Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday 1/13/08 Daddy where ya goin'?

My 6 year old daughter and I are settling in for bed with a best of three round of Uno. News 14 Carolina is on in the background. Gotta get the "bus stop" temperature for tomorrow morning. Jordan overhears a promo about our coverage in South Carolina to which she responds... there are two Carolinas? Okay, we're sending back the Wii and pulling out the atlas.
Yes darlin' there are two Carolinas and daddy is headin' south for the next two weeks to see who has what it takes to become the next president. Tim Boyum will be in front of the lens and I'll be behind it. Twelve hour days, a lot of fast food and two debates. Should be fun. "UNO'. exclaims Jordan. She wins the final round to take the series (obviously). Gotta instill that winning spirit just in case she plans to run for President some day.


Monday 1/14/08 We're Off!

Hit the road at 7am with Pawley's Island, SC loaded in the GPS. 401 south out of Fuquay to 421 through Dunn then I-95 south to the second Carolina. John Edwards is speaking with a group of locals about the environment. He wouldn't want to know the satellite truck I'm driving, a Ford E-350 Superduty with a Triton V-10 engine, gets just 10 miles per gallon.
The rally goes off without a hitch. Mostly seniors who are sold on Edwards. Small press entourage. Not surprising with most of the attention on Michigan and Nevada. Things will pick up tomorrow with McCain and Huckabee rolling into SC.
It's always interesting to see the young people involved with the campaigns. The guy helping me with an audio feed could be the next assistant press secretary for the President. I'm not sure I was that passionate in my twenties. I'm a Generation Xer. I was interested in making money and living the good life, which doesn't explain my career path but that's another blog.
We dined in Mount Pleasant. The Water's Edge. A dozen raw oysters to start with bar-b-que salmon for the main course. I'll have to keep eating egg mcmuffins for breakfast if I expect the company to pick up the dinner check.
It's the night shift for Tuesday. Huckabee is hosting a watch party in Lexington for the Michigan results. Not on the coastline, but I'm sure the seafood is just as good.


Tuesday Night 1/15/08 B-B-Q Huckabee Style

Nothing worse than showing up to a local event and the national media has already taken over. There was a small riser set up for the media at Hudson's Steakhouse in Lexington SC. Mike Huckabee was to speak at 8pm. We rolled in at 4pm to find the boys at CBS News, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC had staked claim to the entire riser. Squeezing in was going to take the diplomacy of a Presidential candidate. This is where networking comes in. I worked with the photog from CNN back in Charlotte in the mid 90s. He knew the photog from Fox news and before I knew it, I was center stage. I love those national guys.

The place was packed by 7pm, Huckabee rolled in around 8. What impressed me most tonight didn't come from the podium, but from the crowd. We met the Ashcraft family from Lexington SC. Jeff (husband and dad) actually lived in Arkansas and was a member of Huckabee's church. When they heard Mike was going to be in town, Becky (wife and mom) finished work and headed straight for Hudsons. She quickly laid claim to a table for four. Jeff arrived an hour later with their two girls ages 5 and 3. They would wait almost 3 hours to see Mike. It was important for them to be there. For their girls to witness what they hope is history in the making. To get politically motivated and involved at an early age. They are blue collar Americana. Working hard to make ends meet, raising their girls in a christian based home and
doing whatever they can to put a man in the White House who will keep their middle class dreams alive. I've taken my youngest to the polls to vote, but that's the extent of our political activism. I admire people like the Ashcrafts. They are the backbone of this country and have the most to gain or lose in this election.

