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NPR's Ari Shapiro reflects on a year of covering Mitt Romney's campaign

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NPR White House correspondant Ari Shapiro.
Courtesy of NPR
NPR White House correspondant Ari Shapiro.

NPR White House Correspondent Ari Shapiro joins Take Two to talk about his experience covering Mitt Romney's campaign, plus what he's up to in his free time.

In recent months, you've heard a lot of stories on our air about Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Many of them were told by NPR White House Correspondent Ari Shapiro, who covered the GOP candidate for more than a year. 

He'll be talking about his experiences on the campaign trail at an event Monday night at University of California Riverside, but he agreed to give us a sneak peak this morning. 

Plus, we'll talk to him about his not-so-hidden talent, singing:

Interview Highlights:

Romney has described the campaign team as getting along well, was it really the well-oiled machine he made it out to be?
“There was far less inner turmoil than there has been with other campaigns… we had drinks to catch up the night after the election and someone was telling me that they did the same thing after the McCain campaign in 2008 but the McCain staff were all too angry at each other and nobody showed up. Here everybody from the Romney campaign showed up, almost, and there really was much less in fighting and finger point than in other campaigns, but that’s not to say that there was none, there certainly was some finger pointing, some blame, some people feeling like the admittedly flawed candidate was not helped by a campaign staff that in some ways failed to address those flaws and didn’t necessarily serve them as well as they could have.”

What were some of your favorite moments on the campaign trail?
"There is this weird sort of delirium inside the bubble that sets in especially in the last few weeks of the campaign where you might be in 5 states everyday. The way you drop into these states is the campaign plane will pull up to a huge plane hanger that has been set up for a rally, you get off the plane and into the hangar, thousands of people are cheering, Romney gives a twenty minute speech, you get back on the plane and then you are in another state… in one day you might be in Florida, Colorado, New Hampshire Ohio and Wisconsin, and that’s not an exaggeration. By the end of these 18 hour days you can get a little ridiculous and slap happy, there was one moment when we were doing Romney Mad libs on the plane, and you get to know the candidate and the nuances of the campaign very well, at some point somebody suggested that the press core should do a drinking game, where every rally begins and ends with the Kid Rock song “Born Free” played again and again, so they were suggesting that we should do a drinking game where each person should have to say the next word in the lyrics to “Born Free” and if you miss a word than you have to take a drink.”

Did you get a sense of what he was like off of the camera?
“The crazy thing about him as a candidate that I think was his most fatal flaw is that when the cameras were not on him is that he was a funny, personable genuine likeable guy, and the minute the cameras turned on, that disappeared and was replaced by this sort of robotic guy that we all saw looking awkward all over the country. And one of his campaign aids joked to us that he was going to tell Romney that he was coming to the back of the plane for an off the record chat with reporters and tell all of the reporters that it was on the record because that was the only way that we were going to be able to catch this elusive authentic, genuinely likeable guy…he is a likeable guy in an old fashion beaver cleaver kind of way… he was a child of the fifties who happened to be born a decade or two later than that. In person he was very genial but it just didn’t come across the camera.”

In your free time you have done some singing with the band Pink Martini, is there any more of that in your future?
“I’m happy to say that a couple of days after my talk at UC Riverside I am going back to Portland Oregon where Pink Martini is from and I am going to record a couple of tracks for their next album…the songs that I am singing are in Hindi and Spanish.”

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