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From the Road

Today we debut a new feature at FishbowlDC called “From the Road” in which we interview reporters who are on the campaign trail. We’ll find out all the vital, red-hot and unnecessary details we can. Questions may vary each time. Have someone you’d like us to feature? Tell us about it at FishbowlDC@mediabistro.com or write me at Fishbowlbetsy@gmail.com.

We debut with RealClearPolitics‘s Scott Conroy. The photograph (above) is Conroy’s hotel room at the Luxor in Las Vegas where he’s covering the heated race between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) and Sharron Angle (R). Today he’s still in Vegas. Tonight he’s off to LA. He’s traveling with RealClearPolitics colleague Erin McPike.

How long have you been on the road? We left DC on Sept. 26, so it’s been almost a month.

How many states have you been to? 17, if you consider Missouri a state (I don’t even know what that means).

Are you sleep deprived? I’m not one of those superhumans (liars) who claim they can function properly on four hours of sleep, so I try to get a reasonable amount
every night. But I have developed a case of what I call the Campaign Trail Scurvy. It was worse for me in 2008, but there’s only so much gas station-bought Smartfood and Mambas a man can eat for lunch before it starts to take a toll on the old immune system.

Do you ever wake up forgetting where you are? Not yet, but I am in Vegas at the moment, so time will tell.

What have you learned on the trail? Erin McPike and I were both embedded with the Romney campaign in ’08, so I was aware going into this that she knew a lot about politics. But I didn’t know that she knew THAT much. Most of the time when we’re interviewing a candidate or staffer, it becomes abundantly clear that she knows more about the dynamics of their own campaign than they do. It’s pretty impressive.

What has surprised you? I’m surprised by the extent to which most of the candidates we’ve spoken to are genuinely well-intentioned. They get caught up in the silliness like most everyone else in politics, and we rightfully mock them. But in general, they’re running–at least in part–because they believe in certain principles. I don’t understand why anyone would want to run for office. The scrutiny these people are under is incredible and the day-to-day grind must be mind-numbing.

What has annoyed you? It’s always deeply upsetting whenever McPike tries to change the satellite car radio station to “Hair Nation” when I’m trying to listen to “Backspin” or “The Grateful Dead Channel.”

Most amusing moment so far…

Most amusing moment: One difference in transitioning from CBS News to RealClearPolitics is that now my email address is listed at the bottom of every story I
write. I get interesting and helpful emails from readers, but occasionally I’ll get someone who wants to give me a piece of his mind. I got one from a reader when I was in Ohio a few weeks ago that I enjoyed very much. He told me that I was a “mental midget” —concise, yet scathing. I hope to use it against a future adversary.

Best hotel accommodations so far (and worst)? We’ve been trying to stick to a budget, so it’s been a lot of simple (yet comfortable) Hampton Inns. There hasn’t been much in the way of blood stained sheets or penthouse views on this trip.

Who is the best, most intriguing person you’ve met on the trail? Erin and I really enjoyed talking to the two Senate candidates in West Virginia. Joe Manchin and John Raese are both likable guys in different ways. When we asked Raese (who ran for Senate twice previously) what was different about this year’s campaign, he said that it was pretty much the same as past races, notwithstanding the new opportunities for voter outreach provided by “Facepage” and “Tweeter.” He said both with unbridled confidence. We were a bit disappointed when “Facepage and Tweeter” didn’t become the new “it’s a series of tubes.”

Give us a sampling of your work from the trail. Your choice. Here’s the Raese “Tweeter and facepage” story. Read it here.

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