Why, Yes, I Think I Will

Campaign Desk recognizes that listening to the same campaign speech 103 times a month might get a bit stale for reporters out on the campaign trail, so we understand the impulse to write about anything but — like, for example, the food at fundraising events. We’ve frankly grown fond of the menu paragraph, and look for it whenever candidates make money-sweeps through this or that swing state. (Our favorite to date is the last two sentences of this story.)

Yesterday, Shannon Donnelly, the society editor for the Palm Beach (Florida) Daily News — “The Shiny Sheet” — came through, serving up the details on John Kerry’s Sunday evening meal, consumed at a $25,000-per-plate Palm Beach gathering, one stop on Kerry’s southern check-collecting trip. “Guests tucked into a dinner of tenderloin with wine sauce, twice-baked potato, asparagus and a soft chocolate cake that by itself was worth the $25,000,” Donnelly writes. “Not that the candidate would know,” she adds, reporting that Kerry “excused himself shortly before dessert was served.”

Normally, a candidate passing on a “soft chocolate” dessert would raise red flags at Campaign Desk. But with proper context — knowing, that is, what Kerry put away for lunch the next day — it becomes clear that the candidate was probably just saving room Sunday night. Of Kerry’s noontime repast Monday — consumed in the Peach State — the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Moni Basu reports the following: Kerry “left Atlanta on Monday night with $1 million in new campaign funds and, perhaps, an extra pound or two from a late lunch at the Varsity restaurant.” For his midday meal, Basu tells readers, Kerry “snacked on mustard-slathed chili dogs, onion rings and an orange freeze while news of the Iraq insurgency hovered on an overhead television screen.”

Given Kerry’s meat-heavy menus on Sunday night and Monday afternoon, did the candidate, perhaps, opt for a light continental snack Monday morning? To Campaign Desk’s disappointment, no one seems to have gotten the breakfast scoop. The Washington Post does tell us that the Juno Beach, Florida breakfast event was an “elegant oceanfront” affair, but offers nothing on the grub itself.

There’s always tomorrow, as Kerry continues to eat his way through the south. We hear he’s lunching in Tampa today (we recommend the Cuban pork sandwich), supping in Miami tonight (stone crab claws?) and perhaps snacking at an early evening pool party in Bal Harbour (too pricey for us).

Liz Cox Barrett

Editor’s Note: Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, Campaign Desk is not starving Liz Cox Barrett.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.