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Memories of the 2008 Campaign

Comment

At the end of every campaign, people ask if it was fun, and I always answer truthfully that it was.

And it's not always the big moments you remember, but the little moments, like talking to people in the sub-freezing cold in Springfield, Ill., on the day Barack Obama announced in February 2007 and how so many of them believed even back then that the impossible could happen and he could win.

There was being on the bus with John McCain, in the days after his primary campaign had virtually collapsed, watching him drag himself from VFW post to VFW post in small town after small town, never giving up and never giving in.

There was watching Hillary Clinton battling back in New Hampshire, showing not only guts and determination, but her human side when she said, choking up: "I mean, this is very personal for me. Not just political."

And it is personal. I remember the small, personal moments from past campaigns, like sitting next to Jimmy Carter in 1976 on a tiny plane somewhere over Iowa. I hadn't eaten all day, and I had to sit there and watch him eat a cheeseburger. He looked up and saw my hungry eyes.

"You want half?" he asked.

You bet, I said. And so he tore his burger down the middle and gave me half.

I remember Ted Kennedy running for president in 1980, speaking to a Latino crowd in San Antonio, the people waiting for hours in a baking sun, dressed in their Sunday best just to see him.

And how they cheered and laughed and wept as he spoke, and how a man in the audience held his small daughter above his head and said over and over: "Never forget you were here this day. Never forget you saw this man."

And this election, I will especially remember what happened after the second presidential debate in Nashville, Tenn., at Belmont University. It had been pouring rain all day, and after the debate was over and I had finished my column, I rushed over to the set of "Hardball With Chris Matthews" to do his show at midnight.

The show was set up under a tent on the quadrangle, but students stood outside in the drenching rain for hour after hour to watch it. And after I did my little bit and stepped back out into the downpour to head back to the press tent, one student stepped forward.

His name was Andrew Brian Daly, and he held out a sodden poster and asked me for an autograph. I was shocked — I don't get asked for autographs — but also secretly pleased. After all, we have big egos in this profession.

And as I scribbled my name on the poster, Daly said to me with the rain dripping off his face, "Thank you for your leadership."

I didn't quite know what he meant by that, but I was pleased nonetheless. The next day, he sent me an email.

"I probably confused the hell out of you," Daly said. "I thought you were David Axelrod."

It is those little moments I will always remember.

To find out more about Roger Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008, CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



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