Mitch Perry’s Postcards from New Hampshire

New Hampshire

Greetings from Milford, New Hampshire!

Sunday, Feb 7

6:00 a.m.-

I should begin this post by saying this is me, Mitch Perry, writing. There were additional short stories posted on the blog yesterday that weren’t written by me  – just to set the record straight.

There are just two days of full campaigning left here in New Hampshire before it’s all over – and all of these undecided voters have to finally make up their minds and commit to a candidate.

Much has been written locally here about how a voter who is a registered independent can vote either Democrat or Republican on Tuesday, and I’m amazed about how many voters I’ve spoken who mention that they’re contemplating candidates from both major parties.

We’re looking forward to seeing Marco Rubio today. The Florida Senator has three scheduled events today, including a Super Bowl viewing party in Manchester at 4:30 p.m.

Rubio was eviscerated during a five-minute exchange last night with Chris Christie, as no doubt you have seen/read by now.

If nothing else, maybe all the folks pissed at Mike Murphy will give it a rest? The attitude among some Republicans has been that Jeb Bush and his Right to Rise super PAC are laying the groundwork to doom their best general election candidate, which they consider to be Rubio.

I guess they’ll blame Christie now.

Marco did return some fire in that blistering back and forth, nailing Christie for being M.I.A. initially when that major snowstorm hit the Northeast two weeks ago. I spoke with a voter at a Christie town hall in Keene on Thursday who said he couldn’t believe how inept such a usually adroit pol like Cristie was in making that mistake.

All right – we’re about to go run as soon as the sun comes up within the next-half hour. The temperatures this morning are in the low 20s, a tinge warmer than the 18 degree morning that I awoke to yesterday and began running. Even with gloves folks, my hands weren’t able to take more than 45 minutes of being outside in those conditions.

While all the candidates are holding town halls, most are shutting down by mid-afternoon, as the nation – and even New Hampshire political junkies – take the rest of the night off to watch Super Bowl 50 between Denver and Carolina from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Did you catch how Marco Rubio said he was now picking Carolina, after Jeb Bush said Peyton Manning had endorsed him at the end of the debate? The rivalry only grows thicker by the day!

Saturday, Feb 6

8:18 p.m.

The Republican presidential debate got off to a bumpy start Saturday when Ben Carson apparently didn’t hear his name called by the hosts from ABC News.

Carson was to come on stage second, but walked to the edge of the stage and stopped, not hearing his name. He awkwardly remained as several of his rivals walked past him to the podium.

He eventually walked out.

8:15 p.m.

Republican candidates are facing off in the season’s eighth presidential debate, this time in New Hampshire which will host the nation’s first primary on Tuesday.

Donald Trump has returned to center stage after boycotting the last debate in Iowa. The billionaire businessman is sandwiched in between his two biggest rivals, Iowa caucus winner Ted Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who finished a close third behind Trump.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are also debating as they attempt to give their candidacies a boost ahead of the Feb. 9 primary.

6:45 p.m.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous says Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has the best record and platform for black Americans.

Campaigning for Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday, Jealous called the Vermont senator “a movement candidate.”

Jealous said Sanders’ opponent, Hillary Clinton, offers a public career that is “complicated” and “contradictory.”

He said Clinton’s continued support of the death penalty, her Wall Street relationships and her vote for the Iraq invasion of 2003 each violated Martin Luther King Jr.’s standard of judging politicians on their fight against “racism, militarism and greed.”

6:00 p.m.

The daughter of Eric Garner, a black man who died in 2014 after a white New York police officer put him in a choke hold, is campaigning on behalf of Bernie Sanders in South Carolina.

Erica Garner, a burgeoning civil rights advocate since her father’s death, said Saturday she wants voters to give Sanders a second look because of his ideas to overhaul the criminal justice system, combat institutional racism and expand economic opportunity.

Polls suggest Hillary Clinton leads Sanders by a wide margin ahead of the Feb. 27 primary here. The gap comes largely from Clinton’s overwhelming advantage among black voters.

