Campaign Characters

I’ve probably made people sick with my frequent posts on presidential candidates, but I wanted to get a few last words in before the primaries officially end. It was an oddly special election season for me, not just because I got to meet and greet so many potential Presidents of the United States, but also because of some of the interesting characters I met along the way.

Bobby Jindal and supporter

Gov. Jindal gets to sign a caricature of himself in this guy’s sketchbook.

First, were the political junkies like me, who just wanted to see the next President. One misconception is that people who attend a candidate’s event are essentially endorsing that candidate. On the contrary, I found many attendees to be remarkably bipartisan. The bearded guy who sat with his daughter in the front row to see Hillary Clinton was actually voting for Rand Paul, but he also came to see Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal (asking the latter to sign a caricature he drew of him).

I met another guy who campaigned actively for Carly Fiorina, but he also managed to see every other candidate in the running and even got to attend the debate in Des Moines. We became a strange set of groupies during the primary, and it was the one brief thing that brought us together.

Rick Perry signs autographs

Jean adds an autograph from Gov. Rick Perry to her collection.

Then there were the autograph hounds. One white-haired lady named Jean seemed to pop up at every candidate’s event, including Rick Perry, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina, with a stack of things for them to sign. I had the impression she annoyed Sen. Paul in particular as his campaign guy actively stood in her way when she tried to approach. Another guy I met not only got folks like Rick Perry to sign his stuff, but he even got close enough to President Obama to get an autograph or two. I didn’t think much about this until the campaign was over, but autographed memorabilia can go for big money on eBay. The most amusing of these autograph hounds was the Fake Security Guy, a man who would dress in with sunglasses and a fake earpiece (often connected to nothing dangling freely at his side) holding people back before getting one candidate or another to sign his stack of stuff.

Tom Becka & Marco Rubio

KPTM’s Tom Becka interview Sen. Marco Rubio.

Finally, there were the media types. KPTM’s Tom Becka would appear at nearly every event I went to, and I had a running joke where I’d pretend he was stalking me. Our friend Jessica works for KETV and would also cover many of the same stories.

I got to learn personally which candidates would allow local reporters to ask them questions (Donald Trump and Ted Cruz) and which ones wouldn’t (Bill and Hillary Clinton). I even brushed shoulders with the occasional PowerLine blogger.

Mark McKinnon

Mark McKinnon films for his show “The Circus” on Showtime.

Of course, the primaries would also attract plenty of national media. I would regularly bump into reporters from the Washington Post or the New York Times covering the campaigns, as well as photographers such as Jae C. Hong from the Associated Press or Gage Skidmore, who’s made a name for himself taking pictures and putting them out for anyone to use via a Creative Commons License on Flickr. Reporters like NBC’s Chris Jansing would come to interview voters, and I even managed to appear on the Fox News Channel myself multiple times. Mark McKinnon, former political adviser to George W. Bush, also appeared at events of Ted Cruz and Bill Clinton to film a special on Showtime called The Circus. If you watch it, let me know if you see me lurking in the background.

So that’s it for the 2016 primaries. All we have to do is wait until November, or perhaps see if one stray candidate or two show their faces in Nebraska when we finally get our chance to vote. But that still won’t be for two months yet. Isn’t that ridiculous?

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