NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker will be on familiar turf as Hillary Clinton's campaign arrives here in Welker's hometown for the Democratic National Convention.
Thrilled as she is that family and friends will be nearby, "I don't even know if I'll have time to see them," said Welker, who's nevertheless hoping to sneak in time with her fiance, John Hughes, a marketing director for Merck & Co. Inc. who works in the area, and her parents, Harvey and real estate agent Julie Welker, who live in Fairmount.
Welker, a graduate of Germantown Friends School (Class of '94) and Harvard, spoke to Ellen Gray about the 24/7 news cycle, rubbing shoulders - literally - with colleagues on the White House beat, and the man who recently got her to stand still just long enough so he could propose.
You've been traveling the country covering Clinton. What are you most looking forward to during the Democratic National Convention?
I'm curious to see if the Clinton campaign can use the week to build on some of the momentum that she's gained this summer. I think she's had a strong few weeks - save the FBI report, of course - and I think it's obviously a chance for her to get a bump in the polls if everything goes smoothly. The question is: Will it?
Are other reporters hitting you up for tips on the city, or are you all going to be too busy to see much?
Some of my colleagues and friends have asked me for good restaurants to explore, important historical sites that are must-see, if they get time. Given the 24-hour news cycle, it's unlikely we're going to have time.
What would you love to do if you could?
I think spend time with my family, but also some of my former colleagues at WCAU . I stay in touch with them via email, through texts, phone conversations here and there, but I would just love to go back and see the station and visit with everyone there.
You've been a White House correspondent since 2011. What would surprise people most about your job?
One, it's 24/7. You can't be too far away from your BlackBerry because if there's a development anywhere around the world, it impacts the White House.
A couple of years ago, I went to dinner with a very high-profile source, and out of respect, I put my phone down for, say, an hour and a half. And during this dinner there was a major breaking story related to the Secret Service. When I picked my phone back up, I had missed about 50 emails and seven phone calls from the network.
I think the other thing is the amount of time as a White House correspondent you literally spend in White House booth, which is a very tiny space. There are four chairs, and you're touching the shoulder of your colleague when you sit in this booth.
When did you know you wanted to be a reporter?
I was in sixth grade. I loved TV news. I acknowledge that I was also in awe of Barbara Walters interviewing Patrick Swayze and dancing with him.
But when my mother ran for City Council, that was the moment when I knew I wanted to be a political reporter. Some reporters asked her about being married to my father - they have an interracial relationship - as if that was somehow a negative thing. I think my parents handled it with grace I would get very upset about this line of questioning. It made me realize how important it is that political reporters are being fair. Tough, but fair.
You recently posted an Instagram photo, shot by a passing jogger, of your engagement. Should we be impressed that your fiance found a moment in your election-year schedule to ask?
This is the most impressive thing of all. What he doesn't know is there was some discussion of sending me out of town that day. I am so thankful that he was able to find this time. I mean, we will go sometimes as long as a month without seeing each other. When we are together, we make each other the priority. He always waits to say good night to me at the end of the night.
How did you meet?
I'm 40 years old. I say that to give hope to other women who maybe haven't found The One in their 20s. So two summers ago, my best friend from high school's mother said, "I'd really like you to meet John Hughes." He is their family friend's son. I had just about given up on the idea of finding someone, but we had dinner in Philadelphia, and the rest is sort of history.