A Candidate on the Campaign Trail Running for president, even six months before the general election, can seem like a marathon. NPR followed Sen. Hillary Clinton during one jam-packed day, from North Carolina to Indiana.

A Candidate on the Campaign Trail

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That rival has been making a point of packing her days with campaign events. Reporters who cover Senator Hillary Clinton sometimes joke that they drew the short straw, since covering her campaign means much less sleep. Aides say she's been personally asking her staff to come up with more events.

So NPR's David Greene kept track of one sleepless day - yesterday - from beginning to end.

DAVID GREENE: Hillary Clinton woke up at 5:45 a.m. yesterday at a hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina, and then...

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: She was off to North Carolina State. She toured a bio-research lab, she met with Governor Mike Easley, then the governor brought her in front of the cameras.

Governor MIKE EASLEY (Democrat, North Carolina): There's nothing I love more than a strong, powerful woman.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Gov. EASLEY: I've been in hog heaven today.

GREENE: The governor also announced...

Gov. EASLEY: I'm proud to support and endorse Hillary Clinton, the next president of the United States of America.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GREENE: This is a big endorsement. Clinton trails in the polls in North Carolina and needs any help she can get. She thanked the governor and his wife.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York): I am so grateful to both Mike and Mary for their leadership. They're a real team and they are really committed to this state.

GREENE: But it was time for Clinton to leave the state. It was mid-morning and she headed to her plane. Before takeoff, she came to the press cabin to play show-and-tell. A woman at NC State who can make balloon animals constructed a balloon Hillary Clinton.

Sen. CLINTON: I have to tell you, I have been given the most amazing little gifts in my life. How are you? And Ron, this is a first. The Blooming Balloon Lady made this.

GREENE: Clinton said the balloon statue was even wearing her favorite clothing.

Sen. CLINTON: It's a pants suit.

(Soundbite of airplane signal)

GREENE: Clinton landed in Indianapolis and she headed for a wood manufacturing plant. She toured some loud machinery, then made some news. She said she wants to suspend the 18-cent federal gas tax this summer. Barack Obama, she said, disagrees.

Sen. CLINTON: My opponent opposes giving consumers a break from the gas tax, but I believe American people are being squeezed pretty hard.

GREENE: Obama says Clinton's gas tax idea is a gimmick to win votes. Either way, Clinton's been trying to show she's on the side of working people. That explains why she left Indianapolis, flew north to Hobart, Indiana, and landed in Johnny Parker's dining room.

Sen. CLINTON: Well, can we go ahead and get started, Sam?

Unidentified Man: Go ahead.

GREENE: Clinton, Johnny Parker and his family sat around the table with tea and cookies. Nearby a photographer stood on the couch with his shoes off and 30 other journalists crammed in to listen as Parker told Clinton about losing a job.

Mr. JOHNNY PARKER: It's like one day the guy walks up to you and he says you're out of work. You got two weeks, you're done. It was just amazing.

GREENE: Clinton said she wants to fight to keep jobs.

Sen. CLINTON: I think that we've got to get back to putting the kitchen table issues on the forefront of...

Mr. PARKER: Absolutely.

Sen. CLINTON: ...the nation's agenda.

GREENE: The senator left the Parker residence in the early evening and flew from northern Indiana to southern Indiana. And in the chilly town square in Princeton a crowd was waiting, including Janice Loveless.

Ms. JANICE LOVELESS: I wouldn't want her schedule. I just retired, so I wouldn't want her schedule by any means. She must be taking her vitamins.

GREENE: Clinton spoke about the miles she traveled.

Sen. CLINTON: I was just in Hobart, which is up by Gary, and now I'm down here in Princeton near Evansville. Well, I've got a wonderful experience, and my husband, my daughter and I, we've made about 75 stops in Indiana, because everywhere we go, we're having a good time.

GREENE: But it was getting late.

Sen. CLINTON: I'm sure you've got to get home and get kids to bed and figure out what's going on tomorrow.

GREENE: As she said good night, "9 to 5" filled the town square. But Clinton was on her 17th hour of work, and she still had one more flight to get to her hotel in South Bend, Indiana.

David Greene, NPR News, traveling with the Clinton campaign and resting only when she does.

(Soundbite of song, "9 to 5")

Ms. DOLLY PARTON (Singer): (Singing) 9 to 5, what a way to make a living, barely getting by, it's all taking and no giving, they just use your mind, and they never give your credit, it's enough to drive you crazy if you let it, 9 to 5...


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