The objective was clear: get an interview with potentially the next president of the United States. Easier said than done. With a mixed crowd of young and old calmly lining the road in anticipation of meeting her, it was the press who were behaving badly, pushing and shoving each other to get the perfect shot and perfect position.
At one point, everyone seemed happy with their position, but when the huge Clinton convoy (two buses and three SUVs) rolled through and the senator got out followed closely by her daughter, Chelsea, an organizer decided it was a good idea to ask the press to "take 15 steps forward." In press-talk this translates to: "Scramble to the front, show no mercy, and it's every news organization for itself." A local reporter who was standing next to me — an average-looking woman wearing a bucket-load of makeup — suddenly turned into a banshee, yelling at her cameraman while elbowing me and pushing my cameraman Aaron out of the way. It's all good, though. This isn't the first sticky situation Aaron and I have been in. Seeing that everyone was rushing blindly forward, we hung back for a second, quietly walked around the mob and sidestepped to the front. Perfect.
Chelsea Clinton made her way toward us first, working the line, shaking hands and even climbing through the barriers to take photos, much to the delight of her fans. The "likeability" factor of the Clinton campaign was already on the up.
As she came to the end of the line, our request for a quick couple of questions with Chelsea was met with the simple reply: "Chelsea doesn't speak to press." To which I replied: "We're not normal press. We're MTV." Surprisingly, both Chelsea and her press woman laughed, but still no interview. All good, Hillary Clinton was on her way down the line, but even though we had our fingers crossed, no news outlet had any confirmation that she would be speaking to anyone. As she got closer, you could tell by her body language and the fact that she hadn't even looked in our direction that she wasn't going to be doing any interviews. As she got within a foot of the cameras, journalists started shouting out questions over each other — some good and some a little facetious. Almost immediately, any glimmer of hope that she would give an interview was out the window as Hillary turned her back and began to walk away. That's when Chelsea came to our rescue!
She whispered something into her mother's ear, and both women turned back around, eyes looking for the flagship MTV News mic cube. And over she came. The other reporters started shouting questions trying to get her attention, but she was all ours. Within a second, there was silence from the press as everyone's attention (and cameras) turned to face Hillary and me.
"Hi," I said. "How are you?" ...
Hillary had time for only one (and a half) questions, but we're very grateful for it, and even more grateful to the lovely Chelsea, who was definitely the reason we were the only crew to get a one-on-one interview with the senator. Thank you, Chelsea (and of course Hillary)!
Edwards is next. Wish me luck!