The (Almost) Exciting Life of (Almost) Presidential Advance (Part 2)

Jesse Cornett

I left off my last post talking about having fun and being sent home....  After being sent home, I sure was disappointed.  As the days became a week and I was not back out on the road, I felt beat down.  The couple days I expected to be down suddenly turned into a week and a half.  I used the time to its fullest, though, went to my high school reunion, a Mariner’s game, a Willie Nelson Concert and finally kicked my smoking habit.  I could have volunteered at the local office, I could have volunteered for the John Edward’s town hall held down in Clackamas the week I was here, or done any number of other things to help the cause, but didn’t end up doing much of that at all.  I did spend a few minutes pondering the eventuality that I might not return to the presidential campaign trail.

By the time I got the call to head out again, to Melbourne, Florida this time, I almost turned it down to head back to my regular job.  The persistent uncertainty of advance was something I was not accustomed to dealing with (note: that is now past tense, by the end of the campaign, I grew to enjoy the certainty of the uncertainty and now almost miss it), and even though advance pay is low, the time I was down, I generated no income, which pissed me off.

It turns out that I’d been slated almost immediately to go to Florida after my return to Oregon but all trips were cancelled in Florida in that time frame before they began because of Hurricane Ivan --unfortunately I didn’t know this was why they didn’t send me back out at the time.

When I flew into Melbourne at about 11 p.m., I learned our event site was about an hour south of Melbourne.  All the hotels in town were booked (presumably with people whose homes had been damaged by the hurricanes, hoards of relief workers, and insurance agents dealing with the latest claims and preparing for new claims with the threat of Hurricane Jeanne looming), and the closest place that could be found was another hour south of our potential event site.  The good news was that it was the Four Seasons Resort in West Palm Beach, and, as it turned out, they were offering discounts almost to the level of staying at a Holiday Inn because the region had been so storm damaged, and the out-of-towners were avoiding the area altogether. 

The dynamic of this “team” changed drastically from Chillicothe because it was an all-male team.  I felt like I was back at junior high football camp with this team, but without the really hard practices everyday.  It took a lot longer to hammer out details for this trip than any other.  It felt like there was a certain hedging going on from our “desk” (i.e. our official campaign contact). 

After enjoying a day and two nights at the Four Seasons we drove back up to Melbourne, where our event had changed to.  Finally late in the afternoon of the third day, we got our marching orders and got to work.  The dynamics of this team were awesome.  We pulled so many pieces of the event together in that short time, I think we were all a little self-congratulatory.  As we arrived to dinner, our lead, Neil Wollerstein, got a call from DC and ordered the group shots of tequila.  As soon as the shots were consumed, Neil had an announcement: as quickly as our trip began, it was over and we were all flying out first thing the next day.  That night we had no idea why, but by the next morning it was clear: Hurricane Jeanne was coming, and in fact hit ground the evening of the day our town hall would have been held.

My next post will pick up as I leave Florida and head to West Virginia. Also, I should note that though it took me a really long time to get my first post online, and full week to get the second posted, the final three will likely all be posted within the next ten days.  Stay tuned!

Read Part 1 -- Read Part 3 -- Read Part 4 -- Read Part 5

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    Wait, is the hurricane a metaphor? Because I think I know how this story ends....

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    No, sadly I am not so clever in my writing. The hurricane ravaged an already ravaged state on the day our event would have been held.

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    At least you got a chance to do some tequila shots. In my book that constitutes success.

    Did you, by any chance meet Rudy Shenk while in Florida? He went to Florida after working the "affinity groups" out of the DC office, but he's an Oregonian from Eastmoreland area.

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    Tequila shots... ah yes, there were many more to come that night.

    I didn't meet Rudy. It's such a massive state I didn't even know where the state headquarters was until last week (not the last week but last week). I did however run into Jose Perez, who was a surrogate Oregonian for the 2000 campaign, and heard many rumors that Judithanne Scourfield (2000 Oregon Coordinated Campaign Director) worked out of the same office I was out of for a later Florida trip (though I never actually saw her).

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