It’s easy to forget, but there’s a big chunk of New Hampshire that exists cheek-by-jowl with Vermonters that live on opposite sides of the Connecticut River valley. It’s a demographic the state doesn’t quite know what to do with; the urban centers (such as they are) are lumped in with mountain recluse compound-dwellers to form the Fifth State Senate District. Fifty thousand people live right along here; two thirds are Pantsuit Nation loyalists and the rest vote MAGA. There might be a moderate somewhere but if so he’s in hiding. The only reason there isn’t open war is only the MAGA faction is armed — and they just want to be left the hell alone.
You couldn’t pay me enough to canvass for a Democrat outside city limits.
We arrived with plenty of time to spare, but even so Griff couldn’t park near the door. I was so wrecked with fatigue and caffeine I didn’t dare walk, so he dropped me off and went to find a parking spot.
The immediate reaction of the volunteers doing intake was that I was a dangerous drunken homeless bum; no doubt my McGovern/Eagleton pin didn’t reassure them any. But I remained more or less lucid through check-in, which involved some insanity with a cell phone and dog’s picture. One sadistically insistent candy-striper reject forced me through an eProcess that now has Warren’s people texting me every two days to remind me to vote early in every state in the Union, which I’m pretty sure isn’t legal except maybe in Chicago.
Somehow I made it to my seat. I was one of the privileged few; the press (as always) was segregated in a taped-off area against the back wall, and everyone else was packed together in the middle of the gymnasium floor. And here I was, seated off in a back corner with the dignitaries, the elderly, and the infirm — and safely out of line of sight of the candidate.
Which, as it turns out, is fine. There’s too many of us to just raise hands for questions, so they drew lots. (Hm… wonder why I didn’t get a ticket at the door… making a note…)
An aside: You can tell a lot about a candidate by the people they get to introduce them. This one’s a tired old ward-heeler who has no clue how bad he looks in that suit. The crowd is (of course) uniformly white and middle-aged; everyone but me is well-off. Elizabeth Warren looks like your favorite math teacher; so does half the audience. Everyone’s well-dressed; everyone’s got all their teeth. You can see them flash whenever she says, “I’ve got a plan for that!” and everyone laughs and claps.
Which she does, often. Check out her site and you can read them all; they’re up for public review. Most make good sense. Heck, you can even see how she plans to fund each plan, in more or less detail depending on just how long that particular idea has been hers. (She makes a point of adopting the good ones from everyone that drops out; I wonder if she’ll seize on UBI if Yang goes home.) I’m not going to detail her stump speech for you; you should listen for yourself.
Because Warren is an amazingly charismatic speaker. She’s got the rhythms right; she’s got her go-to jokes and dog stories in case she needs a boost or starts losing the crowd. And she’s got her loyalists seeded throughout the audience; you can tell the volunteers, because not only do they have buttons instead of stickers, they’re actually young and waving signs. But I sense that even if she didn’t have a single loyalist here, she’d own this crowd. She’s just that damn good.
This is the fire I’ve been looking for. Gabbard has a little; Yang has some; Bernie has a tiny bit that he works to hell and gone. Warren has tons. She’s sharp; she’s energetic; she’s brilliant — and she’s feisty as hell. Put her on a debate stage with Trump and she wins hands-down. It’s not charisma exactly; it’s sincere passion — and the difference is plain.
But her campaign… Honestly, I can’t for the life of me figure out what they’re trying to do here in New Hampshire. They’re certainly not aiming for a win. Maybe milking fundraisers? Not a clue.
To be fair, she’s been stuck in that farce of an impeachment trial, and while she was her surrogates (including her dog!) worked overtime. But after weeks in Iowa (and D.C.) she’s got two events scheduled in her stronghold cities here in the 5th and nothing whatsoever in the populous south. And she’s doing absolutely nothing to pique the interest of the (undeniably jaded) press. There is no story here and precious few undecided voters — though the few thousand here? 110% hers; she’s preaching to the choir.
And judging solely by the density of lawn signs? The Warren campaign has given up on New Hampshire. They moved on two weeks ago; their crew has apparently bypassed Nevada and South Carolina, and they’re concentrating on Super Tuesday states already. I just got a notification about a Warren town hall event in Virginia that I might like to attend.
Elizabeth Warren appears to be running for Vice President.
NOTE: Later, I had it quietly confirmed that question tickets were reserved for a pre-selected group of about 50 people screened by the event organizers. This is pretty normal.