November 4th, 2008
05:54 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN staff so close, yet so far from Obama

Obama with campaign staff earlier today.
Obama with campaign staff earlier today.

(CNN) – We may be the closest journalists to Sen. Barack Obama, but we might as well be a world away. He's behind an impenetrable barrier of what look like the best-dressed bouncers in Chicago. Of course, they're Secret Service.

Who are we? The pool crews for the senior staff, a handful of journalists from the networks who are putting the Obama campaign's top advisers on the air. Occasionally, a bunch of us will be trapped in a room together, as those well-dressed bouncers stop foot traffic in the halls while Obama moves from the room he's in to the outside world.

We briefly heard Obama make small talk with hotel staff as he breezed by out of sight in the early afternoon. Thanks to that, we got a briefing from Communications Director Robert Gibbs on how the Obamas are still undecided on which dog the kids get or whether the kids will stay the school year in Chicago (Gibbs is careful to acknowledge that no one is assuming a result yet, least of all him.)

Top Obama strategist David Axelrod talked about how his lack of a vertical leap keeps him from joining the senator's lucky Election Day hoops game. Campaign manager David Plouffe is waiting for his wife to give birth; she was due Saturday. Linda Douglass was a trooper as she baked under the lights during a technical hiccup.

When we're not just chatting, the senior staff is basically spending the day spinning the unspinnable by arguing that imprecise signals are good signs, or they're simply encouraging folks to vote. They soldier on, appearance after appearance, repeating phrases that must sound silly after a while. They show no sign of breaking form. And none of them betrays any sign of how the results are going, if they know.

We're down in the basement of the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. The hotel is a great spot, right along the river with a nice view, if we were, for instance, above the ground. But we're downstairs, in a pretty straightforward conference room while the rest of Chicago gathers on a beautiful day in Grant Park, two miles south of us ... and the junior senator sits in a room behind blue curtains and the bouncers.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Kennedy

    You are news reporters. You are not news yourselves. Similarly, this little (very little) story is not news.

    I can't believe CNN posted this self-absorbed, narcissistic fluff.

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  2. Lisa

    God help us if Obama wins.

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. Paul C.

    Zeppo, no one believes your crap. Do yourself a favor, sit down and be quiet! Anyone saying that Obama is the left's Bush are pathetic disaffected people who make things up to do anything to make Obama look bad. Hey I know how you feel, 8 years ago I felt bad, kicked in the teeth. Obama and Bush are polar opposites and worlds apart so this last minute comparison is but one in a string of falsehoods and lies that you pitiful people keep spewing out when nobody is listening to you! In other words, shut up!

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. casey riccio

    i live in a heavy republican area and voted many times this is the very frist time i actually seen a demorcate sign , just a sign of my times

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. Aaron

    Journalists haven't done any digging on Obama the whole campaign, and we're supposed to what? Feel sorry for you? Come on now. What a joke. You should be ashamed to call yourselves journalists after this joke of an election year. Pathetic, truly pathetic.

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. JIMBISCIELLO

    MEMO TO MARC PDX
    SIR THERE CAN NEVER BE ANYONE AS BAD AS GEORGE W BUSH, HE OWNS THAT DISTINCTION HIMSELF.
    THE WORST PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.
    BTW WHERE HAS THE GREAT DECIDER BEEN THESE DAYS???
    IS HE IN AN " UNDISCLOSED LOCATION"?

    November 4, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Montana Mama

    My 73 year old Grandma called to visit about the election...she is so excited to see BAHAMA be elected that she said she is not going to bed at 7pm...she and my disabled uncle went to the polling place to vote at 7am this morning...I just didn't have the heart to tell her it was OBAMA...her excitement, as well as my 8 year old waking up this morning and asking if OBAMA was our new president YET has just melted my heart....

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. BBB

    I don't believe you are reading this in the proper context Paris.... If we are lucky Palin will ride off into the sunset and take her hate filled rhetoric with her.

