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:

After the Littleton event, Matt and I interviewed people who attended the meeting. Every single person we talked to supported McCain. I am sure that someone left these standing room only events unhappy with the Senator, but Matt and I could not find them. I have posted the interviews already. Matt and I will write about some of these.

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.

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7 Comments

Emboldened » Blog Archive » Straight Talk Express Blogging · March 26, 2007 at 7:29 AM

[…] Soren Dayton and Townhall.com’s Matt Lewis spent time on the McCain campaign’s Straight Talk Express (The Remix) bus this weekend the Senator’s trip to New Hampshire. Dayton promises us oodles of video from their magical mystery tour throughout the week, though Lewis already has posted a snippet of video from their time with McCain. […]

The Straight Blog Express » wenBLOG · March 26, 2007 at 2:48 PM

[…] Last week in the “video for now” section of the front page, I put up a video of John McCain and posed the question: “Is the maverick back?” I’m not sure (especially after I had to endure his usual stump speech with the same jokes on CSPAN this weekend), but it appears that the featured guest of the Hanoi Hilton was doing his best to be a good host to some members of the blogosphere over the weekend. McCain offered total access to Soren Dayton at eyeon08 and Matt Lewis at Townhall as he toured the New Hampshire countryside on the Straight Talk Express. […]

Poll: Thompson Pulls Giuliani Votes, McCain Holds Steady at Conservative Times--Republican GOP news source. · March 26, 2007 at 8:53 PM

[…] What about McCain? For the first time in months, he has picked up support. After peaking at 28% support in December, McCain steadily fell until hitting 20% earlier this month. The rebound has come at the same time that McCain has increased the access to his campaign for both the press and bloggers; one can read some of the results here, here, here, and here. The warm receptions that McCain receives at his own rallies hardly surprises — after all, this is a rather self-selected group — but McCain obviously wants to reverse the perception that he has issues with bloggers. (He could do that better by reversing the BCRA — but that’s another story.) As far as I know, though, McCain has done the most to get bloggers the same kind of ride-along access that the national media gets on presidential campaigns. […]

Bluey Blog | Robert B. Bluey » McCain Gives Bloggers a Seat on the Bus · March 26, 2007 at 11:00 PM

[…] Conservative bloggers Matt Lewis of Townhall and Soren Dayton of Eye on ‘08 spent the weekend in New Hampshire with John McCain on his campaign bus. Soren is posting video on YouTube and Matt has several snippets on his Townhall’s blog. […]

The Right’s Field » Straight Talk Express Blogging · March 27, 2007 at 12:12 AM

[…] Soren Dayton and Townhall.com’s Matt Lewis spent time on the McCain campaign’s Straight Talk Express (The Remix) bus this weekend the Senator’s trip to New Hampshire. Dayton promises us oodles of video from their magical mystery tour throughout the week, though Lewis already has posted a snippet of video from their time with McCain. […]

eyeon08.com » More on McCain and campaign finance · March 29, 2007 at 6:21 PM

[…] Yesterday, I criticized an egregious misquoting (turns out the misquoting was not original. Derrida and Searle would be proud of a bunch of conservatives arguing about the authorship of Jason quoting Human Events quoting McCain quoting the Supreme Court…) of one of the YouTubes that Matt Lewis and I took on the Straight Talk Express. Matt pushed back, saying: In my view, Soren is being too hard on MyManMitt. Yes, technically McCain was misquoted — but not misrepresented.  It is clear that McCain agrees with the courts — that’s why he is quoting them. In my view, this is a matter of semantics (and not worth flaming somebody over). […]

Bluey Blog | Robert B. Bluey » Bloggers on the Ground in New Hampshire · April 4, 2007 at 8:37 AM

[…] The 2008 presidential campaign is bringing bloggers closer to candidates than ever before. One has to look no further than John McCain’s courting bloggers on his campaign bus or Rudy Giuliani’s inviting a blogger along on his trek through Iowa. […]

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