Fighter or Uniter?

by Our Frozen Correspondent

Yup, it’s the primary state alright. The roads from the airport are lined with campaign signs stuck in the snowbanks.

I drive straight from Manchester Airport to Keene where I meet my uncle and rush over to Keene State College to see Senator John Edwards. We arrive 30 minutes early, but there is standing room only. The seats, especially the seats facing the cameras, are filled with Edwards loyalists and VIPs, apparently. A giant American flag has been hung on the far wall as a backdrop. Peace activist Granny D. enters to applause.

An aide announces a “press avail” outside the building by the campaign bus and the media people are herded out. I join them. We are ushered through a black curtain hung in the hallway, past police guards, and out to the parking lot where the blue campaign bus sits. We are positioned so that any photos of the candidate will have the bus slogans in the background.

Edwards strolls out and stands before the press. He makes a short statement, including the phrase “the Clinton campaign has no conscience!” Apparently he felt dissed by Hillary in the debates and this is his response. Some questions are asked and he responds not to the reporters but to the cameras so he can hardly be heard except by the microphones. We don’t want any Dean-like screaming!

The press is sent back to the hall. Granny D. introduces Edwards.

If his speech could be summed up in one word it would be “fight!” That’s what he says he wants to do, and that’s what he says distinguishes himself from the two other frontrunners.
Edwards built the speech around testimony from two victims of corporate America. A woman whose daughter died due her insurance company refusing to fund an operation, and another mother whose daughter was permanently maimed by a pool filter (Edwards was her lawyer against the company).

He turned over the microphone to each woman in turn, and he looked a little sorry he did as the woman whose daughter had died started to ramble a bit. Still, it was an affecting story.
Edward’s point was that he takes injustice and inequity personally and that makes him the best candidate because he will not compromise – like those OTHERS.

A quick bite to eat and off to see one of those OTHERS – Barack Obama, who is speaking at the high school. This is serious stuff – there is a huge line to get in and gridlock in the parking lot.
We don’t get in to the main room, we are sent to the overflow room – where 600-700 people are seated in an auditorium to watch the speech on a giant tv screen. That’s 600-700 in the overflow room – there were 400-500 at Edwards speech. We all wonder if the numbers signify. I call my friend Judith, the Edwards supporter. She floats the theory that the people at the Obama rally include a lot of

My uncle and I are joined by my cousin, who has been undecided. She is now decided – as is her mother who was previously leaning toward Richardson. Mother and daughter have decided that as Feminists, they MUST back Hillary Clinton. My uncle sniffs that he decided to back her long before they did.

Obama comes on the screen and puts on the best political performance I have ever seen. He has the ease, and in-the-moment command of a stand-up comedian. It is conversational. At one point he asks “do you like cold pizza?” and a young boy of 12 hollered “yes!” and continued to speak. Obama went with it – not a second of doubt, or anxiety. He came right back with some witty questions and comments to the boy, then said “I lost my train of thought,” collected himself and went on.

If one word could sum up Obama’s speech it would be “Unite!” He stands, he says, for a progressive agenda, but he wants to end to bi-partisan bickering and unite the people. “One nation, one people!”
Like Edwards, he offered few specifics in the speech. But, it was a beautiful speech! He had the same relaxed affability and intelligence that Bill Clinton had – the quality that made you admire the man, even when he was doing things you didn’t like.

Much more, but my battery is dying!


About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.