Six months in enemy territory: the life of a campaign tracker

Listen
 Phil Press, a campaign tracker for Bob Casey in 2002 (Image courtesy of Phil Press)

Phil Press, a campaign tracker for Bob Casey in 2002 (Image courtesy of Phil Press)

Phil Press was 24 years old when he took on the one of the jobs politics –being a “tracker.”

What’s a tracker?  It’s someone who follows around an opposing candidate with a video camera, hoping to catch a political scandal–or at least a bad hair day–on tape to use in attack ads.  

If you remember the famous George Allen ‘macaca’ gaffe, you know what I mean.

Press was a tracker for Senator Bob Casey Jr.’s primary campaign for governor back in 2002.  He followed around Casey’s rival, Ed Rendell, who would end up winning the primary and the general election.  During his six months traversing Pennsylvania behind Rendell’s campaign bus, Phil was assaulted by a union member, had his tires slashed, got head lice at a Motel 6, and made the cover of a local newspaper under the headline “Casey Spy.”

I met Phil when I was covering that campaign and sat down with him recently as he shared some of his recollections from that time.  Take a listen.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.