Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Secretary

By the time I left Moncton, it was 10:15AM or so.  Driving began a bit slow due to traffic and early morning road conditions, but made great time from Fredericton on, stopping only for gas and at the border as noted.  Pulled into Portsmouth at just after 4:30PM and got a bit lost looking for the hotel, before deciding to just go straight to the Great Bay Community Center.  A fortunate choice, as a long line-up had already started to form outside.  Hundreds of people were ahead of me when I took my place at 5PM.  The doors opened just after 5:45PM, although I did not get inside until just after 7PM due to the Secret Service's airport-style security that everyone had to go through.  Got into the gymnasium just before the scheduled 7:15AM start, which was fantastic as many others were not so lucky.

A few random points from the time spent standing in the cold for about 2 hours outside my first 2016 New Hampshire primary event:
- had fun eavesdropping on a few of the couples in line in front of me, emblematic of the discussions happening all over New Hampshire.  For example, the mom of three,  democrat and leaning Hillary, but concerned about her judgment on the email scandal.  Especially since the mom is always telling her children "to be careful what they put on facebook, so you think Hillary would know better than to use her own servers."  She also tried to go to Trump's event in Exeter but didn't get in, and said she was worried about going because she didn't want people to see her there and think she was a Trump supporter.  Her husband, an independent who is out of town Tuesday and has already voted for Kasich, is similarly a bit horrified at Trump's popularity.  This may not be surprising since he watches PBS and told a long story about a recent show on the admittedly incredible and perhaps relevant history of Andrew Garfield's selection as the Republican nominee in 1880.)    
- the guy behind me seemed convinced that Christie has already made the decision to drop out of New Hampshire and endorse Jeb and kept talking to different people on his phone about it.  
- young campaign staffers with clipboards worked the line in a non-confrontational way asking if there were any undecided voters.  Overheard one conversation in which a middle-aged woman said she liked Bernie Sanders, but did worry if he could implement his ideas.  The staffer (who turned out to be from Georgia) asked what she liked in particular about Bernie, which prompted a long conversation about the candidates' respective plans for tuition.  Somehow I do not think I will see that in line for Trump.  
- also met a contingent of senior "Arkansas Travelers for Hillary" who worked the line, including one guy I talked to who said Hillary was the lawyer who helped him with the legal adoption of his children before she was First Lady.  They did not like the cold.
Inside, Senators Franken and Shaheen and New Hampshire's Governor Maggie Hassan introduced the Secretary.  Lots of emphasis by Franken on her "progressive" credentials (name-dropping Paul Wellstone and a great quote of his: "We all do better when we all do better.") 

But Secretary Clinton was the highlight.  I was quite impressed by the live delivery of her stump speech - substantive and really engaging.  She certainly comes across as formidable, and a consummate politician.  And seeing her in the room among all the "Women for Hillary" signs held by grandmothers, mothers, and daughters - that puts it in quite the context, historically.  I can only wonder how many selfies she has taken this year.

If she does win in November, and I am becoming more and more convinced that she will, with everything that has happened over the past 25 years, that will be some accomplishment.


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