Opinion: From the headquarters of the loser



Daniel Moore

Daniel Moore

Daniel Moore is a junior news major and news editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Update: This column mistakenly stated that candidate Romney came within a percentage point of being elected president. Because the Electoral College percentage gap was actually 23.4 percent, that assertion was inaccurate.

As I was sitting in the Press Filing Center, abbreviated to “PFC” by savvier professionals, I kept getting calls and texts asking me for the inside scoop.

Sometimes, I answered through a mouthful of tender beef medallions and garlic-roasted potatoes. At other times, I was caught balancing dual dishes of gourmet pasta and Parmesan chicken.

The questions — coming from relatives, friends, other journalists — of course surrounded my experience of sitting on the front lines of the Romney campaign on election night: What was happening? What was the atmosphere? What was the Romney campaign’s reaction to each state’s results? What were the details from the bowels of the Boston Convention Center?

Reporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s almost-election was a strange microcosm of why he didn’t win. Watching the results roll in on two huge screens in the PFC, I tried to explain my situation of being trapped in a gated-off section of the sprawling complex, among journalists of all languages who were in the same boat as me.

On TV, Obama’s “big house” in Chicago sure looked inviting and inclusive for anyone who wanted to attend. Romney’s house, as I put it to my excited interrogators, was the opposite of that. You paid your way in. Or, in my case, essentially begged for a lower price: Our credentials were “student-priced” at $250, instead of $1,000.

Obama’s creds? Free.

Granted, my photographer and I arrived in Beantown without credentials to get in. With a combination of cunning, charm and rising at 4 a.m. to be the first at the media check-in, we got access. Drifting up the escalator past security, a majestic, catered breakfast greeted us at the top.

Indeed, the food was top-notch; that point needs no more emphasis. But little did we know our yellow laminated passes, worth more than a couple months’ rent, got us only one floor closer to the third-floor ballroom in which Romney would later end his campaign.

I never saw the man who almost became president. I, along with you, watched everything on television. I could glean nothing from whispered side conversation among the few Romney staffers; they likely knew nothing more than I did anyway. Intense distrust and secrecy gripped them; any eye contact deflected down to my media pass.

Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I’m not remotely offended by being shut off. I’m also not entirely surprised. The Stater afforded me an opportunity, and I gladly made the most of it.

However, I draw from the rare experience a rare insight and a rare reflection on two presidential campaigns. Perhaps it’s only a public ploy and a whiny journalist’s perspective, but the live feeds I saw from Chicago made me jealous. Made me want to be there instead of here. And, considering the depth of an average voter’s knowledge, perception is reality for many Americans.

Could it be that Romney’s exclusive VIP ballroom was, in a way, a symbol of his failure?

As I watched the president give his victory speech on Romney’s Jumbotron, I felt the majority of Americans had rejected the catered food and $1,000 passes. They stood out in the cold to be part of something larger, and they secured Obama a second term.