Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Alums about New Hampshire

John Stockton ’68 and Henry Von Kohorn ’66 snuck into the Sen. Barack Obama Concord High School rally with press passes around their necks. Neither works for a media outlet, but they had learned that planning on getting in could be risky, especially with the Obama and Clinton events often spilling over into overflow rooms.

The pair couldn’t vote during the primary, neither lives in New Hampshire, yet they came because, according to Von Kohorn, “We’re political junkies.” They intended to see as many candidates as possible, and by Jan. 4 they had seen former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

There are many Princeton alumni in New Hampshire for the primary working for the campaigns, covering the politics or just watching the melee in addition to the 607 alumni who live here.

Melissa Haris-Lacewell, professor of politics and African-American studies, said “Everywhere I look … our school is part of it, right in the mix of everything that’s going on nationally.

Like the current Princeton students who traveled up to volunteer during the last six days before primary, many alumni, old and young, work within the campaigns. Chris Lu ’88 is Obama’s legislative director and on the Republican side Alex Maugery ’07 works for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Craig Robinson ’83 is supporting Obama, but perhaps for a different reason from the other voters. Obama is his brother-in-law. Robinson’s fellow Princeton basketball alum, Bill Bradley ’65, endorsed Obama on Monday morning and campaigned for him at three sites the day before the primary.

Bradley, himself a former presidential candidate, said, before a crowd of about 100 outside the “Obama for America” Concord field office, “I believe that Barack Obama is what the country needs.”

He described Obama as embracing a politics not restrained by issues of “red or blue” but rather recognizes “the good in people” and can engage them. Bradley described red versus blue as a lie and felt that Obama’s disregard for that idea would allow him to reform democracy.

He added, “Princeton supports Obama.”

Princeton’s other most recent presidential candidate, Ralph Nader ’55, supported Edwards during the Iowa caucus, directing voters to “giv[e] him a victory.”

Perhaps the most visible Princetonian during the New Hampshire debate was not a candidate but the moderator Charles Gibson ’65, host of ABC World News with Charles Gibson. The Republican and Democratic debates ran 90 minutes back to back, with Gibson offering a question and then quietly allowing the candidates to interact with each other.

Dugald McConnell ’93, a producer for CNN, is also covering the New Hampshire primary. McConnell, who’s covered campaigns in the past, noted one major change in the way the media is covering the contest. McConnell noted there is “Less of journalist intervention, filter, and analysis and more of simply putting direct material on the internet for anyone to see and read and make whatever of it they will.”

He added “I’ve seen a number of Princeton alums out on the trails.”

Clinton, McCain Pull Off Stunning Upsets

Barack Obama with wife Michelle '85

Nashua, N.H., 1:14 a.m.- Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama with a stunning upset in Tuesday night’s New Hampshire primary, breathing new life into her White House bid following her third-place finish in the Iowa Caucus Jan. 3. John McCain took first place in the Republican primary, marking an incredible comeback for a campaign left for dead just weeks ago.

Clinton’s victory in the first-in-the-nation primary marked an impressive comeback following her disappointing third-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses on Jan. 3. The race for the democratic nomination is now a tight one between the former first lady and the freshman Illinois senator.

McCain’s victory on the Republican side left the future of the GOP race uncertain as well.

The night delivered Mitt Romney his second loss of the early primary season. It marked the first time a current or former Massachusetts governor or senator did not win the primary in the neighboring Granite State. The evening set up a rematch between McCain and Romney in the Michigan primary just one week away.

On a day with unusually warm temperatures, New Hampshire voters went to their polling places in record numbers. New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner predicted last week that voters could cast more than 500,000 ballots, shattering the previous record of 396,000 ballots cast in 2000.

