The Washington Times - June 5, 2008, 12:59PM

BRISTOL, Va. Sen. Barack Obama got a big laugh here just now after a 95-year-old man gave him a carved walking stick as a gift for making history.



Charles Edwards, 95, handed Obama the maple stick, and Obama called it “beautiful.”


To punctuate his focus on health care today, Obama raised and waved the stick, and added: “If members of Congress don’t pass my health care bill …”


He paused for loud laughs and applause, then said, “I’ll whoop ‘um.”


A few minutes later Obama cracked the crowd up again, for confusing the word “inhaler” with “breathalizer.”


Then he called it an “inhalator.”


“I haven’t had much sleep in the last 48 hours,” he said, to cheers, before stumpling again and laughing. “I’m still stuck over this word.


“You know what I mean.”


Also worth noting, with the exception of the gift-giving, Obama is getting tougher questions at this town hall than he’s had in awhile.


Many fans at his town halls lately have asked softballs that aren’t quite “Will you promise to be a wonderful president who will remember us?” but aren’t too far off.


But today, he has fielded good questions on mental health funding and the budget deficit. One man in the back of the room - a testament to where we are - shouted, “Immigration!” several times but wasn’t called upon.


Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter, The Washington Times