SEABROOK, N.H., 2:28 am. — We’re down to one day before the polls open, and for the candidates, it is game time. A few musings from the trail today:
Chris Dodd’s former New Hampshire chair, Joe Keefe, has endorsed Senator Barack Obama, and he was the first speaker at the Obama rally in Manchester on Sunday morning. I wondered if anyone in the audience knew who Dodd was.
I didn’t have much time to dwell on that thought, however. As Keefe walked to the podium and the crowd applauded with polite enthusiasm, a 40-something woman in front of me turned to her neighbor and asked, “Is that Obama?”Mr. Keefe is a white man.
She wasn’t joking, either.
Can someone buy the candidates a wristwatch, please? Senator Hillary Clinton’s rally in Hampton, N.H., was scheduled for 5 p.m. Great, right? At about 5:15 p.m., an aide took the stage and said the senator would be there shortly. At 6 p.m., he came back on stage and promised she would be there in 15 minutes. At 6:45 p.m., nearly two hours late, she finally arrived. I already complained about Senator Obama being tardy for his own rally this morning in Manchester. Apparently an afternoon Obama rally was similarly behind schedule. And John Edwards was chastised for his lateness last month, too. Punctuality is important! Jeez! How can you be president if you can’t even show up within, say, an hour of the right time? You can’t even blame Daylight Savings Time for that! What would Undergraduate Career Services do with these people? Philip Jones would have a field day!
My strategy thus far for determining the precise location of a rally or town hall meeting or whatever here in New Hampshire has been to drive to the high school or college campus or wherever and then just look for the row of satellite trucks, police cars, protesters, etc. (or, failing that, Salon’s Walter Shapiro, who was also at the Obama rally this morning) and then head in that direction. So tonight, I headed to Phillips Exeter Academy to hear former Senator Mike Gravel give a talk, assuming I would be able to find the senator using the above strategy. I forgot that, to the American mainstream media, I am more newsworthy than Mike Gravel at this point. There was no commotion to be found, no media, no nothing.
Luckily, a security guard pointed me in the right direction. It was actually a very nice event — held in the Exeter library, it had the feel of a Master’s Tea. Except without refreshments.
Props to the New Haven media for putting some serious legwork into covering the primaries. First, the New Haven Independent sent a reporter to Iowa to Senator Christopher J. Dodd’s efforts to survive the Iowa caucus.Now, this week, News Channel 8 has been a regular presence here in New Hampshire. I spotted their truck at the debates Saturday night, and chief political correspondent Mark Davis reported live (perhaps the only reporter to do so?) from Hillary Clinton’s rally in Hampton, N.H., on Sunday night. Paparazzi photos below, of course.
Another pseudo-celebrity sighting on Sunday: Dana Milbank ’90 of The Washington Post. I think.
As the News’s fancy digital camera dangled from my neck at the Clinton rally, someone in the press pool approached me and asked if I could introduce her to a certain Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer whom she admired. I knew him from my work at the White House, right? No, I said. You see, as fancy as my camera may look and no matter how many press credentials I’m wearing simultaneously, I do not work at the White House. Until this morning, I did not even know how to turn the flash on my camera on and off.
— Thomas Kaplan