Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Barack Obama’s right hands"


Alyssa Mastromonaco and Eureka Gilkey

Alyssa Mastromonaco and Eureka Gilkey

“Attitude is everything. I truly believe you can get through almost any challenge in life with a positive attitude and a good laugh.” —Eureka Gilkey, 32, with Alyssa Mastromonaco, 31

What Alyssa Mastromonaco does: Where will Barack and Michelle Obama be at any given moment and how will they get there? Ask Mastromonaco, director of scheduling and advance. “I try to make sure their time is used as efficiently and effectively as possible.” She tries to schedule the candidate so that he travels from east to west, picking up an hour or two as he goes. “I am at my desk almost all the time. A map with pins is behind me,” marking where the Obamas have been.

Her biggest goof: “I [arranged for] a private plane to pick him up and I signed the contract for the wrong day. I got hysterical. My phone rang and it’s Barack and I think he’s going to yell at me. He said he’s on a United flight, and he’ll make it to the event on time. He’s like, it’s no big deal. If you’re not working for someone who you think is a great human being, it’s not worth doing.”

What Eureka Gilkey does: There are 500-plus chapters of Students for Barack Obama, just one of the grassroots groups that the national deputy political director oversees. She spends “hours and hours on the phone” lining up supporters. “If we weren’t human, we could stay in our chairs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Why Obama’s her guy: “He’s very upfront about his Christian faith. He’s very much a family man, and I think he’s a great role model…especially when it comes to being a responsible father. I think that come January 2009, if he’s elected, the future of children of color in this country will change, the thought process will change about what they can be and what opportunities they can have. That’s a powerful message that we send not only to our children but to the world.”

She’s never without… “A red leather-bound Bible; inside is my late grandfather’s handkerchief. It’s always in my purse.”



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