ORANGEBURG, S.C.—The spin room is ready. The spinners are arriving. The candidates are on their way. In just about three hours the first presidential debate of the 2008 season will begin when eight Democrats stand behind podiums at the campus of South Carolina State University.
Gleanings from the front:
*New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson spent the morning in debate prep at the Comfort Inn motel.
*Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D.N.Y.) is expected to wear a bright pantsuit. Neither daughter Chelsea nor husband Bill will attend the debate.
*And what is a "spin room." Spin is jargon for trying to influence media coverage of something. In politics, this has evolved to setting up post debate "spin rooms" where various personnel representing the campaigns come after the debate to tell journalists what a great job the candidate did. Or to explain mistakes. The people who do this in this context are called "spinners."
* Clinton communications chief Howard Wolfson just came through the print press filing room.
Clinton’s strategy is “no surprises, no tricks,” Wolfson said. Her strategy if attacked? “I don’t expect to be but we will be ready if we are.’’
Volunteers for Clinton were handing out free blue Clinton t-shirts. They have signs that say “Clinton Country.’
*Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Clinton will end up standing next to each other in the horseshoe arrangement of the podiums. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) will be on the fringes. Some skeptics I ran into thought this rigged. It was not. The names were picked out of a hat at random by a NBC staffer.actually, it was a hat... picked by a random NBC staffer
from viewer's left: Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson
*A few moments ago Robert Gibbs, the chief spokesman for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) showed up in the spin room. Earlier I ran into Gibbs and one of Obama’s pollsters, Cornell Belcher.
The following item did not come from Gibbs:
As part of his intensive debate rehearsal, Obama spent hours the other day in a mock debate at the Washington Court Hotel.
*Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) did a walk-through on the debate stage at about 2:30 p.m.
A veteran of dozens of presidential primary and general election debates, Edwards did not do extensive special preparation, said Jonathan Prince, Edwards deputy campaign manager.
“He read a bunch. Asked some questions of his policy advisors. You may not believe it, but that’s all he did. No mock debates. I think he is going to have some fun tonight.”