Those who followed the 2004 race closely may recall a campaign commercial called, “Ashley’s Story.” A far-right group blanketed the airwaves in swing states with the ad, featuring a photo of President George W. Bush hugging an Ohio girl named Ashley Faulkner, whose mother was killed in the 9/11 attacks.
It became one of the year’s most important moments for the right – conservatives created the now-defunct AshleysStory.com, printed 2.3 million brochures with pictures of Bush comforting Ashley, and used the story as the centerpiece of massive media campaign.
A few days after the 2004 election, Salon called this television ad the one “that put Bush over the top.” This brief hug in Ohio was “an emotional, unscripted moment that set in motion perhaps the most widely seen, and effective, television commercial of the 2004 campaign.”
I thought a lot about Ashley yesterday, right after President Obama hugged a woman in Ohio named Stephanie Miller.
After Obama’s speech in Sandusky, he encountered a sobbing Stephanie Miller, who later told reporters about her encounter with Obama.
“I thanked him for the getting the Affordable Health Act passed,” Miller said, referring to the health care overhaul the Supreme Court upheld last week.
Miller said her sister passed away from colon cancer four years ago – partly because she could not purchase health insurance.
The above photo shows Stephanie meeting the president, but it’s also worth taking a look at the Reuters photo of Obama comforting her.
Now, I have no idea if anyone on the left is poised to launch StephaniesStory.com, making her the centerpiece of a massive media campaign. For that matter, if anyone wanted to use this emotional moment to make a larger point, I suspect the right would start peeking in her windows in an effort to discredit her.
But the larger point is there are a lot of Stephanie Millers in America and far too many people who’ve found themselves in the shoes of her sister, Kelly Hines. And while Republicans continue to argue that the uninsured just aren’t important, for now we have a president who’s championing those who know better.