Students on the Race to the White House Field Program began the day at the Millyard Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire attending an event with Chelsea Clinton who was speaking in support of her mother, Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. This was the first event that we attended with a surrogate speaker in place of the candidate.While in the smaller venue (with approximately 150 in attendance), students noted that the smaller area fit with the Chelsea Clinton’s soft-spoken speaking style. Instead of a stump speech you would normally get from the candidate at this stage of the campaign, Chelsea focused almost entirely on answering audience questions. The nature of the questions were focused on children’s education, especially early childhood education. There were a number of other questions surrounding universal healthcare. In regards to the campaign staff, students noticed that the vast majority of the staff was comprised of individuals who appeared to be recent college graduates, most likely in their 20s. While this has been true at several campaign venues, it was even more notable at this particular event. Several students (Michala, Shontee, Zeke) were randomly selected to be a part of a meet and greet with Ms. Clinton.
Afterwards students attended an event with Senator Ted Cruz, held in the Londonderry High School, alma mater of recent Principia College graduate, and current Athletic Department Graduate Assistant, Lyssa Winslow. The cafeteria was packed with approximately 500 attendees, and also had an overflow room to accommodate those who were not able to fit into the main room. Most venues we have attended campaign events at in New Hampshire and Iowa have not had overflow rooms, but this high school could accommodate this use of space and technology. We noted that this was the second candidate (Trump being the other)to begin the rally with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Cruz modeled his talk as a future State of the Union such as Cruz would hope to be able to give should he be elected to president in the general election in November. The students were surprised that Cruz did not speak as much on immigration as he has touched on in the past, although he did discuss his foreign policy perspective on the Middle East repeatedly. Furthermore, the candidate from Texas did incorporate humor throughout his speech a number of times, perhaps responding to criticisms raised by a recent The New York Times editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/opinion/the-brutalism-of-ted-cruz.html?_r=0) where he was criticized for his serious and arguably harsh rhetoric. The entirety of the speech, which lasted for almost an hour and then was followed by questions, was done entirely without notes or other reference materials. It also contained plenty of comments designed to appeal directly to evangelical voters. We also noted that Cruz primarily attacked President Obama and Hillary Clinton rather than other Republican candidates he is competing with for the GOP nomination. Interestingly, we also noticed a few familiar faces from both the Trump and Clinton campaign events we attended the past two days. New Hampshire voters are definitely making their rounds to see the candidates in person and determine who they will cast their vote for early next month.
Following the Cruz event, the group joined Pollyann Winslow at her home in Londenderry for a great dinner she prepared for us and some time to watch President Obama’s final State of the Union Address. We noticed that Senator Cruz, who we’d seen just hours before, was interviewed by NBC News following the president’s speech and the GOP response. Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders were spotted in attendance at the president’s address, and while other candidates may have been there, the students did not see them in any of the camera angles shown.
Tomorrow we are looking forward to a session with the Democratic Party of New Hampshire as we learn more about party structures at the state level. We will also be visiting with news editors for the New Hampshire Union Leader, the leading newspaper in the state.