Friday, February 01, 2008

The day after the day after

From the New York Times’ Matt Bai’s post to The Caucus:

Yesterday, on a day when two languishing campaigns finally succumbed, I called Tracy Russo in Chapel Hill to find out what was happening. The 26-year-old Russo was in charge of John Edwards's blog strategy; you might say she fulfilled the traditional role of a press secretary, only for the netroots. I'd gotten to know her earlier this year through some other bloggers, and I knew she was a passionate believer in her candidate and his liberal cause. . . .

Ms. Russo had been keeping it together since the campaign's chairman, David Bonior, had finally informed the staff of Mr. Edwards's impending withdrawal a few hours before his speech yesterday. "I'm a basket of emotions," she said. "Campaigns are like families. It hit everybody at different moments this morning." Russo still had a job to do; she was still talking to bloggers on the phone and trying to get them the video of Mr. Edwards's exit speech in New Orleans. She had no idea where she'd be going next, or when. "At least now we have time to sleep in and go see the doctors we haven't gone to in six months," she said, trying, unsuccessfully, to sound upbeat.

. . . . When a campaign ends, the candidate goes on to campaign for someone else or to the lucrative life he had before, but the staff is left to figure out the numbing logistics of leases and U-hauls and W-2 forms. Those of us who cover campaigns never write about that part of the process; we check out of hotels and turn our attention elsewhere. For the people who work on losing campaigns, moving on takes longer. For them, today is all about the grief.

Over the course of the last couple of months, I had the good fortune to correspond (and even once actually have a phone conversation!) with Tracy, and I can corroborate Bai’s assessment of her passion and dedication. I will also add that she was just damn nice. I was amazed at how, even in the midst of the busy pre-Iowa crunch, Tracy would take a chunk of time to talk with a little ol’ C-list blogger such as myself. And not just about logistics, either. Tracy talked about politics at large, and talked about the Edwards campaign with enthusiasm, yes, but also with an unexpected degree of candor.

In fact, I found all the people that I met on this campaign to be open, honest, and, to a person, nice. If, as folks say, a campaign is a reflection of its candidate, then it speaks very well of John Edwards. I am sad that I will not get to work longer with Tracy and the others on this campaign. I am sad that I will not get to work longer to make Edwards our president.

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