Living in New Hampshire and having a newfound interest in politics I have twice pledged to be a more engaged reporter in presidential politics. 2015 was a dream season. Open primaries in both parties, a boatload of candidates, lots of issues. Yet, I stayed home most of the time.
Part of the reason for my non-involvement is a lack of enthusiasm for most candidates. Donald Trump eclipsed everything. I can't jump on his bandwagon but I love his style, his candor and his courage. Furthermore, like Sarah Palin I grew disgusted with the GOP candidates who would only speak out on issues AFTER Trump lead the way. I have had enough of jellyfish Republicans, thank you very much.
I turned out for Pataki's kickoff and then, nada. So earlier today (1/20/2016) I went to a Ted Cruz meet and greet at Exeter Town Hall. I play a game with myself where I try to blend in with different groups: the campaign, the press, the partisans, the townies. I chatted with a Dem videographer who had been asked to leave. I talked to two guys who denied any affiliation but I suspect were Larouchians. One was in a VATMAN suit with a sign denouncing Cruz's Vat tax. The other held a sign that labeled Cruz a friend of Snowden.
I chatted with Phillips Exeter's Ladies hockey coach. Great guy. Spent some time chatting with a woman who yesterday stood outside in 14 degree weather at the state capitol to pray with Franklin Graham. There were other conspicuous Christians in the crowd.
I have met Cruz's point man in NH, Ethan somethingother. I made a point of addressing him by name and we shook hands and I spent some time standing in his proximity with other campaign people, mimicking their body language and looking official. I was able to briefly chat with former Senator Bob Smith who is a magnet for reporters.
The boys and girls on the press bus know each other but there are always stragglers and newbies and local yokos and you can sit with them and act disinterested and bored and text some messages and you will fit right in.
Cruz's speech was exactly what I expected. He looked tired getting off the bus but after speaking he got fired up. Spoke for at least fifteen minutes without note or prompter. Answered questions for a sleepy morning crowd.
I would estimate spectators at 150-200. Cruz campaign would be about 25-50. Press would be 25-50. Guesses more or less.
As mentioned I can blend in pretty well. When the Pataki Campaign was at the same venue, a warm spring wind blew over a cardboard "Pataki" sign, some jackass pointed at me and told me to pick it up, even though I wasn't adorned in a blue polo shirt like all the other P-men. I stayed in character and assisted the campaign. Didn't much like following orders from the jerk but I felt satisfied that I looked the part.
So I was chitchatting with some straggler partisans and a "New York Times" reporter asked if we could talk. She had rightly identified me as a spectator-partisan and that bothered me a little bit. I agreed to sit with her and a voice inside me reminded me of my principles, such as they are. I believe candidates--and civilians as well--should shun the dinosaur media. They are the enemy. Trump is heroic for standing up to our overlords. A polite request and my principles go out the window.
I sat down feeling as if I had entered a chess match. She was going to make me out to be either a foam at the mouth racist or a movie extra who hasn't worked a day since they stopped shooting "Deliverance." First rule of walking through a minefield is to remove the clown shoes.
I could make excuses that I did not have time to eat breakfast or that the coffee shop across the street was temporarily closed or that I was not expecting to joust with a reporter from "NYT." This woman was good at what she did. She did not immediately talk about issues. She asked about New Hampshire quality of life, my life and how I ended up in New England. We were still talking when all the other chairs were folded up and put away.
For two days I have replayed our conversation paranoid about getting misquoted, wondering why she asked me certain questions, wondering if my unprepared or off the cuff answers would translate well into print (or electronic text.) Quite possibly I will be left on the cutting room floor and that would be fine with me. In the meantime I still replay our conversation, that reporter's interview technique and how I might be treated by The Gray Lady.
Maybe I am not cut our for the pressures of the public life.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
I think this might be as wacky as Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball. As recently as June 11, 2015 Larry Sabato identified three and only three viable GOP candidates: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. Don't change your name to Jeremiah just yet, Larry.
The London bookies love Hillary for some reason.
The London bookies love Hillary for some reason.