John McCain’s campaign invited two bloggers, me and Townhall’s Matt Lewis, to join his campaign this weekend in New Hampshire. We attended two town hall meetings, in Plymouth and Littleton. On the bus, John McCain sat between the two of us for two hours, with 5 or 6 "old media" reporters present, and handled questions from all of us. I recorded about 2.5 hours of video, limited only by my battery life and tape. Over the next week, I will be posting it all on YouTube here.
We found a vibrant, funny person who took all questions and dealt with them seriously. Matt has posted a little clip of his introduction to the Senator that captures both his sense of humor and the proximity and access we had:
Last week, after a ride on the bus, The Politico’s Jonathan Martin wrote that McCain might get in trouble with the level of access that he grants. I think that it may be the opposite. McCain spent 10 hours on the record on Saturday. The "gaffes" that Jonathan mentions from the week before were all made in public forums, not on the bus. I have trouble imagining more scripted candidates like Mitt Romney — whose control of the press was described by one conservative reporter as the "velvet rope" — spending over half their waking hours on the record. (consider Romney’s gaffes in the last week, from misquoting Castro to exploding at a conservative activist who asked him questions) In fact, the time on the bus might give McCain more of a chance to fix the inevitable mistakes. (see below for a correction)
Throughout this week, I will post excerpts from the town hall meetings, including his stump speeches on Iraq, spending, and global warming. Matt and I asked questions for about 15 minutes about campaign finance reform. That will go up, as will our interviews. And anything else interesting. The campaign allowed me to record everything and publish everything. The only limitations are that I didn’t bring enough batteries or tape.
Stay tuned for our stories from the Straight Talk Express.
Update: Jonathan Martin corrects me that McCain’s "condom" "gaffe" was on the bus.