Catching Up with Mike Jordan, President Barack Obama’s MVP

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President Barack Obama, then a state senator, marches on Lakewood Boulevard in the Fourth of July Parade. Mike Jordan, to his left, is busy passing out campaign literature. (Photo: VOPF)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Anyone who has ever campaigned with Mike Jordan knows he’s not at all easy to catch up with.  He’s always on the move, usually covering more ground than the candidate. Jordan was kind enough to share some thoughts on his recent trip to the Nation’s Capitol to witness the swearing-in of President Barack Obama. Jordan, an insurance agent in DownTown Park Forest, has known Obama for more than a dozen years and serves on the Board of Directors for Obama for America. He has worked with Obama on several of his campaigns, and they’ve become friends.

Jordan said he personally began the inaugural celebration on Monday morning, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a visit to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to participate in a service project where volunteers were preparing packages for soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I was with some friends, and Barack’s Kenyan family were there, along with Barack’s half-sister Auma, his half-sister on his mother’s side, Maya, and her husband, and his family.” Jordan said there were a number of others in a large tent filling up plastic bags with toiletries for the soldiers. “We spend about two hours there. It was a very enthusiastic crowd.”

Then soon-to-be First Lady Michelle Obama showed up and stayed for about an hour-and-a-half to help fill packaes as well.

Marching in Park Forest

Jordan reminisced as well about a 4th of July Parade he marched in Park Forest in 2003 with then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama. Obama and his team of volunteers had spent the day marching in five parades for Obama’s bid for the United States Senate, and probably made contact with more than 50,000 people that day, according to Jordan. Park Forest was the last parade of the day.

After the parade, Obama and Jordan spent some time chatting in the parking lot of the Park Forest Aqua Center.”After we had completed the parade. We had one sign left from the day. He just ran, because it was his daughter Malia’s birthday, and he wanted to get home. It was in that parking lot, we were just rehashing the day, and he and I talked. We said, ‘We got in front of like 50,000 people today.’ It was the biggest amount of people we had gotten in front of in one day. We thought, ‘We can win this thing!’

“The parking lot of the Aqua Center is a very significant spot. It’s the very first time we said maybe we could do it!”

Inauguration Day

Mr. Jordan said he arrived at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday morning around 9:00 a.m. with his wife Patty. He said there were people sitting next to him who had driven to Washington overnight from Georgia. Others nearby in the crowd were from New Jersey. He paused to consider the history of the moment, “Looking back, you would see thousands of faces, stretching all the way back to the Washington Monument. And just the whole rainbow of faces, black, brown, white, all together, was such a wonderful mosaic of the country.”

He said President Obama’s speech was more serious given the issues confronting the nation, “He wanted to be frank and straighforward with the country.” Jordan said the section of Obama’s address that resonated most with him was when the president said, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

“Beyond the history of the moment, we have a lot of work to do,” Jordan said. “There’s a certain practicality to the speech.”

After the inauguration, the Jordans walked four miles back to their hotel. He said people in the crowd remained very polite.

Jordan took his daughter Alyson to the Home States Ball. He only had two tickets for each event. He and his wife wanted to give their daughter a chance to attend an event as well. Jordan received a text message from one of Obama’s staff members letting them know of a smaller gather that would take place before the ball where they could meet privately with the president. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and his chief of staff Robin Kelly, were also at this gathering.

Mike said when President Obama arrived, he had a chance to congratulate his friend.

“Here’s the MVP!”

Robin Kelly said the inaugural events were “wonderful and stressful all at the same time.” She enjoyed the crowds, but the lines were long. “When I thought about why I was there, it was wonderful. I had a lot of pride. I supported Barack when he ran for Senate. To see him as president was extraordinary.”

Ms. Kelly attended the inauguration with her husband Nate. They had “orange” tickets, which put them with the crowds closest to the Capitol Building on the Mall. “Some of us sat in the grass and watched. I think people were very peaceful, for the most part. Some people had stood in line for a long time. It wasn’t the warmest day of the year,” she laughed.

She, Nate and a few others were invited to see President Obama before the Home State Ball.

“As long as I’ve known Barack, when he said, ‘Hello,’ to me, I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is the president!’ That was pretty cool.”

She said that, in spite of the busy day with the inaugural activities, President Obama came across as “happy and postive, which was really wonderful when you think of all the stuff going on in the world — and hopeful. That’s the only word I can think to use. It was really wonderful. I was just so honored to be there.”

Kelly said there was one thing she saw she considered to be “very cool.”

“Mike Jordan was there also, and when Barack turned around and saw Mike, he held him and said, ‘Here’s the MVP!’ That’s how so many of us feel about Mike, because Mike worked so hard and so selflessly for everybody that he believes in. So, that was pretty cool.”

“Of course, Mike was very humble about it,” she added.

Editor’s Note: Mike Jordan was recently interviewed for an upcoming biography on President Obama by David Maraniss of the Washington Post. Part of Jordan’s interview can be read in this recent piece by Maraniss, Restless Searcher On an Improbable Path.