The night before the announcement, I had a nice big king-sized bed all to myself. It was late and I was having trouble settling down. I swilled Red Bull and Diet Coke all day on the campaign, gorged on pizza and donuts, and at night, after all that sugar and caffeine, it was hard to decompress. Shannon and Heather -- my friends, angels, and colleagues who took videos and still photographs for the campaign and my blog – were in an adjoining room. I could hear them laughing. On the road, we were always together, our days spent mostly in transit, on one of the three campaign buses that took everybody around the country. At night, we shared connecting rooms in Holiday Inns – very rarely anything nicer. One room had a king. The next room had two twins. We always took turns getting our own room.
When I finished college, I told my parents that I didn't want to go to graduate school, or open a clothing boutique, as previously discussed. I wanted to join the campaign. They said that I could come along if I paid my own way. The campaign was a sinking ship, or at least financially sunk, when I joined in July, 2007. There was no money for extras, and no money for me, or my blog, or the people I'd need to help me produce it. My father's campaign manager, Terry Nelson, and the campaign strategist, John Weaver – who was one of my fathers' closest friends, and like an uncle to me -- had run the operation into near bankruptcy, while paying themselves twice what the other candidates' campaign directors made. Polls numbers were slipping. Fund-raising had stalled. Our spirits were low and it was hard to be optimistic, but my dad wasn't resigned to another loss.
And neither was I. I would do anything for him, and relished the thought of a front row seat on the campaign. To bankroll myself and the blog, I used the money that my grandfather had left me, even if, by the end, I had spent every dime. It was a better education than graduate school and more worthwhile to me than opening a boutique. As far as I could tell, the Republican Party was hopelessly unschooled in lots of things, but particularly in its efforts to attract young people by using the Internet, in spite of all the millions of dollars spent on "web consulting."
By being independent, and not paid for by the McCain campaign, I'd be free to write what I wanted -- or so I hoped -- while revealing a more personal side of my dad and my family (the campaign, for all its experts and big thinkers, seemed particularly bad at this). But my blog had led to conflicts, a big ugly mess of them.
In my heart of hearts, I'd always hoped my father would pick Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Aside from being a brilliant politician, Joe is one of the kindest, friendliest, and funniest people I have ever met, not particularly common traits when it comes to the famous and powerful. Always in good spirits, he never seems effected by the fray, or criticism. Sometimes his jokes alone kept me sane during those endless bus rides throughout the country.
Probably even more important, Joe Lieberman is one of the people whom my father can relax around -- always. For me, this counts for a lot. Like everything else in my life, the personal and the professional are hard to pull a part, and usually I don't want to. If I like somebody enough to be friends with them, that's exactly the kind of person I want to work with.