Student details Air Force Two trip with VP Biden
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 13:09
The opportunity to travel in the Vice President’s press pool was made possible through efforts by the university’s English department.
Professor Dawn Fallik started negotiating in June with the Biden campaign. Biden’s press staff contacted her with an opening for a student to travel on Air Force Two. She sent the application to advanced journalism students. Philadelphia Inquirer Political Reporter Thomas Fitzgerald selected the finalist.
The trip cost $2,350 and was funded by the English department and the dean’s office at the College of Arts and Sciences.
Two more students were chosen to accompany the campaign in Pennsylvania at the end of September, but that trip has been postponed.
Before sunrise, the day begins for the vice president’s press staff in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House. Visitors are required to pass two security checkpoints to enter the EEOB.
In the EEOB, Ike’s Eatery serves Starbucks coffee and is right above the Truman Bowling Alley.
The vice president’s Assistant Press Secretary Elizabeth Allen reads Politico’s “Playbook” every morning. She said that everyone in Washington reads the daily primer about what is happening in the world of politics.
Allen’s office has gift bags for visitors. They include cuff links, a water bottle and a hat all featuring the vice presidential seal and a plush doll of Biden’s German shepherd, Champ. All the goodies are made in the United States.
It’s Thursday, Sept. 13 and the staff prepares for a grassroots campaign at a satellite campus of the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, Wis.
After printing documents needed for the trip and giving assignments to assistants staying in the office, the staff members traveling with the vice president pile in a van to go to Andrews Air Force base 13 miles away. The presidential fleet is housed at the base.
While Air Force One refers to a single plane, Air Force Two can refer to several planes that the vice president and members of the president’s cabinet share according to Shailagh Murray, Biden’s communications director.
“There are a couple of planes,” Murray said. “One or two could be out of commission at any given time.”
New York Times Reporter Trip Gabriel and five other reporters from Fox, CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC have been waiting at the airfield. All the reporters except Gabriel are embedded or “in bed” with the vice president, meaning they follow him wherever he goes. They are vetted by security and enveloped by “The Bubble.”
To be in “The Bubble,” reporters, visitors and staff must be cleared by the secret service. The process involves trudging through metal detectors, emptying pockets and hauling luggage onto x-ray belts – no worse than the average plane trip. Once reporters leave “The Bubble,” they must go through what reporters call the “cleansing process” again.
Gabriel was assigned to cover Biden after spending time covering Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan. He said all campaigns fastidiously try to prevent their “The Bubble” from being popped.