COLUMBIA — The C-SPAN 2008 campaign tour bus stretches 45 feet.
Each side of the bus, which arrived in Columbia on Friday, is decorated in red, white and blue with depictions of the White House. Inside, two large TV screens, used for presentations, hang opposite a long maroon couch. The back of the bus is a fully functioning production studio, including a table for interviews and a sound board. It is one of two buses that travel around the country promoting C-SPAN and act as a traveling production studio, where reporters can conduct interviews while on the road.
The bus program was created to bring "the world of public affairs to schools and communities nationwide," according to, its Web site, c-span.org.
Tamara Robinson, a marketing representative for C-SPAN, said that the bus is 15 years old and has more than 534,000 miles on it. Before it was a "Road to the White House" tour bus, it was a yellow bus that C-SPAN used to travel. Bill Clinton was interviewed on it.
The bus tour launched in January 2007. There are two C-SPAN representatives and a bus driver on each tour.
Friday, the bus stopped at the Mature Living Festival at the Holiday Inn Exposition Center.
Mediacom was also there helping with the event.
Joan Watson, of Columbia, said that she watches C-SPAN all the time. Friday was her first time on the bus and she said she was grateful to get to tour it.
"I think it is fabulous that the bus is going throughout the country informing people on C-SPAN," she said.
Joni Connor, of Columbia, also enjoyed her first tour of the bus. She said that she was impressed with what they do with what little money they have.
C-SPAN is funded by the cable industry. Cable companies, such as Mediacom, give five cents out of each cable bill to C-SPAN as a public service. Its budget is $55 million each year.
Meredith Rapp, education program specialist for C-SPAN, joked that this is what one season of HBO's "Sopranos" costs.
Susan Schopflin, of Columbia, said that touring the bus was pretty amazing. She said the tour and presentation helped her to understand C-SPAN better, especially the lengths it goes to stay impartial and give each party equal time.
"The bus gives us an opportunity to get out into the community," Robinson said.
Rapp said that the bus is a great marketing tool.
"The only way to survive is to have people know about us," she said.
She said that this is an important tool to help keep C-SPAN on the cable lineups.
Saturday, the bus was at the Columbia Farmers' Market behind the Activity and Recreation Center at the corner of Clinkscales and Ash streets. The next stop is Des Moines on Monday where it will be visiting the Iowa State fair. The final destination for this bus will be at the Democratic and Republican national conventions in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul, respectively.