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Obama the Unready

That’s what I heard over and over again from Pennsylvanians as I was phone banking yesterday. It usually went something like this:

“I have nothing against him. It doesn’t matter to me what color he is. I just don’t think he’s ready to be president. Maybe in a couple of years. I just wish he would have waited, you know?”


“Why would I want to put a first grader in a classroom full of twelfth graders? He’s not going to understand the material.”


“I saw that debate on Wednesday and couldn’t understand the guy. He needs to wait”

What struck me was how defensive these voters sounded, like they had to explain themselves. It seems like lots of Pennsylvanians watched that debate and have been paying very close attention. I was really amazed at how many political junkies this primary season has created in PA. My sister rattled off some color play by plays that made me want to ask what she had done with my sister. Had she been abducted and replaced with a politico pod person? Spooky.

It was a productive day even though canvassing was curtailed due to torrential downpours. Speaking of rain, my aunts had gone to see Hillary the night before at Renzihausen Park in McKeesport near Pittsburgh. They said they sat in the field in front of the bandstand and it was pouring rain, waited 45 minutes for her to arrive, had to walk miles from where they parked, and then had trouble finding a place to sit because it packed. My aunt Jan apparently went nuts every time Hillary got an applause line. My aunt MaryEllen was amused and kept thinking they must be crazy given the conditions but she said it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and she couldn’t pass it up. She said Hillary was much prettier in person but that her voice was getting hoarse. None of us can figure out where she gets her energy but she should get it bottled and patented.

The canvassers filtered in about 1:30pm. The rain was ridiculous. We phone banked the rest of the afternoon. There were volunteers in every nook and cranny at H-burg headquarters. People are getting genuinely sick of the phone calls. A lot of them were pro-Hillary but they just wanted us to stop calling them. My mom got another four phone calls on Sunday. That brought it up to 8 over 2 days, 5 from Clinton, 3 from Obama. Oh, and robo-calls? Definitely a no-no. I know campaigns want to reach out to all voters but they just piss people off. In fact, we were eating dinner when my mom got a robo-call from Clinton. She didn’t even bother to answer the phone. Seriously guys. Friends don’t let friends make robo-calls.

I sat next to a woman who must be the phone-banker of the year. She was amazing. She knew every Clinton policy by heart and could keep a caller on for 25 minutes. Ok, maybe not efficient but she persuaded a couple of Obama supporters to come to the dark side. That’s another thing that seemed curious. It is easy to persuade people to go Clinton. Obama people seem soft, like their support is shallow. Once you start to talk to them about policy, they start to give.

There was a radio crew from WITF fm in Harrisburg, the local NPR station, hanging around looking for a canvasser to talk to. Maya couldn’t track down Dana the press contact, and all of the other canvassers had just left. I was waiting for a partner. So, she asked me if I would talk to them. I knew I was her last choice because I’m technically not a local. So, I gave it my best shot. I think it went OK except that they seemed to dwell on the out of towner aspect. I had to keep telling them that I’m a native Pennsylvanian, originally from Pittsburgh, lived in Camp Hill and State College, family still local. Jeez, what do I need? A “Made in PA” tattoo? There ARE out of towners volunteering but most people are locals. For some reason, mentioning that is taboo. But there are also some intrepid groups of women travelling the state and visiting all of the headquarters they can. They are rolling advertisements.

But all in all, it was a great two days. I only regret that I am going to be stuck in a training class for the next two days and will miss all of the excitement in H-burg. My feeling is that she will do at least as well as she did in NJ where she beat Obama by 10 points. But it could be much better than that. We’ll see. Keep your fingers crossed. Or, if you can, volunteer at your local office for the GOTV efforts. You won’t regret it.

Today, Hillary will be in Harrisburg at Zembo Shrine. Doors open at 3:30pm. She will finish off PA in Philadelphia tonight, reuniting with Chelsea and Bill. That starts at 8:00pm. Then she can sleep for a few hours. Whew!

One more thing: There seems to be a misperception out there that Hillary has to win by a HUGE amount to remain viable.  That’s nonsense.  A win is a win, even if it’s by a smidgen.  (I think she’s going to win comfortably)  Now, why is this the case?  It’s because Obama has been spending obscene amounts of money on advertising, including sending $12.00 DVD’s and posters to some voters.  He has spared no expense.  If he can’t close the deal after outspending her 5:1, then HE’S the one with the problem and all of the SDs will know it.

