That’s not a description of the 2016 presidential campaign, though. It’s a description of the 2000 Senate race in NY, which Beth Harpaz covered for AP and wrote a book about called “The Girls in the Van.”
“The Girls in the Van” has just been reissued as an ebook by The AP as part of the company’s new publishing venture. (The company is looking for existing content that can easily be repurposed in book form; Harpaz’s book was originally published in 2001 by St. Martin’s Press, before ebooks existed, but it was out of print, and she was looking for a way to bring it back in a digital format.)
A new first chapter, afterword and introductions to each chapter have been added to put the book in the context of the 2016 presidential race. Former AP writer Beth Fouhy, who covered Hillary Clinton in 2008 and is now at MSNBC, wrote a blurb for the book, and AP political correspondent Lisa Lerer, who covers Hillary Clinton now, wrote a preface. Anecdotes scattered throughout the book offer familiar names from across AP, then and now, from Guild member Frank Eltman, who covers Long Island, N.Y., for AP, to the late Sam Boyle, New York bureau chief at the time.
The title of the book refers to the classic book “The Boys on the Bus,” about the 1972 Nixon-McGovern campaign, when nearly everyone in the press corps and on the politicians’ staffs were men.
HILLARY CLINTON 2000 SENATE CAMPAIGN
Harpaz’s book looked at, among other things, the many women assigned to cover Hillary’s 2000 campaign for the U.S. Senate in New York, and the fact that Clinton’s staff also had a large number of women. Politico alluded to Beth’s book in 2015 with a story called “The women in the van,” about the nearly all-female press corps covering Hillary this time.
Harpaz’s book was written before Twitter, YouTube and other social media existed, in an era when the only insider accounts about campaigns were in book form.
She captures the humor, tedium, pressure and occasional absurdity that goes along with covering high-profile political figures. She also writes about the challenges of being a working mother who juggled her beat with raising two small children (and how that led her to have an extended public conversation with Clinton one day about potty training that was captured on video and aired on WCBS News).