Cover image for One-car caravan : on the road with the 2004 Democrats before America tunes in
One-car caravan : on the road with the 2004 Democrats before America tunes in
Shapiro, Walter.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Public Affairs, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiv, 220 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E905 .S47 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



An offbeat, irreverent look at the 2004 presidential race, in its not-ready-for-prime-time preliminaries. By the time most Americans see the presidential candidates on the campaign trail, they are practiced performers surrounded by a platoon of staffers and a brigade of reporters. But on their initial forays into Iowa and New Hampshire in 2002 and early 2003, their entourages were decidedly unpresidential -just an aide or two, perhaps a local reporter, and the candidate himself. Their motorcades were literally one-car caravans; their campaign stops, small gatherings in living rooms. The national media only intermittently follow the candidates as they struggle to define themselves, work out the kinks in their message and refine their personas. But Walter Shapiro did. One-Car Caravan is Shapiro's revealing account of the humble roots of the current presidential campaign, and he provides a telling picture of the 2004 Democratic contenders in their metaphorical boxers and briefs. He shows us John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Howard Dean, and the others with their hair down, their ties askew, and their foibles bared. It's not pretty to watch a candidate who dreams

Author Notes

Walter Shapiro is the political columnist for USA Today. In his thirty-year career covering politics, he has been a reporter for Esquire, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and The Washington Monthly, and is also a stand-up comic who performs regularly in New York. He and his wife, the journalist Meryl Gordon, live in New York City

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Shapiro, political columnist for USA Today, takes a very early look at some of the 2004 presidential bids of Democratic candidates, when their campaigns are essentially one-car caravans--with Shapiro along for the ride. With no jostling competition from media and less attention from the public, Shapiro is able to capture candidates at a time of unscripted lines. Howard Dean, John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, Joseph Lieberman, John Edwards, Robert Graham, and Al Sharpton come under scrutiny in what Shapiro concedes is not a thorough look at the candidates. But what this collection lacks in thoroughness, it makes up in candor. Shapiro details how the candidates hone their messages, how they interact with each other, and the tension and jockeying for position. He depicts the dogged determination of Graham, how Gephardt reenlisted the help of his former speechwriter, now a co-producer of The West Wing, and a Sharpton less inclined to bow out and support a nominee than is widely expected. Readers will enjoy this revealing look at candidates before they sharpen their images. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Experience has taught Shapiro, a veteran journalist and USA Today political columnist, that once the media managers and campaign consultants take hold of the 2004 Democratic presidential primary contest, there will be no way for anyone to get a meaningful sense of who the candidates are and what makes them run. Experience has also persuaded Shapiro that a fix on a candidate's character is more important than set-piece proposals on health care and foreign policy. Thus he takes a pre-emptive strike at the aspiring candidates. In 2002, before the leading Democratic presidential hopefuls are captives of the political process, when traveling with the candidate means sitting with the candidate as he crisscrosses New Hampshire rather than taking a seat in the press plane, Shapiro sets out to take their measure. He isn't interested in the predictable answers candidates offer to the question, Why me for president? He is going after deeper insights, and his active mind looks for clues everywhere: in private conversations with the candidates, in whom they hire to run their campaigns and in how they make crucial decisions, small and large, about their futures. Readers will be pleased with the result-Shapiro succeeds in offering a commentary that is mature, witty, entertaining and marked by political and emotional intelligence. And his final judgment of the candidates he followed (Edwards, Lieberman, Kerry, Graham, Dean and Gephardt)-that at least there is not a "charlatan or a chiseler among them"-might provide comfort through the inevitable mind-numbing moments of the coming primary season. (Nov. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
1 Rubes on the Roadp. 1
2 Testing the Watersp. 15
3 I Nominate Mep. 37
4 The Money Primaryp. 58
5 The Staff of Lifep. 81
6 Iowa and New Hampshirep. 100
7 The Candidates in Wartimep. 121
8 The Reverend Alp. 142
9 In Which the Candidates Define Themselvesp. 152
10 In Which the Candidates Remain Themselves (Despite All Efforts to Package Them into Something Else)p. 175
11 Visions of the White Housep. 195
Acknowledgmentsp. 217