[Editor's Note: OutFront executive producer Wil Surratt traveled with Erin Burnett to South Carolina in the days leading up to the South Carolina primary. For Wil, it was a working trip–but one rich with memories. Above, Erin talks to a South Carolina voter ahead of the primary.]
Erin and I came back to work in New York this morning, after a few days in South Carolina and Georgia covering the CNN debate and SC primary. I grew up in the Carolinas, so it was a real chance to bring work home with me. In between racing to Orangeburg to interview Newt Gingrich and racing to Atlanta for CNN’s Election Coverage, Erin and I ate fried okra, listened to a band (from New York) named Yarn play country music, and spoke to South Carolinians about politics.
There’s something about the Southern accent that makes a voice sound more genuine, more heart-felt no matter what the words. This weekend reminded me of hearing my uncles and aunts discuss politics around the kitchen table over sweet tea and my grandmother’s stew. It also reminded me that journalists can get caught up in polls, and pundits, and politicos–and forget that what we are watching is real Americans figuring out their own future, for themselves and for their children.
In Orangeburg, Erin and I saw real economic pain, but also its people speaking out to overcome that pain with the most powerful weapon they have: the power to vote. And at a roadside restaurant, we spoke to folks of all political points of view, some for Romney, Santorum, Paul–but also many for President Obama. They too, wanted to talk about what’s best for America. Erin and I were eager to listen not from our studio in New York, but from the diners, dives and Denny’s in small towns along I-26. And even though I have felt like a New Yorker ever since 9/11, it was good to be home again.