I'm dropping Fiona off at a friends house before returning to the final push in the New Hampshire primaries. As can be expected when campaigning with youngsters, we again, got off to a late start. Yet the weather is beautiful, sunny, between 50 and 60. Today, we've been working out of the Salem office, which provides a sharp contrast to Claremont. Claremont is a small office. Salem is perhaps smaller in size, but is close to the Massachusetts border and has been packed with volunteers.
Kim, Fiona and I went out for a final day of canvasing. Fiona did a great job of speaking to voters, expressing her hope that they were going to vote for John Edwards, if they haven't already. Voters were friendly. Many had already voted. Most had already made up their minds. However, we are hoping to make sure all of those that want John Edwards actually make it to the voting booths and anyone who is still swayable seriously considers John.
It was a well to do neighborhood we visited, and there were a lot of Clinton supporters, quite a few Edwards supporters, and surprisingly few Obama supporters. The word we are hearing is that undecideds and weak Hillary supporters are breaking for John. The office has made an incredible amount of calls and there were no signs of supporters of other candidates out canvasing or door knocking. There were a bunch of Hillary supporters at the voting place we passed, and there was one lone McCain supporter doing visibility at a busy intersection.
All of this is based on what I saw in one small part of Salem and overheard others saying, and I have no idea how things will turn out when the votes are counted, other than expecting another record turnout.
At the campaign office, I chatted with volunteers from places like New Jersey and California. One of the discussions were about how lucky voters in New Hampshire are to have the first primary, even though some of the people we were calling, might wonder how lucky they are when they get their thirtieth phone call. There were discussions about whether other states should have an opportunity to be first in the nation, and about how seriously the folks in New Hampshire take their voting.
I suggested that perhaps a good way to work things out is that states with the highest turnout should get the chance to be the early primary states in the following election cycle. The idea was well received and I think addresses nicely the question of how seriously different states take their primaries.
The other interesting thing to note. Reports are starting to kick around about a Clinton cash crunch. It is hard to believe, considering how much money she has raised. However, reports are that she spent between $15 and $25 million in Iowa, all to get around fifteen delegates. When all is said and done, Obama, Edwards, and Clinton will all receive about the same number of delegates from Iowa. It will be interesting to see how many each candidate gets out of New Hampshire. With the votes being as close as they are, and the small number of delegates assigned so far, it is a long way until the convention. People are even starting to talk about a brokered convention.
Back to the delegates and the math. If Hillary did get 15 delegates after spending $15 million, at that rate, she would need to spend over $2 billion dollars to get enough delegates to win the nomination. No wonder there is talk of a cash crunch. I haven't heard reports of exactly how much Obama has spent but it looks like John Edwards is clearly getting the most delegates per dollar. It is a good illustration of how the system can be changed to be less dependent on big dollars from lobbyists for irresponsible corporations.
This gets back to the underlying question. Everyone is for change. The question is, what sort of change. Having a black man as President would be a change. Having a woman as a President would be change. Having a person who is spending money effectively and wisely and focusing on a message of standing up for the middle class would be a very big change.
There is plenty more to be said about this and all that is going on here in New Hampshire, but it is time for me to get back to the canvasing and phonebanking. I'm happy to be using a little elbow grease to get the message out, instead of paying large amounts to the corporate owned media.
For years, the people of New Hampshire have argued back and forth how to fund an adequate education for every child. These discussions have ended up in the New Hampshire Supreme court, and have been known as the Claremont Decisions. Tomorrow, the people of Claremont will go to the polls to decide on who they want to be the Democratic standard bearer.
This morning at 6:30, Sen. Edwards stopped by at the Tumble Inn Diner to make his case to the people of Claremont. Even at 6:30 in the morning, the diner was packed with crowds overflowing outside. Afterwards, there was a brief press availablity and now Sen. Edwards has headed off to his next event in the action packed day before the primary.
