Hot on the Campaign Trail

Memoli, ’04, follows presidential candidates for the reporting experience of a lifetime

By Magazine staff  |  Photographs courtesy of Mike Memoli

Meet Mike Memoli, ’04.

Add a $25 tripod from Best Buy, a $100 camcorder, and a rental car.

You’re looking at the entire NBC presence covering former President Bill Clinton throughout his wife’s presidential campaign.

You’re also looking at a prime example of 21st century backpack journalism, where, thanks to the latest technology and lower media budgets, one person does the work of several—researcher, interviewer, cameraman, driver, navigator. In this case, the journalist happens to be a former editor of The Greyhound who recently finished covering the presidential campaign for NBC. In January, Memoli became the White House correspondent for the Internet news site Real Clear Politics, where he writes the Politics Nation blog.

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Race to the White House

The trip to the White House happened quickly for the young, talented Hound.

Memoli was working as a staff writer for The Hotline—the National Journal’s daily news service for political professionals and national media—when his boss, Chuck Todd, left for a job with NBC in March 2007. Todd encouraged Memoli to apply for a position covering the presidential primaries for NBC, serving as an “embed”—the term coined when reporters were embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq. Memoli leapt at the chance.

“When I was hired, they said, ‘We think the nominations are going to be settled by Feb. 5,’” Memoli said. Then the endless primary season began. During the next 18 months, Memoli rarely saw his Washington, D.C., apartment.

Up Close and Personal

Memoli found himself broadcasting live from Rochester, N.H., when Hillary Clinton’s staff was being held hostage, snorkeling in Hawaii during Barack Obama’s week-long vacation, and riding for six hours on the back of a flatbed truck through the streets of San Juan, P.R., with Hillary Clinton. He chatted with Hillary while she drank her beer of choice—Blue Moon—on Hill-Force One, her campaign plane; tried to keep up with Bill Clinton during unscheduled visits to Midwestern Dairy Queens; and watched then-Gov. Sarah Palin dance the Electric Slide.

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