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On the Trail 16’: Six Hours in New Hampshire with the Clinton Campaign

Jacob Robbins, Political Reporter

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On the Trail ‘16: Six Hours in New Hampshire with the Clinton Campaign

The indecisive and the attacks

By Jacob Robbins

There’s something magical about being in the center of the universe. I am here you tell yourself. This is real. The eyes of the world have turned to the New England State of New Hampshire, relativity small in size, but huge in its impact in the world of the 2016 election. New Hampshire, now, is the center of the political universe.

Candidates have flooded the area and the state has become a strange gallery of political posters and vitriolic television and radio ads. For six hours this reporter was in the center of the political universe, seeing it all, from crazy New Hampshirites to former presidents on the attack. This is six hours in New Hampshire.

The first thing you have to understand is Granite Staters take their role in the primary process extremely seriously. From the moment you cross over into the state you’re immediately greeted by a deluge of campaign signs.

New Hampshire’s been doing this for a while—way before primary processes and caucuses dominated the lexicon of politics. This primary marks the one hundredth year they’ve been doing this, and Granite Staters take an immense amount of pride in what they do and the importance it plays. There’s an old saying that’s thrown around a lot if you’re around enough to hear it: Iowa picks corn—New Hampshire picks Presidents.

While many political pundits have downplayed the importance of New Hampshire as just one primary, for now, it’s become the center of the universe for the 2016 race. This reporter spent time with the Clinton campaign, accompanying supporters on one of their “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) events, meeting both avid and heartened Clinton supporters as well as Granite Staters who were undecided.

The morning began in Keene, New Hampshire at a Hillary Clinton regional organizing office. To give you a sense on how divided the voters of New Hampshire are, right outside the office were a collection of Sanders’ signs.

The supporters were incredibly enthusiastic, despite Clinton trailing Sanders in New Hampshire. The event drew volunteers from all around the country; California, Nevada, and D.C—they traveled from all over, taking vacation time to support their candidate. One community organizer had moved to New Hampshire just to work on the campaign. This was the kind of dedication the Clinton campaign was counting on. They were not dissuaded by the subpar numbers and scandals—they wanted to help, no matter the distance.

The Clinton supporters came from all over the country and were wildly enthusiastic

The Clinton supporters came from all over the country and were wildly enthusiastic

The event that was happening that day was a Get Out the Vote event, a door-to-door effort to get people to get out and vote on Tuesday for Hillary Clinton. Accompanying some supporters on their canvasing efforts, it was striking to see how few Granite Staters actually went to the door. As one Clinton supporter put it, “It’s bunker-down time.”

While most of the knocks on the doors went unanswered, there was one memorable experience with a Democratic voter who answered our call. In the interest of anonymity, we’ll call him Tim. Tim went on somewhat of a diatribe against Hillary Clinton, voicing his distress over her supposed ties to Wall Street. Just to mention, he came out without a shirt, hairy chest and all, proclaiming his support for Bernie Sanders.

There was more than just that, however. He went into a whole story about how he was Keene, New Hampshire’s first ever residential male stripper. It was quite the experience. But while Tim was an eccentric character, he embodied what was at stake in this election. Every Granite Stater we spoke with, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, all shared the same concern that Tim had: the direction our country was going in.

Tim was supporting Bernie Sanders because he was so upset about the role money was playing in politics. “We can’t have anymore big money. It’s time to change our direction” he stated.

The Indecisiveness of voters—and in the country—is easily displayed by driving down any street in one of the rural neighborhoods in New Hampshire. One can find a mix of signs for Cruz, Bush, Trump, Sanders, Fiorina, and Clinton all on the same street.

The afternoon culminated in a speech to be made by former president Bill Clinton, who has been campaigning hard for his wife since January. It was New Hampshire that resurrected Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992. Listening to the speech, it’s evident that the Clinton campaign is hoping to recreate the magic that catapulted Bill back into relevance all those years ago.

“This is like my primary, but on steroids,” the former president said in his speech. He likened the Republican party to the “blame party.” He spent the majority of his speech defending his wife’s record, proclaiming “everything she’s touched she’s made better.”

The most surprising part of his speech was when he went on the attack against Clinton’s chief competitor Bernie Sanders. “When you’re making a revolution, you can’t be too careful with the facts,” he said, in reference to Sander’s self-proclaimed political revolution. He went on to attack Sanders on his proposed single-payer healthcare plan.

Former President Bill Clinton campaigning for his wife

“Is it good for America? I don’t think so. Is it good for New Hampshire? I don’t think so. The New Hampshire I knew would not have voted for me if I had done that.”

The applause was thunderous and the amount of support in that room immeasurable. While rumors have been circulating that the Clintons are so upset with their branding and campaign management that they’re considering a major shakeup among staff, there’s no denying that the Clinton campaign has built a formidable following.

Hillary Clinton’s hoping to pull off a surprise win in New Hampshire and proclaim herself the comeback kid as her husband once did. If the numbers are any indicator, however, we may see that lightning doesn’t always strike twice.

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On the Trail 16’: Six Hours in New Hampshire with the Clinton Campaign