Posted on | December 30, 2011 | 48 Comments
Here at Buffalo Wild Wings near the campus of Iowa State University, the place is packed with media covering the Rick Santorum campaign. I’ll have photos in a few minutes, but first, let me explain that title quote.
On Aug. 11, after the debate before the Ames Straw Poll, I came to this very same restaurant to finish my article for the American Spectator. And when I went out to the parking lot to have a cigarette, I heard laughter coming from the back porch. So I walked around the corner and saw that Rick Santorum and his campaign team — his wife, his kids and a handful of staffers and supporters — were having a post-debate celebration.
There were maybe 20 people there, and they greeted me cordially. I was the only reporter in sight.
Today? You can’t get near the senator today. He is swarmed by media. The C-SPAN bus is parked outside. Carl Cameron is here, as are reporters for every news organization you’d care to name.
So when I bumped into Santorum’s campaign manager Mike Biundo amid the crowd, I reminded him of that night four months ago.
“Quite a difference,” he said.
UPDATE: Here we see the candidate — wearing his brand-new Iowa State red sweater-vest — surrounded by the media mob:
If you’ll look at the left side of that photo, you’ll see press secretary Matt Benyon (in the white sweater) telling reporters where to go. And here is the senator’s oldest daughter Elizabeth, who remembers the times when I was the only reporter covering her dad:
The senator’s family is, “officially,” off-limits to the press. But they make an exception for the future ambassador to Vanuatu.
UPDATE II: As the senator was leaving the restaurant, the Buffalo Wide waitresses demanded to have their photo taken with the future President of the United States:
Rick Santorum poses with Tizzy, a dual champion Treeing Walker Coondog, Tizzy’s owner Jon Hathaway of Des Moines, and the lovely Elizabeth Santorum.
Well, gotta run. There’s another football party tonight, and Jake Braunger — the Santorum campaign’s 24-year-old Iowa field director, who’s been buying me beers today — is about to leave the bar. If Santorum does well next Tuesday, Jake is likely to be deployed to South Carolina, where his duties are sure to include making sure that the future ambassador to Vanuatu gets all the big scoops.
And beers. But mainly the big scoops.