5:00 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is facing blunt questions in New Hampshire about whether Americans can trust her and her explanations for the 2012 Benghazi attacks while she served as secretary of state.

At a town hall meeting at New England College in Henniker, Clinton said Saturday that she had a long history of taking on tough issues under the glare of the public spotlight.

Clinton explained that Benghazi happened under the “fog of war” and as the attacks unfolded people worked hard on the ground to get the best understanding of what happened. She said she regretted that it had been used as a “great political issue.”

4:00 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he will continue his campaign no matter the outcome of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

Bush said in an interview with CNN on his campaign bus Saturday that the presidential race is just getting started and that he’s “in it for the long haul.”

Bush says every election is different but that none are over after the first primary.

He will join fellow Republican candidates for a debate Saturday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.

Sen. Marco Rubio heads into the debate ready for an onslaught of attacks about his experience from a trio of rivals, including Bush, whose performance Tuesday will be critical to their White House hopes.

3:20 p.m.

Marco Rubio is heading into the latest Republican debate ready for an onslaught of attacks about his experience from a trio of rivals whose performance in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary will be critical to their White House hopes.

Donald Trump will also rejoin his competitors in the debate arena Saturday night after skipping the previous faceoff in Iowa. He finished second in the Iowa caucuses and has spent the past week complaining about the result.

Iowa shook Trump’s grip on the Republican field, but he has led New Hampshire preference polls for months and the state is still seen as his to lose.

But Rubio appears to be gaining steam following his stronger-than-expected third-place Iowa finish. He has drawn big crowds and a flurry of criticism from contenders who say the first-term Florida senator lacks accomplishments.

2:40 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says America’s history is about rising and knocking down barriers and she’s asking New Hampshire voters to bring both their heads and their hearts to Tuesday’s primary.

Clinton is trailing in the state’s primary against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and is asking voters to take another look at her campaign.

Clinton was introduced by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker in Concord Saturday. He quoted from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” Clinton played off that mantra and told voters that “we will rise once again to more prosperity.”

She says voters aren’t “asking for much” but a “president who knows what it feels like.”

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made a special appeal to female voters. Albright says “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

2 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is urging dozens of volunteers to not miss knocking on any doors as they fan out across the state for a sunny Saturday of campaigning.

Standing outside his Manchester headquarters, Kasich says a quick smile and conversation with a voter can make all the difference in Tuesday’s primary.

He says his campaign can put things over the top if voters “have a sense of something special.”

Kasich says his campaign isn’t about him, but rather about making a brighter future for his supporters and their families and neighbors.

Roughly 250 Kasich volunteers are out campaigning across the state. The campaign says each volunteer has a daily goal of knocking on 100 doors and making 200 phone calls.

1:40 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is backing one of his campaign donors in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Bush said Saturday he’s rooting for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, “because he’s for me.”

Manning has contributed the maximum $2,700 to Bush’s presidential campaign.

The Broncos face the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl. That’s two days before voters go to the polls in New Hampshire.

Bush spoke and took questions from town hall participants for 90 minutes and showed energy and emotion in front of the more than 700 people jammed into the Bedford school.

He was introduced by former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, who told voters to choose “George Bush — I mean, Jeb Bush.” Ridge was appointed by President George W. Bush.

1:30 p.m.

Jeb Bush drew one of his largest crowds to a New Hampshire school auditorium hours before debating his Republican rivals ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

Bush spoke and took questions from town hall participants for 90 minutes Saturday. He showed energy and emotion in front of more than 700 people jammed into the Bedford school.

Bush blasted billionaire businessman Donald Trump for what he described as disparaging remarks. He says that Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were gifted speakers, but had no leadership experience.

Bush choked up when asked about drug addiction. He says he had not discussed his daughter Noelle’s fight with drugs in front of his wife, Columba, who was seated a few feet away. Bush says Noelle has been drug-free for more than 10 years.

12:25 p.m.

