A Tale of Two Gaggles (Updated)

IMG_6638Making up for two boycotted years, Mayor Bill de Blasio bookended his first of two three marches in todays St. Patrick’s Day Parade with two gaggles.  He spoke with a large group of press before marching, focusing on the Parade’s opening this year to LGBT groups marching under their own names and banners.  After marching he again spoke with the press, focusing on the recently reported federal investigation into lead paint conditions in New York City Public Housing.

Gaggle #1:

de Blasio began with a statement lauding the opening of the parade to LGBT groups, calling it a powerful and very moving day in New York City.  Four of the five questions concerned the change in parade policy, including whether his boycott brought about the change, whether it’s a sign that discrimination has been abolished in the parade and what it means politically for the City.  A final question focused on de Blasio’s announcement that he plans to close the “Campaign For One New York”, an outside advocacy organization he created upon taking office.

Gaggle #2:

Mayor de Blasio returned to the press after marching, giving a statement on the recently revealed federal investigation into lead paint in NYCHA housing and NYCHA’s federal reporting on lead paint conditions.  de Blasio emphasized the preliminary nature of his information on the investigation, but pointed out that New York City has long had stringent laws on abating lead paint and a resulting longterm NYCHA effort on abatement.  Other question topics included the use of police officers in place of school crossing guards, Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he will appoint an outside management expert to examine CUNY and Mayor Dinkins’ 1991 hostile St. Patrick’s Day Parade reception.

On his initial march, with the NYPD, Mayor de Blasio inspired minimal reaction from the large crowd, receiving a polite reception with modest applause and little heckling or boos audible over the sounds of the NYPD’s marching band.  de Blasio’s second trip up Fifth was not disclosed in advance to the press and I did not join him for that march.  His third trip was the centerpiece of his day at the Parade, joining the Green & Lavender Alliance as the Parade fully opened to LGBT groups after years of bitter resistance.  The Alliance was near the end of the Parade’s line of march and Fifth Avenue was gray and largely deserted as they made their way up.  The few remaining spectators greeted the Alliance and the Mayor with repeated rounds of applause, however.

Photo Gallery:


Our parade photo gallery is here.

13th CD Candidate Forum

13th CD Candidate Forum 2-28-16

Seven candidates for the 13th congressional district seat currently held by Charles Rangel met for a candidate forum Sunday.  Hosted by the Allianza Dominicana Cultural Center, the forum featured Adam Clayton Powell IV, Michael Gallagher, Assembly member Keith Wright, Suzan Johnson Cook, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Clyde Williams and Assembly member Guillermo Linares.

Our full photo gallery is here.

13th CD Candidate Forum 2-28-16

Photo Gallery: FITN Town Hall

NH Republican FITN Town Hall 1-23-16The New Hampshire Republican party drew seven presidential candidates to a town hall held two weeks ahead of the New Hampshire primary.  Candidates participating included Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Jim Gilmore.  Chris Christie cancelled, returning to New Jersey as a major snowstorm hit his state, with his wife Mary Pat Christie appearing on his behalf.

Our full photo gallery is available here.

NH Republican FITN Town Hall 1-23-16

Kasich Places

Kasich - NH Primary Night 2-9-16

Ohio Governor John Kasich claimed a practical victory Tuesday night, placing second in the New Hampshire Republican primary behind Donald Trump.  Kasich’s late rise in the last few days, moving him out of the governors mini-pack he cohabited with Jeb Bush and Chris Christie and modestly but clearly past Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, vindicated his New Hampshire-centric strategy.

Kasich - NH Primary Night 2-9-16

Kasich continued his campaign theme of a self-described positive focus with a renewed denunciation of negative advertising, declaring that “tonight the light overcame the darkness of negative campaigning.”  In an atypical statement from a candidate celebrating a favorable primary election outcome Kasich pledged not to accelerate and work even harder, but to slow down.  Speaking of deeply personal encounters with people sharing their struggles at his town halls Kasich said “from this day forward I’m going to go slower and spend my time listening and healing and helping and bringing people together to fix our great country.”