59 Responses

  1. Wow, that was a great report. I feel even more encouraged now. It’s especially interesting to hear what real people are saying. Early this morning I was listening to NPR and CNN, and hearing about Hillary’s “long-shot bid for the nomination” and how it will be a win for Obama if she doesn’t win by double digits. It’s so hard to get real information.

    RD– I hope you’ll have some time to check in with us in the next couple of days. Don’t work too hard in your training session.

  2. I think many of the solid Democrats of PA, no matter what they might say to the polls (as you indicated, they seem nervous to express their opinion and I have read this elsewhere) are definitely going for Clinton. But over 300,000 Republicans and new voters have become Democrats. This is why in my last post I compared Obama to McGovern. Their polls in April were about the same. It seemed like McGovern had this tremendous groundswell of support which completely fizzled. We really need Hillary Clinton desperately. I welcome your upbeat reports about what’s going on at the campaign, but if you reports are representative, it is possible she could win much bigger than the polls indicate, because there, it’s a secret who you vote for.

  3. Commenter OxyCon linked this over at Corrente



    “This has gotten so bad this year, I’m not sure people can forget about it and put it behind themselves after Tuesday,” said Joe Morgan, a Democratic committeeman for Berks County.

    He said the supporters are worse than the candidates when it comes to vindictive attacks.

    “The bitterness and anger they have toward people who are not supporting their candidate is something I have never seen before,” he said.

    Morgan has been writing his own blog on the race, so at first he decided to remain neutral. He said Obama fans in particular were incensed with him for doing so. His tires were slashed and a complaint was lodged with the Internet service provider for his blog. Morgan is now supporting Clinton.


    It seems the obsessed Obama supporters aren’t just on the blogs.

  4. Obama isn’t understandable. My husband say’s he talks like Kerry — everything is parsed and mushy. You have to follow a sentence — even a paragraph all the way through before you can figure out what he’s saying.

    It’s not just us asking W.O.R.M. — regular people are doing it too. They just don’t have a word for it. And it pisses them off. They can tell he’s playing word games.

    That whole finger thing fits his personality perfectly. Of course he can claim it was a scratch — are we idiots? — that’s why he did it like that. But it was what it was and anyone who has known or been a trouble-boy knows exactly what it was.

    He can parse his words and gestures all he wants. But I think he’s overstayed his welcome. Hillary’s got a lot of work ahead of her, but she’s a sticker & she’ll pull it off.

  5. Also, I feel like I’m being asked to vote for some friend from college. What exactly does a community organizer do? It sounds like the sort of job you’d have for a while before going back to grad school when you don’t want a real job.

  6. I hate that people are defensive about voting for Clinton, which translates into rejecting Obama rather than merely thinking Clinton better. How odd that the media narrative went from “Obama will win PA” to “Clinton must win by a huge margin to remain credible.” Huh.

    I know if the media reported the truth about how close the race is and how well she’s doing in PA (e.g., SUSA polls), she’d blow him out of the water in PA (think: 15+). But that constant drumbeat of misinformation is going to cost her, especially in the popular vote count, which she needs. I hope, hope she wins by double digits and that there’s huge turnout.

    Oh, and, once again, thank you to everyone who’s worked so hard on the campaign.

  7. Katiebird,

    The community organizing is exactly what you said in Obama’s resume. He did that job for a couple of years after he finished his undergrad degree and before he went to law school. After Harvard, he went to the law firm that represented Rezko in his efforts to get government money to “renovate” slum tenements. I really don’t see how Obama is even qualified to be in the Senate. It’s really shocking to me that the Democratic party is close to nominating this nonentity. He is less qualified than George W. Bush.

  8. Saw Today show this morning. It is all about how big or small Hillary will win/loose. I thought it was interesting that one of the talking heads was referring to Philadelphia as a media market, not a metropolitan area but as a media maket… the implication being that the media/TV ad campaigns could control results withing its reach in favour of Obama.

    Andrea Mitchell (sp?) is still at it (no love for the junior senator of NY). The other talking heads were already talking in terms of Obama and McCain after today’s results. Clinton’s is soooo out….

