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Tales From the Trail: Jeb Bush for class president?

Want to know what the NBC News Embeds saw? Follow their daily journey to the inside of the 2016 presidential campaign here.
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, center, speaks during a campaign stop at Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc., Jan. 21, 2016, in Newport, N.H. (Photo by John Minchillo/AP)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, center, speaks during a campaign stop at Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc., Jan. 21, 2016, in Newport, N.H.

Want to know what the NBC News Embeds saw? Follow their daily journey to the inside of the 2016 presidential campaign here:

Jeb Bush winning the race for class president

He may be down in polls of likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters, but Jeb Bush is winning the hearts and minds of the state's fourth-graders.

He's leading the pack in the survey of New Hampshire's fourth grade students at the state capitol in Concord. Virginia Drew, director of the State Capitol Visitor's Center, where the poll is conducted, said he's been experiencing a recent surge after Donald Trump led late last year.

She also said she's been hearing Ohio Gov. John Kasich's name more and more often, when she asks students which candidates they're familiar with.

"They hear their parents talking about these things, and see it on the news" she said. "We have some of the best-informed fourth graders in the nation."

In the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders in a landslide, according to Drew.

The poll is unscientific — fourth graders touring the state are offered two ballots, one Democrat and one Republican, with pictures and names of each of the candidates to choose from.

And the survey certainly doesn't match the rash of scientific surveys done by media outlets and universities of the state's voters, all of which have shown Trump far and away the primary winner and Bush stuck in the bottom half of the pack. Democratic polls have shown challenger Bernie Sanders opening up a lead on Clinton as well.

But Drew says that in the past, as New Hampshire's fourth grade students go, so goes the state.

"It's been accurate every year since we started," in 2004, she said.

-- Alex Jaffe covering the Rubio campaign in New Hampshire

The camera, backpack, tripod, and laptop were a dead giveaway….

With a camera bag, oversized suitcase, tripod and backpack so heavy it makes you hunch over to shoulder the weight, campaign embeds are walking billboards for the campaign-coverage complex.

While checking into a hotel this week, the two employees at the front desk quickly began jaunting over Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump after finding out I cover the 2016 race. The one on the computer pulls up her Facebook page and turns the screen for us to see a less-than-flattering meme featuring the duo.

Wherever we go, the political conversations follow us. While checking bags at the airport on Thursday, the attendant just shook his head. "I don't even know," he said, just as mystified by this election as any of the rest of us.

On airplane rides, I hold my camera separately to make sure it's not damaged in checked baggage, but it naturally dawns a conversation with those sitting nearby.

When I was returning to Des Moines after the New Year, a woman, naturally, pressed me for my analysis of the race. I give some general observations.

She interjected at one point, asking, "What about Jeb Bush? I heard he's low energy."

We're constantly immersed in these political conversations. They're honestly unavoidable, especially now.

But they're often the most defining and memorable because they're with people not constantly tracking each candidate's daily moves.

Instead, they often provide the reliable themes and perceptions that have effectively penetrated voters' minds. From the scoffs to the accolades to the more cringe-worthy takeaways, these short, simple interactions often give a tremendous amount of insights into these races.

-- Vaughn Hillyard covering the Iowa caucuses

The onslaught is coming

The Des Moines Register published an article Friday titled "1,600 Reporters,"detailing the impending onslaught of journalists and media teams coming to Iowa in the next ten days.

The article highlights locations all over Des Moines in particular, where you will not be able to "toss a snowball downtown" without hitting satellite trucks or reporters doing live shots. The writer also pokes fun at the famous "801 Chophouse" restaurant, which becomes a crowded must-go for all of the heavy hitter politicos and journalists alike on and around caucus night.

As Feb 1st approaches, Iowa is at a crossroads. Who will win the caucuses? #NBC2016

A photo posted by @dannyefreeman on

But there are a small group of us—a national local Iowa embed press corp of sorts—who have lived in the state for several months now, and we've grown to appreciate a different part of Iowa; one less crowded and more solitary.

This part comes to life on those brutal days chasing candidates alone in our cars across the state from Sioux City to Dubuque or Council Bluffs to Davenport. These treks yield one of our favorite activities.

We pull over. We throw our jackets on. We get out of the car. And we take photos of the beauty of Iowa.

We simply cannot help ourselves or sometimes we need a break from the monotony of the all-too-straight-roads, but whatever the reason, something often catches our eyes that make us pause.

Here are some examples from Iowa's network embeds of the quiet world outside the media circus that will engulf Des Moines in just a few days.

-- Danny Freeman covering the Iowa caucuses