THE BLOG

Introducing Our First-Round OTB National Correspondents

More than 2500 people contribute to OffTheBus, as researchers, writers, interviewers, observers, analysts, OEd writers and editors. Some of our most committed reporters are taking it to the next level this week, becoming OffTheBus "national correspondents." They will be reporting on the the campaign regularly from more formalized beats and from cities around the country.

Mayhill Fowler, for example, will be reporting "On The Trail" as she shifts focus from the primary race to the general election, chasing the Obama and McCain campaigns from coast to coast and delivering gems all along the way, like these from her column this week:

Bill Clinton's small-town journeys have been one of the great stories of Election 2008, both as old-fashioned Americana and as a mostly positive counterweight to the negativity he has brought to the Hillary campaign... In Milbank, S.D., James Paul, a Korean War Veteran, says he'll vote for Hillary... quipping that he'll vote if he "has the gas to get to the polls."

In his column, "Warranted Wiretaps," M.S. Bellows, Jr. will be deconstructing campaign speeches and press calls, posting up audio files for readers to dive into themselves. This week he parsed the candidate speeches Tuesday night:

Even McCain, who benefited tremendously from the drawn-out Democratic primaries and would love to see the rancor extend all the way to a floor battle at the Democratic Convention in August, acknowledged reality that night. In a speech both timed and crafted to appeal to disaffected Clintonistas, praising Clinton and deceptively saying that "pundits and party elders" had chosen Obama, McCain nevertheless began by acknowledging the obvious:

Christine Escobar, in "Dateline: Obama's Chicagoland," will be reporting on the national campaigns from the Windy City, giving us snapshots of the issues as seen from the site of Obama headquarters. This week she wrote about Trinity United Preacher Fr Pfleger, who was at the heart of the controversy that led Obama to leave the church.

Supporters of Pflegler believe advocates working on the street level bring about the change that Obama speaks so eloquently about. To turn away, they say, in the face of shoddy criticism preemptively is second guessing the role these activists play in their communities.

What's next? We won't spoil their entrances here, but Dawn Teo will be writing her "Outpost Politics" from Phoenix, the heart of McCain country. Dan Treul will be wandering from southern Michigan across the Midwest, exploring from on the ground the so-called working-class issues and perspectives that dominate campaign discussions of the region. Chip Collis will be blogging the celebrated Obama campaign grassroots organizational efforts in his column "Ground War," which begins with him accepting a position as an Obama organizing fellow. Hanna Ingber Win, Olivier Kamanda and Kelly Nuxoll will be delivering dispatches from the OffTheBus "international beat," for which OTB has teamed with the Global Voices site Voices Without Votes to develop stories from the material international bloggers are producing on the U.S. campaigns.

We're very excited about the material these writers are going to be producing from their beats during the course of the campaign. Their work, however, is only a first step in this direction; it's just one of several OffTheBus project developments to emerge this week.

If you have an idea for a beat or ways you think you can contribute to any of these beats, please write us at campaigntrail AT huffingtonpost dot com and write "OTB beats" in the subject line. Thanks.