I canvassed for Edwards in Portsmouth all day today. Canvassing in the dark, in a black coat on a road with no sidewalks is, uh, interesting. I got up here last night hoping to catch Edwards in Somersworth and Rochester late; unfortunately his 72-hour blitz after he got off the plane from Iowa forced him to cancel.
Jimmy Denton from Desperate Housewives is up here. Wilco's “Heavy Metal Drummer” plays as his theme music. Good taste, someone. Hey, if it was only celebrities that were voting, Edwards might well be in the lead; Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon were around the state. That's glam, man.
I've ranted about the silliness of the Iowa process; I've warned that NH is just an audition. It's true. That being said, I have been consistently impressed at the apparent graciousness and good humor of New Hampshire citizens in dealing with the crush of attention from the whole country. They're used to strangers and out-of-towners invading their neighborhoods; they're used to discussing politics with said strangers with general good humor and grace; they are reasonably well-versed in the issues; they seem, by and large, to take their responsibilities of citizenship quite seriously.
Anyway, so far Edwards looks like a distant third tonight — that's too bad.
We're told John and Elizabeth should be along pretty soon … Waiting … waiting … waiting … Ah, now he's being introduced by NH Senate Majority Leader Joe Foster. And the whole family goes on, kiddos in tow.
Elizabeth first: You know, it's such a cliche to compare the candidate to his running mate, or spouse, or someone else closely associated, and find the candidate himself just a little bit less in comparison. I don't quite feel that — I like John a lot, and obviously consider him a tremendous talent … but gosh, wouldn't Elizabeth be a dynamite candidate? If this doesn't work out, how about going up against Liddy Dole?
John speaks: He congratulates Obama and Clinton. Again brings up case of Natalie Sarkisyan, the child who died waiting for a liver transplant the insurer wouldn't pay for. Again, the emphasis on blue-collar challenges. I've heard this speech before. They're very consistent, and it's as if nothing has changed.
The crowd is upbeat, cheerful. Perhaps they're fully aware that the campaign is still in its early stages; perhaps they believe the campaign is more meaningful than the electoral victory of its protagonists. Edwards talks about “backbone, and will, and determination” to bring about a compassionate agenda. Regardless of your favored “theory of change” or “change-candidate”, surely it's worth it to realize that the next four years are going to be a long, hard slog. It's one thing to win an election, it's quite another to have that mean something.
… My goodness, the Edwards' kids are really damn cute — and sleepy. Can you imagine the lifestyle *they're* leading? Wow.