(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.