The Schwartz Factor: John King

As election season kicks in, CNN's political guru tells Jason Schwartz to stay tuned: The magic wall will reveal all.

Photograph courtesy of CNN

Photograph courtesy of CNN

You have that perfect nondescript Ohio accent. Did you have to flush out the Boston first? When you’re on the phone all the time as a reporter, you just somehow take the edges off. Although, if I get really tired or spend too much time out supporting the wheat, hops, and barley growers, it can come back pretty quickly. You can see it late at night on TV, sometimes on election nights—I’ll start “pahking cahs.”

Seems as though that could happen a lot. Do you ever sleep? You’re always on-camera. I’m as busy as I’ve ever been. I have a little sign in my office that says, “Well, today was a total waste of makeup.” I always joke that a makeup-free day is good for the pores.

How does all that makeup go over in Dorchester? My brothers make very good fun of me, as they should. I need my thick skin.

You’ve become the keeper of the “magic wall,” that graphic-heavy info-screen in the CNN studio. It’s probably informative, but I just sit there and go, “Woo! Look at the colors!” This is one case where the colors are actually conveying information. When I travel, the questions people ask me are much more specific than they were before. I think that’s because they’re getting visual reinforcement instead of just seeing a white guy on TV who’s throwing a bunch of numbers at them.

You’ve used that “just a white guy in a box” line before. I guess now that makes you a white guy in a box with a box. I’m a white guy in a box, in a wall in a box. We could take this to an extreme. I do worry that maybe someday I’ll be in the retirement home because the wall will be doing all the talking.

So without the wall’s help, tell me: Who’ll it be in November, Bob Barr or Ralph Nader? I’m not ready yet to say that Barr and Nader won’t matter. If it’s close between McCain and Obama, two or three or one percentage points in a state or two could make a difference. We ignore them at our peril.