Get Ready to Jump on the Whistle-Stop Train Sept. 15

"GMA" broadcasts live from a train as part of the "50 States in 50 Days" tour.

ByABC News via via logo
September 9, 2008, 7:32 AM

  -- Onboard an antique train car this morning in New York City's Grand Central station, ABC News and USA Today kicked off "50 States in 50 Days," an unprecedented initiative to report from every state in the nation during the 50 days leading up to the presidential election.

Over the course of the next two months, ABC News anchors and correspondents and USA Today reporters and photographers will report on one state each day in the run-up to the historic vote Nov. 4.

"We're going to look at the election from the point of view of the voters and citizens," ABC News President David Westin said in a press conference Monday.

Westin also noted that the train trip would make history itself, as "Good Morning America" will be the first show to broadcast live from a train.

"The challenge is to get a better sense of where the nation is headed by examining one state at a time," USA Today Editor and Senior Vice President of News Ken Paulson told ABC News. "What I love most about the project is that it throws the spotlight on all of America."

"For all the polarization, for all the red and blue states, we still have a lot in common," he said in the press conference. "We hope to discover the subtleties that escape polling. Polling doesn't tell your passions or your priorities or dreams."

The "50 States" journey officially begins on "Good Morning America" the week of Sept. 15 with Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Chris Cuomo and Sam Champion anchoring the morning broadcast onboard a specially equipped Amtrak train.

The broadcast studio on the rails will consist of three locomotives and eight rail cars, two of which are historic antique cars. The "GMA Whistle-Stop Tour" will travel through seven states, making several stops along the way as the show broadcasts live from four states and Washington, D.C., over five days.

At each live broadcast location, "GMA" anchors will interview newsmakers and talk with local residents about the important issues they face.

The whistle-stop tour will also feature live music with concerts by James Taylor from Massachusetts Monday, country music star Brad Paisley from Ohio Wednesday, and Oscar-winner and former "American Idol" contestant Jennifer Hudson from Washington, D.C., Friday.

On Monday, "GMA" anchors checked out the train that will become their home next week and reacted predictably to the train's tight quarters -- with smiles and laughter.

"Five days and we're going be this close?" Robin Roberts joked with Chris Cuomo. "Then I've got one word for you -- 'Scope.'"

But according to Cuomo, any chance to be out of the studio and in the field is one well worth taking.

"I love to get out of the studio," Cuomo said. "I like to experience things firsthand, get a feel for where people's heads and hearts are."

For Sam Champion, the trip is also an opportunity to give people a voice that may not usually be heard.

"There are always a lot of 'experts' on television, but very few chances have people had to say what they think," he said.

"Good Morning America Weekend," "Nightline" and "World News With Charles Gibson" will also broadcast from the rails for the "50 States in 50 Days" tour., "GMA Now" and USA Today will provide additional coverage of the historic event.

Get ready to jump on the train Monday, Sept. 15!

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