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Tales From the Trail: Halls to the Rescue for Clinton in Iowa

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

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

A telling sign?

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa—Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been compared and contrasted many times this primary for being two surprise outsiders who have significantly upset the race.

But here’s one subtle, but telling difference between the two candidates and their campaigns.

At every Trump event, a new custom sign is specially created and placed on the podium from which Trump speaks. The sign usually reads the name of the location of the event. Around Christmas time, the sign read “Merry Christmas” in big letters, in addition to the name “TRUMP” and his social media information.

His sign is either discarded, or more often, given to the host or special guest of the event. Sometimes Trump signs the placard himself. A new sign is then made for the next event.

Sanders always speaks from a podium with a sign as well. This one typically reads “A Future to Believe In,” with his website on the bottom.

At the end of Sanders’ University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls event Sunday night though, the campaign carefully removed it from the podium and wrapped it in tissue paper, to take to the next event.

Sanders reuses his podium signs as much as possible according to aides, while Trump manufactures new ones for every event.

-- Danny Freeman covering the Iowa caucuses

Halls to the rescue

WAUKEE, Iowa – Halls to the rescue. After suffering a coughing attack mid-speech, Hillary Clinton was able to get through an event here Monday thanks to a trusty lozenge.

Just as she was talking about enforcing the Iran deal, Clinton had to stop and take a sip of water, joking: “You do talk a lot in this campaign.”

It’s typical for candidates to show signs of fatigue when they’re giving six or seven speeches a day and shuttling between event sites in frigid temperatures.

Clinton, 68, is not getting sick though, according to an aide, who said the former secretary of state has just been “talking a lot.”

Though she’s suffered coughing fits before while talking (most memorably at the marathon Benghazi hearing last year), she usually soldiers through without much fanfare.

Not so today. Clinton’s cough was bad enough she had to ask her introductory speaker, the president of the Jewish Federation of Des Moines, to say a few words while she recovered her voice.

When Clinton started speaking again, her voice was so strained folks in the room looked at each other with concern, one woman whispering to a seatmate: “Is she ok?”

Though hoarse, Clinton eventually regained her speaking voice, finished her speech and went on to answer seven audience questions.

Like many candidates, Clinton has a jam-packed schedule this week and back-to-back campaign events Monday alone. Safe to assume she’ll be keeping some Halls in her pocket throughout.

-- Monica Alba covering the Clinton campaign

Home away from home

DES MOINES, Iowa— Even when you’re living on the road, some things can still feel like home.

For me, that feeling comes from returning to my home away from home — the downtown Des Moines Marriott.

The routine is almost always the same -- park the car, drag my luggage through the automatic door and hear a cheery “Welcome back” from staff. Once inside, I’m normally greeted with the familiar faces of fellow reporters who similarly call the hotel their go-to.

“I feel like I’m walking into my living room,” I said to another reporter at the checkout counter who pulled out her phone, and (with my permission) tweeted it.

As the Des Moines Register put on their front page last week, hundreds of reporters, photographers, and other members of the news media are filling up the hotels in Iowa’s capital over the next week to cover the caucuses.

For the week, the over-caffeinated convoy of media take over the city, trying to understand the stories, the people, and the issues that matter inside this state— so it won’t just be me calling Iowa “home."

-- Shaquille Brewster following the Carson campaign