CNN's 'Election Express' hits campaign trail
Rolling studio will follow political stories during election year
By Greg Botelho
CNN's 'Election Express' is leaving New York City for New Hampshire and Tuesday's debate.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien takes a tour of the CNN election campaign bus with 'Crossfire' hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala. (December 8)
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- After an all-night drive and before another long haul to New Hampshire, CNN's "Election Express" -- a bus that will take the network's political crews to key locations in the coming election year -- was launched Monday.
The bus doubles as a moving studio, with a satellite link, video-editing capabilities and videophones. Presidential candidates and voters will join CNN journalists on board, and "Inside Politics" and "Crossfire" will frequently be based from the bus, wherever it is in the United States.
After leaving CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, about 9 p.m. Saturday EST, crews drove through the night to reach snow-covered and holiday-adorned New York City early Monday morning.
The bus parked outside the "American Morning" studios on Avenue of the Americas, across the street from the famed Radio City Music Hall and around the corner from Rockefeller Center.
Introducing the bus to the viewing public, "Crossfire" hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson welcomed "American Morning" co-anchor Soledad O'Brien on the bus shortly after 9:30 a.m. EST.
"We want to be where the politicians are and where the voters are," Begala said. "I love being in Washington [D.C.]; it's often the nerve center. But now the nerve center has moved."
After heading to a garage for repairs, the Express returned to CNN's studios in midtown Manhattan.
The Express was host to its first political guest shortly before 5 p.m., when the Rev. Al Sharpton hopped on the bus.
Sharpton, who lives and works in New York City, is one of nine Democrats vying for the party's presidential nomination. Although considered a long shot, he has won headlines lately for his candor and wit, highlighted by his appearance this weekend as host of "Saturday Night Live."
The bus then left New York City, destined for New Hampshire -- the site of the nation's first binding presidential primary, on January 27. (Washington, D.C., holds a nonbinding primary January 13th, and the Iowa caucus takes place six days later.)
After its scheduled arrival in Manchester, New Hampshire, around midnight, the Express will head to Durham, home of the University of New Hampshire and Tuesday night's candidates debate.
On Wednesday, the bus will follow North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as he campaigns in the Granite State. The Express is slated to tour New England for several days before starting its next major trip, from the East Coast to Iowa.