Flight attendants play good cop, bad cop.

Politics on the road.
Dec. 14 2007 12:36 PM

Nasty and Nice

What I've learned about flight attendants this holiday season.

(Continued from Page 2)

He was introduced by Bud Dale, one of McCain's cell mates in Vietnam, who told of their time together. "When I saw him, I was positive he was going to die the next day," he said. "He was emaciated and filthy." There's no other candidate who has this sentence uttered during an introduction: "His right arm was pretty boogered up."

It was slightly odd hearing this stirring story of personal courage with the backdrop of Bennigan's flair. On the walls hung hockey sticks, trumpets, skis, and ersatz tin signs of oil and gas companies. It was also odd to see Phil Gramm, the former Texas senator, campaigning for McCain, only because it gave me flashbacks to the 1996 race. Gramm's slow, plodding speech is like syrup. He lost in Iowa and had to pull out of the race before New Hampshire. McCain called him "the smartest economist in America." This is not a widely held view. (permalink)

Des Moines, 9 a.m. CT (mentally in Marshalltown). I thought I had filed impressions from the Edwards event at Marshalltown Senior High School, but perhaps the exciting trip there caused me to have a mental lapse. So take a trip with me back to Monday night into the windowless library at Marshalltown Senior High School, which one voter said looked the same as it did 40 years ago. The sounds of a swim meet filter in from down the hall as 100 or so supporters wait for their candidate to appear before an American flag draped across the bookshelves at the back of the room.

Edwards was late, which meant that all of the reporters interviewed almost everyone in the place. There were at least 30 of us there. When the candidate did arrive, he looked a little distracted. He wore a zipper jacket and oxford shirt. He could have been in Tulsa or Reno. (The rest of us are all bundled up—or at least wearing flannel.)

Edwards started by poking fun at his opponents, which really meant Hillary. He brought up Hillary's kindergarten attack on Obama (which may go down as a turning point in the campaign if she falters, even though it was just a press release). "Some of the criticism has become a little silly," he said. "I have a confession to make: When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a cowboy or Superman."


Each of the candidates is moving into the so-called "closing argument"—that final pitch to voters—and Edwards' is this: Don't trust Hillary. He puts it this way when explaining to Iowans that they will be responsible for picking the next president and how they should make their decision: "I'm going to be fine. Hillary's going to be fine, and Obama is going to be fine. But is America going to be fine? America will be fine if you pick someone who is honest and sincere. … Trust is something that's in your gut. Is that particular candidate telling you what they believe or what they're supposed to say? If you trust them, the odds are that America will trust them." (permalink)

Dec. 11, 2007

Outskirts of Des Moines (Still. Damn it), 2:15 p.m. CT. We knew this would happen. I got into the car dressed in enough layers that I looked like the Michelin man and piloted the Ford Fusion with the good brakes over the fully covered streets. Just then came word on my BlackBerry from the Huckabee campaign that he too was folding for the day. All events, even the ones in Des Moines I could walk to, were canceled.

My colleague Chadwick Matlin tells me that Ron Paul is indeed going ahead with his events, but they're too far away. (Yes, if I had a thimbleful of Ron Paul's dedication I'd just walk the several hundred miles to get there, but I'm not going to do that.)

For my sins, the phone rang just as I was heading back to the hotel. It was an interview I'd scheduled and didn't want to miss. I pulled over and conducted it in my Michelin-man outfit, scribbling as best I could on my notebook. It was a very slimming exercise as I was extremely warm in the well-heated car. I opened the door for air, which challenged a passing car. I am now going to interview the snow. (permalink)

Outskirts of Des Moines, 8 a.m. CT. This morning started with a dose of exfoliating freezing rain as I made my way to the Huckabee events in Western Iowa, but then I received this e-mail.

Due to the weather conditions in Iowa, the Huckabee campaign events this morning, Tuesday, December 11, 2007,  in Council Bluffs, Red Oak and Creston, Iowa have been cancelled.

The end-of-day events are still on, but maybe not for long. "Let's keep in touch," Huckabee's Iowa campaign manger told me by phone. "They're losing power lines out there in Osceola, and we don't want you out there in the worst of it."