There are just over one million miles of highway in the state of Iowa, and for the journalists who have traversed the state covering the every move of this year’s GOP presidential candidates it may seem like they have driven every inch of those interstates.
But with the much-anticipated Iowa caucus finally happening Tuesday night, those long days among Iowa’s cornfields are coming to a close.
ABC’s Emily Friedman, who covers Mitt Romney, said she recently spent five hours driving from one corner of the Hawkeye state to the other aboard a press charter bus. The one thing she will not miss about Iowa, she said, is “the long drives on a cramped bus.”
Yahoo! News Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian, on the other hand, has a soft spot in his heart for those flat, field lined highways. When he moves on to New Hampshire Wednesday, Chalian said he is going to miss “the open road.”
“It is very common to drive two hours between events with nothing but the flat gorgeous heartland landscape in front of you,” he said of covering campaigns in Iowa.
Keeping up with the candidates is not all about relaxing drives, ABC’s Russell Goldman, who covers Michele Bachmann, will tell you. His craziest moment on the campaign trail was chasing after Bachmann who had taken the wheel of her campaign’s black pick-up truck after Occupy protesters blocked her entrance to a campaign stop.
“Rather than go to the headquarters for a grand entrance she decided she would try to outrun me in the car that was following her parking in a parking lot a few minutes away from her headquarters, and then literally trying to outrun me,” Goldman said.
One of Bachmann’s most often repeated lines on the stump, Goldman recalled, is that she is “America’s next iron lady,” a candidate in the mold of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
While Romney stumps through Iowa, Friedman said his go-to line is, “This has been a tough three years, but it’s been a detour. It’s not a destiny.”
And for ABC’s Jason Volack, who covers Ron Paul, his most-heard phrases are “end the fed, end the bailouts, bring the troops home.”
Volack said he’s ready for a change of scenery and, more importantly, a change of cuisine. He said eating in Iowa is a “meat overload.” Even the brownies have bacon!
Goldman said he won’t miss the food either, especially the “crummy fast food” that was clutch while keeping up with furious campaigning schedules.
Perhaps Iowa’s most famous food item, fried twinkies from the Iowa State fair, comes in as No. 1 on Chalian’s weirdest Iowa adventures. He says it’s a “must try” for all fair-goers.
But odd food and car chases aside, it is the “down to earth” people in Iowa that Volack said he will miss the most. Iowans take treat their caucus with the utmost seriousness and turn out in droves to see the men and women that are vying for their votes.
“People even in very small towns try to come out and meet as many of the candidates as possible,” Goldman said. “They really want to get to know people very, very closely, shaking their hands, looking them in their eyes before they make a decision on who to vote for.”
Friedman said she’ll miss “overhearing the conversations between voters who seem to brag to one another about how many different candidate’s events they are able to attend in a single day.”
Luckily, she won’t have to wait too long to for some more Iowa eavesdropping. The eventual Republican nominee and President Obama will likely make their fare share of stops in the Hawkeye state in just a few short months as they both vie for support from first-in-the-nation general election voters.