These calendars attempt to give a sense of how the major party candidates and their wives spent their time in the eight months leading up to Election Day, November 2, 2004, showing where they travelled and what they did. The calendars are based on publicly available information. The starting point was information provided by the campaigns--the daily schedules they e-mailed out to general press as well as their blogs and websites. (Campaigns do provide more detailed schedules to the travelling press but these were not available). The thoroughness of the public schedules varied.
Information from schedules was then verified and supplemented by a close reading of news accounts found using Lexis-Nexis and the Internet. Through news accounts one can confirm that the events on the schedule actually occurred, pick up off the record (OTR) or unannounced stops, and sometimes fill in other details such as where the candidates overnighted. The White House website was also a valuable source of additional information on President Bush's travels.
Using these resources it is possible to create a generally complete picture of travels by the presidential candidates and First Lady Laura Bush and Sen. John Edwards. Vice President Cheney, of "undisclosed location" fame, had many days with no public events, particularly early on. Teresa Heinz Kerry, Lynne Cheney and Elizabeth Edwards did not get as much media attention as their husbands, and they could move somewhat below the radar.1 As a result their unpublicized solo appearances, such impromptu stops and fundraisers, are difficult to track down and are underrepresented. Note also that the calendars are not designed to show details of Bush's myriad official activities in Washington, DC since that is not the focus of this analysis. Further note that travels of Lynne Cheney are included on the same pages as travels of Vice President Cheney because she accompanied him to the vast majority of events he did.
Visits by the principals are but one measure how much effort a campaign put into a particular state. Other indicators of activity include how much the campaign spent on advertising, how much resources went into field organization, and how many appearances surrogates, ranging from relatives to prominent officials to celebrities, made. Personal visits can be analyzed using a point system wherein a visit by the presidential candidate is assigned the highest value, a visit by the vice presidential candidate the next highest value, and visits by various surrogates progressively fewer points.2 This type of analysis is not done here, as only the activity of the principals is considered. Nonetheless, clear definitions are important; in attempting to quantify activity by the principals in a state, one can consider the number of visits, number of days, or number of events.
A visit is fairly straightforward. If a candidate enters a state, does an event or events and then leaves the state, that is a visit. However, a tricky situation arises where two cities are nearby but on opposite sides of a state border. For example if a candidate does an event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, crosses the Missouri River to do another event in Omaha, Nebraska and then returns to Iowa or does some New Hamphire events with a stop in Maine or Vermont thrown in in the middle, an argument could be made that there were two trips to Iowa or New Hampshire. In this study, if a candidate does an event or events in a state, drives over the border and goes out of the state for a nearby event or events, and then comes back in state the same day such a trip is considered as one visit.
A day means a day on which the candidate did some sort of publicly reported activity in the state. For example if a candidate arrived late at night and went straight to the hotel and did an event the next morning, that is counted as one day; similarly, if a candidate did some events, overnighted, and left the next morning without any further events that is also counted as one day. The problem with using visits or days as a measure of activity is that these give the same weight to a fly-in, fly-out airport tarmac rally as to a full-day bus tour with many stops along the way.
Events is finer measure, but there are ambiguities which must be clarified. Elected officials do official events and campaign events. The distinction is important in terms of how travel on Air Force One or Marine One is charged to the taxpayers. An analysis could be done considering only campaign events. In reality, the lines are not always clearcut. While some officially official events are clearly apolitical, others by their timing and location are less so. President Bush's visits to survey hurricane damage in Florida, while part of his official duties, put him in a battleground state taking a leadership role. Clearly, an official event to promote a summer reading program, as an example, is different than an exclusive closed fundraising event in a private home is different than a large public rally. All the events are going to have some impact on area voters if for no other reason that tying up traffic. In the campaign season everything can be seen as political. Therefore in this analysis, official and political events are counted as events.
