The campaign stop

It was not intended to become a news story. Michele Bachmann’s campaign stop in Sibley, Iowa, last Friday was just going to be a curious thing to watch with Aaron Hagen, the Daily Globe’s community content coordinator. He was going to take a video and I was going to do something on my day off besides play video games. But when I woke up that day, I decided to write something up on it since I was going to be there anyway and my boss, Ryan McGaughey, asked me if I could. Why not? If I’m going to something like this, certainly I could make a story out of it.
As Aaron and I entered the Pizza Ranch in Sibley, we met the manager, a nice man who told us he was a little surprised when he came into work that day. Apparently no one had told him Bachmann was going to be in his establishment until earlier in the day. The reason was that the person who took the reservation apparently didn’t know who Bachmann was or hadn’t thought it was going to be the “Bachmann.”
As we stood around talking to various people on her staff about this and that, a lot of people began to gather at the restaurant. They were nice people, eager to see the candidate in person. Once again, being from St. Cloud, Bachmann visits were not foreign to me, but this was different. This time she was running for president. That’s a pretty big deal compared to campaigning to be my district representative.
Suddenly, the outside bursted with excitement. A giant blue bus playing Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” from loudspeakers rolled up to the place. Aaron got his video camera angle set and taped her coming off the bus as I shot photos. Well, I thought, my first presidential campaign coverage and it’s someone I’ve seen and heard speak before. That was a surreal thing to experience.
I was a little surprised by Bachmann, though. She was a ball of energy zipping in the crowd, shaking hands and signing autographs. She was, perhaps, the happiest person I’d ever seen that day. All smiles and laughter and so forth. The reason I was put off by this was that she was visiting 99 counties in 10 days and that level of energy could not, in my opinion, last those many hours and days.
As she spoke, I was taking notes, photos and angling my tape recorder to catch everything she said. Nobody seemed to notice me bouncing around like some weirdo taking scrambled notes and snapping pictures. A lot of people were doing the same thing. I’d never been to an event where one could not tell who was media or who was just documenting the event for their own reasons. At one point, I thought it was all media there taping and photographing Bachmann, because that’s what it sure looked like.
During the middle of her speech, I looked at my tape recorder and saw the battery had died! It was one of those moments of panic. My heart began racing and my notes were brief. I take notes to mark what I think is important for the story as I listen back to my recordings. Then I calmed down when I remembered Aaron had this all on tape. I would use his video as my defacto tape recorder.
After her speech, one of her aides had to cut her off because they were already behind schedule. Bachmann kind of shrugged him off and decided to walk around, shake hands and pose for photos by a Christmas tree. Like visiting a political Santa Claus. I’m sure some of those photos became Christmas cards for some people. It would have been a Christmas card for myself if I got a photo of me with someone running for president. Alas, that didn’t happen.
Then the candidate, her family and staff boarded the bus. She waved at the crowd and the door closed. Unfortunately, her husband Marcus, came running out of nowhere and began hitting the bus door. After a few weird moments of silence, the door opened and he was let on the bus.
I enjoyed covering this. It was all high energy, fast pace rushing around. It was almost fun, in an odd way. I can’t explain why, but it was.

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