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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thoughts on the Edwards Bus Tour

posted by on January 3 at 15:45 PM


You can find my photoblogging from the John Edwards 36-hour bus tour through Iowa here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. But in a few words:

It was a grueling experience, and I came away with a lot more appreciation for the stamina required of the reporters and candidates involved in this crazy process of just getting to first official picking of one candidate over another. It’s not an easy line of work. As I bailed out on the ride two stops before the finish (and two stops after another bunch of reporters bailed out), a wire service writer who was committed to the whole journey confided that he was at his breaking point. “It was the second sunset that got to me,” he said—meaning that watching the sun set twice from a bus that won’t let you sleep more than a couple hours at a time is rough on the body and spirit.

I also came away with a lot more appreciation for the technology involved in what has become basically a 24-hour job for “print” writers who are now filing constantly for the web. (And I mention the technological aspect because just now, as I was typing this, the power cord for my laptop… well, it’s hard to describe what happened but basically it looks like the power just burned right through the cord. Which means it’s no longer working. Which means that I have until my battery runs out to find another cord somewhere in Des Moines, an hour and a half before the caucuses start.)

In terms of politics—and speeding this up a bit because of the above-mentioned power cord problems—I thought the Edwards tour was impressive in that there were sizable crowds everywhere he went. I mean, really, it was impressive that there were simply crowds at all, sizable or not, for the events at midnight and 2 in the morning and 5 in the morning. But I heard from other people who had covered Edwards’s last campaign in Iowa that his crowds actually seemed smaller than they did in 2004, and I heard from a couple of potential caucus-goers that while they found his stump speech invigorating, with its angry, anti-corporate, anti-status-quo bluntness, they also found it a little thin on policy specifics, policy proposals, policy anything. The Edwards campaign seemed aware of this and passed out Edwards’s 80-page “Bold Solutions for Real Change” policy pamphlet to anyone who would take one. But my sense was that people wanted to hear more about policy from him in his speech, not from a pamphlet.

Also, for what it’s worth, and again with the caveat that I’m cutting this short due to technical difficulties: All the chatter I’ve heard from jouranalists in Des Moines today is that Obama, with his last-minute deals (here and here) and his strong momentum, will win this. The chatter also says that Hillary Clinton, having fallen far from her front-runner status, will have a rough road ahead.

RSS icon Comments


The Clintons always try to pretend they'll do badly so it won't look bad when they don't get 1st or 2nd.

But condolences on the power cord ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 3, 2008 4:03 PM

Gosh! Sounds even rougher than riding the SLUT!

Posted by RonK, Seattle | January 3, 2008 4:05 PM

Keep up the good work, Eli. Kudos to the Stranger for giving Eli the chance to get this kind of experience under his belt. Won't be long before we'll all be saying "we knew him when..." Anxious to see how Eli pieces this all together for next week.

Posted by oneway | January 3, 2008 4:15 PM

"came away with a lot more appreciation for the stamina required of the reporters and candidates" about those campaign staff who don't get to be cheered on stage, write for a paper, or even get paid much.

Posted by StrangerDanger | January 3, 2008 4:34 PM

Oh, Eli -- you failed me!!! The former INTERN got a Louis Sullivan bank in one of her pictures, but did not.

Nonetheless, I forgive you and THANK YOU for your above and beyond commitment to keeping us Strangers apprised of grass roots politics -- as opposed to just "grass," which every other day of Slog seems to have nailed.

Travel home safely and get some rest, buddy! :-)

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | January 3, 2008 4:53 PM

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