    Wife does not feel any “chills up her leg” about Obama and compares him to another Kerry.

    Anyway, out I go with son to remove cat-peed stained carpet from our new place (castigated wood floors under… will require major sanding).

    Hasta luego.

  9. Katiebird,

    Oh no! I saw your comment on the other thread. I’m so sorry you got sick again. There is nothing worse than nausea. Take it slow today. I always find nibbling toast and saltines helps at first. And sip water. You don’t want to get dehydrated.

  10. BB, Now I’m actually confused. The community organizing was BEFORE Law School? And that’s the job he talks about — not his post-Law School Job? Which I guess I didn’t know about — I thought his Rezko ties were from the Community Organizing thing.

    It sounds like Obama is trying to pretend he ran Chicago during his Internship. What are we about to do?

  11. BB — thank you so much! And bread is about all I can image eating. The worst thing is that one of my cousins was in town and I was too sick to even call much less see her.

  12. Hillary for one hour on Larry King tonight at 9pm.

  13. SUSA only has Clinton up by 6. What happened?

  14. Thanks so much for your reports from the field, RD! And thanks for all you do keeping this blog going. It’s an oasis in a desert of testosterone. Go Hill! I’m voting today in Indiana! (we have early voting, ftr.)

  15. Supposedly a surge in the Phila area for Obama. I live in the Philly suburbs and she does have her work cut out for her here. But then again, lots of the so-called ‘latte’ liberals here.

    I think she will win by 8-10, but it will depend on voter turnout across the state.

    I cannot stomach the nothingness of Obama compared to her solid stances on jnust about everything. He talks as if he has a mouth full of pebbles. Long rambling sentences that put you in a stupor, so that by the time the sentence has ended you say to yourself, “Just what was the noun, and what was the verb?” as you try to make sense of it.

  16. Wow, that’s discouraging news. I hope it’s a different and big win tomorrow !
    I am rapidly losing faith in this country. I couldn’t believe Bush could get elected (TWICE) and I sincerely believe that if Obama OR McCain is our next president that the mess we’re in now will only get worse 😦

  17. Katiebird,

    Yes, that’s right. Obama left the community organizing to go to grad school at Harvard. Maybe he did some more when he returned to Chicago, but I don’t think so. I will go check the biographies to make sure and let you know.

    As far as I know, he did the community organizing for about 3 years after Columbia. That’s why I don’t understand how there is so much emphasis on the community organizing experience. I guess it’s all he has to offer except for the state legislator stuff. This guy is not qualified and it will be pointed out if he runs against McCain.

  18. Good things out here in the boonies of NW PA too! I agree, people are SICk of the phone calls. I did canvassing yesterday. Turned two elderly couples to Hillary, (vets issues) met quite a few Hillary supporters.
    Talked to a group, the woman at the address had friends over. All Obama when I got there, it was about electability. They had been told by their college aged son living in Chicago that Obama was more electable. The man in the group was adamant after having seen the debate that the GOP was going to crush Obama. So, I think we may have three more for Hillary!

  19. Katiebird,

    Yes, the community organizing was in the 1980s. It was before Obama went to grad school–basically he was an intern. He writes about it in his first book, “Dreams from My Father.” You’d think he would emphasize his work in the Chicago legislature more, but I guess he doesn’t want to call attention to the fact that he didn’t really do anything until some important bills were handed to him in his last year there.

  20. Melissa,

    Thanks for the info and for your hard work!

  21. This is unbelieveable. BTD is reporting at Talkleft that Hillary is going to be on Keith Olberman’s show tonight. Does she have guts or what? I hope she gives him hell! Can anyone bear to watch it? I don’t know if I can do it, but I’ll try.


  22. Re: SUSA, I think you need to keep in mind that folks are sick of calls these days. That could depress responses. Still, 6 points is half of what most of us would like. Make calls, folks, they will still help.

  23. @GQM: You think? But that’s such an incredible number to lose so damn quickly: she lost half of her margin–within days. Something is up. She had been gaining on her lead the past week or so and for this to happen just seems so out of left field.

    RD: Do you have any idea what is going on? Did Clinton fail to get out some talking points about how close the election actually is or how \the national Gallup poll has her ahead for the first time in weeks (a big jump).

  24. Davidson,

    It’s not over yet. Hillary has all day today to get her message out. I just have a feeling she is going to win big. I don’t trust the polls. They have been wrong so many times this year.

  25. @BB: Not this one. SUSA has been solid.* And I can’t help but think if there were people who didn’t want to answer their calls, that it would’ve been a factor in their MOE. I’m so taken aback by it, as it seems to go wildly against the pattern of Clinton gaining on her double digit lead.

    I just feel she has to win by 10 to keep the calls of “Get out!” or “She’s a goner!” at a low level, to just give her breathing space to try and win IN.

    *The only time they were quite wrong was MO, where they stated the day before the primary: Clinton had surged and at the wire, it was Clinton 54%, Barack Obama 43%.

  26. Davidson,

    Statistically, you expect 1 in 20 polls to be far off. SUSA’s due for a bad one. Also, 2-3 points off each way (+for Clinton, -for Obama), well within the MOE, gets you back to the previous numbers. Given sample sizes, it’s not hard to imagine hang-ups leading to small but significant errors. Also, with the exception of PPP and this current poll, every other firm has Clinton gaining ground over Obama in PA.

    Keep an eye on the Gallup daily. If it shows Hillary climbing over the next two days, then it’s a good sign for Hillary. She usually improves her numbers in the days leading up to a big election in Gallup Daily.

  27. riverdaughter says; ‘But there are also some intrepid groups of women travelling the state and visiting all of the headquarters they can. They are rolling advertisements.’

    speaking of which..take a minute to look at thisfun on the ground report, celebrity sightings, and great shots of Hillary, Chelsea and Bill..


  28. Davidson, no matter what happens there will be calls for her to get out. A 5 point win will probably net her 100-150k votes. Just because a pollster has been “solid” doesn’t mean they are right. Statical theory suggests they will be wrong every now and then.

  29. I read that Obama has been working “under the wire” – recruiting Republicans and Independents to surprise everyone. I have this sick feeling in my gut that what we are seeing is a coup – the libertarian wing of the GOP taking over the Democratic party, as has been noted at several other blogs and I am afraid they are right.

  30. That Obama can spend money like water and still not close the deal against Hillary also shows that his likely money advantage against McSame in the fall won’t be the asset it has been claimed to be.

    He won’t get the free fawning press coverage against McSame either.

  31. “Community organizing” frankly sounds to me a lot like “bugging people.” A friend-of-a-friend does it, and I don’t really understand what it involves, but she’s very sure it’s Very Important Work, so I don’t push to know more about it.

  32. Exactly who was Obama working for when he was a “community organizer?”

    The government, a NGO, a candidate, a party, what?

  33. Better yet, myiq, what exactly did Obama accomplish.

  34. ggm – lol

    Nothing – SASQ

  35. Obama has been gaming the primary system by embracing independents and Republicans. Is it going to matter to the Democratic establishment that Hillary Clinton wins hands down among real Democrats? I hope it does! I cannot see anyone but Hillary Clinton as our nominee. The Democrats are in a pickle. If they want to bring all these new Obama-wamas into the party, then they will be rejecting everyone who voted for Clinton. That’s a prescription for failure in the GE.

  36. myiq2xu,

    Has there ever been a candidate in history who spent so much more than his opponent with so little effect? Obama spend 4 times what Clinton spent in Ohio and Texas also and did not win. He is a weak candidate. Until I see the results, I am going with my gut. I say Hillary by at least 10.

  37. BB: I’m guessing 10+, just because little lord k0s and the boiz set the bar so high at 20 points. LLk is wonky on polls and stuff (but shit-for-brains on judgment) so I’m pretty sure he’s seen the hard numbers.

    They only set it that high because they wanted to make sure Hillary couldn’t reach it.

    I think the latest SUSA poll was skewed by the number of phone calls everyone in PA has been getting, as RD described.

  38. http://www.theobamafile.com/ObamaWorks.htm

    I was looking for a bio/chronological worklike/education resume type thing.

    This covers some pertinent years and has links.


    I am amazed the MCM hasn’t come up with some authoritative bios on Obama–they seem to like the smoke and mirrors effect as well as the campaign does….

