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|| News Item: Posted 1998-12-13

Travel Hell
By Eric Risberg / Associated Press

As Sports Shooters, we endure late nights, early wakeup calls and early arrivals at The Yard. But campaign photographers have probably the toughest job: several cities in one day plus filing after each stop. I asked Ap/San Francisco staff photographer Eric Risberg to write up what a "day in the life" of a campaign is like after he covered Gray Davis' barnstorm tour through California before the Nov. election. Eric's report:

Monday 11/2 Democratic Victory '98 Tour (Gov-elect Davis calls it The Roadkill Comeback Tour '98):
4am: Wakeup, eat one banana and one of my wife's special oat bran muffins. Throw on a tie to fit in with the suits. Was one of two media guys that wore one.

4:30am: Depart Sausalito in rented Volvo for the drive to Sacramento Airport. Gets very foggy and hard to see on road getting to Sacramento.

6:15am: Drop rental car at Hertz, then begin searching for cab at the Sacramento Airport. No cabs anywhere because no planes come in until

7am. White phones at the airport for cabs all busy.

6:30am: Still no cabs, get on cellphone and call for one.

6:50am: Getting nervous, still no cab, need to be at hotel to meet Gray Davis people at 7:15am.

6:55am: Finally get a cab that was dropping some passengers off.

7:20am: Arrive Sacramento Radisson, meet Davis staffers and press handlers. Have a cup of lousy lobby coffee, get cool press pass with Davis' Roadkill Comeback Tour written on it. Issued security lapel pin of the California flag.

7:45am: Board van for first event of day in Sacramento at meeting hall. VP Gore to attend with all the major Democratic candidates who are taking part in the day's fly around the state.

8am: Event begins, get to hear each candidate speak for 5-10 minutes. Candidates use the same speech at each stop. Gray Davis highlights Dan Lungren's 0 rating from the teacher's association of his record in Congress. Barbara Boxer goes on about no constituent ever telling her the water is too clean. Best part was Gore and Davis talking about how boring
they are and how they coach each other. I shoot from the cutaway position just behind the podium, Sacramento staffer Rich Pedroncelli shoots from the press riser.

9:20am: Event winds down, I hand off two rolls of film to Rich Pedroncelli and board van.

9:35am--Van joins the CHP-escorted motorcade headed for the Sacramento Airport. After getting on to the I5 freeway, press van reaches speed of over 90 mph and falls in behind car of school superintendent Delaine Eastin. Motorcade slows down to 75mph at airport and we almost rear end Eastin.

9:45am--Motorcade arrives Sacramento Airport. Three jets wait to take all of us on the tour. Candidates in one, press in one, family and staff in another. Only one other still photog. on tour, Gary Friedman of the LA Times who is only riding to LA.

10am--Shoot photos of Boxer on a cellphone on the tarmac waiting to board the plane. Get one minute photo op of the candidates on the plane. Walk to back of plane. Barbara Boxer says she doesn't want to be photographed on the plane eating bagels. We do get to shoot Gray Davis and his wife at a table talking with actor/director Rob Reiner (he wants to double the price of my robusto in California with Prop. 10) and Lt. Gov. candidate Cruz

10:05am--Board press plane. Plane is a $25 million Challenger Jet Tail #601JM that seats 10 and is owned by San Diego Padres owner John Moores. He donates the plane to the Demo. party for the day. Press gets billed about $500 per seat for the day's two flights. On board are Davis' press people, SF Chronicle writer, Friedman, SJ Mercury writer, Copley writer, AP writer, LA Times writer and a Demo strategist, two pilots, one freelance
stewardess, and me.

10:15am--Planes begin flight to LA International Airport. On board while others eat bagels, fruit and drink coffee, I pullout my laptop and acquire 3 digital photos and get them ready to send when I make it to a phone. Gary Friedman tells me about the uncertainty for the photogs at the Times.

11:10am--We land at LAX, I walk to the candidates plane and shoot everyone walking down, but get Davis doing his fist pump.

11:25am--Motorcade departs for UCLA noon rally.

11:50am--Arrive at UCLA, press taken to holding room. While rest of group is taken into the room for the noontime rally I ask to be taken to the filing room to get my photos transmitted. Covering the noon event was LA stringer Chris Pizello.

12:05pm--Taken to the Daily Bruin. I use the managing editor's phone and desk to file the three photos I worked on during my flight and then I send one more photo taken of Davis at LAX.

12:40pm--Escort takes me back to the rally. I catch the last few minutes of it and end up on stage behind Davis and Sheila Kuehl and other candidates as they press the flesh.

1pm--Press continuing on are led back to our van to wait. I watch Clint Eastwood's former girlfriend, Frances Fisher, or something like that, one with the red hair who had the kid, schmooze with Rob Reiner and tell him how wonderful he is. Reiner plays along.

1:25pm--Press van joins in with motorcade and we proceed to LAX.

1:50pm--Motorcade arrives at LAX. I'm getting hungry. We board press plane and wait.

2:15pm--Press plane starts taxiing down runway. Fast takeoff straight up. I can now relax for the moment. Most important photos of the trip so far have been sent.

2:30pm--Stewardess seems to take a lifetime to get those finger sandwiches ready. Have a seven-up and consume five little finger sandwiches. Nothing fancy, but will tide me over. Ham and swiss was the best.

3:15pm--We land at Oakland International Airport. A few of us convince the stew to brew some coffee. We grab our coffees and board another van.

3:30pm--Van leaves Oakland Airport and falls in with motorcade bound for SF via the Bay Bridge. Figured this ride would be fun, especially with the CHP escort. The minute we got into van I knew it would be interesting. Driver jerked the van several times, coffee spills all over in front of me. Traffic was light and we did about 55 mph over the bridge. It didn't get interesting until we got off the bridge and drove along the embarcadero in SF. CHP had us weaving in and out of traffic. Motorists were confused. The cops were motioning people over left and right and people didn't know which way to go or what was going on.

4pm--Arrive at Longshoreman's Hall for last big rally of the campaign. Shoot photos of Barbara Boxer holding her grandson and other candidates milling about. Spot my colleague Susan Ragan who is also shooting the event and is my ride back to the SF bureau where my car is.

4:35pm--Find a union leader's office to go set up my laptop and transmit one photo of Boxer with her grandson.

5:10pm--Go back to Longshoreman's Hall and wait for the event to start. Susan Ragan goes to the stage, I go to a balcony above.

5:30pm--Event begins. Get to hear all the same speeches for the third time! Back is starting to ache, feet getting tired.

7pm--Event is finally over, ride back to office with Susan Ragan. She tells me my photos looked really boring, but it wasn't my fault nothing happened. That makes me feel good.

7:20pm--Arrive at office, look over all the photos from the day. Put out one more from the SF rally showing Davis kissing his wife with his mother looking on. Notice that LA staffer Mark Terrill, who traveled with the Republicans, had much better access.

9pm--Leave bureau, go pick up my wife getting out of her class after work.

9:15pm--Go to dinner at Liverpool Lil's.

9:16pm--First cocktail, call it a day. No after dinner cigar, too tired.

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