Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winning Back Coal Country

During the 2008 Presidential election, Southwest Virginia's blue collar coal mining counties voted for Democrat Barack Obama. This unlikely geopolitical swing in 2008 ensured that then Senator Obama would receive Virginia's hotly contested battleground electoral votes. Four years later, Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney's campaign looked to coal country to deliver The Old Dominion back into Republican hands. With federal environmental regulations and changing markets hurting local economies in Virginia's coal country, the Romney camp and other Republican groups focused much of their ground game in Southwest Virginia. While Romney won back coal country from Obama, it ultimately was not enough to win Virginia on November 6.

An anti-Obama billboard is seen along Route 23 in Wise, Va. in Southwest Virginia's coal country on Friday, October 26, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Life in the FAST lane

In a sandy pine forest along the Virginia/North Carolina border an elite team of U.S. Marines stack up outside a kill house full of enemy combatants. "GET DOWN!" yells the team leader as eight FAST Marines flood in to recapture the "embassy." Highly trained in close quarters battle and embassy security, Americans Marines move methodically from room to room. "CLEAR!" one yells after sweeping the room with his M4 Carbine. He drops an infrared chem light before moving on to the next room. 

Every day shouts and rifle shots ring out across the small Naval Security Annex base in Chesapeake,Va. Once a secretive government radio receiving and transmission base at the height of the Cold War, the base now trains companies of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) who are tasked with reinforcing American diplomatic posts across the world. In the wake of recent attacks in Libya and the Middle East, FAST Marines have deployed to Tripoli and Yemen in a bid to pre-empt and discourage attacks on American interests like the September 11, 2012 attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. For these young men who volunteer to train and deploy as FAST Marines, one thing awaits them: Life in the FAST lane.

Concertina wire deployed by U.S. Marines from Basic Security Guard Class 18 is seen as they conduct site security operations and embassy protection training at Munroe Village, an urban training facility, at the Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex in Chesapeake, Va. on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.


Monday, November 5, 2012

The End is Near

Tomorrow is the big day. It's been an incredible experience on the campaign trail and in Washington during this election season. I switched off the trail with NYT greats Doug Mills and Damon Winter a month or so back, but wanted to share these photos before it's too late. Campaigning has changed a lot in the last twenty years. So much so that the pictures and rallies and flights have really begun to blur together. With that in mind, I'm very grateful for these photos. Photos that freeze a moment in time and history. Every one of them is a gift to me that I am blessed to share with the readers of The New York Times and you all, my friends.

Supporters chant "4 more years" as President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in downtown Charlottesville, Va. during a campaign rally on Wednesday, August 29, 2012. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.


DNC from the back stand

I covered the third and final day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. from the back stand. Over the course of 6 or so hours I watched as the brightest stars the Democratic Party had to offer paraded across the stage, giving speeches perfectly on cue and staying directly on message. The stagecraft of the convention was very obvious and it's message very pervasive. Being stuck in a head-on position on the back stand for the duration of the night forced me to get creative and stay on my toes. Enjoy!

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)