Campaign Happening – First in the Nation Primary in Full Swing
While the NH Primary Picks Presidents, here are a couple stories about a true New Hampshire Statesmen who won national prominence but never became President… Daniel Webster.
The New Hampshire Primary Makes History…and Picks Presidents
Early next year New Hampshire will celebrate the 100th anniversary of hosting the First in the Nation Primary. While the century mark is certainly worth recognizing, New Hampshire’s influence in the selection process didn’t really start to take shape until 1952 when Dwight Eisenhower stunned the heavily favored Robert Taft (son of the 27th US president William Howard Taft) which propelled “Ike” all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Since that time, New Hampshire voters have engaged in a way that has created amazing stories. From the ‘Comeback Kid’ Bill Clinton, to Ronald “I paid for this microphone” Reagan, the drama surrounding the primary has both fascinated and irked the rest of the nation. Despite the myth, victory in the New Hampshire primary doesn’t guarantee the presidency (Leonard Wood anyone?), but it’s become part of the fabric of our state and New Hampshire voters recognize the importance of this special civic duty. Here’s to the FITN at 100!!
FITN Institutions – Diners, General Stores and Sidewalk Conversations
While debates and TV interviews may get presidential primary candidates national attention, nothing is more ‘grass-roots’ than visiting a small town diner, holding a town hall, or striking up a conversation at a popular coffee spot. And nowhere is this more evident than in New Hampshire months before the first in the nation primary! Candidates from all political backgrounds have found the Granite State’s many restaurants, historical hot spots, and town hall type forums to be the perfect place to connect with voters. For many, this is the first time to connect with voters in person. Chez Vachon in Manchester, Red Arrow Diner, MaryAnn’s Diner in Derry, Tilt’n Diner in Tilton, and the Bedford Village Inn are just a few examples of places that regularly host presidential candidates from both sides of the political spectrum.
Like so many other aspects of our lives, social media and the technological world drive our decisions, our news, and our relationships. St. Anselm’s ‘Politics & Eggs’ forums bring in all major presidential candidates and is dubbed ‘a necessity for any serious presidential candidate’.
Meanwhile, over 14 of the Democrat presidential candidates have already made their way to the New England College campus in Henniker with the conversations usually becoming quite newsworthy across the nation. These smaller forums allow voters to get to know the candidates face to face, see a side of them others haven’t experienced yet, and something most across the country dream of doing. These ‘hot spots’ really bring politics back to the ground. Handshakes, selfies, and honest conversation, what more could a voter ask for! Just another reason, we are so lucky to host the first in the nation primary!
Real Stories From Reporter on the Scene – Josh McElveen
Please enjoy my conversation with Josh, former political director for WMUR-TV Channel 9, sharing stories about candidates, interviews, personalities and more…
Veterans in the NH Primary
When discussing veterans and the FITN primary, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the American hero, John McCain. Senator McCain, a champion of principle, honor, and courage, ran for president on two separate occasions: 2000 and 2008. In 2008, when asked about what he thought of New Hampshire, Senator McCain of Arizona said "It's my second favorite state." The way that Senator McCain embraced the Granite State is, to this day, unmatched in its sincerity and grandeur. After winning the NH primaries of 2000 and 2008, it was clear that Granite Stater’s knew he was genuine and decent. While New Hampshire has seen numerous veterans who have chosen to pursue the Presidency - I think it's fair to say, however, that no one has touched the hearts of so many of the veteran community here like John McCain did. The love of country and dedication to service that our veterans display by also working to represent us in Washington is admirable. It shows a prioritization of others and a sacrifice of self.
FITN - Why it Matters: “Iowa Picks Corn, New Hampshire Picks Presidents”
A clever line, but one that is misleading and incorrect. New Hampshire’s privileged place in the process is coveted by other states and the envy often leads to ridicule. We’re too small. We’re not diverse enough. Nobody lives here (good one, Harry Reid). But here’s the thing. It’s not tradition, pageantry or even Secretary of State Bill Gardner that keeps New Hampshire’s FITN. Our place in the primary is secured by the candidates themselves. If they didn’t come to New Hampshire, then the FITN would be somewhere else.
So why do they come here? Because candidates realize this is a process. The FITN prepares them for the national stage (if successful), and it doesn’t take a bag full of money to win. The massive amount of media coverage drawn to New Hampshire every four years is a candidate lure for sure, but so is the opportunity to craft and hone a message. New Hampshire matters because candidates can’t fake it here. It’s humbling, It’s hard. It’s special and it is critical to the selection process.
Profiles of the Week – Protectors of FITN:
This week I want to highlight two major protectors of the New Hampshire’s First in the Nation Primary - one that everyone knows and one who does diligent work behind the scenes. And, interestingly – both are good friends of mine – all of us serving together in the New Hampshire Legislature when we were in our twenties.
Perhaps the most famous protector of the primary is our own Secretary of State Bill Gardner. I actively worked with Bill, doing all I could to help get him elected to the position nearly 40 years ago. Bill ran on a platform of bringing a new youthful energy to the office and despite being on the other side of the aisle from me, I knew he would put New Hampshire first… and boy did he!
Bill is now the longest serving Secretary of State in our Nation’s history and is most famous for his dogmatic protection of our presidential primary. Make no mistake, Bill Gardner has saved the NH primary time and time again and he is world famous for it. And, continually, Bill has the important job of setting our primary date to make sure that no one other state tries to jump ahead.
Next, I want to recognize an unsung hero of the New Hampshire Primary – Steve Duprey. Steve is the former Chair of the Republican Party in New Hampshire and is currently the National Committeeman. What many people do not know about Steve and how the primary process works is that the parties actually set the order and control this via their rules and delegates.
Every four years Steve must build a coalition of other states to protect New Hampshire’s precious first position. This is not easy as the players are constantly changing, and the personalities are hard to wrangle. But Steve does an excellent job of this by flying people out to NH so they can see firsthand how our voters do take this important responsibility seriously. Steve is an unsung hero because many people do not know that due to somewhat recent court cases that the battle to control the party order is really the lynchpin to our continuing to be first in the nation.
Quotes of the Week: Political Campaigns
“The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.”
“During a political campaign everyone is concerned with what a candidate will do on this or that question if he is elected except the candidate; he's too busy wondering what he'll do if he isn't elected.”
“Really, running an underdog, insurgent political campaign against an opponent many folks think can't be beat, and going out and meeting folks and talking about your ideas for America and Washington, is a lot of fun and a real privilege.”
“Every great political campaign rewrites the rules; devising a new way to win is what gives campaigns a comparative advantage against their foes.”
“There are so many similarities between a startup venture and a political campaign - the rhythm, the tempo, the hours, the intensity.”
“I know that campaigns can seem small, and even silly. Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites. And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you're sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me - so am I.”