President Bush Waves from Doorway of Airforce One
  President Bush waves
from Airforce One


The Day I Chased the President

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Reported by Frank Sensel


The Day I chased the President began at the Dayton International Airport (DIA) at 8:00AM picking up a 15-pass van rented to "The White House"...literally! However, because the WH had not paid for the last 3 vans as yet, I had to "guarantee" payment by allowing em to swipe my credit card.

My day ended at 9:50 when I returned the van, recorded the mileage and headed home. A LONG DAY! I suppose I will now get the bill on my credit card.

In between, I drove fast, I talked to a campaign staff member (good looking young lady; formerly press sec'y for Cheney), drove reporters and photographers...for local TV and the Dayton Daily News, drove fast, sat in van, drove fast, sat in van and drove fast again.

At the airport, I was checked in by the Secret Service (SS), the dogs, wanded, patted down, napsack rummaged thru, every orfice in van was sniffed and looked at/in. I was given a badge and I joined the line of buses (full size here and little me), SS vehicles (numerous), and police cars and a number of motorcycles...11 in all...from Cinti police. I sniffed diesel fumes all day as I was always behind a bus.

The choppers arrived nearby, the SS handed out radios (but none to me!!!), the SS agents buzzed around with whatever they do before HE arrives.

Ultimately we began searching the horizon and there HE came! Big and beautiful AF-1 (see photo below).

We all waited for the plane to taxi and then we pulled around and waited for our passengers. I just happened to be at the right spot to get Him coming down the stairs. I have a pix if you wanna see. I watched him shake hands with a string of dignitaries (County Commissioneer Chuck Curran was the only one I recognized). I saw His feet head to one of two identically-painted buses.

And that folks, is the one and only time during the day that I saw Him.

I hauled a local TV camera man and two reporters from the airport to Hara Arena. It is quite a charge being part of a Presidential caravan. Lots of people were out lining the streets at several places during the day. They waved and waved at all the (press) buses and me! So I waved back. I can understand the ego trip politicians could get from this attention. Of course there were a few...lets say...disparaging signs as well. This IS America after all.

After Hara Arena (which I enjoyed from my van in the parking lot), we sped down a closed I-75 to Lebanon. The Bush/Cheney campaign member (mentioned above...Jennifer Millerwise) was aboard with just the two reporters. Police at every interchange, cross road, driveway, parking lot, overpass, underpass, river, creek, bridge and even at a guy's front yard when he was cutting grass to close to the road. He had exited His bus by the time I got up to the corner where the Inn is where he spoke. I was directed where to park down the block a bit. I didn't hear a thing from my van parked down the block. Too many buses idling next to me. Remember the fumes?

Next, Jennifer and I were alone on the trip to Blue Ash where He had scheduled down time. We talked campaign, strategy, plans, her experiences in traveling with the VP in Middle East, etc. Then, I sat in my van for like 2 hours while He did who knows what...

The buses were moved around so as to block a line of sight for anyone when he came out the door to board the bus. Which he did and off we went. My passenger had left her coat and roll-on in the van but told me she would ride to the airport with me later as she was going to the Cinti Gardens (last stop) with a friend on a bus. So now I am alone in my 15 pass. van...waving and waving...and driving fast and faster.

We arrive at the back of the Gardens and again, by the time I get to within eyesight of the entrance, He is long gone inside. They repositioned all the vehicles and I ended up at the end of the line...last vehicle other than police cars. When the event ended ( finally found it on a radio station in my 15 pass van), my passenger did not appear. But, since I had her bag, I had better go with the caravan to the ARPT. So away we went. Me alone again!

We proceeded thru Cinti and over to the ARPT in Ky. To South commercial area where AF-1 was parked. Pulled up and unloaded no one since I had no one!!! Jennifer found me and hoped aboard. He was long on the plane. Followed the empty buses and we all lined up away from the plane. It sure wasn't long until it was moving. Pilot did a u-turn to end of runway, goosed it and I got to see AF-1 take off AND land in one day!

Dropped Jennifer off at the Radisson Hotel and motored back to DIA alone. Think I had driven like 130 miles but had been sitting in my 15 pass. van for MANY HOURS! Reminded me of the military....hurry up and wait.

All in all, I sure didn't do much transporting. I was supposed to be for "press overflow."

Please note that at no time, did I mention leaving my van. At no time did I mention eating. Oh and I did get to go tinkle a grand total of 2 times after leaving DIA. My guess is I was the only volunteer, unpaid participant in the whole caravan! And the only guy who really knew who I was...was the first guy at the DIA in the morning. And he never passed along to others (SS or event key personnel...which kept changing at every stop it seemed...). I believe the SS thought I was a paid professional and that I had been briefed on the dos and don'ts of participating in a caravan...make that a Presidential Caravan. When we drove for Bush as a candidate in the fall of 2000, it sure was a lot lower key. We hear that perps get "lawyered up." Let me tell you Presidents get "secured up" in more ways than we can imagine. Some of the SS agents were in fatigues and had bullet proof vests and all sorts of equipment either hanging on em or in carrying bags. Gun bags were here and there. And those black Chevy trucks...they have more than seats and agents in em.

I was only yelled at three times by the SS. Will explain in person if anyone is interested. Hard to do on a web page...


[Webmaster's Note: You can read the Dayton Daily News report on the President's visit, "Vote-hungry Bush rolls through southwest Ohio" by William Hershey of the Cox News Service. Surprisingly, Mr. Hershey fails to mention anything about the transportation services provided by our own Frank Sensel!]

President Bush Waves from Doorway of Airforce One

President Bush waves from Airforce One - Wide Angle View!