Wednesday 1/16/08 McCain in Spartanburg

This would be an interesting day. We need to be in Spartanburg by 3pm for John McCain, but a winter storm mix had management wanting our satellite truck in Charlotte. First thing you learn in broadcasting, weather is king. We arrived in Spartanburg a little after two to a small crowd of confederate flag waving McCain haters. These folks hadn't forgotten 2000 when McCain called for the flag to be removed from the state capitol. McCain and his wife Cindy arrived via the "Straight Talk Express" oblivious to the boos.
Once again the photog gods were on my side. A prime spot on the riser. This is a theme I hope carries through the next two weeks.
Senator Lindsey Graham got the crowd fired up.... Mrs. McCain mesmerized the crowd with her beauty and elegance, then John....well, was John. Let's just say public speaking isn't his strong point. He had a couple of nice one liners. He was happy to hear SC was suing NC over water. He remarked on AZ suing CA over water. He said AZ was so short of water the trees chase the dogs. LOL
A hour later, McCain and troop were back on the ST Express headed to Greenville.... Tim and I were bound for the queen city. A relatively easy day topped off with a nice dinner at Nikko's sushi bar. With breakfast at McDs and no lunch, we stayed within per diem.


Thursday 1/17/08 Clemson University via Fort Mill

The winter mix brought a dusting of the white stuff in Charlotte. That would be good news for us. No live shots along icy roads. We loaded up and headed to Fort Mill. Ron Paul was to address a group of about.....20. Is it just me or is there something to Ron Paul and Ross Perot looking alike, both coming from Texas, having the same initials and the same following? Someone should get a DNA swab. One thing about covering the underdogs, they are always willing to give you the coveted "one on one" interview. A
2 1/2 minute interview, 5 minutes of "b-roll" with Ron and the (small) crowd and we were off to Clemson for Huckabee, Norris and Flair.
Okay, we were really there to see Chuck Norris and Rick Flair. We'd already seen Huckabee in Lexington. To everyone's disappointment, Mr. Flair did not WOOOOO, but most men in the crowd did when Mrs. Norris took the stage. Walker Texas Ranger introduced her proudly proclaiming...."not bad huh". The crowd ate it up. They also ate up Huckabee jamming with a local band to "Sweet Home Alabama".
It would all end around 4pm, but Tim and I would still have another 8 hours of work to do. An hour and a half to write, edit and uplink our package... a 2 1/2 hour drive back to Columbia... set up lights outside the capitol and shoot ins and outs for the "Political Connections" show airing Friday night...and finally marrying the ins and outs to all the primary packages shot over the past two weeks by our entire news staff. No steak or seafood tonight.

Friday 1/18/08 the Ultimate Underdog

When you are in news, you are approached by all kinds. Case in point... Hugh Cort. It's 2:30 Friday morning and Tim and I were trying to check in to our hotel when we were approached by two men in long coats just in from New Jersey. The big, burly, crew cut guy in the black coat looked like he should speak with a Russian ascent. The portly, all smiles, wavy gray hair guy was Hugh Cort. A psychiatrist and self proclaimed terrorism expert from Alabama. He's dropped $35K just to get into the SC republican primary. That's a lot of palmetto trees. He's dead set on telling us about Osama's plan to detonate 10 nukes in NYC, WDC, CHI and 7 other major cities. We're dead set on getting to bed. A couple of handshakes later it's lights out. Little did we know Mr. Cort would take up most of our Friday.
When you're on the road, 6 hours of sleep is a lot. An early morning conference call informed us another winter storm would arrive over the weekend...we would serve as an uplink truck for our sister station "New York 1" out of NYC and we needed to feed in our 30 minute show ASAP. Breakfast would come late.
As we uplinked the show, Tim asked, what kind of guy spends $35 grand of his own money to join a race he has no chance of winning? Three phone calls later, we're in a local diner watching Hugh Cort court patrons for votes. The Lizard's Thicket is a quaint little place. Waitresses were buzzing with platters of eggs, bacon and grits and I was in the way with my 20 pound camera. I swear one of the old broads forearmed me. I'm not kiddin'.
Hugh is a God fearing, fiscal conservative republican who thinks Osama bin Ladin has 10 briefcase nukes in the US and positioned to strike. Most of the folks seem perplexed. I wasn't sure if it was his Armageddon theory or my camera getting up close and personal. That's what I love about working and living in the south. People here will put up with just about anything. An hour later we had got our ultimate underdog story and Hugh was on the road to Spartanburg to meet up with a Ron Paul rally. With Mr. Cort and his campaign manager (the guy in the long black coat) the crowd grew to 22.


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