  39. In 1985, some white leftists were looking for someone who could recruit in a black neighborhood in the south side of Chicago and Obama answered a help-wanted ad for a position as a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project (DCP) of the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) in Chicago. Obama was 24 years old, unmarried, and according to his memoir, searching for a genuine African-American community.

    Both the CCRC and the DCP were built on the Alinsky model of community agitation, wherein paid organizers learned how to “rub raw the sores of discontent,” in Alinsky’s words.
    ~~~from my link above

    i know that I read something about these early community organizing years–one way Obama used to gain acceptance in the black community was to work through black churches and then joining Trinity–iirc. I recall that he joined prior to going to law school and took some of the Rev, Wright’s tapes with him to listen to while he was away. Now, where did I read that??

  40. jawbone – Recruit for what? To vote Democratic, to join the group, what?

  41. His Chicago community organizing job was, as indicated, was based on the Saul Alinsky model. I read an article about the techniques, fairly long article, way back in January when I figured I needed to learn something about Obama. Did not bookmark….

    There are links within the blog post which may have something about the technique. Sorry I wasn’t more throrough–and now I have to get to an appointment. .

    IIRC, supposedly his organizing objective was to create community leaders which would make his job unnecessary. The community people would gain the skills to lead and lobby, learn how to apply pressue, use PR, etc.–hence, the recruiting aspect. Initially, he was regarded with suspicion as a highly educated elite outsider and was told working through the black churches would make his job easier.

  42. I found this site, Obamasresume.org — if this thing is actually the best resume Obama supporters can put together — I don’t even know how the guy is on the ballot.

    Take a look at it. Has he ever held what most of us would think was a real job in his life?

  43. Guys,

    I’m going to put up a post on Obama’s commuinity organizing work. I’ll add everyone’s links to it so that we have a good collection of information available to us on this topic.

  44. jawbone, I’m aware of what a community organizer is supposed to do, but what impact did Obama’s tenure have on the community he was organizing.

  45. Obama has everything going for him:

    The momentum. The press. The story line. The Big Blogz. A massive cash advantage ($42 mil to measly $8 mil at the end of March, by now it should be a much wider gap). He is burying her with the amount of money spent.

    He is viewed by the vast majority as the de facto Dem nominee already.

    With all that, if he doesn’t win PA, what should that tell us?

    I f Obama loses PA even by 1 vote tomorrow,people should take a step back and question what else has to happen for this guy to win a big state.
    I don’t think anybody has else has ever had such advantages and still lost a key primary, especially one he needed to end the whole contest.

    Tom Watson wondered about that days ago:
    Keystone Quandary

    When they count the votes in Pennsylvania in another twelves days, it might be a good thing to have the handy checklist prepared by commenter swiss473 in Big Tent Democrat’s post over at TalkLeft at hand – it rather neatly describes the titanic electoral effort of Barack Obama in the April 22nd primary:

    Obama has spent more money and shown more ads in PA than any previous candidate in history.

    He has vastly outspent and outadvertised Clinton

    He spent a week touring the state, getting the endorsement of the sole Democratic Senator whose name and family is golden in Pennsylvania.

    Ever since the Iowa caucuses he has gotten the best media coverage and treatment that any politician has ever received, certainly the best in the last 40 years.

    NBC has literally become the National Barackcasting Company and every day and night pundits in the broadcast and print media have annointed him the winner, explained how it’s impossible for Hillary to win, have implored her to drop out, and generally praised Obama as the Second Coming. Even Senators Dodd and Leahy and Speaker Pelosi have pretty much proclaimed Obama the winner.

    He has had close to two months since he won 11 straight contests by an average of around 30 pts in states across the country in every region and has broken every single fundraising record there is.

    He gave a speech that was praised by the media as a mixture of Lincoln at Gettysburg and King at the Lincoln Memorial with a good measure of Christ at the Mount of the Beatitudes thrown in.

    And that list doesn’t include the negatives during the same period that have hounded the Clinton campaign. I’m not saying that Barack can’t put Hillary away. In fact, I’m gratified that his campaign is actually going for it in Pennsylvania, rather than skipping past it and relying on the delegate math. And given the incredible blitzkrieg of his TV campaign – outspending Hillary five to one, by some estimates – and his personal race across the state, you’d have to give him greater than even odds of beating Clinton; he’s the frontrunner, in many circles the de facto nominee, and he has a web-fueled pot of gold in the campaign treasury.

