"The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone,
In the Ranks of Death you'll find him..."
Halloween morning, October 31, Tuesday, Denver: I have flown out to join PJB on the road the previous night, in part because most of my work in headquarters is done, in part to provide another voice and cell phone on the road. But Pat and Shelly, press secretary K.B. Forbes and Charlie McKinney get in late from Salt Lake City; we meet in the hotel lobby by seven.
We're in a Denver radio station in the suburbs by eight, an hour-long interview with Mike Rosen, Denver's biggest talk host. Two irreverent classic rock station guys on the floor below also want an interview - and seem to draw out Pat pretty well on the bland sameness of the two major parties. A Rocky Mountain News reporter comes and interviews Pat during the gaps. Outside the station, state chair Dan Charles has gotten two dozen Buchanan Brigadiers to greet Pat - not bad for 10 am on a rainy Tuesday morning.
Soon we're on to Chicago - for several TV "hits," a half-hour interview on Chicago's PBS station, etc. The questions are similar - though Chicago a bit more pointed because we have a Chicago Tribune story about our immigration ads. Outside the PBS station, Unavision, the Spanish-language station, brings a camera - Pat gives them three minutes - while the gals from PBS have a conniption thinking Pat will be late for his live show. KB assures them he'll be in studio, made-up, on time. And of course he is. With Unavision, Pat talks with some regarding the excellent military record of Hispanic Americans, then notes that Mexico is not exactly eager to open its own border with Guatemala. I'd like to see how they piece together their tape, but they would be hard put to demonize him.
We peel off from PBS studio at 7:30 and in two limousines at full speed make it to O'Hare for an 8:15 flight to Little Rock, AK. We pull in exhausted at 11:00, lugging bags. When the electric doors at the airport don't work (not so inconsequential when your hands are full) Pat deadpans that he thought the TVA had gotten Little Rock hooked up already.
We all go to bed without dinner, and are up again before five. Pat is in three Little Rock television studios between 6 and 7 a.m., finds time for two print interviews in the car between them. Press coverage is the oxygen of the campaign, even when you're in the low single digits.
By eight we're at the Little Rock airport, and after changing planes in Atlanta, are in Birmingham, Alabama by noon. On the plane Pat tells me how much he enjoyed the first chapter of Gore Vidal's new novel The Golden Age http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385500750/vdare - warmly "recommended" by reviewer Andrew Sullivan.
Tee Miller, an LA Times reporter, is traveling with us - a few days in the life of the PJB campaign. He seems smart, but who knows whether he's out to mock or kill us. He asks a lot of questions about our ad buys, and my candid answers to some of them (to the effect that it is sometimes very difficult to buy what times you want or know exactly how much you spent, because the rates constantly change, because the ad agency deals through TV reps, because there isn't enough manpower - or we don't possess it - and how simply difficult it has been for our agency to oversee every buy in every market) make me almost embarrassed.
In Birmingham, we begin with a half-hour of Hank Erwin, a conservative Christian station, and by the time we leave Birmingham at five PM we've taped one the last radio ads, visited four TV studios, and had two newspaper interviews, one at the venerable Birmingham News. There's a city soaked in history for you - even has a little museum in the hallway, with big photos of Martin Luther King, smaller ones of George Wallace (post assassination-attempt, talking contritely with Jimmy Carter.) Did another dozen radio interviews.
At the end of the day - we're flying back to Atlanta that evening - Pat has given 23 interviews, nine TV, nine radio, five print. They've ranged in time between three minutes and a half an hour. He has, I remind him once, slipped a bit too much into his McLaughlin group persona, analyzing too much and too objectively the Bush Gore contest, not asking for peoples' votes. But he has been engaging, funny the whole time. Tee Miller says his energy level reminds him of McCain in the last days before the New Hampshire primary - and we're doing it, of course, without sustaining crowds.
Most of us missed dinner last night, breakfast this morning, and lunch. (I had coffee and peanuts at the Atlanta airport.) The question is whether one can avoid a junk food dinner, or hold out for a real meal in Atlanta.
Back in Atlanta Wednesday night, Charlie, KB and I go to Borders to get books for PJB's birthday. I give him Tom Frank's One Market Under God http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/038549503X/vdare a left-wing book with a good blurb by erstwhile fellow Nixon aide Kevin Phillips which I've been reading. The first third, at least, is a deliciously sharp polemic against the globalist "this-is-the-best-of-all-possible -economies-for-all-Americans" folks.
Thursday morning: we're up at dawn in Atlanta, TV hits on Good Morning Atlanta, the local Fox station, and CNN, then out to the airport for an 8:30 flight to Tallahassee, where Pat is speaking at lunch. In CNN we learn that Perot is going to do the Larry King show that night, and Meet the Press on Sunday. On air, Pat refers to him as the "deadbeat dad" of the Reform Party.
Then on to Tallahassee, a lunch speech at a civic club, a long airport flight. The Tallahassee airport is very retro, like going back to America of forty years ago. But there are hardly any flights. Pat is happy at least for several uninterrupted hours to spend with his Vidal novel.
We get to New York that night, and quickly call for a report on the Perot Bush endorsement. And learn about W's driving escapades. Here the campaign divides, between those who want to slam W or just give him the human benefit of the doubt. PJB is a minority of one. But on the Friday morning talk shows his (more conciliatory) view prevails.
After a round of radio call-ins and a stint in the Fox studios, we get ready for the morning press conference. About 12 "pencils" and three or four cameras meet Pat in an Essex House room, where Pat talks first about Perot, whom he says may have colluded with Bush to destroy the Reform Party, and then to - as he puts it - the more important matter of American policy in the Mid East. Here he comes out squarely for a Palestinian state, with the capital in East Jerusalem, mentions Sharon's visit as starting the latest war, and calls for America to become an honest broker - if not we will risk the hostility of the entire region. He accuses both Republicans and Democrats of pandering to the Israel lobby, pointing to the lopsided Congressional vote condemning the Palestinians and they alone. Then he does a an interview with NY One - a local cable news show - taking a question about Hillary and Lazio right to the Middle East - saying Hillary, who might be one of the most left-wing Senators elected, was at one point a commendable supporter of Palestinian rights, before she started pandering.
I peel off the caravan at 11:30 p.m. - four days on the road with nothing but airport food have given me terrible stomach problems. I walk out with The Weekly Standard's Matt Reese, and ask him how he thinks the Standard might fare under Wendy Deng. (The reference, for those not up with publishing gossip I find interesting, was The Wall Street Journal's profile of Rupert Murdoch's 31 year old bride and her growing role in NewsCorp. He detailed among other things, Deng's previous marriage to an older American man, her long absences in China, and Rupert's health and youth regimen of high protein shakes and whatnot. Some novelist will one day have quite a ride with that story.)
Meanwhile, Pat, Shelly, KB and Charlie set off with two advance guys for Hartford - press conference at 2 PM, and Providence - one at 5:30. The rest of the schedule: Boston, Portland MA, Philadelphia, Cleveland - ending up back in Virginia on Tuesday.
I'll do one last diary, writing up the Tuesday night party.