A Few Thoughts on Covering Campaign Rallies

In March, before the Arizona primaries, all of the major candidates passed through the state. Well except for John Kasich, who seemed only marginally interested in campaigning outside of this home state. Both Clintons, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump all held events in the week before the election. For me it produced a bumper crop of political photos.

Earlier this week I found out that Saturday might be the last time a presidential candidate visits Arizona during this election cycle.

During this election, Trump’s relationship with the media has been odd. He’s blacklisted quite a few media outlets from his campaign events—the Washington Post being the latest. The only first hand information I have are the scheduling emails that his campaign send out. I joined the list in February so I could plan for events leading up to the Nevada and Arizona primaries.

There had been a few rumors about another Trump visit to Arizona in the last week. But as much as the local media likes to hyperventilate to fill airtime, I knew nothing is scheduled until the emails arrive. The way this works seems mostly well organized. The emails cover a range of upcoming dates. The nearest events have venue details. Ones about a week out have just the date and city. When the first one listing Phoenix and the date (June 18th) showed up I marked my calendar, and waited for more information.

A few days later I received the actual scheduling email. For the Trump campaign this email has a link the campaign’s scheduling page. This is where the requesting party (me) fills out a form with contact and organization info. After submitting the form, you’re shown a status page. Bookmarking this page lets you check on the progress of the request. In my experience that page is slow to update. The confirmation email is usually about a day ahead of the status page update. That’s what happened today. I have the confirmation email, but the status page still shows “pending.”

Press pass confirmation email.

The last time Trump was here, protesters blocked the road leading into the town of Fountain Hills where he was speaking. That was also in a more isolated part of the Phoenix Metro area. This time the rally will be held at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum near central Phoenix. This map shows the difference in location.

Fountain Hills (purple pin) in top right, and Veterans Memorial Coliseum (red pin) in the lower left.

I’m not tuned into the local activist community, so I have no idea what sort of protesting might be planned. One local station has reported that bikers are planning to patrol the parking lot to protect rally goers. More and more it seems people are using these events to look for a fight.

Last time it seemed the Fountain Hills police were overwhelmed by the size of the event, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies were on hand to pick up the slack. This time the event will be held in Phoenix Police Department’s jurisdiction. I have a feeling their full weight will be bought to bear. The Coliseum is also on the corner at two major streets. Any traffic disruptions would have a major effect on the local area.

At this point I’m unsure about how to cover this event. Inside Trump is giving another speech in the usual bad light of an event hall. Outside there might be significant protest activity. I’m having to play this one by ear. My goal is sellable photos, and if I have to skip Trump inside to cover the protest outside so be it.