Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Nicholas has spent months covering the Barack Obama campaign for 18 hours a day, and his overall impression of the candidate is: He’s pretty dull.
Comparing Obama with Hillary Clinton, whose campaign Nicholas covered before switching to the Obama effort, the reporter recalled casual conversations Clinton had with reporters on her campaign plane.
“As her prospects dimmed, her accessibility grew. Sometimes she was off the record, but you can’t say she wasn’t fun,” Nicholas wrote.
“Not so with Obama. One of the striking ironies is that a man who draws tens of thousands of people to his rallies, whose charisma is likened to that of John F. Kennedy, can be sort of a bore.”
Obama has waged his campaign with “dogged professionalism, but with little show of spontaneity,” the reporter observed. “After all this time with him, I still can’t say with certainty who he is.”
Obama does engage in some “light banter” with reporters on the plane, but when someone pulls out a tape recorder “pretty soon we’re back to a recitation of his stump speech,” Nicholas wrote.
Dean Reynolds of CBS News, who spent 12 months covering Obama’s campaign, also found the candidate lacked a real rapport with the press, holding news conferences but seldom chatting with reporters.
Reynolds, son of legendary anchorman Frank Reynolds, added that Obama’s campaign plane is “cramped, uncomfortable and smells terrible most of the time.”
Nicholas concluded: “Ironically, those of us who were sent out to take [Obama’s] measure in person can’t offer much help in answering who he is, or if he is ready. Barriers set in place between us and him were just too great.”
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