Donald Trump returned to New Hampshire Tuesday night, for one of his seven rallies over a nine day stretch. Appearing in Claremont, New Hampshire, Trump spent an hour in his now-familiar pattern of bemoaning the state of America, reading through favorable polls and riffing with his audience. Tuesday’s rally had the additional element of taking shouted (and unscreened) questions from the audience.
The paired gym and auditorium in Claremont’s Stevens High School were full, with 1,000+ people who waited outside in bitter temperatures. The audience seemed to have a high percentage of Trump supporters, rather than people still considering other candidates, but was often more listening than roaring. The 2/3 or so of the audience who stood on the gym floor were on their feet for three hours or more between the wait outside, the time waiting for Trump (who began almost an hour after the scheduled start time) and Trump’s hour on stage.
Video: Here is Trump’s complete town hall.
Photo Gallery: Our Claremont photo gallery is here.
Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich continues campaigning vigorously in New Hampshire, holding on to possibility but not yet moving into the top group of Trump alternatives. Kasich, heavily focused on New Hampshire, closed out 2015 with two New Hampshire town halls Tuesday, in Nashua and Keene.
Drawing respectable audiences of 50-60 people on a slick snowy day Kasich worked his basic message on both groups. (Jeb Bush cited weather in canceling a town hall midway between Kasich’s two appearances.) He touts his substantial experience in both federal and state office (as a member of the House and as Ohio governor), with a focus on fiscal accomplishments in both. He also preaches a more moderate tone than many of his rivals, emphatically saying that legislative successes depend on working cooperatively with Democrats.
He often connects well with his audiences, listening to their questions and engaging in conversation. He veers off into some disconnected, even awkward, moments though. In Nashua he let loose with a seeming genuine rant about the dangers of drugs. All true and all good advice but his audience, including the college-age questioner who prompted it, is well-aware of that truth and his rumbling ruminations added little to their views. In Keene Kasich gleefully noted that he was headed to directly to Florida for a family vacation, with warm-weather golfing scheduled for the next day. It seemed a bit odd as a selling point to New Hampshirites settling in to the beginnings of winter.
Town Hall Video:
Keene (Q&A only):
Photo Gallery: Our photo gallery of both town halls is here.
Ohio Governor John Kasich punted on the topic of whether Puerto Rico should be given the legal authority to file for bankruptcy protection. Puerto Rico, overwhelmed by more than $70 billion of debt owed by the Commonwealth and some of its agencies and municipalities, is seeking the ability to file a bankruptcy petition. Current law precludes Puerto Rico, as well all of the states, from filing a bankruptcy petition. Unlike states however, which may authorize their municipalities and agencies to file petitions under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code, Puerto Rico is also precluded from allowing its municipalities and agencies from filing bankruptcy petitions. With the first significant default on Puerto Rico’s debt having just occurred, the situation is likely to rapidly deteriorate.
Kasich initially referenced Puerto Rico’s status by saying that bankruptcy would require statehood. That’s not quite right, however, and allowing Puerto Rico to be treated like a state (i.e. permitted to authorize its municipalities and agencies to file, but not itself authorized to file) would only require a very simple (albeit consequential) change in the federal bankruptcy code. Kasich’s brief response then moved to a quick statement that he would put “people in a room” to discuss solutions and concluding that he’s “not prepared to say… yet” that bankruptcy is an appropriate solution.
The day after our conversation Kasich’s campaign announced the selection of a “chair for Governor Kasich’s newly created Puerto Rico team.”* The announcement references “the importance of permanently resolving Puerto Rico’s status issue” (whether continuing as a commonwealth, becoming a state or an independent nation), but makes no mention of Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. While status seems likely to be discusses as part of any federal action on bankruptcy or otherwise dealing with Puerto Rico’s debt, it’s a distinct topic without direct bearing on the fiscal crisis.
I spoke with Kasich following a presidential campaign town hall in Keene, New Hampshire.
Note: Puerto Rico does not participate in the presidential general election, but presidential primaries are held in Puerto Rico.