    McCain, well, had he used better judgement – this lifelong republican would not have chosen Obama

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. ObamaVoter

    Noticed the new thing now is that Obama is being compared to a new Democratic Bush. This is so funny. This man hasnt even been elected President yet and now we have to hear he is the new Bush? It sounds bizarre knowing that there are real bitter people out there that actually voted for Bush(again) but now they are looking at him as a mistake. Bush had 8 years to fix this but did he? No he didnt. He messed it up big time. Remember some of you voted for that. Now tell me what McCain would do for this country. I still am wondering...oh wait...nope false alarm still wondering.

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. happy

    !!!!go Obama go i love what you stand for never before have they seen a black man with such brilliance it has baffled them!!!! i wonder what it would have been like if obama was white or better yet if we could not see color how would this election go ?

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  11. Hayley, Austin TX

    How close can the media get to the candidates, or any highly elected goovernment official? First, no one could access Palin ... now it's Obama. I think there's a pattern here ...

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

    November 4, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. dan

    CNN has been the mouth piece of @bama for the last year and now it's feeling a bit guilty? Awe shucks! This is news ? Spare me!

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. Winnie Hussein . . . in Montana

    Well, at this point, with all of the radical, racist, vicious comments that have come out of Palin and her supporters' mouths lately, I would keep all nonessential personnel from my protectee. As a person with many years providing this type of protection, I wouldn't let Mother Theresa near Sen. Obama right now. This does not mean he is secretive or mysterious, just that there exists a very real, if unidentifiable, threat against him and his family. Those two skinheads a few weeks ago aren't the only idiots who will have gotten themselves are riled up by Palin; Hank, Jr.; the e-mail rumors; Rush; Sean Hannity, etc.

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. bob poladian

    you guys have been praising him since the beginning why didn"t you also tell the negative things

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. Britt

    I cant wait until Obama wins

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  16. Rob Hall

    Before the Obama-jockies jump on this: When is CNN going to report on the fact that Sarah Palin was YESTERDAY cleared of ethical violations by an independent board in ALaska?

    CNN, you were quick with "breaking news" when the democratic led state senate report claimed she violated ethics, why so quiet now? The report came out yesterday

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  17. vote! OBAMA-BIDEN NOV.4th

    GOD BLESS BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN AND THEIR FAMILIES, WHEN THIS ELECTION IS OVER WE WILL HAVE A NEW BEGINNING, GOD BLESS AMERICA, VOTE OBAMA-BIDEN

    November 4, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  18. JIMBISCIELLO

    MEMO TO ZEPPO
    ARE YOUR REMARKS APPROVED BY GROUCHO , CHICO AND HARPO ?

    November 4, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  19. Griff

    No! CNN. You are the Culprit. But then? How could CNN be at Fault...
    You turned out to the most Biased Media I ever came across, since Diana was Murdered in France bye The Royalists Of Britain, just so the Idiot Charlie could get his Kids back, and extend the Aristrocracy in Britain... King Makers??? No just Time Wasters..

    November 4, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  20. allen saylor

    allen ky what destruction lyes ahead if obama wins go mccain

    November 4, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. Josh

    explain how obama is the dems bush? Has any thought been even given to this? No, the statement is thoughtless like all statements about Obama that are negative.

    November 4, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  22. Chris

    voter fraud in Ohio , just found few minutes again. Polls show here it is going McCains way because of the coal minnining statement that Obama issued. always voted for a dem for President but today I proudly voted for President John McCain a true american hero not a fake like obama

    November 4, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  23. PSYCD

    Can you blame him and his team for his over-protection? With all of the threats that some radical rightists have thrown out there, anyone in their right mind would be careful. As for G. W. Bush, that guy hasn't made an appearance or announcement on his screwball politics in over a year. Just sit back, W, watch the country crumble, and collect your dividends. In my honest opinion, I wonder why some of these same rightists haven't threatened him. He's the cause of many of their distrust.

    November 4, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  24. Sean in Indiana

    I voted for Sen.Obama and I love watching CNN. I just have good taste. I think CNN has been objective throughout this race, don't be mad at them because they didn't co-sign with the negative and untrue attacks against Sen. Obama–which were released daily by the GOP and the McCain camp.

    November 4, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  25. Bill Cymbalsky

    I am half way around the world in Thailand and voted absentee.I went online to get the form,mailed it into NY.I was then sent the ballot and mailed it back.It was painless and fun.Why doesn't everybody do it?

    November 4, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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