Kasich - NH Primary Night 2-9-16

Was Tuesday night his high point or just the beginning?  Kasich faces a challenging road ahead as his New Hampshire-centric strategy means that he has limited organization and support in the upcoming primary states, with limited time and money to capitalize on his New Hampshire success.  A winnowing field and an expected spike in media attention will provide opportunity, but no guarantee of success.

Our primary night photo gallery is here.

End Days

Christie - Hampton, NH 2-7-16Monday was the last day of the notion-bending year long campaign leading to the New Hampshire presidential primary.  Republican candidates have for months decried the condition of America, denouncing Barack Obama for what they see as destruction wreaked on the U.S. that has pushed the country to the edge of a precipice.  With New Hampshire voting those dire descriptions will end, at least for the Granite State, as the campaign rolls on to South Carolin, Nevada and beyond.

Who’s rising, who’s falling and who will exceed expectations?  Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie all had good days in the last moments of the New Hampshire primary, but they face a dual challenge of trying to shove past the other two governors and simultaneously trying to catch up to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.  Here are a few impressions from the candidates’ closing appearances.

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Christie Presses On

Christie - Hampton, NH 2-7-16New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continued his quest for the presidency Sunday, campaigning in New Hampshire on the second to last day before the New Hampshire primary.  Christie began with a town hall in the Seacoast town of Hampton, speaking to about 300 people.

Christie’s crowds have grown this week but so have those of his closest rivals Jeb Bush and John Kasich.  His Hampton audience appeared supportive, cheering Christie on and fully engaged as Christie prowled the small open plain at the center of a tight circle of chairs working both those fortunate enough to be seated and the 100 or so people standing in an outer circle.  Christie expanded on his debate performance, dismissing Marco Rubio as an echo of Barack Obama; an unaccomplished first-term senator unprepared to be president.  He gave an eviscerating imitation of Donald Trump, capturing a core Trump weakness of offering nothing beyond emotional appeal.

Christie - Hampton, NH 2-7-16

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I Like Donald (Updated)

Christie - Hampton, NH 2-7-16I like Donald.  But he’s not qualified to be president.  That’s the essence of Chris Christie’s cutting evaluation of Donald Trump, delivered effectively at a Hampton, New Hampshire town hall today.

Christie was humorously dismissive of Trump as unqualified, mockingly imitating Trump’s non-answers to substantial questions.   While professing that he likes Trump personally and expressing empathy with the anger and frustration felt by Trump and his supporters, Christie pointed to Trump’s failure to offer basic thinking on his Mexican border wall and on dealing with the longterm financial challenges of Social Security as evidence of Trump’s utter unpreparedness for the presidency.  Christie declared that Trump “has not the first idea of how to run a government.”

“How?  How?”  Christie characterized that question as the “core of my criticism” of Trump and applicable to most, if not all, of Trump’s campaign talk.  “Let’s stop first at the moment of why” on Trump’s Mexican border wall proposal , Christie continued, saying “it’s not gonna work … unless you’re gonna make it like the Berlin Wall”  Christie described privately meeting twice with the president of Mexico, declaring that “he ain’t paying for Donald’s wall.”   Christie concluded by saying that “hope and luck are not a plan” and that “he’s just not the right person to be president of the United States.”

Here’s Christie’s full response and discussion:

Excerpts – Here are brief excerpts of Christie impersonating Trump:

Photo gallery:  Our photo gallery from Christie’s town hall is here.

Jeb! Rising?

Bush - Bedford, NH 2-6-16Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush hosted a town hall today with an audience of about 400 people.  Filling a middle school cafeteria in Bedford, New Hampshire, the audience appeared quite supportive of Bush.

