The Buzz

Interviewing Clinton and Jackson, at knee level UPDATED

Wednesday’s Kansas City visit of former president

Bill Clinton

reminds us of a story...



for coverage of the former president’s visit.

In April 1992, then-candidate Clinton came to Kansas City to meet with the National Conference of Black Mayors, which had come to town at the invitation of then-Kansas City mayor

Emanuel Cleaver

. Clinton had just finished a rather brutal primary season — the Comeback Kid, all of that — and had some fence-mending to do.

Among the fences most in need of repair:

Jesse Jackson

, who did not run for president that year but had quibbled off and on with Clinton most of that winter and spring.

So it was news when your humble correspondent and our friend

Micheal Mahoney

learned Jackson and Clinton were to meet privately in the late morning to hash out their political differences.

Time for a stakeout.

We set up our positions along a tight ropeline established by security at the Kansas City hotel where the meeting would take place. We were in front, with TV cameras behind, including traveling cameras from the networks.

After an hour or so, the pair emerged from the elevators and agreed to stop for the stakeout. As is our usual practice, Mike and I began hurling questions at the pair.

As you may know, I’m a rather large individual, and Mike takes up a little room too. As Clinton and Jackson began to answer, the network photographers complained loudly that our shoulders blocked their shots of the candidates’ answers.

This was a bit frustrating, since the networks wouldn’t have had anything to videotape had Mike and I not done our jobs — the politicians had only stopped because we asked them to. On a Saturday, the network guys had no reporters or producers on hand.

But there was nowhere for the photogs to go, so the only real solution was for the two of us to kneel down in front of Clinton and Jackson, allowing full shots for everyone.

Since we remained the only reporters in position to ask questions, though, we had to interview the two from our knees, raising our microphones to their chins following each inquiry. Eventually the candidates, and Mike and I, giggled a bit at the absurdity of the situation.

We got what we needed.

So, apparently, did Clinton, who went on to win the election that fall.

Perhaps Clinton will remember the episode before Wednesday’s appearance here.