Editor Tod Didier is currently in New Hampshire as part of American University’s Presidential Primary program. Full coverage of the New Hampshire primary can be found at nh16.org and through the Twitter tag #AUNH2016
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sometimes, reporters don’t have to track down candidates. Sometimes, candidates literally walk in the front door.
American University student reporters sat in a Manchester Best Western, compiling clips from a Jeb Bush rally, a Chris Christie speech and a Democratic fundraiser. Many had quotes from local voters and a select few had interviews with state senators and other surrogates.
No one, however, had managed to attend one of the rare Trump events and capture the flurry of activity that normally accompanies the candidate.
That is, until some Secret Service agents walked into the Best Western’s lobby.
Three dozen reporters rushed into the lobby, with only the first few seeing the back of the candidate’s head as he ducked down a hallway less than two hours before the Republican debate.
A few reporters negotiated with the Secret Service for space in the lobby, and some camera-wielding journalists positioned themselves on an adjoining staircase with the rest lined up along a clear path to the door.
While the reporters lingered, two of the candidate’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, came to the lobby to wait on their father. Donald Jr. sat quietly in the corner with his wife. Eric joked about his alma mater’s — Georgetown — team and talked about his friends from American University, which is located just a few miles away from Georgetown in the District of Columbia.
An unsuspecting pizza deliveryman walked in the front door and clearly was taken aback by the collection of reporters. When he returned a few minutes later, one of the reporters jokingly called out, “He’s coming,” tricking the reporters into turning lenses back toward the hall and Donald Jr. into jumping to his feet.
When candidate Trump finally emerged, he nodded, waived, answered two quick questions with a nod and then rushed out the door to Saint Anselm College for a debate that would start less than 40 minutes later.
For more than an hour an half, the students had waited, many crouched on a staircase to allay Secret Service concerns about crowding. In the end, most captured about 15 seconds of footage.
But fortune had delivered an experience unique to those reporters who have covered the billionaire candidate.