For more pictures, check this set of pictures on Flickr
Kim and I got up early. I mean real early. It was 2 AM when the alarm went off and we started our last minute scramble to get out the door. Destination: Manchester, NH, to welcome Sen. Edwards after his strong showing in Iowa and to prepare for the final days of campaigning before the New Hampshire primary. Fiona woke up and came down stairs, all ready to go.
It was cold and dark as we drove up. At times, the dashboard read as low as three degrees. Fiona fell asleep in the back seat, and I rested as much as I could in the passengers seat. In our rush to get out the door, we accidently left the directions back in Connecticut. We used Google Mobile to get us close, but then drove around in circles for a while in Manchester trying to find the rally.
Kim was wearing a Healthcare Voter T-Shirt she had gotten from some SEIU members at a rally the last time she was up here canvasing in New Hampshire. One of the organizers saw it and asked Kim and Fiona to get up on the stage to stand behind Sen. Edwards.
As we waited, various staffers lead the crowd in various cheers. Fiona spoke with one of them and got to lead a cheer for the whole crowd. The staffer helping her with this was wonderful, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Afterwards, Fiona spoke with various members of the press talking about how she was six years old, had gotten up at 2:30 to come up from Connecticut and about how much she likes Sen. Edwards.
Afterwards, we headed out to breakfast and Kim explained how lucky she was to get to be on the stage with Sen. Edwards and to lead people in cheers for him.
Check the video below to see the lead up to the cheer and Blip.TV for more videos from the event. I'll put them up on YouTube when I get a chance as well. Also, check out some of the pictures I took and posted on Flickr.
There are a lot of people up here pumped up for four exciting days of campaigning. If you can make it to New Hampshire, please come!
A few years ago, we were heading up to a family reunion. As we explained the purpose of our trip to Fiona, she asked, “Who died?” Our extended family gathers too rarely, and typically only at funerals, which over the past few years have been a bit too frequent. We told this story at our most recent family reunion, the wake and funeral for my Uncle Fred.
Fiona is getting older now, and she understands these events better. She went over and gave Uncle Fred’s oldest granddaughter a great big hug saying it looked like she needed one. Fiona understands very well the importance of grandparents in people’s lives.
Later, at my cousin’s house, she came to understand that this was a cousin she had hugged. In this case, a second cousin, a nuance few understand or really care all that much about. For Fiona, what mattered is that she found new cousins to play with, and there are few things as important to her as playing with her cousins.
Everyone seemed to have a good time, and it made me think a bit more about the family dynamics. I’ve always felt a little awkward and out of place at our family gatherings. My mother was the youngest of seven children, and I was her next to youngest child. This meant that all of my cousins on my mother’s side were older than me, and I always felt like my older cousins viewed me as either a toy or an annoyance. Neither role was one that I particularly enjoyed.
This time, however, things felt different. We talked about what a hard year 2007 had been for so many of us. We laughed about cellphones that had been dropped in chicken soup, we talked about healthcare and politics, and as Fiona played on the couch with her cousins, we were all family.
I will miss Uncle Fred, though probably not as much as his children and grandchildren will. I thought of the great line from John Donne.
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
All of us are diminished by the passing of Uncle Fred. Yet as I listened to his granddaughter talk about how much he will be missed, I reflected on how we all carry part of Uncle Fred with us. For Rae, Uncle Fred was that part of the family where there was always compassion, forgiveness, a caring hand to help, and a smile to laugh. We all need people like that in our lives.
So, what I take away from this funeral is that while I can never become the father or grandfather to my cousins that they have lost in the passing of Fred, I can at least try to bring some of his compassion, forgiveness, caring and laughter to them, and to everyone I meet. We can all do that, and take the tolling of the bell of sadness and transform it to peals of joy. I will do my part, will you do yours?
So, Fiona will enjoy playing with her cousins, and to these cousins, I say, “I am here to help in whatever way I can.’
Rest in Peace, Uncle Fred.