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Who's #2? Keep an eye on Obama's and McCain's planes

August 15, 2008 |  3:00 am

As the Democrats roll out their convention speakers and seasoned political observers parse those press releases to winnow the list of potential running mates for Barack Obama, it's worth recalling who broke the news four years ago that John F. Kerry had selected John Edwards.

It wasn't the presidential candidate. It was a guy with the handle "aerosmith," posting on an aviation message board.

Bryan Smith, a US Airways mechanic, arrived at work on June 5, 2004, the day before Kerry gathered reporters at his wife's estate near Pittsburgh and formally announced that Edwards was his No. 2. As Smith told NPR, he was passing through a hangar at the Pittsburgh airport to get to his work area "when I was informed by, I am assuming, Mr. Kerry's people that I should not peek in that hangar and that it was, in fact, closed for the day." A poster on an aviation message board broke the news that John Edwards was John Kerry's running mate.

So he did what you would have done: Every time he passed through that hangar that day, he took a look.

"Around 6 that evening, I peeked in and saw they were putting John Edwards' name on the airplane," he said. "They concealed it rather quickly -- they taped paper over the logos. I just happened to peek in at the right time."

When Smith got home from work, he went to his computer and "just put it on this chat room -– something for us to talk about in the airline business." But he didn't think about calling reporters, he said, and the mainstream media didn't pick up on his scoop.

If you get the scoop on either running mate -– for Obama or for John McCain -– please don't make that same mistake. Top of the Ticket is here 24/7.

-- Leslie Hoffecker

Photo credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press