The Baby Primary
Can I get my 5-month-old daughter photographed with every presidential candidate?
As a resident of the "Live Free or Die" state, I'll concede that the New Hampshire presidential primary gives us ridiculously disproportionate influence. But I love the fact that my state's electoral power comes with a great fringe benefit: It's easy to enshrine the next president in your family scrapbook. A sucker for political kitsch, I set out to photograph my 5-month-old daughter, Dahlia, in the arms of every candidate with a prayer of making it to the White House.
My rules were simple:
1. No actual kissing. No Democrat or Republican is putting saliva on Baby Dahlia.
2. No pictures with former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. He's way too creepy.
With meticulously detailed campaign schedules posted on the Web, it wasn't hard to get Dahlia into the same room with all the major candidates. But this project was anything but easy. It takes tremendous patience and parental magic to make a child sit through a two-hour presentation on health-care reform. It also takes a paparazzi photographer's instincts to get that winning shot. Candidates often have access to multiple entrances and exits at events, and staking out the wrong one means going home empty-handed.
As of the day before Tuesday's primary, I've photographed Dahlia with every candidate except Fred Thompson, who's barely shown his face around here. Now, let's explore how fun it is to transform a 5-month-old girl into a ubiquitous campaign prop!
Click here for a slide-show essay on my quest to get my 5-month-old daughter photographed with every presidential candidate.
Darren Garnick is a freelance writer and documentary filmmaker.