Postcard From The Road

Instead of covering the conventions, David Greene got a very different assignment — to hit the road, and chat with Americans about their views on leadership, far away from the convention halls. He gives us a look inside this reporter's notebook.


NPR's David Greene fully expected to cover the conventions. Instead, he got a different assignment: to hit the road and chat with Americans about their views on leadership, far away from convention halls. He also filed this Reporter's Notebook.

DAVID GREENE: So this is what I'm used to.

Unidentified Woman: NPR's David Greene has spent much of this campaign on Clinton's plane and he joins us this morning to talk about...

GREENE: Campaign planes, rallies, following candidates. Of course, I expected to be at the Democratic Convention in Denver.

Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California): Welcome to the convention that will nominate Barack Obama and...

GREENE: Instead, when Nancy Pelosi opened the show Monday, I was buying a ferry ticket to cross the Mississippi. How much do I owe you?

Unidentified Man #1: Eight dollars.

GREENE: This assignment is definitely a departure. I'm not asking my usual questions, like, who are you voting for? Mostly, I'm listening to people like Kevin Nolle(ph), a ferry captain.

Mr. KEVIN NOLLE (Mississippi River Ferry Captain): I get to see sunrises and sunsets that most people only pictures of on their walls every once in a while and say, oh, that's pretty. I get to see it all the time. So...

GREENE: It's been liberating out on the road in an SUV, not boarding a plane four times a day. And my mission is simple: talk to people about who they look up to. It doesn't have to be a politician. And with Kevin, it wasn't.

Mr. NOLLE: Being a hunting fanatic, I'd have to say Ted Nugent but he is not really my idol. I'd have to say Jesus because he is the man.

GREENE: I didn't get a lot of answers like that while following Hillary Clinton. Oh, Senator Clinton? Her big night in Denver was Tuesday.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): In America, you always keep going. We're Americans. We're not big on quitting.

GREENE: As for me, I was at a jam session in Arkansas.

(Soundbite of a guitar)

Unidentified Man #2: We leave it in the key of D.

Unidentified Man #3: Yeah, we leave it in the right key for a change.

GREENE: These musicians, like Scott Blake(ph), were convincing me that playing music under the stars made it worth missing the convention on TV.

Mr. SCOTT BLAKE: These songs have stood the test of time. They're hundreds of years old.

GREENE: Then I heard from his eight-year-old son, Sam.

Mr. SAM BLAKE: That guitar was in my baby bed before I was even born.

Mr. SCOTT BLAKE: That's true.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: Now, I admit, I had to tune in for Barack Obama's speech Thursday and I'm going to do the same for John McCain next week. But for a political reporter, a night like this in Arkansas can keep politics in some perspective.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: NPR's David Greene.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.