Exclusive interview, David Wu (part two): What happened that final weekend before election day?

By Carla Axtman and Kari Chisholm.

As Kari noted in February, the reporting from the Oregonian and the Willamette Week has nailed down much of Wu's schedule in the week prior to the November 2010 election -- but their timeline stops short early on that Saturday.

Some have speculated that his staff basically hid him away during the final weekend of the campaign, keeping him away from voters. Wu says that that coudn't be farther from the truth.

KARI: I did a post on BlueOregon where I put together all the different stories that were out there, and realized that they’d essentially built a timeline of that last week before the election – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – and that timeline ended with the Friday night emails, the silly emails with the costume.

WU: It didn’t end with that, I want to go through that timeline to election day if you guys want to put up with that.

KARI: That’s actually my question. The reporting ended with those emails. But of course, there’s 72 hours left before the election is over. It’s obviously a critical 72 hours for any campaign. Your kids had just flown into town. What did you do that weekend? Were you campaigning?

WU: What’s critical about the 72 hours is to let the field campaign work and to let the air campaign work. I had funded the field campaign. I had to sweat bullets, but I had funded the air campaign. And if we didn’t do anything to blow up the campaign in any way, then I think we were looking for the result on election night. My kids flew in, I went to the Lincoln High School football game Friday night. Then, I went to the airport to pick up my kids. Got the bad news article there. Took them to dinner, late dinner because they were hungry. Then, goofing around with them – the very unfortunate tiger costume and the emails.

Then, Saturday, I’m with my kids. I go around to a whole bunch of public places with my kids. And we’re doing that Saturday, Sunday -–

KARI: Campaigning? Or dad time?

-- it’s campaigning in soft mode. What I wasn’t doing was standing by the side of the road waving Wu for Congress signs, because that it is something that makes you feel good, makes everybody feel good, does it drive votes? I don’t know. We’ve always done honk-and-waves, but I went to pumpkin patches, we went to the Evergreen Aviation Museum. We went to a Halloween party. These are all very public things I did with my children. ...

Look, I was not under house arrest. I was not "incarcerated". I was out doing very public things, because the field effort was working. You know where the field effort was, and how many people were involved. The air campaign was working. Our job was to let those things work. And I won by 12. I won by 12. And it was a big win, because our polling showed 2.

KARI: One last thing about that weekend. There was some reporting that your staff were concerned you might go to a Halloween party, in the costume, or some costume. Did you go to a Halloween party?

WU: Yes!

CARLA: Was that Saturday?

WU: Halloween was Sunday.

KARI: Saturday was the thing that every Oregonian was paying attention to - the USC/UO game. A lot of people were doing that.

WU: And I was at a Duck party for that. But yeah, I went to a Halloween party the next night. Again: With my kids. With a lot of people. In a Southwest Portland neighborhood.

KARI: No costume?

WU: No, with a costume! With that costume. I haven’t dressed up in 15 or 20 years, and now I know why.


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