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The flocks of campaign reporters who fly around the country with the presidential candidates have been more sidelined in the 2008 campaign than any in generations, sealed off from any meaningful access to either Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
On Air Obama, reporters gawk at him moving around up front, talking with aides or on a cell phone, but can only guess what he is saying or thinking. On Straight Talk Air, the flying McCain campaign, aides draw the curtains so that not even glimpses are possible.
Not only do the reporters have little interaction with the candidates, but increasingly they are having little impact on the broad campaign narratives and daily story lines that supply most voters with their impressions of the candidates.
Reporters say they barely see the candidates these days, let alone have the chance to ask pointed questions about policy and the direction of the campaigns.