My 16 Months With Mitt Romney

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My 16 Months With Mitt Romney

But there were plenty of highs too, like the very next morning at a pancake breakfast in Iowa, Romney bounded in, asking, "Where's Emily?"

I was where I usually was, front and center clutching the 7-pound camera that has been attached to my right hand since that June day, filming his entrance. Was I supposed to put the camera down and respond? Everyone in New York would ask me if the exchange was on camera.

I kept rolling, but spoke up, thanks to some prodding by my counterparts, "I'm here."

"Happy Birthday!" Romney exclaimed, before resuming his campaign duties, which in this case was dolling out floppy pancakes to senior citizens.

There were behind-the-scenes moments with Romney's wife Ann, too. The day before the South Carolina primary she accompanied Romney to one of his Greenville, S.C. campaign offices. It was a tight fit, so I ended up sitting cross-legged on the floor to squeeze in, forgoing my laptop for my blackberry, furiously tapping my notes into the device.

I guess I looked exhausted, because that's what Mrs. Romney said to me after the event adding, "You look tired." It took everything in me not to respond, "You think?" Instead I opted for a polite smile and a forced laugh.

In the 16 months I've followed Romney, I've covered every major moment of his candidacy, big and small. I nearly missed the Gov. Chris Christie endorsement because I decided to take advantage of a few hour lull by taking a nap. I've raced on foot across Costa Mesa, Calif., to make it to his impromptu press conference to address his now infamous "47 percent" comments, and I was there when he made his statement on the killings in Libya this September. I still have the recording of my own voice saying, "What?" when Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire that he liked to be able to fire people.

I've interviewed him myself twice. The first time having to shoot the interview myself, and unsure of how the show wanted the back and forth shot, was forced to ask the same question twice, the second time meekly requesting, "Governor, same question, but this time please speak into the camera."

I learned the awesome feeling of breaking news on the trail, like the night of the Florida primary I was the first to report that Romney would get Secret Service protection later that week. But I also quickly learned the difficulties of doing so in a pack of close-knit journalists when nobody would talk to me at the bar that night, only a few even making eye contact, leaving me to walk back to my hotel across Tampa alone.

There were things I saw that I'm glad I saw, like the time I was the only one to catch Romney handing a woman in South Carolina a wad of cash. She'd been struggling to make ends meet, and he wanted to help.

I also became familiar with feeling of despair that day, when I realized I hadn't been rolling, and the exchange wasn't on tape.

It's been a long journey from the start of the campaign when I still lost sleep over whether I'd be able to figure out how to set up my tripod correctly and feed the video quickly enough. I got over my paralyzing shyness – at least for the most part – and laugh now thinking about the time I was in the same airport train car as Romney and couldn't bring myself to say "hello."

And now it's over, the ride of a lifetime. I've been warned to expect a letdown, feel sad. But, not for long, I hope. Soon enough, there will be another plane to catch.

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