Covering a presidential campaign: exhilarating and exhausting
At this point in the campaign, turning on the news and seeing (or hearing) President Obama or Mitt Romney probably seems like Groundhog Day - repeating images and soundbites that have voters yearning for the end of the campaign.
But for the reporters covering the candidates, in the process of getting those soundbites to their audiences, they have to live and breathe the campaigns, traveling from town to town in search of news to deliver.
CBS News Correspondent Peter King spent a week following the Romney campaign for CBS Radio News - the first time in his long, distinguished career he was embedded with a presidential campaign. Below is King's chronicle of his travels:
Tuesday, October 23
We're somewhere above the Middle - the part of the U.S. between New York and the big mountains of the West. I have no idea exactly where... and that's something I expect to say a lot during the next week or so.
Many who grew up reading the great campaign books of the '60s and '70s - Timothy Crouse's "The Boys on the Bus" and Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" come to mind - have had a somewhat romanticized view of what it's like to ride the bus or the plane. That mostly goes away - fast - once you've actually done it! Sure it's fun. Yes, it's exhilarating, but especially, it's exhausting.
As my wife, Lisa (Lisa Meyer, who has covered presidential campaigns for CBS and AP Radio) said over and over in the weeks leading up to my trip, "you have NO idea!" Everything she told me during our self-styled pre-campaign "boot camp" came true - and then some.
The itinerary is dizzying: campaign days start early. That means 5 or 6 a.m. for breakfast (yes, we DO get fed), followed by a "bag drop"; we leave our "checked" bags to be swept by the Secret Service, then collected for the bus and plane. We keep with us whatever gear we need for the day.
Flying charter is wonderful - and seductive. Lisa told me, flat out, that once I'd flown charter, I'd never want to fly commercial again. She was right. Sometimes, there are more seats than passengers, which makes stretching out easier. The Romney plane has WiFi and power outlets. We're allowed to use all of our electronic gear at any time. No constant admonitions to power off anything with an on-off switch.
And unlike flying commercial, there's real food - not mystery meat or a thimbleful of nuts. On this morning, we received a printed menu with choices: crab cake benedict on a slice of house baked French toast served with remoulade sauce, gulf shrimp and grits, and breakfast potatoes OR Grand Marnier and orange marmalade French toast, grapefruit bowl of ambrosia, breakfast potatoes. I'm serious. Real food.
The day got off to an inauspicious start thanks to bus drivers who couldn't find the West Palm Beach airport. Really. But most of us were napping on the bus...and only dreaming that we were driving in circles. The flight from Florida to Las Vegas is about five hours long. I've had one nap on the plane - will take another - and these five hours in the air will turn out to be the most relaxing of the day. No phone calls, no emails, no deadlines - until we hit the ground.
- no previous page
Popular in Politics
- FBI director acknowledges domestic drone use 147 Comments
- Obama and Berlin: Faded echoes meet new realities
- Obama on NSA programs: Americans "not getting the complete story" 259 Comments
- Immigration reform would cut deficit, analysis shows 82 Comments
- Next up for Obama: Major effort on climate change
- House Republicans pass 20-week limit on abortions 595 Comments
- IRS readying to pay $70M in employee bonuses, senator says
- Smooth, on-time Obamacare rollout no sure thing: GAO