The Washington Times - February 24, 2008, 11:24AM
Sen. Barack Obama first report SEE RELATED:

Shame on you
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday unleashed her most forceful criticism of her Democratic rival to date, angrily waving a negative mailer he sent to Ohio voters and blaring: “Shame on you, Barack Obama.”\ \ \ Mrs. Clinton denounced two of Mr. Obama’s mailers as tactics “right out of Karl Rove’s playbook” and compared the Illinois senator to President Bush.\ \ \ “Enough with the speeches and the big rallies,” she said in Cincinnati, demanding: “Meet me in Ohio. Let’s have a debate about your tactics.”\ \ \ Mr. Obama, indeed, was on his way to Ohio when Mrs. Clinton challenged him to meet her there. But she soon left the state, heading first to New Orleans then to Houston before her planned overnight in Washington — a dizzying schedule that suggests she will fight for every vote despite facing an uphill climb.\ \ \ They will debate Tuesday in Cleveland, and the Clinton press conference, replayed on TV endlessly on a slow news day, signals she will aggressively battle the new front-runner. She will then head into the March 4 primaries that could be her last stand after 11 straight losses.\ \ \ Speaking to reporters here, Mr. Obama of Illinois doubted the authenticity of her outrage since the mailers in question have been circulating and weeks ago provoked response from her campaign aides.\ \ \ “I’m puzzled by the sudden change in tone unless these were just brought to her attention. It makes me think there’s something tactical about her getting so exercised this morning,” he said. “The notion that somehow we’re engaging in nefarious tactics … is pretty hard to swallow.”
Feb. 23, 2008\ \ \ As pool was shuffled into narrow hallway on ninth floor kidney and diabetes ward at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, a woman wheeling a man in a wheelchair was told she couldn’t get through. He didn’t seem to mind when he heard about the hospital’s special guest, telling the pool: “Barack Obama is a good dude. He’ll be a good president. I’m 47, I know.”\ \ \ A mix of doctors, nurses, interns and a few patients and visitors crowded around the nurses station, and engaged in the standard talk about wanting to snap cell phone pics of the senator. One woman told her colleague that like Amber Lee Ettinger, she had a crush on Obama. “He’s married,” her colleague admonished. Others worried about the work they were leaving behind but had decided it was more important to meet a White House hopeful. Details — a woman was called by a patient and responded, “Oh man!” because she didn’t want to leave to help the patient use the restroom. The phones kept ringing as Obama walked up.\ \ \ A “patient care associate,” which is different from a nurse, flipped over all the charts that were near a few poolers, saying she wanted to be extra safe not to violate privacy because of HIPPA rules. I admit I was peeking at them out of curiosity.\ \ \ There was some concern the ruckus (including crush of print, TV and photo poolers) would disturb the patients.\ \ \ But Debbie Wetzel, a transplant patient holding her son, Orion Kapp, was elated. “Orion got to say hi to Senator Obama for his birthday,” she cooed to Orion, who turned 1 today. “I was stuck in here for his birthday but I guess it turned out to be a nice thing,” she said, adding that Obama sang happy birthday to her son.\ \ \ Your pooler couldn’t see, but Wash Times photographer Astrid Riecken confirmed Obama did not kiss the baby, but patted him instead, putting the senator’s “I’ve kissed hundreds of babies” speech claim at a deficit for the day. (Where are the fact checkers?!)\ \ \ On to the real stuff.\ \ \ After shaking hands, Obama made brief remarks that your pooler couldn’t hear (NBC has audio file if you want to check in with Mark) and then as he said, “Tell me what you’re seeing,” your pooler snuck around to get within earshot.\ \ \ Obama mostly spoke to three doctors who told him about the problems they see with uninsured and under-insured patients.\ \ \ One stressed the importance of patient education, saying it is a “major problem” that patients with diabetes and other ailments aren’t learning how to take care of themselves. They said it is tough to get patients to adhere to their treatment regimen.\ \ \ A female doctor told Obama that some patients are spending between $400 and $500 per month on their drugs to reduce hypertension. She said some of the patients can barely afford care and are working two jobs to try and pay for their treatment. Also interesting, she told Obama that Ohio’s legislature is working to pass a Diabetes Reduction Act to help educate people about the disease, and is the last state to do so.\ \ \ As they outlined their work, Obama kept his hands either in his pockets or folded across his chest, nodding as he listened.\ \ \ Obama asked about the corrollation between obesity and diabetes and a nurse noted that when she was in school children were required to do physical education.\ \ \ Obama said it’s important that to change kids’ eating habits, especially the “soda pop” filled with “corn syrup” because it has “bad long term effects.”\ \ \ “We used to eat junk but we didn’t have as much of it. We couldn’t supersize it,” he said, to laughs.\ \ \ He added that Illinois is the only state remaining that still requires PE classes, noting “kids perform better if they get phys ed.”\ \ \ In closing, “Thank you for all the good work you’ve been doing,” he said, opening it up for questions.\ \ \ John Paes, a clinical endocrinology fellow in his 2nd year, asked Obama about increasing funding for preventive screening, and another doctor noted that at least 50% of cases of colon cancer they see in the emergency room could have totally been avoided had the patients been screened a few years earlier because it was “completely preventable.”\ \ \ Obama agreed such efforts are needed to reform the health care system and said they should be at all levels — neighborhood, community, state, etc.\ \ \ Then, bad audio (sorry): “Frankly … financially it’s breaking down” problems with Medicaid, health care cost inflation, problems with reimbursement rates.\ \ \ As he left, one of the hospital housekeepers approached him to explain a problem getting medicine for her 10-month-old baby who was born premature. He was getting grabbed for photos at the same time and politely listened before saying he would have to know the specific drug she was talking about in order to help.\ \ \ A staff nurse named Gwen said something to the effect that she is voting for him because we “need something new” and Obama responded: “Tell all your friends.”\ \ \ Finally, he examined the hospital’s electronic medical records system before heading down to the roundtable.
Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter, The Washington Times