Every minute of every day — from the smallest county in Iowa to the latest mega fundraiser in New York — ABC News has dispatched several young reporters to spread out across the nation delivering the latest news from the campaign trail.
It's a historic election — the first wide open nomination race without a sitting president or vice president on the ballot in more than a half a century. The traditional campaign bus has been replaced by corporate jets; Internet access is available almost everywhere; and, every move the candidates make is tracked not just by the morning paper but by blogs and digital cameras.
To mark the occasion, ABC News teamed up with Facebook to allow readers and the millions of Facebook faithful to get exclusive access to dispatches straight from the trail.
It's cold, it's late, it's less than three weeks until the Iowa caucuses, do you know where your 2008 White House candidate is? Sign up to follow your favorite candidate or all on the candidates by registering on Facebook and downloading the U.S. Politics application.
Check out the latest samples from our reporters in the field every day:
Sunlen Miller (following the Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., campaign)
Recently this week I've felt more like an entertainment reporter than a political reporter. Barack Obama is using the celebrity factor for the fourth straight day in a row. Friday night he held a concert at the Riviera in downtown Chicago with Jeff Tweedy, and Macy Gray. Then it was the Oprahpalooza tour with four stops in three states in two days. Monday he held a Los Angeles fundraiser where Chris Brown, Ne-Yo and the Goo Goo Dolls came out. We're headed back to Iowa soon — where I've heard we're doing a "small town" bus tour — and the highlights of L.A. will be just a distant memory…
For more, take a look at Sunlen's Facebook profile here: http://www.facebook.com/person.php?id=6929836859
Matt Stuart (following the Republican Mitt Romney campaign)
At a campaign event today Romney revealed that he might be a bit competitive with his fellow runners at the gym. As Romney went to introduce himself to another woman, she told him she was on the treadmill next to him that morning. Romney laughed and said that he was "being very careful, just look straight ahead." But Romney then added, "You were working hard. I noticed that. 5.5 or so — ?" The woman chuckled and said, "Uhh. … I guess so."
For more, here is Matt's Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/person.php?id=6883141986
Eloise Harper (following the Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., campaign)
When Chelsea Clinton stepped foot onto the campaign trail this past weekend, I was expecting extreme protection and limited access to the former first daughter. The opposite proved to the the case. Chelsea was engaging with not only reporters, but also with Iowans. Clinton's daughter wandered around a fire station in Washington, Iowa, without an entourage, and shook people's hands introducing herself as "Chelsea." She asked people if they would caucus for her mom and chided one man who said "sure." "That wasn't the enthusiasm I was looking for, but Ill take it," she said. Because I was five feet from her the entire day — she even spoke to me. We shared a short exchange about coffee mugs, and when I tripped and almost landed face first on the floor she laughed charmingly — and said "Careful. … Wow!"
For more, take a look at Eloise's Facebook profile here: http://www.facebook.com/person.php?id=20309747384
Christine Byun (following the Republican Fred Thompson campaign)
Even with the stresses of transportation, being on the campaign trail is still exciting. Watching the process of nominating the next president is full of drama and intrigue — there's a new story every day, especially since the Republican field has yet to settle on a clear "favorite." Following the former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, I have gone to a lot of towns and met a lot of citizens with strong sentiments of what kind of leader this country needs. Those who live in early-voting states have a unique opportunity. Issues like immigration, education, national security and health care are all very important to them. Even citizens not even old enough to vote have questions about the future of the nation. I watched a little girl — perhaps a future reporter — in South Carolina ask Thompson about the Iraq war, as she clutched a notebook to scribble down his reply. It's something I do everyday — but for that young voter-in-training and for all those who live in early-voting states, it's their chance to be looked in the eyes and hear it straight from the mouth of a presidential candidate.
For more from Christine, check out her Facebook profile here: http://www.facebook.com/person.php?id=7101336923
Jan Simmonds (following the Republican Rudy Giuliani campaign)
A Rudy Giuliani stump speech is not complete without hearing the story about the guy who sued over losing his pants. As you may remember, earlier this year a DC judge sued a dry cleaners who had lost a pair of his pants for $54 million. The story allows Giuliani to not only make a point about the larger issue, tort reform, but also allows voters to see a more humorous side of his personality. Lines such as "not even in New York do pants cost that much!" or "as a former prosecutor, you know, I want to know what was in those pants?" are instant crowd pleasers and are warmly received among those who come to see him. For a person who gets such a reputation from the media as being a tough guy, this more personable side often gets overlooked. But on the occasions he is able to show this part of his personality that doesn't quite fit the caricature we've been accustomed to over the years, Giuliani is usually able to befriend voters. While they may still not always agree his positions, many walk away liking the former mayor more than when they walked in the room.
