I drove through a steady, heavy snowfall to arrive at the NH Democratic Party’s big fundraising dinner, which featured speeches from both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
I hate driving in rain, let alone snow, and this was the worst kind. Wet and sticky, it coated my windshield and turned into icy sludge on the road. I was, however, one car in a pack of cars, all going slowly together, and that made it feel safe and doable.
That’s how I felt at the big D event at the Verizon Wireless Arena. It’s going to be a slog through this election, but I think we’ve got a good pack of people we can move forward with, together, to get through to January, 2017.
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
Now, it wasn’t a total love-fest. The floor of the arena had 77 ten-tops filled with donors, county party chairs, and visiting politicians.
Cory Booker was working his show like nobody’s business, no matter who was talking. He worked the entire floor, and then, he came up into the cheap seats.
The man has an arm made for selfies.
The privilege of being a blogger means I can ignore any pretense of being a disinterested journalist and be a fan for a moment.
He needed to be working it, though. I was seated behind a group of union pipe-fitters and plumbers. They had no idea who he was or why he was such a hit on the floor. “He’s Cory Booker,” I explained. I had to add more info.
As a Texan, I found myself wishing a Castro twin or two were there to meet the people they might benefit from getting to know.
Anyway, back to the dynamic in the stadium. It was like an awkward political wedding, with the Bernie fans on the east side, and Team Hillary on the west, with undecideds scattered about on the perimeter.
While most of the floor was for Hillary, they certainly applauded Bernie. He had fans at the power tables. Not many, but loud.
The speaker roster, as you might imagine given the event, was heavy on the local Ds. They were, to a person, charming. Most of them had gracious praise for Sanders, but shared they’d be voting for Hillary.
Bernie spoke midway through the program; Hillary, at the end.
The only evidence of Berniebro-ism—and it was hard to find—was that after Bernie spoke, about 60% of his side left. I’m not necessarily sure that can be blamed on a Bernie-or-nothing orientation, however, given the weather and the duration of the program. Probably unfair to call it that at all. It was noticeable and felt a little jarring, though, and seemed disrespectful.
If you’ve watched or attended a Bernie speech, it was pretty much what we got. The man has a vision, he’s relentless when it comes to his talking points, although I think it cheapens his belief in them to call them mere talking points. This is not Bernie’s first rodeo, and he speaks with power and intensity.
As a Bowie fanatic, I cannot decide how I feel about Starman as his walk-off music. It does mean Bernie ends on an incredibly high note.
Two days after, I met someone who’d been seated right up front. They said Bernie was so exhausted that he had to be helped off the stage. The lights, the weather, the intensity—I imagine many would need a hand at the end of a night like that.
Hillary, too, sounded a little tired. Not exhausted and worn down in a defeated way, but the way you are after you’ve just hosted an amazing party with your closest friends and you’re pretty punchy.
We spend so much time reading caricatures of Clinton, and critiques of those caricatures, that seeing her being her genuine self can startle you, even if you’ve seen it before.
As one person said, she danced onto the stage like she was subbing in for Ellen DeGeneres.
She clearly loves this, and as she talked through her history of campaigning in New Hampshire, her genuine appreciation for all of the people she’s spent time with shone through.
Humble, she made it clear that she wasn’t taking anything for granted. (Or, as everyone says in NH to massive groans, for granite.) She asked for voters’ consideration, and she made her case. I don’t want to say she sounded resigned, but she sounded prepared for whatever lay ahead.
Content-wise, I can’t tell you much about either speech that you don’t already know. Without going into who I may support, I continue to believe that we will be very fortunate to have a phenomenal candidate once the convention ends.
One thing about New Hampshire politics—the swag game is STRONG. I collected t-shirts from unions, candidates, and causes, all of whom but Planned Parenthood were giving them away. I was glad to pay for a PP t-shirt, knowing how under attack they are. Hillary outweighed Bernie on the button and t-shirt front, but I draw no conclusions about why. Could have been the timing of when I arrived, could have been popularity of various shirt sizes, who knows.
Retail politics is no joke. I met candidates for just about every office. Everyone was eager to chat about their candidate, their experience, their vote. Others have said it, so it may sound trite, but this was an arena full of thousands of people who feel a strong weight of obligation to screen candidates pretty hard so that the rest of the country gets a real feel for them.
It was largely, thought not entirely, a homogenous crowd when it came to race, as much as one can tell by looking, that is. There were hoards of snake women (and men) in Hillary gear, and packs of boomer women feeling the Bern. It has been that way all over the state. Only today, in the middle of election day, have I seen tons of young Bernie fans. Then again, I was hanging out largely in the GOP camp, doing recon.
Can’t wait to see what happens tonight.
Go to the next post in the diary, featuring Ted Cruz.