Dateline Conway, New Hampshire.
The presidential primary season is in full swing here in the North Country. As sure as the leaves turn in the White Mountains, the presidential hopefuls flit and flutter around the state like the last butterflies of summer. Only one of them will leave the state before the first killing frost.
Young idealistic men and women rush to and fro, Blackberries and laptops busy gathering crowd reactions, updating schedules, spinning the press, then it’s on to the next town meeting. Locals come out of passion or curiosity, or maybe for just an excuse to get together with town folk of the same general persuasion.
We were working in the lovely Conway library (they know how to keep historic buildings alive around here) when Claire noticed a poster announcing that John Edwards was due to greet the voters in a couple of hours. We arrived in time to squeeze Turtle into a small spot, stern hanging over the grass, in the nether regions of the lot of a church converted to arts center and community meeting hall. We were about the last to be let in, due to fire codes, and just in time to enjoy a half hour of rousing bluegrass before the arrival of the former vice presidential candidate.
The arrival was a modest kind of thing, but everybody stood up, John Edwards shook hands and gave a few hugs on his way to the stage, He wasted little time getting into the stump speech he gives several times a day. His delivery was impassioned and natural if by necessity canned. Then he took questions, some of which were a challenge to his positions, and he seemed to handle them well.
He would certainly be an improvement on our current President in his ability to use the English language, but then almost anyone would win that contest. He touched on all the hot button issues, and made comparisons with the two opinion poll leaders, Obama and Clinton. I found common ground with him on the healthcare, the Iraq war and most environmental issues, but disagreed with him on strong support for unions and being opposed to a revival of nuclear power.
Not that it matters. I don’t vote in New Hampshire, and if I were voting here, I would be voting in the Republican primary. but, probably not, I don’t vote with people who have been calling themselves Conservatives the last couple of decades. I like Ike, and Goldwater. Things have gone downhill since Reagan; just the opinion of an old Johnson hating Goldwater Republican, turned independent in recent years.
The crowd ranged from working people, a few loggers, a lot of older people and not enough young people. The media, particularly the electronic media, were beginning to get that bored look of people too long on the same story. God help them. They’s a long road ahead.
Outside, he paused to give the poor working stiffs of the print media a chance to ask a few questions. Goodness, what have we here: intelligent, carefully worded questions of import, unlike the, no-surprise-here sound bite questions asked by the electronic guys. I worked ever so briefly, ever so many years ago, in both media, and I don’t remember there being such a difference between talking heads and reporters. But I digress.
The big news is that Turtle, our little home on wheels, served as the backdrop for this final press conference of the evening. Now he can say he was present in politically historic New Hampshire the night the tide changed for, What’s-his-name; or not.