I decided to catch the Tom Vilsack roadshow yesterday. Vilsack was an emcee of sorts for the DNC’s daily roast of the republican convention.
I walked to W40th and 7th Avenue, where I met up with Iowa-based AP reporter Amy Lorenzen. We continued down 7th Avenue past Madison Square Garden to 26th. We entered an unassuming building, climbed aboard an elevator and once we exited at the 16th floor, we were entering the DNC spin zone.
Entry was easy. There was no check of our credentials (I could have been a REPUBLICAN, you know). The DNC folks made the assumption I was from CBS News because my briefcase has the words “CBS News” stitched on the side. (It’s a very swank freebee briefcase given to RTNDA members attending the group’s convention in Minneapolis, and it weighed 26 pounds with the laptop and all the other equipment inside. By Thursday, that equipment was spread out on my hotel room desk and the case was much lighter, in case you were worried about my back.)
Then, a DNC person approached and we told this person we wanted to talk to Iowa’s Governor. This person left, another came moments later and said “So you want to talk to the Ohio Governor?”
Uh, no. The Iowa Governor.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “You want to talk to the Iowa Governor?”
Yes, the guy standing up there behind the lectern.
She departed and yet another DNC staffer came by. “Who do you want to talk to?”
“CBS wants to talk with Iowa’s Governor?”
No, I’m with Radio Iowa. That’s just the briefcase I carry. Yes, we want to talk to Iowa’s Governor. The person who came by before thought he was Ohio’s Governor.
“That wasn’t me. I didn’t make that mistake. Who are you?”
The rest of this scintillating conversation was overheard by Mark Daley, who I had called because Matt Paul’s cell phone number, according to the pre-recorded Verizon voice, is no longer assigned. (Mark works for the Iowa Dems. Matt is the IOWA Governor’s press sec.)
“She doesn’t know who you are?” Mark said, laughing.
Anyway, we finally did get to talk to Tom Vilsack. (Matt Paul says he dropped his phone upon arriving in NYC, and it’s not working. Aside from the news items, I asked Vilsack if he’d gone running in Central Park. He says he hasn’t had the time. Riding down in the elevator together, Vilsack revealed he did get to go to the Billy Joel musical and liked it.
It wasn’t Hello, Dolly, but Hello, Deli that Rod Boshart and I visited yesterday. It’s the deli run by Rupert, made infamous by the Letterman show. It is TINY. The statehouse press room is twice its size. And disorganized, partly because Rupert has to pose for pictures with tourists. After soaking up the atmosphere, Rod & I walked to new favorite deli around the corner and that’s where I ordered the turkey on rye. The woman who took my order shouted it down the line to the sandwich makers.
“A turkey and whiskey,” she said. And I can attest, the sandwich had just the right kick.
So, by now you know the Iowa delegate who had his chicken trophy shipped to NYC by the Letterman show for a possible appearance on Letterman’s “show and tell” segment didn’t get the call to be on the show. The producers decided at the last minute they wanted to do “Know your current events” instead. Oh, well. (You can read his story on the site.)
Now, about the Blackberry. It has allowed me to “talk” with people inside Madison Square Garden this week. Calling on the cell phone in such a loud environment isn’t the best (despite yelling on both ends of the conversation, it’s still almost like using cans and string). Via email from my laptop to their Blackberry, the party people inside have given me the sense of the crowd and passed along all sorts of tidbits.
Which reminds me of a conversation I had with a colleague on Monday. When I started doing this convention coverage in 1988, I used alligator clips (a not very high-tech way of sending audio from a tape recorder down a phone line). This year, I’ve been using a laptop to email mp3s back to DSM. It’s a new world, my friends.