RotN on the Campaign Trail
Michael Gladstone
Republican Correspondent

The journalists who hitched their wagons to Mike Huckabee's star are falling fast, down the steps of the Hilton and onto the sticky Orlando streets. They've got laptops, luggage, backpacks, and briefcases, and nearly all of them have cell phones pressed to their ears.

“A plane ticket,” says a mustachioed man with a press badge on his blazer, “one-way or two, to Atlanta.” There's a pause. “The bus? Have you ever been on a bus? I'm not covering this campaign with some weird disease sticking to my ass. This isn't the nineties, damn it!”

This is hours after one of Huckabee's advisers, Ed Rollins, told the press inside and outside the campaign that their travel and accommodation arrangements would no longer be made or paid for. There was a strong sense of duty and pride in his voice, like this was the only virtuous and Right thing to do. He and the other advisers and higher-ups put on strong, stern faces with tight smiles and told them that they would be forgoing their paychecks to benefit the cause. They remain strong, supportive, and hopeful.

A lot of the press, on the other hand, are very angry. A woman with a multi-colored peacock on her baseball cap throws her phone at a cab as it screeches away with another reporter inside. It shatters on the ground, she calls the cabbie and the journalist “ASSHOLES!” and the departing reported presses his against the window in her general direction.

For an evangelist, Huckabee doesn't seem to be inspiring much faith.

Some of us, however, have the faith. We've never lost it. I know that Huckabee is the right man for the job, because he's the only one who we can really trust to put the CHRIST back in CHRISTIAN NATION. He's an evangelist. He's a Christian. He's a Republican. He's all the things this country needs right now, when it is facing its greatest threats in decades. These other candidates claim to believe in the Trinity, but those are just words in the face of action. I mean, if a Democrat can say they believe in God, what stock can we put in simple words?

I pat the pocket Bible in my jacket, take a deep breath, and start walking to the bus station.

* * *

The Greyhound bus is cramped and odorous, but it will get me to Atlanta in time to catch Huckabee's campaign before he swings back into Florida. My editor refused to pay for the bus ticket, citing things like “budget” and “supreme idiocy,” but I think it's important to keep up with the race. Politics is a full-contact sport. If I can't smell the sweat or see the contact of the blow, I might as well be watching it on television. I'm not here to watch the news; I'm here to put it out there.

While Huckabee is the most important candidate in the race, he's certainly not the only one. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain are all trying desperately to keep this a neck-and-neck(-and-neck-and-neck) race. The primaries are splitting between them like a teacher giving cookies to a second grade class—everybody is happy they got a cookie, but everybody wants another one.

McCain took South Carolina from under Huckabee's nose. I don't think anybody could call this fair, but it's also not a huge surprise. After all, South Carolina isn't even a real state — it's just a part of Carolina that everybody wants to make feel better about itself. I don't think it even has any delegates, just the bottom halves of them.

While the democrats are all sniping at each other, Giuliani is sniping at the real enemy of our time: the terrorists who attacked this country seven years ago. “America's Mayor” has spent most of his campaign focusing on three things: 9-11, 9-11, and September 11th. His humility and gravitas may be what led to a protest by 9-11 families and firefighters at rally in Florida. Or as I like to call them: terrorists.

Mitt Romney is leading in Florida, despite the fact that he is a pervert.

And then there's Ron Paul. Ah, Ron Paul. You never give up, do you, you funny little man? Paul is running as a Libertarian and a Constitutionalist, and also something of a literalist. As in, we should literally give everyone freedom to do as they choose. Everyone? That sounds a little like communism to me. And if there's one thing that isn't in the Bible or the Constitution, Ron Stal(in), it's communism.

The bus goes over a pot hole, but it doesn't slow down. The Greyhound, like the election, goes steadily on.

* * *

As we crossed into Georgia, I felt the air get thick with heat, oranges, and rhetoric. This bounce in the primary circuit is bound to be a heavy one. Florida is an important state—Giuliani has skipped other primaries completely to concentrate his energy here—but it's important to remember that it's only one of many. From here we'll be jumping around the entire country from California to Montana to Maine to wherever.

There are other Huckabee journalists staying in this hotel, a small one outside of Atlanta. The rooms are smaller than those at the Hilton, but they'll serve just as well. The stories aren't in here, anyway, they're out there — at the rallies, the press conferences, in the entourages. There's excitement. There's intrigue. They don't call it the Grand Old Party for nothing.

In the South, the race is on.

-Michael Gladstone

Michael Gladstone is a student at Our Lady of Holy Spirit College. He is covering the republican candidates in the 2008 presidential election for Revenge of the News. His independent folk-rock album, Jesus is The Man, is available from CDBaby and his backpack.