Chicago Blogging

We just got finished shooting a couple of interviews at Obama’s national campaign headquarters. We’ll have the video of those for you shortly.

A national campaign office is a strange place the day before an election. It looks a bit like a frat house the morning after a kegger, but without the smell. Empty pizza boxes. Leftover food. Posters touting the home team (Obama) and each desk festooned with its own mementos of the campaign and signs of little inside jokes developed over the course of months of an intense shared experience.

A good chunk of the national staff and volunteers have been dispatched to the states for the final few days of the campaign. So some sections of the office, which is spread across the 11th floor of a Michigan Avenue office tower, are empty. A lone member of the policy staff sat in her cubicle amongst scattered empty chairs and abandoned desks.

Most of those who are left are seriously sleep-deprived. You can tell from the thousand-yard stare, and they move very deliberately, as if hungover.

I expected a louder environment, a final frenzy. But whatever yelling and screaming the final hours are provoking are directed into emails and text messages. A busy office is dozens of 20-somethings focused and hunched over laptops.

For many, their work here is done. The press office’s rapid response operation is winding down. As Bill Burton, the campaign press secretary told me, the McCain-Palin rhetoric is now fixed in the public mind, to whatever degree it was successful. There’s not much left to rebut or counter. It’s now up to the voters.

Videos in the two posts immediately above this one.