Bernie Sanders is expressing confidence about his chances in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

The Vermont senator addressed a crowded rally in Rindge, New Hampshire, Saturday.

He notes that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the state in 2008, but says he’s confident he’s going to win if “we can bring out a decent vote” Tuesday. Sanders leads Clinton in state polls.

Sanders offered his plans for “political revolution” to the enthusiastic room, including single-payer health care, free tuition at public universities and Wall Street reforms.

He says that the eyes of the world will know that the country is about to move in a new direction.

11:50 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says Donald Trump will be welcomed back to the debate stage “with open arms.”

At a campaign rally in Bedford Saturday, Christie jokingly thanked the crowd and said that he was thrilled that “none of you people made enough fun of Donald Trump to make him not come tonight.”

Christie is marking his 70th day in New Hampshire and continued his criticism of Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as first-term senators who aren’t ready to be president.

He says debate viewers will see a clear difference between those who are prepared to lead and those who are just continuing to talk.

The debate is Saturday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.

11:45 a.m.

Two Republican governors who share New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s experience of leading heavily Democratic states are joining him on the campaign trail.

Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts kicked off a rally for Christie in Bedford. Hogan says all three are conservatives getting things done in their states. Baker praised Christie’s determination, toughness and ability to advance his agenda by working with people who disagree with him.

Baker says the country needs a president who set an agenda on their own terms and has the capacity and ability to work with others to drive the country in the right direction.

Christie urged his supporter to work hard in the run-up to Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

11:20 a.m.

Iowa didn’t turn out the way Donald Trump wanted.

So after Trump shrouded his Iowa operations in secrecy, the Republican’s presidential campaign has opened the door to what appears to be more robust effort in New Hampshire to ensure that his supporters actually vote for him.

Trump finished second to Ted Cruz in last Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Next up is the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, and polls put Trump atop the field.

Trumps tells The Associated Press that he thinks “we’re going to have an OK ground game” in New Hampshire.

11:10 a.m.

Hillary Clinton is working hard to try to convince voters that she’s authentic. But it seems she’s having trouble earning the public’s trust.

Rival Bernie Sanders is stepping up his criticism of her Wall Street ties and raising questions about whether she’s really a liberal. His message is connecting with younger people.

They seem less interested in Clinton’s pitch as a “progressive who gets things done” than in Sanders’ call for a “political revolution.”

According to surveys of Iowa caucus-goers, it appears that questions about Clinton’s authenticity hurt her in the state.

11 a.m.

Jeff Ashcraft just wanted to know Chris Christie‘s take on U.S. policy in the Middle East.

So he tossed out the question at an event before last Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Ashcraft says his son is set to deploy to Iraq in May.

Ashcraft says the Republican presidential contender gave “probably the most detailed answer” he’s heard from a candidate so far.

But Ashcraft didn’t caucus for the New Jersey governor. Instead, he backed Marco Rubio — saying the Florida senator has a better shot at getting elected and would make a great president.

Christie has made the exchange with Ashcraft a staple of his New Hampshire stump speech. The Christie campaign says the point of the story is about the serious responsibilities of the next president.



Saturday, Feb 6 8:20 a.m.

Well, dear readers, where do I  begin in describing yesterday? Hint: It’s not about the politics.

Yesterday there what the locals are calling a “pretty decent” snowstorm. All say.

The bottom line is,  I’m sort of glad I’m still here to talk about it. And that my rental car is still working.

I had a couple of dangerous situations while driving yesterday on the extremely icy roads. Damn dangerous.

Bottom line, I was able to cover Bernie Sanders in the morning in Manchester, but I blew off driving to go see John Kasich give his 100th town hall meeting in New Hampshire, complete with an appearance by former New England Patriot star linebacker Mike Vrabel.

I did, however, find a pretty nice restaurant with great cabernet within walking distance of my motel last night (I wasn’t about to drive anywhere). It was my first non-crappy meal since I’ve been here – not that there isn’t great food around here, it’s just that I haven’t had the time to enjoy such an establishment.

