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Seven days in N.H. and no regrets

Published: January 18, 2008
Section: Opinions


01180817.jpgFrom the packed room of around 500 people Tuesday evening ( Jan 8 ) in Manchester, NH, one would have no idea what the poll numbers were like. With the uncertainty of any poll, and the difficulty of polling accurately in the four days between the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary, it was hard to tell where any candidate stood until the actual results came in.

In the one-hour car ride from Rochester, NH to Manchester, we heard the NPR coverage of the Primary and how they called the Republican race for McCain around 8:30 p.m., when a few polling stations had only closed thirty minutes prior. More intriguing were the predictions and reports on who would win the Democratic primary when only 6 percent of precincts had reported results! National media remains a phenomenon to many, and it has been especially frustrating to constantly only hear discussion of Clinton and Obama. I am by no means denying they are the frontrunners, but rather am curious why journalists are only interested in covering front runners. Bill Clinton was not the Democratic front runner in 1992, and despite a third place showing in Iowa and a second place showing in New Hampshire he still went on to obtain the Democratic nomination.

I of course do not know about the other campaigns, but for the week leading up to the Primary in New Hampshire, the Edwards campaign made tens of thousands of phone calls and knocked on tens of thousands of doors. Edwards came out ahead of Clinton in Iowa despite being outspent by both Clinton and Obama by a ratio of 5 to 1. It says a lot about the power of John Edwards’ message and how efficiently a campaign can be run.

When I was in Nashua, NH for two days a few weeks ago, I saw 70 members of the carpenters union from all around New England and a dozen healthcare workers of the SEIU from Sacramento, California. This past week, I worked with volunteers from Washington, DC, Chicago, New York and New Jersey. All of these people felt so strong about John Edwards and his message of fighting for the middle class that they took off time from winter break or work to come to New Hampshire. One cannot help but admire those who are willing to work twelve-hour days for almost a week without any compensation. Many of us in Rochester did not even go to the rally in nearby Dover (7 miles away) on primary-eve because we were making phone calls. Local hosts opened their homes to us (for the few hours we were there each night), as they wanted to do anything they could to help. Local supporters also brought food in to the campaign offices every day so that we would not have to worry about finding a restaurant. The enormous generosity of so many people has renewed my sense that many feel that John Edwards is the most genuine, substantive, and electable candidate out there.

At 7 a.m. on Friday, January 4, I saw hundreds of supporters gathered to welcome John and Elizabeth back to New Hampshire. In the past seven days I probably made hundreds of phone calls and knocked on hundreds of doors. I have had some wonderful conversations with New Hampshire voters about their lives and what they want to see in this country; not just “change”, but actual improvements in healthcare, Iraq, and energy policy (to name a few). The fight for the middle class is on. I spent nearly seven days (six and a half) in New Hampshire, and I have no regrets.