Another distinction can be drawn between scheduled events and unscheduled events. A problem here is that there are different types of schedules. Without access to the detailed schedules of the candidates, attempting to quantify events is a problematic exercise. Some activities do not rise to the level of full-fledged events. For example, President Bush was often greeted in his airport arrivals by a Freedom Corps volunteer selected for the honor; likewise the Kerry campaign often organized a small group of veterans or a throng of supporters to greet Sen. Kerry. In this analysis, these were not counted as events. Church services can be a murky area. Sometimes the schedule shows that a candidate will attend and/or speak at a church service; that is clearly an event. Other times attendance is a private matter and not publicized. Likewise, if a candidate goes jogging or takes a bike ride around town that will usually be unpublicized, but the candidate will be seen and there may be reports or photos of the activity.
Private meetings are another difficult area. Sometimes a schedule will note private meetings; more often they do not. Some private meetings are reported on, others are not. Some necessitate that the candidate make a separate trip, and others are quickies tacked on before or after an event. For example on October 21 in Downingtown, after a speech on medical liability President Bush made a trip to meet Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia. As the Bush campaign was actively wooing Catholic voters, the meeting had clear political implications. But, as President, Bush had hundreds of other private meetings; without a full schedule rigorous analysis is not possible.
Unannounced or unscheduled stops or OTRs present a somewhat similar challenge. One must rely on news or eyewitness accounts or conversations with campaign staffers to find out about OTRs. Given the number of reporters following the major candidates, careful research can find many of these. Stops at diners or town squares can be among the more interesting activities a candidate does because they are less scripted. They are often quite brief, just five or ten minutes. In this analysis, OTRs or unannounced stops are put into an "other" category.
The eight-month time frame used herein constitutes a broad but reasonable definition of the general election campaign. A more narrow approach might look at travel after the conventions or after Labor Day. The 2004 general election campaign effectively began with Sen. Kerry's near sweep of the March 2 primaries. In a series of interviews on that day Vice President Cheney took Kerry to task for his record on national security. That evening President Bush called to congratulate Kerry. Sen. Edwards' withdrew the next day leaving the Massachusetts Senator as the defacto nominee. Bush-Cheney '04, Inc. went up with its first TV ad buy on March 4, and on March 20 President Bush and Laura Bush did their first rally at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.
To conclude, these calendars provide as complete
a picture as possible of travel by the principals based on publicly available
information. They include all major public events, and as many unannounced
events as it was possible to document through extensive research.
While some unpublicized fundraisers, unannounced stops, and appearances
by Teresa Heinz Kerry or Elizabeth Edwards are missing, all-in-all one
can get a good sense of where the candidates and their wives spent their
time in those eight months.
1. Information on Teresa Heinz Kerry's travels, based on the few schedules provided by the campaign and sparse new reports, has possibly significant gaps. Although she made occasional remarks that triggered mini-controversies, generally she kept a low profile. Specifically, the New York Times' Jodi Wilgoren reported ("On the Campaign Trail Teresa Heinz Kerry's Specializing in Straight Talk," July 15, 2004) that in June Teresa Heinz Kerry campaigned alone on 20 days and with Sen. Kerry on two days. This research effort found information on solo events on only ten days.
2. Molly Willow proposed an amusing scoring system for visits in "The Flip Side" feature titled "Stump 'N' Go" that ran in the Columbus Dispatch on Sept. 2, 2004. A Bush or Kerry visit counted as 10 points, a Cheney or Edwards visit as 8 points, a solo visit by Laura Bush as 4 points, but a solo visit by Elizabeth Edwards or Teresa Heinz Kerry as only 2 points. Ms. Willow scored a panolopy of surrogates. Appearances by musicians or bands with hits in this decade were valued at 3 points (more than the Democratic candidates' wives), but if the musician or band had an older hit the visit was valued at -3 points. Interestingly Ms. Willow also proposed a distance effect, introducing a multiplier for events in Columbus proper or in central Ohio.