As Mitt Romney's vice presidential announcement draws nearer, political reporters are undoubtedly revving up their efforts to be first to scoop the name of Romney's pick, and to get a sense of what that's like The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone has a great set piece Tuesday documenting the veepstakes of elections past. The craziest of Calderone's anecdotes about reporters digging up the name is a story about CNN's John King that's been told before, and with good reason -- it's almost worthy of a Robert Ludlum novel. As Calderone writes:
[John King, then at the AP] broke the news of Bill Clinton's choice after receiving a numeric clue repeatedly on his pager: 4673. King assumed someone was trying to tell him something but didn't know how to leave their full number. But after leaving an AP dinner to make a round of calls at his nearby hotel, King noticed the number spelled something out on the phone's keypad: G-O-R-E. "That was my cloud of black smoke and then I had to find my pope," said King, who after numerous calls finally confirmed the pick with his sources.
The other thing we noted while reading Calderone's piece is that although almost no one outside the beltway remembers who got the story, most of the reporters he names -- John King and Andrea Mitchell -- have since become household names. In a way, this is a scoop with totally low stakes since it's your story for at most a few hours (or in the current era, seconds), but Calderone notes that it's also pretty high stakes in its own insular D.C. way. Perhaps there are two careers to be boosted when Romney's number two is named this month.