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Hofstra University

Blogging In New Hampshire
Catherine Legnetti

Return to New Hampshire Trip Photos

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We left this Hofstra this morning at about 7:30 a.m. on two buses ("New" and "Hamster" which we all thought was pretty funny). There are two Political Science professors on the trip, Professor Green and Professor Himelfarb, who started out on the other bus, and came to ours at a rest stop in Connecticut. When they got on the bus, they gave us a summary of what's been happening in the elections so far and why the primary in New Hampshire is so significant (the almost 45 percent of voters who are registered independents). We stopped for a quick lunch in Vermont, which we ate on the bus and were at our first event at Lebanon High School at about 1:30 p.m.

The John Edwards Rally we attended were exactly like the ones I had seen him do on CNN and MSNBC - at a cafeteria, with chairs set up in a large circle around the room. We were lucky to get there early enough, because after we arrived they started putting people in what they called the "overflow room" which we would realize during the course of the trip means you sit in another gym or cafeteria in the building and listen to the candidate speak on a loud speaker, but you cannot see them.

Edwards' parents introduced him, and his children, Emma Claire and Jack made a quick appearance. He spoke mainly about "two Americas": the wealthy America that gets tax breaks and has health care, and the middle and lower class America that struggles to feed their children and heat their homes and get medical treatment. He barely spoke about the war in Iraq or national security, and instead focused a large part of his speech to the importance of universal health care. When his speech was over, he took some questions and these too were mostly about health care. He left through a side door when he was finished, shaking hands, taking pictures and signing autographs as he went, and we filed out of the gym and got back on the bus to begin our drive to the Manchester Radisson.

Once at the Radisson we watched a presentation by some of the writers of the National Review, and online blog. Some of us also wandered around the hotel, trying to get into the next room where Bill Clinton was rallying his wife's supporters at a union rally (most of us were not successful). Tim Russert, Chris Matthews and Dennis Kucinich were all walking around the hotel, talking to people about the candidates and taking pictures. Outside the hotel supporters of different candidates were standing on street corners, waving signs and chanting for their candidates. After the event, we all watched the debates on television, clapping and moaning at each candidate's answer.

It was at the Radisson that I realized that New Hampshire politics really is completely different that politics anywhere else in the nation; it is an up close and personal version of a very public spectacle that few people ever get to experience.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

We started the day at 8:45 a.m. and drove to a Jewish Temple about 40 minutes from our hotel where we would be seeing three different candidates. First we saw Duncan Hunter, whom I didn't even know was running. Next, we saw Governor Bill Richardson, who I really like especially because of his environmental policies. I also liked him because he spent time discussing eliminating Congressional earmarks, which none of the other candidates discussed that weekend. A person in the audience asked him if his campaign fell short of the nomination, would he consider running for vice president. He told us that he wants to do more than go to funerals all the time, but I think he'd be a brilliant vice president. He has what I consider to be much more experience than some of the other candidates, having had two cabinet positions and even being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times.

We also saw Mike Gravel, who was eccentric to say the least. What I think stood out in most of our minds was that he told us not once, but twice that if he were elected president, he would blow up three things: the proposed wall between Mexico and the United States, Guantanamo Bay (returning the land post explosion to Cuba) and Abu Ghraib.

We then went to Salem High School right around the corner, where we were the first people on line to see Barack Obama speak. I was excited to see him, as I'm really torn between him and Hillary Clinton. We waited on line for more than an hour, and finally entered what already seemed to be a full auditorium. One of my friends had managed to save some seats in the third row, and we were all excited. We waited for the Senator for over an hour, and while I was there, I began talking to a family who was sitting behind me with their two small children. The grandmother was also there, and she had been on the state assembly for many years and was very active in New Hampshire politics. I asked her if this all got overwhelming after a few months, and she just laughed, saying that she and her family love it. She's met all the Democratic candidates at least once, and now her husband was on stage, as were a few Hofstra students. Her granddaughter Grace was there, and at three is a self proclaimed "Barack Obama girl". She even got the crowd chanting as we waited, and then told me that Obama is going to "win the big trophy!" When the Senator finally arrived, he gave about a 30 minute speech, and took no questions. What he said made sense, but he didn't tell us anything as concrete as Senator Edwards had the day before. I thought I was sold after the event, but the more I thought about it, and spoke to others about it, the more I began to think that he lacked the experience needed to be president.

We then went back to Manchester to eat dinner and see Dennis Kucinich speak. Some of us skipped the beginning of the event and ate in town and then returned to catch the end of the event. The venue was much emptier than the previous events we had attended, but his supporters were enthusiastic to say the least.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Today we started at about 8:15 a.m. and drove to the State House (which Grace's grandmother told us we had to visit!). We met with State Senator Lou D'Alessandro who has been in office for more than five terms, and who was working with the Clinton Campaign, taking her door to door all over the state. He told us that when he was in college, JFK came to speak while he was seeking the nomination. The Senator couldn't get into the event, so instead climbed and promptly fell through a window. When he came to, he looked up and saw a hand that accompanied a voice "Hi, I'm John Kennedy". He also told us that every primary cycle, he and his wife try to have as many candidates to their house as they can, and that next to pictures of their grandchildren on their refrigerator are pictures of candidates past and present. He told us all about the primaries in New Hampshire and told us that they are expecting more than half a million people to vote tomorrow. He then took more than a dozen questions from all of us and shook all of our hands and took pictures as we left.

We then went to a Hillary Clinton event where I got possibly my biggest thrill of the trip. I'm a little bit of a CNN junkie, and I love Candy Crowley, one of their correspondents. As we were walking into the event, we saw a camera crew on the corner of the sidewalk with a women talking to the camera, and it was her! I pretty much stared at her for what must have been five minutes as she spoke into the camera, and then I started taking pictures. I seemed to be the only one who knew who she was, but I was so excited! I didn't want to bother her and say hello, but it was still great! When we got into the building, it was packed, and only half of our group ended up getting in, and most of them only got into the overflow room. The rest of us went back outside to decide what to do when a man in a suit came up to us and asked us if we wanted to meet [Senator Clinton]. He took us to the back of the building where she would be entering and 20 minutes later her motorcade pulled up, and then her bus. She walked up the line, surrounded by Secret Service, taking pictures and shaking hands and answering questions. We ended up going to a diner around the corner to wait for the event to end, and when we returned to the building, our whole group returned to where we had met her earlier to see her off. The event ran long, so we missed the Mitt Romney event we were supposed to attend, so instead we started home.

Overall, the trip was great. After seeing the work of all the candidates' staff, I'm considering doing a little campaign work after I graduate next May. New Hampshire politics really is a completely different game, and I can't wait to see what happens on Tuesday night!