A week ago, Dirck called from the campaign trail and asked if I had time to write a column. I said I was driving Marilyn, elderly German shepherd and unofficial spokesdog for TDJ, from New York City to Hermosa Beach in California. Surf and sand are easier on her paws than sin and sidewalks.
Dirck suggested that I keep a diary of my travels with Marilyn that could serve as my next column. For the life of me, I could not think how driving my dog across country related to journalism. But Dirck, in his infinite wisdom, had been right on target. Only one day into the trip, I realized there was very little difference between Dirck on a bus with the candidate and me in a car with my dog.
Essentially it's travel, travel, and more travel until you arrive at the first scheduled stop. At that point the candidate/German shepherd is rushed to a special secure area at the site/highway rest area. Only the press/dog owners are allowed to follow the candidate/German shepherd into this restricted area.
At this point the candidate makes a speech and the German shepherd makes a poo. Then back on the road and off for the next event.
Each of these events is scheduled for a location that reflects the values and concerns of the candidate. If worse comes to worse, a large American flag is hung on a wall and the candidate speaks from in front of it. As I traveled across the country, I couldn't help but notice the many locations that would provide good "visuals" for the candidate.
In just one state, Kansas, I made a few notes about possible locations. I chose Kansas because on Interstate 70 in Kansas, exit 249 is Halstead Road. A road sign read "microsurgical vasectomy revearsals, money back guaranteed." What a background for a speech on the issues of birth control and abortion.
How about a speech on the opposition in front of the rattlesnake museum off Route 70?
As a location for a speech on the funding of the arts, a Kansas theater production coproduced by Boss Hog1s BBQ.
To establish your firm family values purchase a ring for your wife at a Kansas jewelers named Rock Solid.
About 30 miles from the site, roadside signs began proclaiming, "See the world's largest Prairie Dog." Then "Only 15 miles to world's largest Prairie Dog." "Only 5 miles" "Only 1 mile" And, finally, "Turn right to see the world's largest Prairie Dog." I felt this was a lifetime opportunity, but Judith, my wife, disagreed. Neither Marilyn nor I ever got to see the world's largest Prairie Dog.
But, I did a little research. How big do you think the world's largest Prairie Dog is? Thirty pounds? Fifty pounds? Wrong. Eight hundred pounds. What a visual for a few sound bites about the National Debt.
Here are a few other possible visuals. A live five-legged cow. I'm not sure what the appropriate campaign issue would be, but I'm sure a good campaign manager would have no trouble.
For years politicians have been kissing babies. It's dangerous and unpredictable, but it seems worth it in terms of establishing a positive image of the candidate. How about a safer substitute, one that might really help with the farm vote? One of the ancillary exhibits at the home of the world's largest Prairie Dog was a petting zoo of baby pigs. Baby pigs are, without exception, appealing. There is not a single baby pig that does not appeal to the very largest cross section of voters. How about "pet the pig" instead of "buss the baby." I think it makes a better photo opportunity and just might attract more voters.
After five days of driving, Marilyn had traveled from the East Coast of America to the West Coast. She had traversed America. As it is for all candidates, Marilyn's trip through the heartland was a voyage of discovery. She found that she liked Chicken McNuggets.
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