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lac582
06-06-2012, 03:41 AM
I have two characters joining the campaign of a Presidential candidate and accompanying the bus around the country, but I need some details to make it credible.

1. Approximately how many staffers participate in a bus tour and in what roles?

2. How easy is it for someone to join as a volunteer?

3. If someone approached campaign staff at a town hall or a debate and said they had intel about the opposing candidate, what would follow?

4. Is there more than just the one bus traveling around? Do people sleep on the bus or does the entire staff stay in hotels at the various stops?

Thanks!

Ariella
06-06-2012, 11:57 PM
I haven't staffed a campaign bus, but I've worked on many Canadian campaigns, including one tour in a central war room during a provincial election. An (American, I presume?) presidential campaign is going to have far more money, staff and technology than any other. Chances are, you won't find many people who've had that kind of experience on this board. Try reading memoirs of American campaigns, like David Plouffe's The Audacity to Win.


1. Approximately how many staffers participate in a bus tour and in what roles?For a presidential campaign, I imagine they number in the hundreds. In Canada, the person in charge of a campaign convoy is called the wagonmaster. There are some communications people who supply information to the journalists and try to spin them, and a techie or two who make sure that all the communications equipment keeps working so that the reporters can file their stories on time. There is also a small army of logistics people and gofers who make sure that the buses are regularly supplied with catered meals and toilet paper, and ensure that nothing gets left behind, etc. Ahead of the buses, there are advance teams making sure that the next rally/cattle barn/factory/kindergarten is prepared to do its thing when the buses roll up. Shadowing the tour there will also be communications people from the other parties trying to spin the reporters with their side of the story, and possibly some demonstrators as well.


2. How easy is it for someone to join as a volunteer?The senior advisors are usually longtime politicos whom the candidate has come to trust, but the gofers often don't have any special qualifications, except the willingness to endure 80-hour weeks on the road. They're usually students recruited from campus political clubs, junior staffers, or friends of someone else on the campaign.


3. If someone approached campaign staff at a town hall or a debate and said they had intel about the opposing candidate, what would follow?A prudent staffer would get in touch with the campaign's central war room right away. The war room would put a team of researchers on the intel and try to verify it as quickly as possible (i.e. in a matter of minutes). If the information proves to be true and relevant to the event happening at that moment, they might relay it to the communications people so that it could be worked into the post-debate scrum or even the event itself. Alternatively, they could write a media release about the information and send it out early the next morning, forcing the other side to start the day playing defence. Or, they could decide that the intel is not relevant enough, and simply sit on it. Or, they could decide that the information is true and relevant, but not very nice. Instead of having their candidate, Ms. Nice Gal, deliver the news, they could arrange for a more junior candidate with an edgier image to break the story. It's a judgement call, one that has to be made very fast.


4. Is there more than just the one bus traveling around? Do people sleep on the bus or does the entire staff stay in hotels at the various stops?Yes, there is more than one bus. Often there are chartered airplanes as well. People stay at hotels. The logistics of the tour can be crazy, because the itinerary will change wildly as the campaign develops.

jclarkdawe
06-07-2012, 12:32 AM
You might want to readFear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 (http://www.amazon.com/Fear-Loathing-On-Campaign-Trail/dp/0446698229/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1339014503&sr=8-7) by Hunter Thompson. Not the campaign bus, but the press bus. And Hunter Thompson was a bit different from a lot of people. Nevertheless, you'll get an incredible feel for what the campaign trail is like.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe