America is a big place. Now I know everyone knows that, but I have been reminded of it again this week as we follow Donald Trump around the country.
It takes a while to get from Detroit to Eau Claire in Michigan. And from there to Orlando in Florida is a pretty long haul. Swing back to North Carolina, across to Pennsylvania, back to North Carolina. A quick check of his schedule and he’s set up an event where? Milwaukee? Can we get there from here? He’s going to Reno? That will take us out of the loop for two days so that’s a no. Look, we need to be in New Hampshire on Monday and definitely in New York on Tuesday. You wake up wondering, what day is it, where am I going? I always count down how many days it is until it’s over.
The candidates of course fly in their own planes, whisked through traffic by police escorts, and straight into the venue.
It’s a bit harder for members of the media who are leapfrogging him around the country.
We have security and hire car companies and flight delays to deal with. Then there’s finding the right entrance and making sure our names are on the list.
We monitor the Trump speech, checking for new lines, new angles of attack, even new jokes or insults.
As the stage and the media riser is pulled apart and the power is killed, we pull together a report.
Then at the end of it all, there’s the journey back to the hotel, the decision about what is more important, eating or sleeping (sleeping wins) and then setting the alarm for five hours later so we can do it all again.
It’s always like this in the final week of a presidential campaign.
The candidates and their campaigns try to squeeze in as much as they can. With the timescale short and the stakes so high, they want to get as many events in as many states as possible, hoping to reach as many undecided voters as they can.
In such an extraordinary and bitter campaign, it is hard to believe that not everyone in America by now has decided how to cast their vote.
An important narrative to win in the last few days is what they call “the big Mo” – who has the momentum in the final days.
And the Trump campaign can claim that. Things were already tightening before the director of the FBI sent his controversial letter to Congress last Friday.
He informed senior members of important committees that new emails that might impact the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server may be among a trove found on a computer shared by a top aide, Huma Abedin, and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.
That was enough to give the Trump campaign a lift when it looked as though the election was all but over.
It gave him fresh lines of attack, energised his base and made polls even tighter.
There was perhaps a “homecoming” for Republicans. Voters and politicians who said that they could never support Trump now felt he was the least worst choice.
There are still some notable holdouts. Ohio Governor John Kasich did not vote for Trump. And the Republican candidate from four years ago, Mitt Romney, still insists he won’t vote for the businessman.
So those are two votes the campaign did not and won’t get.
The Trump campaign hopes his last-minute dash will turn the few voters he needs in swing counties in important swing states to win the election.
The polls still give Hillary Clinton the clearest path to 270 electoral college votes – and with it the White House.
Donald Trump’s campaign might fail. But by visiting 11 states in the last few days, covering thousands of kilometres, speaking to thousands of voters, it won’t be for the lack of trying.