HEADING EAST FROM DES MOINES--Obama tripmaster Liz Reiter just called roll on the bus and there were 21 names of reporters. The bus left a little after 8 a.m. from the Obama Iowa campaign headquarters near the state capitol. It's a large cave of a building with a drawing based of the famed"American Gothic" couple holding a pitchfork and an Obama for president sign in the lobby. Obama's signage also includes his name on stalks of corn. In most years Iowa is a leading corn producing state (as is Illinois) in the nation.
The southeast and central Iowa swing is to counties where Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has yet to visit. Obama Iowa communications director Josh Earnest, Iowa press lead Peter Weeks and Iowa press secretary Tommy Vietor are on the bus.
This is the third time the Obama campaign has organized a traveling press bus. The first was in Iowa after the announcement; one in New Hampshire and now this two-day trip across a corner of the state. There is no point where the Obama bus will cross with the bus with reporters covering chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (d-N.Y.) though last night there was co-mingling because of the rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds featuring former President Clinton. It's two big political roadshows rolling along the green lush Iowa fields: Bill and Hill and Barack and Michelle.
Hmmm..the schedule each reporter found on the seat on some rules of the road the campaign with this request: “We ask that you be mindful of the designated press area at each site” and “we ask that all encounters with the Obama family” at the hotel “remain off the record.”
There was no such blanket rule when the Obama campaign first hit Iowa with a traveling press corps after he announced in February. It’s not clear how much access the traveling press corps will actually have. The schedule calls for stops at Keokok, Mt. Pleasant, Fairfield and overnight at Ottumna.
On July 4 Obama will be having a media availability—it’s been a very long time since he had a scheduled campaign press conference —and ends the day at an Iowa Cubs game in Des Moines. UPDATE Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, at the Mt. Pleasant stop, told me that Obama had press conferences in Los Angeles and in Jackson, Ms. in June.