Jan's Facebook profile is right here: http://www.facebook.com/person.php?id=13682965693
Raelyn Johnson (following the Democrat John Edwards campaign)
With the temperatures regularly below 10 degrees each day I do my best to bundle up as a make the rounds at the Edwards events. But when you're lugging a 60 pound suitcase, backpack with laptop, battery, extra battery, microphone, tripod, and camera — sometimes all it takes is a penny in your pocket to really pull you down. And that is the very reason I'm reluctant to buy a pair of heavy duty snow boots. I just can't weigh myself down anymore. So as I slip and slide my way through the ice and snow covered streets, John Edwards is taking the smarter approach. He's been wearing these Timberland boots for the last couple of weeks — with a suit, with jeans, with whatever. When I pointed out his wardrobe malfunction he told me he's learned his lesson on the Iowa ice. Tuesday Edwards had to cancel events in Iowa City due to the winter storm, but he managed to meet with people at the famed Hamburg diner. But all the reporters were focusing on when he left the diner — is how carefully he treaded on the ice. Not that anyone was wishing for a made for TV moment — but the cameras were rolling and he took caution. As for me, I think it's time for me to take a cue.
For more from Raelyn, take a look at her Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/person.php?id=19934621192
Bret Hovell (following the Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., campaign)
Senator John McCain gets handed a lot of things when he interacts with voters: a coffee mug, a hat or T-shirt, stickers asking him to make one cause or another his top priority, and at a recent forum in New Hampshire, a box full of two different kinds of fudge. Tuesday in Inman, S.C., he got something new. "A lot of things happen at town hall meetings," McCain told reporters waiting to talk to him outside of The Skillet Restaurant, "and this is the first time I've ever been given a pack of cigarettes by an old veteran." True enough, McCain had in his hands a pack of Marlboro Reds, cellophane still in tact. "Do you smoke?" asked a reporter. "No, I don't," McCain laughed. "Why did he give them to you?" "He said that he and I were on the same ship together in the fire on the Forrestal and he had given me cigarettes years ago and he wanted to give me a pack now." The Forrestal fire happened in the summer of 1967: McCain was preparing to take of in his A-4 Skyhawk from the aircraft carrier when a rocket was fired accidentally from across the deck striking the fuel tank of his plane. One hundred thirty-four men died putting out the fire that blazed for days. McCain had some shrapnel wounds, but was otherwise unharmed. "Did you used to smoke?" another reporter asked. "I'm happy to tell you I have not had a cigarette in 28 years," McCain reported. "That's the good news. The bad news is I still want a cigarette," he said with a laugh. "But I haven't had one, so I'm going to get rid of this pack immediately!"
For more, check out Bret's Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/person.php?id=6063163226
Kevin Chupka (following the Republican Mike Huckabee campaign)
With snow and ice canceling most of Governor Huckabee's events today the campaign took advantage of the many reporters gathered in Council Bluffs, Iowa and held a press conference in the local Holiday Inn (where most of the press were staying anyway) to announce the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, President and founder of the Minuteman Project; a group of citizens who advocate border control and sometimes patrol it themselves. Huckabee also answered questions on his ethics record and was asked about the possibility of meeting with the mother of Ryan White, the young AIDS victim who caught the countries attention back in the 1980s. Perhaps the most noteworthy part of the morning came when Huckabee suggested that Iowa rival, Mitt Romney was acting like "the tattle tale of the third grade" by releasing a negative ad criticizing Huckabee's stance on immigration.
More from Kevin on Facebook right here: http://www.facebook.com/person.php?id=6857086617
Are you a Facebook member? Click on the U.S. Politics button (it's the U.S. flag symbol on the left) and then click on the ABC News section. Ask our reporters questions by writing on their wall, watch special behind the scenes videos and keep up with all the latest news by clicking "Follow" this reporter.
Not a Facebook member? What are you waiting for? Click here first to register.