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Obama's sniper tale? When he stood up to Detroit's 'cold' shoulder

May 15, 2008 | 10:38 pm

Is this another Bosnian sniper incident, where a Democratic candidate for president describes a scene involving some personal courage, but later videotape shows that maybe perhaps it wasn't really quite all like that exactly?

Sen. Barack Obama, the leading Democratic candidate for his party's nomination, is very fond of telling receptive audiences the story about how last May he walked right into the automotive lion's den of Detroit and told those industrialists they were going to have to shape up, change the way they do things and start making more fuel-efficient vehicles to protect our environment.

"And I have to say," the straight-talking Obama tells his chuckling followers, "that when I delivered that speech, the room got really quiet. [Laughter] Nobody clapped."

Well, in honor of Obama's return campaign visit back to Michigan this week, someone -- perhaps Republicans, perhaps someone closer to home politically -- assembled videotape of Obama's oft-told tale and spliced it side by side with videotape of that actual Detroit speech.

You'll never guess what. The room wasn't quiet at all. Obama, in fact, got a loud round of applause. And at the end of his address the camera's view of him at the podium is partially blocked because the audience of local businesspeople and automotive executives was rising to give him a standing ovation.

(UPDATE: Ben LaBolt, an Obama spokesman, has provided numerous contempoary independent news accounts of the candidate's Detroit speech. They describe the audience as presenting a standing ovation at his introduction but only delivering "polite" or "light" applause during it, along with selected quotes from some audience members praising his courage or consistency in delivering the message about better mileage.)

There were no departure ceremonies after the speech because of sniper reports. Far too dangerous for that. It was all he could do then to duck his head and just run for the vehicles. See for yourself below.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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