With nearly 96 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton beat out Obama 39%-36%, with John Edwards finishing a distant third at 17%. On the Republican side, McCain took 37% to Romney’s 32%. Mike Huckabee, victor in the Iowa Caucuses last Thursday, finished third with 11%.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Princetonians join Clinton for campaign finish

(Back, from left: Regina Lee ’08, Julia Kaplan ’11, Peri Rosenstein ’08. Front: Molly O’Connor '11, Jack Ackerman ’11)

Manchester, N.H., 9:30 p.m. - They’re due at work by 4:45 a.m., but tonight five Princeton undergrads made their way to Hillary Clinton’s final rally before polls open in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary tomorrow morning.

The students have logged long hours over the last four days as they canvassed the state’s snow-covered neighborhoods, phoned into countless homes to shore up support and stood on streets corners with yard signs to provide “viz” for the New York senator’s campaign.

Tonight they joined hundreds of other Clinton supporters in a large warehouse near the Manchester airport as Clinton, joined by her husband and daughter, thanked voters for their support and stressed the importance of getting out the vote.

At one point in her speech, Clinton began saying that “I know what it’ll take … [to be president]” but was interrupted by a male supporter who shouted “A woman!” to loud cheers.

Just like the Clinton rally at Nashua North on Sunday morning, a steady stream of people left the rally starting less than 15 minutes after it began. By the end supporters had steadily made their way forward to fill in the gaps. Nonetheless, most of those in attendance showed their support in what is likely to be an uphill battle tomorrow against frontrunner Barack Obama.

Other pictures from this evening’s rally:

McCain and Obama win (the first vote)

Dixville Notch, a town of 24 with 17 registered voters, opened the polls at 12:01 a.m. today Jan. 8, the first vote in the New Hampshire primary. They declared McCain and Obama the winners seven minutes later. Dixville Notch has voted just after midnight since 1960. They file in and vote by placing their ballots in a ballot box.


McCain - 4, Romney - 2, Giuliani - 1

Obama - 7, Edwards - 2, Richardson - 1

Sprint To The Finish: The Polls

NASHUA, N.H., 6:52 p.m. - The Democratic race in New Hampshire was turned upside down this after Barack Obama's victory in Iowa, according to the latest polls among Granite State Democrats. The Illinois senator leads by anywhere from one to 13 points in each of the 15 polls published since the results from the Caucuses came in.

New polls out today by CNN and Rasmussen show Obama with a 10-point lead over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, while polls by CBS News and Marist show the lead at seven points and eight points, respectively. A Suffolk/WHDH poll shows Obama with a one-point lead over his New York counterpart. Former Sen. John Edwards is a distant third in each race.

On the Republican side, polls by the same organizations show Arizona Sen. John McCain with a steady lead over rival Mitt Romney. Romney had been losing ground to McCain since Christmas, and a tough loss to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee last Thursday made matters worse. CNN shows the Arizona senator with a six-point lead over the former Massachusetts governor, while Marist shows him with a four-point edge. Suffolk/WHDH numbers show a three-point spread between the two with McCain leading, while Rasmussen has McCain's lead at just one point, well within the margin of error.

Sprint To The Finish: The Events

NASHUA, N.H., 6:51 p.m. - The polls in New Hampshire open in just under 12 hours, and frontrunners from both parties are sprinting to the finish. As the sun sets on a relatively warm winter night, Democratic and Republican candidates continue to crisscross the state, rallying their troops and wooing undecided voters.

On the GOP side, Mitt Romney will make stops in Bedford and Manchester, while McCain ends his final full day of campaigning with a stop in Portsmouth. Later tonight, Mike Huckabee will make an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman." Last week, Huckabee traded jokes and displayed his guitar skills on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" the night before the Iowa Caucuses.

Among the Democrats, John Edwards will hit Dover, Somersworth, Manchester and Durham tonight. Hillary Clinton will hold a final rally at the Manchester airport and Obama will wrap up his campaign with an event in Concord.

