The Stranger – Eli Sanders from Iowa “Left Behind”

The Stranger


Left Behind

Barack Obama Thought He’d Ditched Hillary Clinton in Iowa. Turns Out He Only Ditched Me.

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3:00 a.m., January 2: Let Me Off

I was on the wrong bus. Worse, I had no idea where exactly I was. I knew what the travel schedule was telling me, that we were somewhere between the small towns of Creston and Centerville, somewhere in southern Iowa. But all I knew for sure was that I’d boarded a plane leaving Seattle at 5:45 a.m. on New Year’s Day and now, steadily approaching another 5:45 a.m. and still, unhappily, awake, I was sitting in a cramped seat on the John Edwards bus tour, a 36-hour nonstop race toward the Iowa caucuses that the candidate was calling his “Marathon for the Middle Class.”

For a marathon, there was not much moving of legs. We in the press bus moved our fingers, typing up what we saw whenever Edwards aides ushered us briefly off the bus and into a farmhouse, or a diner, or a local campaign headquarters packed with supporters. But mostly we moved in our seats, trying to get comfortable on what seemed like a rolling upper-middle-class hobo camp—a high-end reporter with her pillow; a guy with a digital camcorder and a different caffeinated drink every time I looked (Red Bull, Mountain Dew, Coke, coffee, repeat); empty plastic water bottles everywhere. Meanwhile, the candidate mainly moved his lips, saying the same thing over and over, from Ottumwa to Fairfield, Mount Pleasant to Burlington, Fort Madison to Iowa City.

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