I just finished a run awhile ago, in 22-degree temperatures. Let me just say I’m glad my hands are working so I can type this! Sunny skies today. Campaigning is actually going to be pretty light around the state, (though Hillary Clinton will have loads of surrogates making the rounds) as the GOP candidates (sans Carly Fiorina and Jim Gilmore) will debate for the last time before the primary. The debate takes place at Saint Anselm College. It will be broadcast by ABC and begin at 8:15 p.m.

Thursday, Feb 4 6:00 p.m.

Hello from Derry, N.H. where I’m sitting in a middle-school awaiting my first glance at seeing Jeb Bush campaigning in the Granite State. The special guest appearing with him tonight evens is his mother Barbara, who apparently volunteered to stump for her son in perhaps the most important week of his political career.

No presidential candidate has campaigned more in Florida this cycle than Bush, and it’s not even close. Marco Rubio has made a few appearances in Miami, but Bush has made several in the Tampa Bay area alone.

Bush has maintained that he’s not about to leave the race anytime soon, but the question I keep on thinking about is: will he even still be in the race when Florida votes next month?

Earlier today, we arrived early at a town hall meeting in Keane to check out a Chris Christie town hall. You can read about that here.

Wednesday, Feb 3 4:24 p.m.

Jeb Bush is obviously putting everything on the line here in New Hampshire. And on the attack. And you can’t help see it and hear it wherever you go here in the Granite State.

On an hour long drive back from Laconia to Nashua this afternoon, I heard the Right to Rise ad on WRKO radio in Boston that attempts to eviscerate Marco Rubio for among other things, his “credit-card scandal.” Whether that message can be effectively delivered in a 60-second ad is questionable, but you can see the TV version while watching the Morning Show on the CBS-Boston television affiliate as well.

There was also a stark red billboard with white letters on I-293 (also paid for by Right to Rise) of Jeb Bush denouncing Donald Trump.

“‘Donald Trump is unhinged’ —Jeb Bush,” it reads.

And oh, I forgot – there’s also that full-page ad in today’s New Hampshire Union Leader  highlighting the number of Florida leaders backing Bush over Rubio.

Will it work?

Will find out in six days.

Wednesday, Feb. 3 9:50 p.m.

Hard rains pounded the entire state of New Hampshire for much of the day and early evening, making it scary at times to be driving on the main interstates. It’s actually relatively toasty (mid-50’s) to close out the evening.

Two hours before Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders engaged in a town hall with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in Derry, Clinton addressed an adoring crowd in a middle-school gymnasium in Manchester. Here’s that report.

Tuesday, Feb. 2.

I’m writing this on my laptop at 6:08 p.m., having (finally) acquired Wi-Fi access, sitting in a pen with other reporters here in Milford to see Donald Trump in less than an hour.

For the next week, this reporter will be covering as many of the events as we can get to (and can get into) here in the Granite State, where the entire U.S. political media establishment has taken up camp to cover who will win the New Hampshire primary. It then moves on to South Carolina, Nevada, SEC primary (Super Tuesday), and don’t forget Florida on March 15.

Scott Brown, who last I heard is looking for another state to lose a Senate election in, is going to endorse Trump formally before the crowd still taking its time entering the hall (as the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get You Want” plays at a respectful level in the background).

We’ll be back later with the highlights from the Trump event.

Milford, New Hampshire Tuesday, Feb 2 10:00 p.m.

Because of the sheer ubiquitous cable news coverage he’s enjoyed over the past half-year, there are parts of a Donald Trump speech that are familiar territory, even if their new rants, such as his description about why he boycotted last week’s Fox News debate.

The presumptive GOP front-runner was in Milford, New Hampshire on Tuesday night, giving his second speech since being humbled on Monday night, when he lost out to Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses, despite polls that said that he was the favorite going into the first election of the 2016 presidential cycle.

Trump would get around to Cruz in due time, but he seemed exasperated by what he felt was excessive coverage of the man who finished behind him in Iowa, Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Read more here.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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