Where Do We Eat?

Don’t call McCain’s staff “DC insiders”—they’re in Arlington.

When the worker bees in John McCain’s Crystal City presidential campaign headquarters need coffee, they take the elevator to Dickey’s Frozen Custard.

There’s a Starbucks nearby, but campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds says the path to Dickey’s is so well trodden that the shop’s employees recognize the campaign workers and know their favorite drinks.

For lunch, campaign staffers head to the SoHo Deli, which, like Dickey’s, is on the ground floor of the campaign’s offices at 1235 South Clark Street.

When aides need to unwind from the campaign’s long days and late nights, they head to the Crystal City Sports Pub a full ten blocks away.

While Barack Obama’s campaign aides can drink and dine along Chicago’s chic Michigan Avenue, McCain aides inhabit one of the look-alike office complexes that make Crystal City a place many Washingtonians speed past on the way to the airport.

But maybe that’s the point; at least it’s not in downtown DC. In nearly two decades, no campaign with a DC-based headquarters has won the presidency.

Crystal City is a self-contained world—helpful for the campaign workers whose long hours mean never leaving the office. Beyond the essentials of caffeine and sustenance—for meals, there also is Green Leaf’s and a Quizno’s—there is a dry cleaners, health club, yoga studio, hair salon, and convenience store. For important meetings that need to be held off campus, senior campaign staffers head to Morton’s steakhouse.

Like McCain’s, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign was headquartered in the suburbs. She had her offices in an old Immigration and Naturalization Service building in Ballston; the former detention cells were still in the basement. The Clinton staff favored the veggie-and-hummus pita at the Market Place, takeout from Rio Grande, and, at the end of the day, cocktails at the Westin hotel bar.

This article appears in the September 2008 issue of Washingtonian magazine. To see more articles in this issue, click here.

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