Change on the Campaign Trail

As I write, Mitt Romney is being declared the winner of the Michigan Primary. Just yesterday, I was in the room when the former Massachusetts Governor delivered the most important speech of his campaign so far.

Romney addressed the Detroit Economic Club, our client. We manage media relations for the Club’s meetings. Yesterday, the room was packed with 600 attendees who wanted to hear from the candidate first-hand. They were joined by dozens of media, covering the speech in 2008 style.

It was my job yesterday to work with the “traveling press” – the journalists from national outlets who accompany Romney for each campaign stop and travel via charter bus. Yesterday alone, they were with him in a high school in Grand Blanc, the Economic Club, the North American International Auto Show and a dinner in West Bloomfield.

What struck me most was the role that technology is playing in campaign news coverage. It’s a far cry from the days when I covered the Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown campaigns as they made their ways through Upstate New York in 1992.

The first place the traveling press corps headed when they entered the ballroom was to their laptops. Both print and radio reporters filed stories immediately after the speech, online, directly from the ballroom. If you were at your computer yesterday afternoon, you could have read about the speech (including reaction from audience members) soon after it ended – no “press room” necessary. Most of the journalists didn’t even need phone lines or Internet connections – they did it all with cell phones and wireless broadband via cell networks.

The real winner? The voters. Any voter who says they don’t know enough about the candidates by Election Day needs to get online… often. Political journalists are filing detailed stories online throughout the day, every day, until November.