  46. BB and/or jawbone (or whoever): Assume I’m stupid, and please someone explain what a “community organizer” does.

    “Create community leaders” to do what? Lead people where?

    Is this a GOTV group, an astroturf organization, a lobbying or advocacy group, what?

    Who is paying the bills, and what is their goal?

    Right now the definitions I’m hearing are as vague as “consultant.”

  47. myiq2xu, look at that resume it deliberately obscures EVERY specific — years in college, who he worked for, who to contact for confirmation or references.

    I just assumed he’d done something solid, but it doesn’t look as if he’s ever held a real 8-5 job.

  48. myiq2xu:

    everybody who volunteers somewhere is a community organizer.

    I seat on the board of a youth club for “difficult” kids. I have helped get them computers from HP. I have helped with some fundraisers and so on.

    That makes me a community organizer.

    Oh wait… This adds to many other similarities I have with BO. Maybe I should run for POTUS.

  49. Mr. Hope has to become Mr. Negative in order to try to beat The Girl in Pennsylvania. Has Mr. Negative blamed The Girl yet?

  50. Seems to me a “community organizer” is almost literally a “rabble-rouser.” I thought the idea was that you the organizer were already politically savvy, and you hung around in the neighborhood bugging the locals to get involved in their community, know their rights, know how to contact their councilperson, start petitions, etc.

  51. MABlue, I’d vote for ya over Obi any day, buddy!

    The latest SUSA poll was different than their normal polls in that they stopped polling after 6pm. Given normal MOEs, this change in protocol could easily be responsible for the huge change from last week. Combined with the fact that almost every other firm has Clinton gaining, I’d say this SUSA is screwy. It should not be compared to the previous one since the protocol has been changed. That said, the poll could be close and we should be calling as if it were.

  52. Well, I am assuming that “community organizer” isn’t lke a drawer or closet organizer. In that sense, our communities are organized, and it would be the jurisdiction of a city planning department.

    A union organizer is paid to get people to join a union. I doubt Obama was trying to get people to “join” a community.

    If he was paid by the government, the purpose of organizing would be to get citizens to participate, like a neighborhood watch or DARE program.

    Any other group such as a non-profit, religious, or other NGO would be hiring people as organizers to urge people to get politically motivated to further the group’s purpose.

    So the question is what was the group’s purpose? That doesn’t mean anything sinister, the purpose may have been laudable and desirable.

    Were they organizing in support of certain candidates, certain issues, or an interest group advocacy? Who ran it, and where did the financing come from?

    “In 1985, some white leftists were looking for someone who could recruit in a black neighborhood in the south side of Chicago and Obama answered a help-wanted ad for a position as a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project (DCP) of the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) in Chicago.”

    I’m guessing this group’s goal was to organize the AA churches in support of certain candidates and issues.

    Nothing wrong with that, but I wouldn’t be surprised that the people running/financing it were hoping to gain personal leverage in return for being able to deliver votes. That’s how the world works.

    But it still leaves unanswered the question as to what, exactly, Senator Obama did for this group.

    Again, I’m not suggesting he did anything improper. But it makes me curious because he is so vague about this part of his life.

  53. You guys know that Hill’s on Olbermann tonight, right? Dare we watch?

  54. Thank you! Can feel your energy!

    Everyone, please try this:

    Write down tomorrow’s results. Say, Hillary, 61%, O!bama 49%. Every chance you get, say it out loud. And just know it is so.

    Spoken words are powerful. Written words, spoken out loud are even more powerful.

    Also, visualize and verbalize that you are sending streams of golden, positive light (energy) flowing out to Hillary, her team, and the people of PA.

  55. jen:

    59+41=110. I don’t know how to get 110% turnout, but I sure hope it happens 🙂

  56. oops


  57. okay, I’m tired


  58. katiebird, if you are still around. A baked potato with a little salt on it will cure nausea. Trust me, it’s an old-time nursing cure. (I’m an old-time nurse, LOL)

  59. You are right about robo calls. They don’t work and I testified at the US Senate about that in February.

    Both sides are doing them equally.

    I have audio on my blog.

    Shaun Dakin

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