Last Shots

by Our Frozen Correspondent

The airplane from Manchester, NH to Baltimore was full of weary but buzzed campaign workers and journalists. The Giuliani supporter next to me discovered he knew the husband of the Clinton supporter in the next row. The Obama campaign worker on my other side joined in the conversation. Everyone in the plane was returning from the Big Game and was dying to talk about it with other veterans of the contest, no matter which team they had been on.

The Guiliani worker said he spotted the trend toward Hillary, especially among woman, late Monday as he was making phone calls to voters. The other campaign workers, even her own, said Clinton’s win took them by surprise.

The media is making much of Clinton welling up with tears during a Q&A session in Portsmouth, NH. It was captured on camera and apparently played over and over on cable news. I don’t know, I didn’t see it. I’ve heard interviews on the radio of people who said it tipped them towards Hillary, but it was hardly mentioned by my relatives or the local Democrats who met to watch returns on election night. My aunt was told about it by an Obama volunteer who came to the door, and she was incensed that such a trivial thing was being played up.

The media is too obsessed with itself. The New Hampshire residents I met were making their decisions not on news clips but on their own in-person observations of the candidates. That’s the whole point of the New Hampshire “retail-politics” primary. In the space of a few days one can (as I did) personally see each candidate and hear his or her stump-speech. Granite Staters are very dutiful about this. They observe, talk it over with each other, and carefully come to decisions.

Most appalling is the theory that secret voter racism is behind the erroneous opinion poll numbers showing Obama ahead just before the election. This is what the pollsters themselves are saying, blaming the voters instead of their mistakes. I could plainly see that in the two days prior to the election, many people were undecided and were “comparison-shopping” for a candidate at speeches and rallies. I believe my cousin and aunt were typical – deciding at the last moment to vote for Hillary because she’s a woman, and because they were swayed by Hillary’s point in the Jan. 5th candidates’ debate that experience counts and she’s got it. These decisions came too late to show up in polls.

The conspiracy theoreticians have pounced on the “welling-up” moment, I notice. They think it was staged. They’ve also questioned whether the “Iron My Shirt” heckling at Hillary’s Salem speech was staged.
I heard a radio interview of the woman who asked the question that brought tears to Hillary’s eyes. It made a conspiracy seem implausible. The questioner said she is an Obama supporter and said she was not coached or set up in any way.

Some right-wing bloggers immediately assumed the “Iron My Shirt” incident was a setup, but they looked into it and discovered the “protesters” were from a Boston radio show, doing a dumb stunt. Whether they were hired or encouraged by the Clinton campaign is unclear, but even the right wingers are skeptical that is the case.

Everyone including the out-of-staters I talked to agreed the NH Primary is a good system for the country, though all expressed qualms that money has become too big a factor, the campaigns are starting much too early, and the election date should be set back to Feb. or even the original March. Reform is needed, they all said. Some said New Hampshire is not the best starting point because it is not representative of the country, but that it is good to have the first primary in a small state where the people can judge the candidates up close and personal and (in theory) a candidate with little money can run.
In case you didn’t know, Maryland’s primary is Feb. 12., same day as Virginia and Washington, DC primaries. Sorry, but I don’t think you’ll get as close to the candidates as this:
“Granny D” takes her seat at the Edward’s rally, Keene, NH, Jan. 6.
John Edwards’ “press avail.”
Edwards speaking
The line to get into the Obama speech at Keene High School, Jan. 6.
Barak Obama’s speech as viewed from the “overflow” room.
Obama visits the overflow room after his speech.
View from my aunt and uncle’s house.
McCain rally, Keene town square, Jan. 7.
McCain supporter.
The media deals with the snow.
McCain and supporters.
McCain speaking, flanked by wife and daughters.
Now, that’s media attention!
Now, that’s scenery!
Now, that’s my friend Judith standing in front of Edwards headquarters, Claremont, NH.
The overflow room at Salem High School during Hillary Clinton’s speech. I count 30 women and 5 men in the middle- and fore-ground.
Hillary Clinton taking questions in the overflow room after her speech.
Hillary, on her way to victory, waving goodbye in the corridor.
The day after the primary, the turkeys leave. View from my aunt and uncle’s house.
turning the blog back over to Gilbert.

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.