The presidential nominees are not the only big names who arrive in Toledo and set up camp during a campaign stop.
Accompanying the candidates in the air and on the ground are crews of reporters, correspondents, photographers, and news producers from many of the most heavyweight media organizations in the world.
These are the men and women whose firsthand observations over the many months of the campaign undoubtedly determine much of what the public knows about John McCain and Barack Obama on Election Day.
While their job is trailing newsmakers, they often become recognizable figures themselves by the nature of their work.
Yet week after week of byline glory can take a physical toll, as they juggle multiple daily deadlines in a high-pressure environment with schedules that can change by the minute.
"It definitely is not the glamorous life that one might think," said Julianna Goldman, 27, a Washington-based Bloomberg News reporter who yesterday was nursing a campaign trail cold.
"But it's an amazing opportunity, and if you only get to cover one presidential campaign in your life - this is it."
Ms. Goldman was among the 40 or so members of the news media who have stayed at the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Toledo since Sunday, when Mr. Obama, the Democratic candidate, arrived in northwest Ohio for a three-day visit that included a rally Monday at the SeaGate Convention Centre.
The media lodged separately from Mr. Obama, who stayed at the Maumee Bay Resort and Conference Center in Oregon in focused preparation for tonight's final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. He is scheduled to leave this morning.
In interviews yesterday from their hotel lobby, several members of the media said they are usually too busy to explore the cities where they stop. The in-house hotel bar remains the most popular venue for socializing, as reporters are dependent on the campaign for transportation.
"There are days when you get started at 5 in the morning, and you don't get to your next hotel until 1 in the morning," said Erin Lyall, 28, a producer with CBS News.
And after awhile, all the speech venues begin to look the same.
"I may have been in Toledo before, I'm not sure," said Kenneth Vogel, senior staff writer at Politico.
"It doesn't matter where you are; it's the same thing."
During rare downtime in the campaign yesterday afternoon, some media members, including Lee Cowan, an NBC News correspondent, ventured outside the hotel to try Toledo restaurants, such as Tony Packo's restaurant on Front Street in East Toledo.
Mr. Cowan's field report: the hot dog, chili, and Hungarian dumplings combination is quite delicious.
Michael Cottman, 51, a senior correspondent for BlackAmericaWeb.com, said he planned to rent a car yesterday to drive around and talk with Toledoans about the upcoming election.
Although the excursion would be a physical break from the trail, Mr. Cottman said he had little choice but to stay digitally tethered.
"If you are covering this campaign and you don't have a BlackBerry - you will miss things," said Mr. Cottman, an author, radio commentator, and working journalist for more than 30 years, including time at the Washington Post. "How do you tell your editor that you missed this major speech Obama gave because you didn't have a BlackBerry?"
BlackAmericaWeb.com is a division of REACH Media/Radio One, the nation's largest black-owned media company.
Several media members noted how the campaigning for the 2008 election has been less crowded with reporters than in years past. More people are popping in and out.
The common reasoning is many news organizations, particularly newspapers and newsmagazines, have cut back on the lodging, flying, and dining expenses of campaign coverage due to dwindling circulation and advertising revenues.
Obama spokesman Jen Psaki said that the campaign coordinates lodging and travel for the media, who fly on presidential candidates' jets. The campaign then sends the reporters' organizations a bill.
"It's just paying for what they consume," she said.
The Washington Post has reported that the cost of one correspondent's campaign travel can reach $10,000 a week.
Mr. Cowan, who has been following the Obama campaign since December, said the size of the Obama plane has gradually grown.
Early on Mr. Obama was seated close to reporters in a commuter-type jet, and Mr. Cowan could see the back of the senator's head.
Now the candidate is seated near the front of a 757 aircraft, and the media are near the back, he said.
After 10 months on the campaign trail, Mr. Cowan, who lives in Chicago, said the Obama plane strangely seems like home for him and his media colleagues.
"You spend most of your life on something moving - either a plane or a bus," he said. "Somebody asked me, 'What's your address,' and I said, 'well, it's really seat 17C at the moment.'•"
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