By Jason Reed

600 miles of ice cream stops, cornfields and cow judging contests – a glimpse inside the traveling white house circus.

The scene in Washington DC, 2011 – U.S. debt ceiling negotiations, unemployment figures that wont improve, congressional deadlock – it’s enough to make you want to get out of town. President Barack Obama did just that this week, jumping on a shiny new bus and heading out to the Midwest to spend time with pretty much anyone who wasn’t wearing a business suit.

It was surely a nice change of scenery for Obama and definitely for photographers assigned to the White House who have been fed a steady diet of presidential remarks in front of all the familiar Washington backgrounds for weeks on end. The message was however, the same. Getting the nine per cent of unemployed Americans back to work.

Not since the early campaign days of 2007, when new U.S. Senator Barack Obama burst onto the national scene, have I seen the sort of access that the traveling White House press received in the past several days. With an entire staff dedicated to “advancing the trip”, locations were scouted along the 600 mile route through key election states Minnesota, Iowa and lllinois.

Some would think that the Presidential election is just around the corner but you’d be wrong. In most other democracies around the world an election cycle would last maybe a month. We are still over 530 days away from the November 2012 presidential election, and right here for me President Obama’s re-election campaign has officially begun. Better strap myself in for the ride. It must be by far the longest, most intense election campaign in the world.