Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Eye Oh Aye

It’s 5 till 7pm. The Iowa caucuses are about to start. David has been meandering around bemoaning the fact that he’s not yet (or hopefully ever will be) involved in this political campaign season. I, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier. Especially about not being involved in Iowa. When I went to Iowa with a Presidential candidate—it was my worst nightmare. Let me share a story, then I will tell you who I think will win. (I’m not giving you dates – just remember, cell phones didn’t exist, we had no Blackberry’s, there were no fax machines. We used radio’s when they were available—if we had the money. And a telecopier, which was then new technology, was so new that the campaign got more people to attend a telecopier briefing, than a campaign event with the candidate.

Iowa is extremely cold in January. While we thought it would be fun to travel all over Iowa in a campaign bus, after the first day we realized we were incorrect. It was just cold, and tedious, and cold, and exhausting and cold. At that time I was traveling with the Candidate as part of his personal staff. This meant that it was my job to make sure his wife (who was hilarious and smart) did not get drunk and humiliate the Candidate. In addition, when the Press Secretary, may he rest in peace, got drunk, I became the press secretary. And the highlight of my job was to babysit the Candidate’s children (who, as adults, did not ever need a babysitter.) At most, they needed a briefing about the campaign events.

In my capacity as babysitter, (which I finally found out was because there was no money for my housing), I shared a room with the Candidates eldest daughter. The daily schedule went something like, Wake up at 6am, schmooze with the national press – get them to get on your bus -- have breakfast on the run. Jump aboard the bus. Brief the Candidate’s wife about her schedule. Fight with her about what was on her schedule. “Move that bus!” Usually there was a campaign event with the Candidate. It was generally a breakfast speech, an elderly event (you could count on them to show up at their caucus), a speech with people committed to the Candidate, a coffee, a meet and greet of some kind and a press opportunity. (This was a time when the media had total access, if they wanted it.) . Then we would get back on the bus and go to the next town, where there would be a luncheon speech, a community event, a small fundraiser, and a press opportunity. Back on the bus. There would be a spouse press opportunity on the bus, where she would say she loved cooking and knitting. (She wouldn’t have recognized a knitting needle if it was stuck in her leg.) I would sit in back of her trying not to guffaw. In the meantime, the Candidate would do more people events, fundraising, and press opportunities. At the end of the day, we would reconnoiter on the bus and head out for our RON (rest over night).

We were on the bus for two weeks, but it seemed like a lifetime. There were some unforgettable moments. One happened on the first overnight. It was so cold, so windy and snowed so hard, that when we got up in the morning, there were three inches of snow in our motel room. You can only imagine how cold the room had to be for the snow not to melt when it came inside. The other was on the night we were all supposed to fly back to DC. We were all excited to be going home. But when we got to the airport we discovered that the Candidate’s brother had cancelled our campaign plane without finding out if there was any other way for us to get home. There wasn’t. I won’t get into the gruesome travel details, but it took months for all of us to recover. In addition to which, we were forced to pay for the rest of the campaign on the Candidate’s personal American Express card.

Needless to say, I don’t miss Iowa – or the Presidential primaries. So who do I think is going to win. Governor Huntsman, because the Iowa Caucus have settled nothing. But Huntsman (who never even went to Iowa), will do very well in New Hampshire and that will give his campaign a boost, and him an opportunity to be heard. Isn’t it terrible to think that the Republican candidate will be the person we are least afraid of. And the Democrat will not face any real opposition. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

No comments: