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Election 2008

The Campaign Babies

Bill Radke

Suzie Lechtenberg

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On the Campaign Trail
(Courtesy Michael McNarney)
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Bill Radke: How do you get your baby into a presidential candidate's hands?

Darren Garnick: Well, first of all, it's all about positioning and it's all about getting to an event early and getting in the front row. And basically the baby does the selling for you. I'm sure Mike will concur. You know, no one has an ugly baby. Babies are cute. You put a campaign sticker on your baby, all the people in the crowd are going to be saying oooh and ahhh, and they will even help you. They want to see the baby meet the candidate.

Michael McNarney: That's absolutely true - the baby being the golden pass. We would find ourselves more often than not at the back when we walked in, but we were able to work our way up to the front. Or at the conclusion of the event, when the candidate was on the rope line up front, we were able to, I hate to say, force our way, but move forcefully up to the front and get the baby right up there.

Garnick: I wanted to ask you, Mike, when I first photographed Dahlia with Obama, she was only seven weeks old, and I was really concerned about putting her in the arms of any presidential candidate because of germs. I mean let's face it, when candidates go around shaking hands, they're picking up the germs of the world. I'm just curious if you had any concerns about baby William's immune system or germs or anything like that?

McNarney: Not really. That's the best way to develop an immune system is to get them out into the economy, as they say.

Garnick: Oh sure.

McNarney: Not drop them in a sewer, but have them out and exposed to people.

Garnick: Oh yeah, the more I think about it, even if either one of our babies did get a cold, we could be privileged to say that they got the flu from the Clintons.

Wow, that is genuinely disturbing.
You've both seen each other's photos, whose are better?

Garnick and McNarney: Wow. Oh that's tough.

McNarney: I like Darren's in that he got the candidate to hold the baby most of the time, if not all of the time. That said, we got some fun pictures. Chelsea, pulling the baby's finger. We did not get Chuck Norris though. That's something that Darren did that I am eternally impressed by.

Garnick: Oh, thank you. That's just it. You only have a couple of seconds to act when you are taking these pictures. You know, I was in a gun shop with John McCain and there were all of these wonderful animals in the background, like a stuffed bear and a stuffed moose, and I was like, wouldn't it be awesome to get this picture of Dahlia, John McCain and the stuffed moose!? But the reality is, I had to get him wherever he was standing, and I got a bland background.

And kind of a weird look on McCain's face.

Garnick: The baby was crying, and he had just made a joke that he had just lost the baby's vote.

Kind of a wah, wah, wah.

Garnick: Well, I actually thought it said a lot about John McCain because my baby was crying in the hands of Rudy Giuliani and Rudy Giuliani definitely had a panicky look on his face. He definitely gave me a look like, get this baby the hell out of my arms. Not in a mean way, but just in a, I-just-don't-want-to-deal-with-this, and I-don't-want-to-be-photographed-with-a-crying-baby, kind of way. And John McCain had the opposite approach. Nothing flusters him. Nothing freaks him out. He was just like, ok, baby's crying.

How are Dahlia and William going to feel when they see these photos, or rather when their therapists see these photos?

McNarney: Call DHS on us! He'll either grow up to love politics or to hate politics.

Garnick: I hope that Dahlia really loves these photos because I have guaranteed that she will be photographed with the next president of the United States. I don't know who that's going to be, but I have that picture. There's just something very surreal and fun about it.

  • Music Bridge:
    Make Out Machine
    Artist: Slow Poke
    CD: At Home (Palmetto)
More stories from our Election 2008 series


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