While these meetings have lighter moments, the real value is in the rousing discussions of bigger issues. The conversations can help shape opinions on both sides of the table.
The same value lies in political campaigns overall.
Even lopsided races serve a purpose. The most entrenched incumbents should be challenged and held accountable to the people who empower them to govern.
Attorney General Darrell McGraw lost his cool last weekend when a "tracker" from his opponent's camp pointed a video recorder at him during a public appearance. A few days earlier he showed signs of irritation with his opponent during their meeting with our editorial board.
It's no fun to be tracked, criticized and challenged.
However, as these matches play out in the public arena, voters can observe and make their choices.
Perhaps the incumbent is tossed out, or perhaps he's just bruised by a close race that affects how he conducts himself for the next few years.
Newspapers make endorsements as a service to readers. We realize few people have the time to closely monitor all the campaigns.
Our endorsements are not intended to tell readers how to vote. We simply make a good-faith effort to screen and evaluate.
While each member of the editorial board has his or her own views, we strive to make collective decisions based on the Daily Mail's conservative philosophy.
That is not the only factor. We also judge candidates on intelligence, values and knowledge of issues.
As the meetings progress, I find myself admiring the folks who subject themselves to public scrutiny.
This week, for example, we've met an independent trucker who drives the only rig he owns. His frustration with government impediments to small business caused him to throw his hat in the ring.
A substitute teacher works a second job for a janitorial service at night to make ends meet. He is frustrated by the bureaucracy that hampers teachers.
Day in and day out, we meet good people who believe in our democratic system of government. But they see problems like high unemployment, low educational achievement and crumbling highways and bridges.
Rather than sit back and criticize, they pitch in with ideas.
I feel privileged to spend time with them. And when it comes time to cast my own ballot, I again will be grateful for a job that lets me make informed choices.
Friend is editor and publisher of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-4802 or nan...@dailymail.com.