The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field
Tuesday, February 1, 2000
From Merrimack, New Hampshire
The weather finally lived up to its billing. Snow and sleet greeted all the campaigns this morning. One day to go. Most of the campaigns did events specifically designed to get them on the noon, evening, and late newscasts.
The first event on the Bush schedule was a thing called - this is true - the "Bisquick Pancake Flip-Off." I thought that the candidates were going to have to say bad things about the pancakes: "You're no good, pancake. You're flat, pancake. If you were any good you'd be a carrot cake."
However, it turned out the candidates had to flip a pancake as high in the air as possible and try to catch it on a spatula. Bush did it. Gary Bauer fell off the back of the stage. Metaphors abound. When reporters asked each other if anyone had seen the Bauer Back Flip-Off one said, "our view was hampered by having actually been AT the event."
Here is the recipe if you want to cook for the Bisquick Pancake Flip-Off in 2004 (this, from the guy who actually did the cooking): Take 135 Pounds of pancake batter; fold in 300 eggs; add 18 gallons of milk. Stir until large lumps are gone. Cook on hot griddle. Serves 2,373.
Moving on to the State Department of Safety headquarters, the obligatory snowball fight broke out between the campaign and the press corps. Great footage for the TVs. Everyone, EVERYONE threw like a girl except a woman from NBC who had a wicked arm.
A great deal of discussions about the polls throughout the day. On the Republican side they range from Bush leading McCain by two to McCain leading Bush by 10. Turnout. Turnout. Turnout. In politics it is called GOTV - Get Out The Vote. It often means the difference between winning and losing and it probably will here tonight, as well.
One aspect of Bush's surge here in the past week is the range by which he can lose and still have New Hampshire seen as a speed bump on his way to the nomination has narrowed. If Bush wins, of course, there is no issue. However, last week he could have lost by perhaps seven or eight percentage points and not have had the press break out in projectile sweat.
Now, however, it seems as though a loss of anywhere over four, perhaps as many as five, percentage points will cause questions in the press corps about the state of the Bush campaign.
Everyone in New Hampshire, it seems, has been interviewed, polled, or both. At a bowling alley appearance last night a twenty-ish man was waiting for George W to arrive. "He's usually late, you know," the young man said. "Oh, is that so?" asked a reporter. "Well, that's just what I've been told. I don't want to be misquoted," the young man said. "Don't worry," assured the reporter.
An interesting aspect to the Bush campaign was the stalking all day by imported members of the United Auto Workers union. They had gotten hold of the Bush schedule and were at every stop.
At the bowling alley, which was jammed with league bowlers, Bush supporters, and media, I watched them drift in two and three at a time. When there were about 20 of them, they were spotted by the security people and asked to leave, which they did. They then gathered in the parking lot until a car drove up, stopped, popped the trunk, and the union members each took out a Gore sign.
Again the security people had a chat and an agreement was reached that, as the bowling alley was on private property, they could hold up their signs and chant but they had to be beyond the parking lot.
One can only wonder whether this was a warm-up for the Michigan primary - home court for the UAW - in about three weeks.
One correction to the story about Senator Bob Kerrey and these same union guys from yesterday. I mistakenly wrote - largely for style purposes - that Kerrey had "won the Medal of Honor, but lost a leg during his service in Vietnam."
Several readers, including Adrian Cronauer, e-mailed to inform me that the Medal of Honor is never considered to have been "won." It is awarded. Correction humbly noted and made. Ex-Navy SEAL Bob Kerrey was awarded a Medal of Honor. Which doesn't make any more acceptable his having been called a "quitter" by Gore's imported heavies.
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