Now, This Is Campaign Fatigue
Sunday, April 27, 2008
After nearly six months on the road, sleeping in hotels, herding an unruly press corps onto buses, and boarding and emptying out charter planes from Medford, Ore., to Mecklenburg County, N.C., Jen Psaki on Friday faced reality.
With seemingly no end to the Democratic campaign in sight, Sen. Barack Obama's traveling press aide went to the Chicago apartment she has seen a dozen times since December, put her belongings into storage and let her lease lapse. She is now officially homeless.
"This race gives new meaning to that phrase 'marathon, not a sprint,' but these last few months have been more like sprinting through a marathon," said Psaki, who saw no reason to keep paying rent after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's win in Pennsylvania. "Nobody expected it to go this long."
If the American people are growing weary of the protracted Democratic nomination fight, they've got nothing on the candidates, their staffs or their staffs' families. A campaign that has stretched more than a year has now reached virtually every state, has seen babies born and staffers married, and has now begun to heat up again.
Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli, Clinton's director of Hispanic communications, arrived in San Antonio on Feb. 15 to ramp up outreach to Latinos in Texas. Two days later, her long-awaited adoption papers came through and she became a mother, working out of an adviser's home with an infant in her lap.
Between the two, the campaigns have logged more than 2,000 meal stops, from Yum Yum Donuts in Baldwin Park, Calif., to the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach -- with pit stops at 15 7-Elevens from North Las Vegas to Raymond, N.H.
The Clinton campaign has sent out 1,572 news releases since the beginning of the campaign in 2007, the Obama campaign 454.
"Sometimes, yes, of course," Obama acknowledged Tuesday, when asked whether he was exhausted.
It's starting to show. "Why can't I just eat my waffle?" Obama snapped at a reporter who sought to interrupt his breakfast with a policy question last week in Pennsylvania. Pressed during the Philadelphia debate on her claim to have faced sniper fire in Bosnia, Clinton shrugged off a question from voter Tom Rooney. "I will either try to get more sleep, Tom, or, you know, have somebody that, you know, is there, as a reminder to me," she said.
Clinton and Obama aides insist that the candidates are holding up remarkably well. Clinton gulps down hot peppers to keep illness at bay. Obama took a day off last week to see his daughters off to school.
But there is no way to completely hide how punishing the campaign has been. Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has pared back his schedule, taken the time to grill ribs for reporters at his Sedona, Ariz., ranch and carefully picked the venues for his public appearances. His would-be Democratic opponents have no such luxuries.
"Not surprisingly, I think, you have the tiredness setting in, with people doing the exact same assignment they've been doing for a year, day in and day out," said an Obama campaign adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, since other campaign aides would attest only to how spry they are all feeling these days.