“We’re pulling an all-nighter”
By Kevin Lamarque
“We’re pulling an all-nighter” — President Barack Obama’s refrain to crowds across the U.S.A. throughout his non-stop 40-hour campaign swing.
An all-nighter? Really? As in we sleep on the plane? On a domestic trip? Seriously? This was my initial reaction upon seeing the White House press schedule and failing to find a hotel mentioned anywhere. But sure enough, that was the deal.
I am pretty used to sleeping on Air Force One on the many long-haul international trips taken by presidents, and honestly, the seats are a lot more comfortable than on board your average cramped commercial airliner. But thankfully, to my knowledge, I have never had to call Air Force One my bed or hotel while traveling in my own country. This was about the change.
In the final stretch of the presidential campaign, with the race tighter than ever, the pace has quickened and the intensity thickened. The Obama team, sensing the pressure, used the clock to pack in as much as they could in a two-day campaign swing through battleground states. The trip: around 7,600 miles, 8 states, 5 time zones, all in 40 hours. Was it really necessary to pull an all-nighter? Probably not. But the image of a president fiercely campaigning through the night, sacrificing sleep for votes, was clearly irresistible. After Obama’s lackluster performance in the first debate, putting the fight back into the man has become a high priority for the campaign team.
So off we went…Washington-Davenport Iowa-Denver Colorado-Burbank California-Las Vegas Nevada-Tampa Florida-Richmond Virigina-Chicago Illinois-Cleveland Ohio and back to Washington. The sleep part came on the flight from Las Vegas-Tampa — a three hour Ambien induced nap.
Over the two days, we covered six campaign rallies, a spot on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, President Obama voting in Chicago and various unscheduled stops at places like a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and a local campaign office. We rode in motorcade vans, helicopters and two different versions of Air Force One, the 747 and the smaller 757.
Whatever weariness I felt throughout the trip was thankfully countered by the sheer energy of the crowds and the buzz of the story I was covering. Though the sensible side of me had been dreading the trip going into it, now that I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I would do it all over again tomorrow.