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Bob Kearns, Jimmy Carter and 'the local boys'


Like John Jessop and Peter Gregson, I had the immense pleasure of knowing Bob Kearns as a colleague and friend. An image, similar to John’s, sticks in my mind of Bob standing head and shoulders above the other “boys (as they then mostly were) on the bus”, in this case actually the open back of a truck carrying the press corps to a Jimmy Carter rally in New York in 1976. Bob relished the human comedy in politics and never veered from his stance as a detached, sometimes irreverent observer. He told me later that year about trying to stick close to Carter at an airport stop when the candidate met local reporters. Carter’s reaction: “Don’t bother me when I’m talking to the local boys.” This now seems untypical of Carter, but it was long before our era of mobiles and Twitter when any attempt to keep national and local reporters in separate compartments would be bound to fail. ■