CNN anchor Ali Velshi enthusiastically interviewed self-proclaimed child health care activist Mercelas Owens on Thursday's Newsroom, complimenting him for his "snappy dressing" and labeled him a "handsome, charming, self-assured young man."
Velshi brought on Owens 50 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour. At the beginning of the segment, a graphic on-screen read, "The Little Boy That Could." The child was featured prominently in the last days before the passage of ObamaCare, fighting for the passage of the legislation. Owens was also present at the bill signing, standing next to the desk as President Obama used the 22 pens to sign his name.
Throughout the interview, Velshi understandably treated the 11-year-old very politely, asking him about how he got involved in the political process, how he felt about being at the bill signing, and other softball questions. He repeatedly complimented Owens for his vest, which is also a trademark of the CNN anchor.
VELSHI: Marcelas, you- your mom passed away, and there are some people who think it was because she didn't get health care. She lost her job. How did you get involved in this whole effort to get health care reform done?
OWENS: Well, Washington [unintelligible] helped me get all the interviews and start doing public speeches, and they all led up to this.
VELSHI: Did you ever do anything like this? Have you been a public speaker? Have you been on TV before all of this?
OWENS: Before I became a health care activist- no.
VELSHI: All right. Well, listen, you talked to my friend, Ed Henry, the other day, and- you know, people asked you, how did you feel when you were up there? How were you when you were with the President? Were you nervous when he was signing that bill?
OWENS: I wasn't nervous. I was excited that the bill was being signed....
VELSHI: What does this mean for your life? How has it changed for you? And you're an 11-year-old kid. Most 11-year-old kids are busy going to school and playing afterwards and doing video games. What's your life like now?
OWENS: I've been meeting more people who are involved in- and I've been not- having people just think of me as an 11-year-old kid, and I'm now known as a health care activist....
VELSHI: You got called back in for a little private meeting with the President. How did that go? Are you allowed to tell me what happened there?
OWENS: Well, he started taking pictures and signing autographs for everybody, and after the end of the meeting, he said he couldn't do it without everybody who got involved....
VELSHI: What does the future hold for you? You now played some part in this health care reform. You feel good about being a health care activist. Now what does a guy like you do?
OWENS: I believe there are more interviews, but other than that, I don't know yet.
VELSHI: And where did you get into the snappy dressing? I like that idea. You know, I wear a vest, too.
OWENS: Well, we were- on my first trip to D.C., we- I asked my grandma if we could go get a suit and tie, but all they had were vests, and I chose the vest and because everybody in D.C. always is dressing up.
VELSHI: And you didn't realize it by choosing that vest, you were making this remarkable fashion statement and joining a very- you know, sartorial group of people?
VELSHI: Well, I think you should stick with it. You are a hard worker, and- very impressed to see a guy of your age, no matter what your- whatever your politics are, that you went out there and made a difference. I think that's a great message....I'm almost afraid to ask you what you want to do when you grow up, because you're more grown-up than a whole lot of people I know. What do you- have you ever thought about that? What do you want to do when you grow up?
OWENS: I want to become the president of the United States.
VELSHI: Oh! Well, all right, you heard it first here! He declared his intentions to run for the presidency of the United States. This may not mean much to all of you out there right now, but remember, I had the first declaration live on my TV. Marcelas, we wish you very well. You just keep smiling like that and it could work out for you, and remember, stick with those vests, no matter what anybody tells you.
VELSHI: Marcelas Owens, 11 years old, health care activist, proud of it, and one snappy dresser. Keep this image in your mind. I got to take a break and pay the bill. See you, Marcelas.
After a commercial break, Velshi continued lauding Owens in his regular commentary at the end of the 2 pm Eastern hour:
VELSHI: Okay, now it's time for 'The XYZ of It.' You just heard my conversation with 11-year-old Marcelas Owens. Earlier this week, he stood beside President Obama as the health care reform bill was signed. He earned that coveted spot in the hardest way possible: he lost his mother to a severe form of high blood pressure, and it is believed she died because she couldn't afford health care after she lost her job.
Marcelas is a handsome, charming, self-assured young man who some say is being exploited by supporters of health care, and there is no denying that he works his charms for a cause, but he paid a real price. He lost his mother, and he's going about making his voice heard in a way that belies his age. He's not bitter. He's not angry; his approach is singularly mature; and even more so in light of racial and homophobic slurs hurled at members of Congress, the baby killer accusation leveled by one member against another, and now acts of violence. A gas line was cut at a home belonging to a congressman's brother; a brick was thrown through a window at another office; and now, reports from number two House Republican, Eric Cantor's office, that someone shot a bullet through his Virginia campaign office window. A bullet! What is wrong with people? It's a democratic and free society. Legislation is what Washington is supposed to be doing. If you don't like the legislation passed, you push back. You get your voice heard, in a civil manner.
So, if some people in this country are resorting to violence and intimidation to get their point across, Marcelas Owens is fighting back the way we're supposed to- with class, persistence, and style well beyond his years. We can all take a lesson from this 11-year- old. That's 'The XYZ of It.'