John Harwood

Inside Media: John Harwood

September 28, 2008

Guest: John Harwood

New York Times reporter and CNBC Washington bureau chief John Harwood remembers what his father once told him about covering presidential campaigns.

"Politics was always his first love," Harwood said about his father, Richard, a former Washington Post reporter who died in 2001. "And what he told me was, ‘You're likely to have in your career one campaign that stands out over the rest.'"

For the junior Harwood, the 2008 race between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain is that campaign.

"This has been the most exciting campaign of my career," Harwood said.

Harwood cited the roller-coaster Democratic primary between the history-making candidacies of Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, followed by the nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin as the first female vice presidential candidate in the Republican Party.

Add to that the drama of an economic crisis that threatens to bring the U.S. economy to a halt, and you've got one memorable campaign season.

"So many things are rocking and rolling at one time, I've never experienced anything like it," Harwood said. "Most campaigns by comparison are sleepy. They're not really sleepy, but it feels that way in comparison with what's happening right now."

Harwood classified McCain's campaign as "improvisational," citing McCain's decision to suspend the campaign on September 24 to deal with the economic crisis.

"It's simply a reflection of John McCain the politician," Harwood said. "That's one of the things that make John McCain attractive. …But nevertheless, that can create an incoherent look to your campaign."

As for Obama, Harwood said he has been able to successfully "ride a wave" in this election because of the country's sentiment of wanting change and associating Republicans with President Bush, whose approval ratings have reached historically low levels.

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