Bradley ’65: Country needs Obama

He is legend inside Dillon Gym. His number hangs from the rafters at Madison Square Garden. And today, Bill Bradley ’65 threw his support behind Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign one day before voters go to the polls in New Hampshire.

The announcement took place outside Obama’s Concord campaign office, the same facility Bradley used for his campaign headquarters during his presidential run in 2000. Originally scheduled indoors, the 15-minute event took place outside because the crowd of more than 100, most of them under the age of 30, couldn’t fit inside.

“I believe that Barack Obama is what the country needs,” Bradley declared. “I feel very much like this is history. We can be part of history.”

Bradley said Obama practices the “politics of greater possibilities” and credited him with being able to see the “broader picture.”

“When you look at Barack, we can see how far we’ve come as a country,” he said. “And that allows us to see how much further we can go.”

Bradley added that politicians today have to reach out to the broadest possible number of Americans and let them know they can be a part of the answer to the problems facing the country.

Bradley jokingly pointed out that, with his announcement, half of the four highest-scoring basketball players in Princeton history support the Obama candidacy. The other is Craig Robinson ’83. His sister is Barack's wife, Michelle Robinson Obama ’85.

"Princeton is for Obama," Bradley said with a smile, referencing the Illinois senator's many ties to the University.

The Obama supporters spent much of the afternoon holding signs along the town’s main drag, and they were joined by volunteers from nearly every other Democratic and Republican campaign. The competitive shouting between campaigners and constant horn-honking from drivers showing their support made for a rather chaotic situation.

Working for the Votes: McCain

Just two of the 20 PACE Center volunteers in New Hampshire are campaigning for Republicans. Bryan Gergen '08 and Chris Nenno '08 are campaigning for Arizona Sen. John McCain. We met them in McCain’s Nashua field office after they returned from a short McCain rally this morning. Short being the operative word, as McCain only spoke for two minutes, 40 seconds before moving on to his next event on this the last full day of campaigning.

The office was on the second floor of a building with more people than it could support. Volunteers were standing in the hallways and outside other companies’ doors to make phone calls encouraging voters to choose John McCain. That was what Bryan and Chris were doing this morning, contacting people who had expressed that they were divided between supporting McCain or another candidate. Sometimes they received answering machines, and other times they reached supporters of other campaigns, ranging from New York Sen. Hillary Clinton to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Yet they also had success , finding supporters to whom they offered rides to the polls. Each answering machine message ended with the phrase “This call was paid for by John McCain 2008.” Sometimes the people in the room sounded like they were speaking in a round.

The Daily Princetonian Moves Primetime

After the back of Matt Westmoreland's head ended up on the cover of The New York Times yesterday, you might have thought the 'Prince' had reached the pinnacle of national press coverage, but no. Today C-SPAN fed footage of Matt and me talking with Michelle Obama '85 about Old Nassau and the nation's favorite source for Princeton news, The Daily Princetonian.

More Potential First Spouses

In the film "Primary Colors," which tells the story of the 1992 presidential campaign, the character representing Bill Clinton stays late into the night talking to a worker at a small donut shop. This evening I saw what that characterization was based on. At a small event with perhaps 75 people, former President Clinton gave a speech encouraging people to vote for his wife and finished it by taking questions from anyone in the audience who wanted to ask one. I asked him about youth turnout in Iowa and how the Clinton campaign was planning to encourage turnout. He said, “She’s been doing a lot of events here, around the country … the Obama campaign simply did a better outreach.”

While Hillary never mentioned Iowa, Bill noted failures in Iowa and encouraged New Hampshire to have its own campaign and not simply follow Iowa’s results. He also spoke a great deal about his own presidency, comparing his record on jobs with that of President Bush’s and promising Hillary would offer a return to more prosperous times.

His audience was young, perhaps because it was located in a bar and in a university town. They were an excited crowd, though some started filtering out before the end. President Clinton stayed on even after the end of his remarks, having individual discussions among the mass of people who approached him.