I cannot believe my good fortune when, at the Guilford County GOP headquarters, Eddie Simon slides into the seat next to me carrying what appears to be a genuine, honest-to-goodness three-ring binder.
Ermahgerd. “Is that… is that a binder full of women” I ask, because it would be malpractice not to do so.
But the reference gains no traction with Simon, a retired Greensboroan who once owned a women’s clothing store in Friendly Center. Instead of belaboring the meme from Tuesday night’s debate with me, he earnestly shows me the contents of his binder.
In the front pocket he’s placed a series of bumper stickers he designed for the Mitt Romney campaign, with slogans like, “The right team at the right time,” “Making it happen with solutions that work” and “Your choice is your future.”
He’s clipped into the three rings a series of e-mails he’s been forwarding throughout Barack Obama’s term as president.
One is an article by Alan Caruba called “Obama’s make-believe life” that the e-mail claims ran in the Wall Street Journal — it did not; it appeared in Caruba’s blog. Caruba has never written for the WSJ.
Another is attributed to Matt Patterson, an anti-Obama screed called “The affirmative-action president” that supposedly ran in the Washington Post. In truth, the piece ran in the conservative online magazine the American Thinker. And there’s a list of Obama’s campaign promises that ran in 2008, just six days after Obama was elected, at the Investor’s Business Daily website — a site that claimed a few months earlier that part of the president’s plan was too “herd American youth into government-funded reeducation camps where they’ll be brainwashed into thinking America is a racist, oppressive place in need of ‘social change.’” He’s interspersed some of his own words in these e-mails, using phrases like “lack of character,” “underhanded tactics” and “ruination and that of future generations.”
“I can’t imagine anyone saying anything positive about this man,” Simon says. “He’s a catastrophe.”
Simon stands on safe ground here at the Guilford County GOP headquarters, in the back space of a dead strip mall on West Market Street, near a yoga studio and a take-out Chinese place and the empty husk that used to be Jan’s House diner. We’re all waiting for Reince Priebus, chair of the Republican National Committee, who’s on his way in from Winston-Salem to fire up the troops.
He’s not coming to recruit voters. These folks — mostly senior citizens, business types and a cadre of College Republicans whose numbers include the only African-American cohort in the room, both of them — made up their minds years ago to oust this president based on his record of fiscal irresponsibility and outright audacity, a character trait that one needs to look only as far as the title of the man’s book to see.
“I feel that Obama is unworthy of the office,” Simon says. “I would definitely go with anybody they put up versus Obama.
“Not only him,” he adds, “but his wife as well.” Simon has a story about Michelle Obama and a “vacation” she and her daughters took to New York City, where he says they stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria and ordered up “lobster, Champagne, caviar, two or three other especially expensive items,” he says. “Six-hundred some-odd dollars for… for a snack,” he says. “I think that’s abusive. I think that’s symbolic to what they’ve been doing.”
This story, too, turns out to be false. The receipt and a version of the story appeared in the New York Post, Rupert Murdoch’s New York City tabloid. When it was discovered that the first lady was in Indiana at the time and the receipt was a forgery, the Post retracted its story.
At the GOP headquarters, John Hardister takes the podium on the stage. Hardister won his primary in NC House District 59 and will run unopposed on Election Day. He stumps for Romney while his parents beam from the front row.
Priebus then comes on to remind everyone that this is the first day of early voting, and to stress the importance of “the mission.”
“There isn’t a Democrat or Republican parent in the country that wishes on their kids the glass-is-half-empty, Life of Julia, Obamacare world on their children,” he says.
Priebus, a Wisconsinite, chaired Rep. Paul Ryan’s campaign for Congress in that state, he reminds us.
“We won that campaign on the ground — door to door, person to person. We crushed the Democrats on the ground.”
He implores the crowd to spread the word, to enlist their neighbors and relatives in Romney’s fight for the presidency.
“Take the last three and a half weeks and get the job done,” he says.
“Live the mission today.”
Applause. Simon says he wants to give Priebus his binder full of bumper stickers and lies.
“If he would,” Simon says, “[I’d like him to] get this to Romney’s debate team before Monday.”
He expects nothing in return. Now Priebus stands in front of the stage, shaking hands and posing for pictures, complimenting the College Republicans on their turnout and drive. Simon enters the scrum clutching his binder. Minutes later he emerges from the press, empty handed.