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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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October 15, 2008

Ohio: Close Obama encounter

“On a stifling Sunday afternoon in October in the Ohio heartland, the last person I expected to be walking around our working-class neighborhood campaigning for Barack Obama was… Barack Obama. But there he was, in the flesh, doing what he does: listening, listening, listening. When I arrived on the scene, tripping up the cracked sidewalk in front of the low-slung ranch homes and introduced myself as the precinct captain, he said ‘I have to give you a kiss for that!’—and so he did.”

That’s Angela Zimmann’s description of what happened to her Sunday afternoon. And Zimmann, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Riga, Mich., has a photo to prove it. An Associated Press photo of the presidential nominee kissing her cheek made it into newspapers and onto Web sites this week, making her husband Martin Zimmann, also an ELCA pastor, joke that she needs an agent.

“Some of our friends have been saying that this was a typical move for a politician—even somewhat outdated. In reality, I think Barack and Angela were just enjoying the moment ... Everyone was laughing—it was as if for one moment the campaign was not present, and we were simply enjoying the joie de vivre of the moment.”

“As for being married to a woman who was kissed by Obama? Hey, I got to shake his hand—that counts for something in my book,” Zimmann added.

Angela Zimmann simply said it was a media moment that got blown out of proportion: “The picture isn’t about me; it is about Senator Obama, and how he genuinely engages with his constituents—that is where the focus should be, and where I keep it.”

Her description of the encounter was described on a Facebook group, “Clergy for Obama”: “As a Christian, and a member of the clergy, I take seriously the responsibility to vote; first I research the candidates, including their policy platforms, voting records and personal histories; then, I observe their actions during the course of the campaign; finally, I choose my side of the fence—and this year, without a doubt, I am on the side of Barack Obama. It was my privilege and honor to meet this man... It will take a miracle to bring peace and prosperity to this ailing planet. Fortunately, our God is in the business of making miracles, and using our hands to perform them.”

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