Town halls and rallies have been increasing in size as the Tuesday New Hampshire primary approaches, with Bush seeing his audiences grow.  His poll numbers have also improved, although it’s more in the nature of a modest rising rather than a surge.  He’s battling with two current governors, Ohio’s John Kasich and New Jersey’s Chris Christie for dominance of what is essentially a second tier behind Trump, Cruz and Rubio.  With two days to go Bush faces a critical moment Tuesday, with a weak or modest showing likely to end his campaign.

Bush - Bedford, NH 2-6-16

Photo Gallery – Here is our photo gallery of Bush’s town hall:

Bush - Bedford, NH 2-6-16

The Happy Governor

IMG_6281Engaged in a tussle with New Jersey Governor Chris Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush for a “top tier” finish in the New Hampshire primary, Ohio Governor John Kasich emphasized his ability to lead and work cooperatively and without rancor as a distinguishing feature worthy of voters attention.  Held in Bedford, Kasich’s 100th New Hampshire town hall drew an audience of about 300 people.  That’s a solid crowd for Kasich, and higher than the many previous Kasich town halls I’ve attended, but less than the crowds drawn by many of his rivals.

During the Q&A portion a man rose to praise Kasich’s attributes, which he described as including character, integrity and competence.  This prompted a lengthy rumination by Kasich on his candidacy, his prospects and his reasons for running.

Here is Kasich’s full town hall:

Photo Gallery – Our photo gallery of Kasich’s 100th town hall is here:

Kasich & Sebring

Ohio Governor John Kasich was confronted with the Sebring, Ohio water crisis while campaigning in New Hampshire Friday night.   The developing Sebring crisis echoes Flint Michigan, with the local water system delivering water with dangerous levels of lead and copper.

During a town hall in Bedford a man rose and asked whether Kasich has yet apologized to the people of Sebring.  Kasich defended the actions and responsiveness of state government.

Here’s what happened:

Cruz Lands

Cruz - Windham, NH 2-2-16Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz landed in New Hampshire Tuesday fresh from his victory in the Iowa caucuses.  Cruz spoke to a modest sized audience of about 150 people at a church in Windham, New Hampshire, but was also joined by nearly as many members of the press.

Although undoubtedly a strong candidate in New Hampshire, Cruz faces a different landscape than that of Iowa.  With a less significant portion of the electorate identifying as “evangelical”, there’s a diminished presence of a meaningful element of Cruz’s base.  His fierce rhetoric on guns, prayer and Barack Obama finds a receptive audience, however, and he’s drawn substantial audiences in his recent New Hampshire appearances.  At this town hall the audience was supportive yet not overly vocal or demonstrative.

“God bless the great state of New Hampshire” began Cruz, declaring that the election will not be “decided by the media, lobbyists or the
“Washington Cartel”, a favored Cruz enemy.  It fits neatly into Cruz’s painting this election as 1979 redux, with Cruz as the new Ronald Reagan.  In Cruz’s telling, the last time “we broke the Washington Cartel” was in Reagan’s 1980 victory.

Cruz - Windham, NH 2-2-16

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Donald over Ted – that’s what The Mirror reports on Jimmy Carter’s preference between the two leading Republican presidential candidates.  It’s a nice twist to the race as Ted Cruz regularly describes today in 1979 terms, attacking Jimmy Carter, decrying perceived American weakness at the hands of Iran and Russia and casting himself in the role of Ronald Reagan.

Here’s Cruz, speaking in Windham, New Hampshire on Tuesday:

Cruz On Trump

Cruz - Windham, NH 2-2-16Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz had some critical comments for Donald Trump Tuesday.  Speaking at his first New Hampshire appearance following his Iowa caucuses victory, Cruz criticized Trump for supporting “amnesty” during the 2013 immigration reform debate and for a more general mean-spiritedness.

In his first of two Trump critiques Cruz was harshly criticizing fellow senator Marco Rubio on the 2013 failed immigration bill  when he pivoted to criticizing Trump for supporting “amnesty” and largely remaining silent then.  Cruz’s second critique came in response to a question concerning Trump’s mocking of a New York Times reporter’s physical disability while attacking his writing.

Here’s what Cruz had to say:

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