Episode 40, with guest Chuck Todd of NBC News

Chuck Todd is our guest this week.
Show produced by Katherine Caperton
Original Air Date: December 24, 2011 on SiriusXM Satellite Radio “POTUS” Channel 124
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Show also available for download on Apple iTunes by clicking here

Welcome back, Poliopticians, to our 40th episode and our first show of 2012.

It’s fitting, as we complete the first full week of an election year, to have as a guest the consummate expert on electoral politics: Chuck Todd, Chief White House Correspondent and political director for NBC News.

We caught up to Chuck in New Hampshire, getting ready for the January 10 primary, as he and his producer were driving from Nashua back to their base in Manchester. Chuck had just arrived from his coverage of the Iowa Caucus and gave Adam Belmar and me a litany of contrasts between the two contests.

Chuck Todd is a bridge between generations covering campaigns. He’s young enough to be counted among the hyper-plugged-in crowd that Tweets by the minute and posts his First Read column in the early morning hours; but he’s old enough to know and esteem the great scribes and TV correspondents who’ve blazed his trail.

In his conversation with us, Chuck offered a breakdown of the campaign as he saw it, handicapping the prospects for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum (where did he c0me from while we were on hiatus?), Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman. Huntsman, as Polioptics listeners know, has always elicited a lot of interest from Adam and me — or at least the theory of Huntsman — but he hasn’t generated any heat yet, and New Hampshire may be his last shot, especially given the time and money he has invested in the state.

In his conversation with us, Chuck also talked about ‘what it takes’ to succeed for young people entering campaigns and covering campaigns these days — a topic we’ve explored with other guests on previous episodes.

For the newest interns walking into NBC news, or embeds ready to follow their first campaign, Chuck demands they read two books: WHAT IT TAKES by Richard Ben Cramer, and FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, but Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.  If the newbies put the books down and ask for more, they have a taste for the trail. If they just don’t get it, they should look for other lines of work.

Oh, and one more thing… If you do get one of the coveted embed slots on a nascent campaign, Chuck has one more piece of advice: don’t drink on school nights. To be a White House Correspondent, you have to be “always on” — you can’t lose your wits in a bar, get photographed the wrong way by a smartphone or not be able to take an emergency call from the desk at 2:00 am.

All great advice to help endure the long road of the political campaign.  Our talk with Chuck Todd is a great conversation and worth a listen.

And Adam and I will look forward to talking with you after New Hampshire.

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