US Election Reporter’s Travel Log

The American presidential election is in its second half. I have visited 23 different candidate rallies. Now that the number of candidates has been reduced a bit, an interim evaluation is due.

Hillary Clinton was a fighter. She rarely lost her smile, but whenever she approached the core message of her speeches or whenever she looked at her aides if something was not to her liking, she had this fierce and even fearsome look on her face. Her husband Bill always maintained five meters distance from her, following wherever she went. The leading role and the supporting role were starkly differentiated. Her demeanor was that of a lawyer, [she had] big black search dogs guarding the entrance to her rallies, and reporters in the Clinton camp — who were mostly women — did not fail to leave a strong impression. And among those, Hillary’s personal assistant Huma Abedin, also known as the “doorknob holder,” stood out. While Hillary was busy greeting her supporters in person, Huma was also doing her own little dance with other Hillary supporters and taking “selfies” with them. Powerful is the only word I could use to describe the impression I got, and she just might be Hillary’s next big obstacle.

Bernie Sanders was your regular friendly old neighbor. When it came to the vigorousness of the rallies, Sanders’ was No. 1. Rather than a sheer ambition for the presidency, his personal beliefs seem to take higher priority. Perhaps because of that, his speeches were moving and earnest, but their delivery was still not comparable to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Something was lacking. He kept drinking water during the rally, and coughed often — perhaps due to his age. I got the impression of a frail man. Nonetheless, when he shook my hand during the rally in South Carolina, while emphasizing his commitment to U.S.-Korea security cooperation, his grip was as firm as any man in his 20s and 30s. I once caught a glimpse of the man through the slightly open door of his waiting room at his New Hampshire rally. His wife Jane was brushing her husband’s shoulders (seemed like he had dandruff). It was a memorable scene.

Even the atmosphere of Donald Trump’s rallies was different than that of his competitors. The eyes of his supporters had a certain fire in them, and his security staff was rough. His speech, while crude and unfocused, captivated audiences. His gestures and the delivery of his speech [seemed to] entice the eyes and ears of the attendees. It was a gifted [oratory].

In terms of policy, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio stood out. Like [Google’s] artificial intelligence program “Alpha Go,” nothing seemed to stop them. However, the voters demanded a vigorous spirit from these two senators in their early 40s. It seems their ‘”unfitting” display of experience and age worked against them.

The impression that I got throughout all of the rallies was that all the contenders were experienced. They may differ from each other in their stances, but they never failed in their answers to any questions. I was impressed that they were able to express their thoughts to such lengths without any hindrance. You cannot get away with merely a passable amount of understanding and intelligence to go toe-to-toe with these people.

Then how about us? No assembly members are above the power of nomination held by their parties, regardless of how well they carry out their legislative activities. They can be easily removed from the list of possible nominees if they rub anyone from the party leadership wrong or if their poll numbers get too low. It would be unreasonable for us to expect a proper leader to arise from this mess. The jokes about letting “Alpha Go” handle the party nomination don’t’ sound like jokes anymore. We are in no position to point our fingers at Trump and laugh.

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