brian on 2004.01.26
at 02:56 pm
As promised, here's the complete story of our Day with Dean. Pictures of our trip are here.
We woke early on got on the road to attempt to catch Dean's "Women for Dean" Town Meeting on the campus of Southern New Hampshire University which started at 9:30am. Map Quest said it would take an hour to get to that part of Manchester (Hooksett). When we left Boston, the Saab said it was 6° Woohoo!
The goal for the day was to see Dean in person, listen to him speak in person. We have recently cemented our support for the Governor, and had contributed our first money to any political campaign. Now we needed to see him in person.
When we arrived at SNHU, we could see Dean people. Making our way to the venue, we saw the CSPAN crew, who were covering the event live. I was afraid the single digit temps wouldn't be healthy for my camera, so I kept it in my pocket. When we got to the door, we along with a crowd of others were told by an official-acting person that the room was full, the overflow room was overflowing, and that he was very sorry to have to turn us away. So many more people showed up than they had expected.
We turned back with advice that the Student Center (large pic ) would have facilities for a rest stop. We also found it had a big screen TV and a plasma-widescreen TV, both which were quickly then tuned to CSPAN. We were one of the first in the room. Which was itself full by the time the event came on. Also in the room were reporters from CNN, NBC and some other outlet who was rude enough to participate in a conference call to his fellow media-ites while everyone was trying to listen to the speech. I hope this isn't what all reporters do when they're supposed to be listening to a speech and dutifully reporting back to the American public. It would however explain the major gaffes in reporting from Dean events: he speaks intelligently for an hour on topic, with ease, and they reference one obscure line, out of context, then replay the "Concession Speech."
Dean's remarks were on "Women's Issues" but his best line was perhaps that Women's Issues are everyone's issues. We often forget that we're all connected. Howard outlined what steps he took in Vermont to address issues that need attention nationwide. Innovative, successful, almost obvious. But they're not obvious until someone with vision comes out to put them into action. His record in Vermont is solid: health care for children, dramatic drops in domestic violence, and of course more, all while producing balanced budgets in each year he was in office.
Judy Dean was also great, if not brief in her introduction. Of course, she's not running for office, but we would be privileged to have her as First Lady. Her charm is evident, her bashfulness fits great with her intelligence. Unfortunately, she had to read her remarks from a Sony VAIO. Well, I'm glad she was able to speak anyway ;-)
After the speech was over, we spoke with some others at the Student Center to discover Dean was going to meet with volunteers at the HQ on Elm Street in Manchester at 1:30pm. We were also offered VHS tapes of the Sawyer-Deans interview, which we had already seen. We broke for the car. A quick look at the atlas showed that we could get there easily.
This was our first trip into Manchester. A nice little city. Clean and open. It would be a nice place to eek out a living. Elm Street is the main street of Manchester. We saw many candidates' signs, and more Dean people walking the street with their signage. We saw a few Kerry people, and even some LaRouche people. We ran the length of the main drag, and didn't see the HQ. We turned around to find the HQ's sign, hidden behind a coach bus. Ah ha. Parking (free, garaged parking in a city? That's unheard of to Bostonians!)
We came into the HQ (big pic), and signed in. We were told by the weblog that they had too many volunteers. The people inside said they could never have to many. They wanted to send us out to canvass, that is knock on doors. I had no problem with the 'walking in the cold' part, but neither of us were comfortable with going door-to-door. We're not pushy people. We looked for another way to help. There was a lot of standing around for us. We spoke to a few people, asking for an alternative way of helping. To no avail. We decided to stay until Dean arrived, and if nothing reared its head, we'd get out of the way of the other volunteers. Karen Hicks took the stage to rev up the canvassers. She looked much shorter when she was on level ground.
The hall was crowed with SEIU volunteers who had come from New York State (NYC, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo). Their energy was infectious. Student groups came from the University of Virginia, and Columbia. There was a small group of kids from Chicago, who had a grooving, hip-hop cheer for Dean. and a few random people from California, including a higher-up from the SEIU Los Angeles, and another guy in the crowd from Oakland. One guy from Oklahoma.
Whilst we waited, by an enormous pile of Sawyer-Dean interview VHS tapes (big pic), we were approached by a news crew. They asked if we could be interviewed. We told them that we weren't locals, nor were we really being productive volunteers. They didn't seem to mind. They were from Nantucket, TV 22. I can't seem to find them on the web, though, which makes me wonder. Anyhow, it was a very nice interview, we both felt we did really well. Of course, I'm very comfortable speaking, since its part of my job (half retail, half tech training...). We spoke about why we came, what our political background was. That's basically none, other than being informed, and a little self-campaigning loosely affiliated with the Greens on behalf of Nader in 2000 while I was in college.
The Dean people seemed to think we did well, as well. After the interview, Jeremy, one of the more official Dean volunteers came over to us. He explained that he was the media-minder. He said when the media swings by, they ask him if there's anyone around to speak with. We had done a good job, with a positive and friendly tone, and he wanted to know if we could be someone he could point the media to for more interviews. We said that we were looking for something to do to help, that didn't involve knocking on doors, and that interviews would be perfect. We were happy to help!
He said to hang around, and as the media came in with Dean, he'd point people over to us.
The hall filled to capacity when the time for the Governor's appearance neared. (big pic)We had to get on chairs to see the stage. The crowd was being warmed up by various campaign and Union people with chants and songs. Then the Governor came and the place erupted. (big pic)Very emotional connection between him and the volunteers. Judy seems to be getting a little more comfortable with the chants of "JUDY!-JUDY!" I guess someone could get used to that. Her quiet, supportive presence was felt, even though she didn't say anything.
The Governor pepped up the troops, but in true Dean style, didn't gloss over the facts.(big pic) He said that we were in second place, and it was possible to make up the ground, but he wasn't going to outright say it would happen. He's a realist, and doesn't BS. This is what attracts me to him the most. He said if you can go out there and knock on the doors, we could make it, but it was up to us.
After about 5-10 minutes of thank-yous and chants and pep, the Governor was swept away towards his next appearance. We stuck around to see if there would be any more interviews. The crowd poured out of the hall, many to board busses back to NY, and others to knock on more doors. The press left as well. After the hall was nearly empty, we took a few quick pictures (see the gallery), and spoke with Jeremy again. "It looks like the press left with the Governor." It seems our "calling" had been short lived. After getting the impression we could do no more, we decided to pack it in, and try to find some lunch. We hadn't eaten since 7am, not much at that, it was around 3 at this point, and we hit the road. We'll look to help out again, but not likely before the NH polls open tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get to help with the Mass for Dean movement, locally.
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