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The trail, hot and cold

They visit diners at a prodigious rate, but rarely stop to eat. They breeze through small towns - the high school, the country store, the town hall, perhaps the church or the gun shop - at times literally following in each other's footsteps. Everywhere they go, a small army trails behind. There are battalions of advisors, volunteers, security agents, husbands, wives, children, pets, TV celebrities, expensive hairdressers, aging Hollywood stars, and there are entire regiments of journalists.

Through the winter of 2007-2008, Jacob Silberberg followed each of the candidates to be the next president of the United States as they criss-crossed the country. Hillary, Mitt, John, Barack, Rudy, Fred, the other John, Mike, that other guy, and Mr Vermin Supreme. Standing in the New Hampshire Republican primary on a platform that included a mandatory toothbrushing law, Supreme gathered 41 votes, although he has since complained that he was diddled out of up to five more.

Supreme was something of a fringe candidate, but he is not the first to have had his dreams dashed, and will not be the last. As a candidate's electoral odds are stretched, the entourage tends to melt away. On December 31st, Jacob and the rest of the press corps were invited to a New Year party by Democrat outsider Mike Gravel's campaign. Our photographer diligently showed up at the candidate's rented house in Manchester, to be greeted by Gravel, his wife, his sister and one of his campaign staff. The other guests? Well, you know, maybe later. There was a long night ahead, and an even longer road to the White House.
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