The Washington Times - April 1, 2008, 02:37PM
398894740307_0_ALB.jpgSen. Barack Obama SEE RELATED:


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\ It may be April Fool’s Day, but Sen. Barack Obama was acting like it was Valentine’s Day. He was in full charm mode while touring the Tama Manufacturing plant, a JC Penny supplier of made-in-the-USA clothing in Allentown. Obama was especially flirtatious today, winking and grinning at the female workers who were swooning behind their cell phone cameras.
\ \ \ Tama President Mark Fogelman told quality inspector Carol Davis not to be nervous when she talked to Obama, even though he was “only the next president” greeting her. \ \ \ Obama smiled ear to ear as he looked at her work, saying: “These look pretty comfortable, this is all pretty leisure wear.”
\ \ \ After the presidential hopeful walked away, Davis let out a “Whoo!” and fanned herself. “It got hot in here. He ain’t bad looking either,” she told your pooler. \ \ …\ \
During the 25-minute tour, Obama called a woman “sweetie,” and thanked her in Spanish, then told another woman who let him know she is from Thailand, “I love Thai food.” \
But Obama lavished compliments on dancewear manufacturer Marisa Cerveris, who gave him a black and pink leotard for Malia and Sasha, explaining she was once in the New York City ballet.
\ “You look like you might be a dancer,” Obama told her, later adding: “You’re big time.”
\ “You’re gorgeous,” he told Cerveris after glancing at one of her old ballet photos.
\ “I was,” she replied.
\ “You still are,” he countered, asking the crowd, “Isn’t she beautiful?” and answering his own question: “Absolutely.”
\ Holding the leotards, Obama thanked her, saying, “This is such a nice gift,” and telling her that his daughters attend a Chicago dance theater.
\ “They have been going there since they were three,” he said, back when the dance moves were little more than “just spinning around.” He punctuated his joke with a full twirl. “I don’t miss a recital,” he said.
\ But, “Sometimes they’ll be like the tenth performance … everybody’s else’s kid is cute but let’s face it, you probably wouldn’t sit there for an hour and a half,” he said, laughing.
\ Later, Cerveris, who also danced on Broadway, told your pooler “He is the best.”
\ She complimented his art policy and said she believes he will fix NAFTA. \ \ …\ \ While on the tour, Obama asked how Tama is capable of remaining in the United States when so many companies are moving overseas.
\ Fogelman said it is tough, and said his application for an H2B Visa to get workers from Mexico was denied because there were plenty of United States workers. \
“But it really is hard to find workers,” he told Obama. “Nobody is coming into the business.” \ Fogelman said the fabric comes from Greensboro, adding: “If the mills close up we’ll probably be finished.” \
Obama asked about their hourly wage (minimum is $8, and the average worker at Tama earns $10.50 per hour.) \ \ …\ \ The workers, mostly women, worked with a contraption Fogelman explained to Obama was called an “eton system” that cost him $600,000 and was financed in part by a state grant of $200,000. It looked like a steam iron suspended by a bungee cord, and Fogelman said it “brings the work right to the worker … so they don’t have to waste time and twist.”
\ Perhaps a sign of their repetitive work, one woman sported two wristbands suggesting she had a wrist injury. \ It took one worker an average of 22 seconds to steam the seams of what looked like a pair of black track pants with a big white elastic waistband. (Think grandma, not J-Lo.) \ \ …\ \ \ Perhaps of interest from before the tour: While your poolers waited for their sweep in the gray drizzle, Obama arrived in the SUV with a little wave wearing a baseball hat as if he’d been working out. Our bus left without Obama … so we can’t confirm exactly how long it takes the senator to get ready in the morning. But the full transformation from Basketball Obama to Suit-and-Tie Obama, with a 15 minute drive in between, took 82 minutes.


Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter, The Washington Times