Primary Journals

It’s debate time! There just seemed to be so many more debates in New Hampshire last time around. Perhaps because there were two parties involved in competitive primaries. Or people are so frustrated now that they’d rather watch ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ My call? It’s a mix of both.

Here is a shot from the Fox News Republican debate at the Whitemore Center at the University of New Hampshire. I knew someone running the event and asked if I could do a walk-through. I wish I could remember who it was, because it seems pretty amazing those in charge let me just stroll around.

But then again, there was a lot of strolling around that day. About an hour before the debate, slightly disturbed local presidential candidate Robert E. Haines appeared in his cowboy hat and suit outside the filing room in the Whit basement. What was most unsettling wasn’t that a clearly mentally disturbed person somehow was able to wander around amongst representatives from every major media outlet undetected, but that the filing area overlooked the student gym, where kids were working out.

Debates tend to bring out the crazy. Take this guy for example. He went to every Fred Thompson event (there were only three or four, so it wasn’t that big of a deal) in this costume and carrying some heckling message.











Despite his infrequent visits, I went to a surprisingly high number of Thompson visits. Probably because he got in late, ala Rick Perry, and the media couldn’t shut up about him. I got this shot at the Scamman Farm during the Rockingham County Republican Women’s annual Chili Fest. Thompson was in Manchester that day to watch part of the Patriot’s game and then was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the Scamman event.

Except there was a vicious microburst that swept across the southern half of the state. It closed part of the Route 33, one of the main roads to and from Manchester. It also knocked down a giant maple tree about 50 yards in front of my car, where I had sought shelter during the storm. It demolished three or so cars, taking the energy out of the event. I made a joke that day it was a bad omen for Thompson’s presidential aspirations.

















Thompson was insufferably late, rolling in on his giant purple bus. I never got to go inside, but I imagined it was pimpin’. I remember nothing of the substance of his speech, but I do recall I got lots of good, close shots. Here, I guess I had caught Thompson’s eye.

Of all the people I met, I was most star struck by an early ’00s MTV anchor

I loved Gideon Yago and his Rivers Cuomo glasses. He was was a little nerdy, a little hipster and a little snarky. And Chris Cilliza was there too. Double nerd yum. It made me wish I had gotten more than 5 hours of sleep the night before and showered that morning. Had I only known the star power MTV brings…











Oh yeah. And John Edwards said some stuff.

On the trail again

I don’t get to cover the presidential primary much with all there is to do at City Hall, but I try my hardest to cover candidates when they head downtown. Usually, it’s a guided tour from the mayor, who knows the friendly shops and half the people walking down the street. On this tour, I was joined by about a dozen reporters and photographers, including a New York Times reporter who chatted me up. That’s a pretty big gaggle for a hokey August photo op, but this year’s presidential primary couldn’t get any more boring, or at least it was up until this point. Huntsman did alright. He was actually engaging, not just glossing over when the man-on-the-street talked to him. And he spent about 20 minutes in the City Year HQ, which showed me he actually liked the idea of people helping others. There were also no gaffes. A major triumph on the trail.

Gatsas keeps Huntsman waiting, makes no commitment

If you’re a political candidate looking to gain ground in Manchester, you could do worse than to get a guided tour from Mayor Ted Gatsas.

But when former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman showed up for a walk down Elm Street with Gatsas last Wednesday, the mayor was nowhere to be found. Huntsman played it cool, heading up the stairs of City Hall to wait in the comfort of the mayor’s office. The New York Times pointed out Gatsas’ late arrival, noting he appeared a little sheepish when he rolled up in his white Mercedes-Benz.

“I was at the Kiwanis luncheon,” Gatsas told us.

After a 10-minute confab, the mayor and Huntsman emerged from City Hall. A gaggle of 15 reporters and photographers swarmed the Republican presidential candidate, and Gatsas lunged out of the way of the media members’ lenses and microphones.

Huntsman spoke about the race in general — “Polls don’t matter until the fall” — and retail politics — “We’re here meeting folks … This is how it’s done in New Hampshire” — and then he was off to meet and greet.

Huntsman spoke with a man gobbling down a slice outside of Tedy J’s and popped into the City Year offices to talk about the work the corps members will do in schools this coming year. Huntsman even took a moment to chat up another political candidate, this one running for Ward 3 moderator. Moses Sawyer, who had previously served as a poll worker in Portland, Maine, stopped with an armful of groceries to talk to the governor. The conversation ended with a soft commitment of support on both men’s part.

“I’ll follow your campaign if you follow mine,” offered Huntsman.

Sawyer agreed, vigorously shaking Huntsman’s hand. Continue reading

Primary Journals

My laptop is on the verge of death. In an attempt to save what amounts to the last four years of my life, I am making the slow and painful transfer of my files over to my husband’s way better Mac. While doing this work, I came across some of the photos I took during the 2008 presidential primary race and knew I had to post them. At that time, I worked for Campaigns and Elections Magazine running one of its start-up news blogs. Mine was about New Hampshire politics. I did all the coverage, took my own photos, posted all the supporting material on the site, including calendars, links, other news. These shots I took with a tiny, kind of crappy point-and-shoot.

Taken in August 2007, this is one of the best shots I snagged during the entire campaign. I was sitting in the Executive Council chambers at the New Hampshire State House waiting for New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to join then South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson to announce the South Carolina Republican Primary would be held on January 19. It was classic political theater. Dawson wanted to show respect for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status, but at the same time announced a date so early that New Hampshire would have to hold its primary before Jan. 12 (this timing being required by law of course).

Here, Dawson is at the podium, Gardner is on the right and Portsmouth state Rep. Jim Splaine, the guy who wrote before mentioned state primary law, is on the left. Seated on the right closest to the podium is New Hampshire Union Leader senior political reporter John DiStaso and to the right of him is the Union Leader chief State House reporter, Tom Fahey.

Not wanting to miss his announcement (or lose my seat) I was nervous about getting up to grab a shot. Instead, I put the camera in the center of the long, glass-topped conference table and clicked this shot on the first try. Continue reading