What is it like being on a nonstop tour with a household name? This past week, dozens of music journalists found out as they set out on a 7 day, 7 country, 7 concert tour with the pop superstar Rihanna. The tour wraps up tonight in New York, and reports so far have included words like “disaster,” “chaos” and “anarchy”
In short, it’s not as glamorous as it might at first seem. But to those covering political campaigns, it did sound a bit familiar. As ABC News’ Emily Friedman wrote of the 16 months she spent on the Romney campaign, “I realized that everyone has a breaking point, and sometimes it’s on the floor of the Chicago O’Hare airport with two hours of sleep and a delayed flight ahead of you, wondering if you really need to go to a speech in the red state of Oklahoma. I learned that as cool as it to stay in a different hotel in a different city every night, it gets lonely.”
But there are highlights too, and while a pop princess and a presidential candidate might have wholly different objectives and audiences, but let’s see how they stack up against each other, starting with….
Rihanna 777 Tour: A Boeing 777 jet, which is very large (each row has 9 seats in coach, configured 3-3-3). Nothing on the exterior suggested this was a plane filled with one of the world’s biggest pop stars and hundreds of her followers, fans and reporters.
Campaign planes: Typically red, white and blue campaign logos, adorned with campaign slogans and/or websites, or the Presidential seal. Mitt Romney’s plane was an MD-83, formerly used by the band U2.
Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan had a DC-9-32 — a smaller, noisy plane. ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe, who was on the trail with Ryan, says, “A campaign plane is a handy part of covering the election because you don’t have to go through security or deal with delays, and there is usually working Internet. It can become a home away from home when you are on and off five or more times a day and a place to store the items you don’t want to drag around with you every day. But, the Paul Ryan plane was quite old, the same age as the candidate, actually, at 42 years, and the back where the journalists sat was loud. It was so loud, in fact, it was difficult to hear the person right next to you. But there was always a lot of food, almost always vegetarian options and sometimes, despite the engine roaring in our ears, we were so tired we did sleep.”
Press Corps Dress Code:
Campaign planes: Conservative, if not slightly rumpled, business attire. Dresses, suits, ties. Clean and well-groomed is expected.
Rihanna 777: Reportedly, Rihanna walked up and down the aisle of the plane during the inaugural flight carrying bottles of champagne and pouring for the journalists on board. She hasn’t been seen since, except on stage. Reporters chanting, “Just one quote!”
Campaigns: Kind of similar, actually, minus the champagne. Press availabilities were limited during the general election. Reporters resorted to shouting questions at the candidates, prompting a reply of “Kiss my a**” from Romney spokesman Rick Gorka at a Polish holy site this summer. So far, no reports of those kind of responses from Team Rihanna.
Rihanna 777: Samples of Rihanna’s fragrances, pillows and a necklace with a real diamond chip in it. And a reportedly unpopular gift: a pair of socks with a photo of Rihanna topless with her arms strategically positioned, and words like “love,” “chalice,” and “unapologetic” scrawled across her skin.
Campaigns: Not much, unless you include the occasional Welsh cake handed out by Ann Romney, and a pumpkin painted with each reporter’s network logo.
Locale and Sights:
Rihanna 777: The tour hit 7 cities in 7 countries: Mexico City, Toronto, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, London and New York.
Campaigns: Mostly small towns and suburbs, mostly in clutch battleground states like Ohio and Florida. A lot of VFW and assembly halls. Many, many corn fields.
Rihanna: Huge. Reportedly includes a traveling masseuse.
Campaigns: Also pretty huge, including spokesmen, surrogates and body men, like Mitt Romney’s Garrett Jackson, a prolific Twitter user.
Rihanna 777: a mostly lip-synched run-through of her hits. Consistent every night. Often taking the stage hours late. Dramatic stage lighting. With thousands of fans singing along to every word.
Campaigns: A mostly similar-sounding stump speech every day, in mostly florescent lighting. With between dozens and thousands of supporters cheering and applauding on cue.
Rihanna 777: As the plane prepared to land in the final tour city of New York, Rihanna reportedly came to the back of the plan and apologized to the crowd, saying, “I know you guys got barely any dirt … It’s impossible to spend time with everybody, and I’m sorry I didn’t. But this was excellent and I would definitely do it again.”
Campaigns: Reporters heard the same speeches everyone else in the world did. And then everyone packed up and went home.