ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE — The e-mail arrived at 6:35 a.m. Friday from a White House press aide. The subject line was urgent: “For pool report — to send asap.”
Inside was a one-sentence message: “From Jay Carney: The President was notified of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado by his Homeland Security Adviser, John Brennan at 5:26 a.m. ET this morning.”
The presidential campaign bubble can be among the most choreographed of places — where even spontaneous “off the record” stops are planned in advance and reaction to the daily political debate is scripted for maximum effect.
That is why Friday was such a jolt for President Obama and his traveling campaign caravan. As the “pool reporter” assigned Friday to shadow the president — at his hotel, in his motorcade, on Air Force One — and send reports to the national White House press corps, I saw first-hand how an operation even as large and experienced as Obama’s struggled to comprehend, and react to, the fast-breaking news of the movie theater massacre.