On the Road: Storming the Castle
UPDATE: After leaving the Perry headquarters Jay Root and I did find national campaign manager Rob Johnson. What I was trying to say in the original post was that showing up at the HQ unannounced was fruitless. But we did get an interview with Rob, which you can hear part of in this morning's story.
Sorry for any confusion.
When covering a political campaign, from President down to city council, there are a limited number of chances to interview the candidate and his staff - usually before or after big events.
But when you want to rock the boat and get a comment outside of those specific times, GOOD LUCK...
Today Jay Root (reporter with our reporting partner The Texas Tribune) and I had an interview set up with Rick Perry's national campaign manager, Rob Johnson. And when I say we had an interview set up, I mean he said, "Sure, I'll talk with you today," but didn't give us a set time.
So after a couple of hours of not being called or texted regarding the interview, we drove over to the Iowa headquarters of the Perry campaign. They're set up in a nondescript office park on the far west side of Des Moines. You see "Rick Perry for President" in big letters along the front of the office space.
Inside there's a table with yard signs, bumper stickers, window signs, pamphlets and other campaign paraphernalia. And, no, we couldn't take pictures without calling beforehand to set up an appointment.
Around one corner, you could make out a large room that had table upon table of boxes and papers. Campaign signs and phone-back lists or donor lists, we assume. On a couple of walls were hand-painted campaign signs given to the office by elementary school kids who came to see Texas First Lady Anita Perry when she opened the office earlier this year.
So, you ask, did our strategy work? Did we get our interview?
Sadly, no. We were told that Johnson wasn't there, they didn't know where he was, and they certainly didn't do "walk-up" press.
But before you think that's a little rude (although, maybe it is) that's what every campaign does. Bottom line: you have to have an appointment.