:51 p.m.

Hey Ayn: I do what I can, how I can, when I can, for who I can. Your request for me to invite every person, in need of a place to crash, is an ureasonable request as I, just like you, have limited resources, space and a small amount of privacy. I do my share through information and referral services and community work. Those who know of my generosity, caring and support, know where and how to reach and find me. I don't hide behind a fake name and I don't ask for or expect personal details of posters.
Helping a person can be with money, words of encouragement, counseling, networking and gifts-in-kind. I'm not as active as I once was, but through the years I have given and recieved my fair share of blessings and hardships.
I don't know who you are or where you live, nor do I care or want to know. You sound like one of those few people who use this forum to antagonize and provoke. Your posts are now meaningless to me, so if you want to bait me in the future, start using a different name. Change your style a little bit or it'll be easy to figure out it's just you again.
And by the way,I have taken in "strangers," taken risks helping others and contribute to the welfare of people, I will never meet, through a youth program I volunteer at and through Church activities.
I don't do these "extra" things for praise, recognition or back patting. I just try to be a good neighbor as best as I can.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 2, 2008 | 9:20 a.m.

I see, Ray. Put other people's money where your mouth is. No big surprise. I suspected as much -- or, more precisely, as little.

(Report Comment)

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