Watch CBSN Live

Behind the Scenes With the Clinton Traveling Press


From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

"I don't care what the state trooper wants! I can't go more than seventy five miles an hour!" hollers the frustrated Clinton campaign press bus driver as he tries to keep up with the motorcade down the Kentucky highway.

Over a dozen members of the national press rock along as the vehicle curves through Kentucky's mountain country, hugging the hips of Highway 23's curving stretch.

Far from cell towers or blackberry reception, some reporters (including myself) pound at seatbacks in frustration that they are unable to file information back to their editors. Others calmly watch the great green landscape of Kentucky go by, with the occasional sight of an hourglass-shaped coal exhaust tower or a row of high tension wires roping over the hilltops like an endless clothesline.

Clinton staffers are seated at the front of the bus. Travelling press staffer Mo Elleithee has his headphones on and laptop out, while the other staffer, Jamie Smith, dressed in a red trench coat and hair pulled back, chats wide-eyed with the reporter from the Washington Post.

It's a three hour ride between campaign stops. The first was this morning Maysville, Kentucky, where Hillary Clinton woke up, got in an SUV that brought her two blocks, and vowed to a crowd of six hundred supporters in a gymnasium that the race was nowhere near over after tomorrow's primaries in this state and Oregon.

The noon sun shines overhead in a sky that's the color of chlorinated pool water, but inside the bus it is dark and cocoon-like with tinted windows, gray upholstery, and stale air conditioning. Empty Styrofoam boxes of tuna fish and turkey sandwiches pile up in a passenger seat. A pregnant trash bag hangs like a black Santa sack from the bathroom door; the bus's interior temperature threatening to rise enough to bring the smell of its contents to life. Still no cell reception.

Some reporters are still browsing newspapers, some are transcribing text on to Microsoft Word, some are filing and on deadline even though there's temporarily no way to contact New York or Washington. Some listen to iPods and other discuss politics and baseball scores. Mets won last night. New Suffolk University poll says Clinton is gaining in Oregon. Senator Byrd is endorsing Obama. Is there any bottled water left?

The Reuters reporter leans over to inform me that we just passed a sign directing cars to the home of Loretta Lynn. She clicks ahead to "Don't Come Home A Drinkin'" on her mp3 player and repositions her earbuds.

The sights of coal mining country from the windows of a two ton bus slide by as we travel roads carved into the shoulders of mountainsides. Walls of exposed rock are stacked up like cake layers and pinstriped with the remnants of dynamite chutes where engineers dropped down stick and set off running as they blew open the beginning of the highway.

As we pull in to Prestonsburg, we see dresses in the window of Kentucky Mountain Bride, the brick facade of the Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company, and Taco Bell. People begin to file out of their homes and wave with one hand while the other hand shields the gleam of sunlight from their eyes. Our driver mumbles about cops and how "none of them know how a bus works" as he pulls off to the road's shoulder and over the yellow spray-paint on the asphalt that reads "NO PARKING."

As we step off, we must navigate around the long Floyd County school buses sitting sideways in the street, barricading off Arnold avenue where children run wild with skateboards and soda cans - Prestonburg schools were closed today in anticipation of Clinton's arrival. Mothers hold their one year old daughters over their shoulders while fathers hold folded up strollers under their arms. Retired men in Polo shirts smoke cigarettes and wipe the sweat from under their ball caps. Supporters hand out bumper stickers that read "I'M FOR HILLARY AND SO IS MY WIFE." A red wagon sits on a sidewalk with a couch cushion inside of it -- that's how the dog got here.

The only thing that isn't American on this street are the houses with Venetian blinds.