Band of Brothers

Kasich - Franklin, NH 1-22-16Republican presidential candidate  and Ohio Governor John Kasich rolled through New Hampshire with an ad hoc band of brothers last Friday, continuing his New Hampshire-focused campaign.  Kasich was joined by former U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey, former Air Force pilot and P.O.W. Tom Moe who was held in the “Hanoi Hilton” alongside John McCain and who later served as the Ohio Director of Veterans Services under Kasich, and Tim Penny, a former Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota.  Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire Attorney General and Republican power broker, also accompanied Kasich but did not address the audience.

Kasich - Franklin, NH 1-22-16

Kasich - Franklin, NH 1-22-16Speaking to a modest-sized audience of about 40 people in Franklin,  the four travelers appeared to greatly enjoy each other’s company.  Their presentations were heartfelt, quickly moving into deeply personal territory.  Moe’s experience as a prisoner of war for five years, with beatings and other torture, is riveting and inspiring even 40 years later.  While discussing Moe’s time working in the Kasich administration as state director of veterans services and their meetings with families of soldiers lost in war, Kasich discussed the loss of his own parents, killed together in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.  His introduction of Tim Penny, a former Democratic congressman who served alongside Kasich, included the fact that Penny’s wife died about ten years ago.  Although hardly light and breezy, it all seemed to fit together and gave a window into Kasich and his compatriots. Continue reading Band of Brothers

Name That Shoe

Big shoes to fill?  Perhaps figuratively, but the next president will literally bring their own shoes to the White House.   With that in mind we have a test of your knowledge of the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary candidates – can you identify them by their shoes?

We have 11 pictures of 10 Republican candidates’ shoes (adding one double entry to complicate your guessing) for you to identify.  I shot all of the photos in New Hampshire as the candidates appeared at campaign events.  (The answer key is here.)

Jeb Hits Hampton

Bush - Hampton, NH 1-21-16Jeb Bush held a town hall in Hampton, New Hampshire Thursday evening, engaging his audience and finding support yet tangled in his many challenges.  Bush spoke to about 150-200 people for an hour and 20 minutes, with another 25 minutes spent saying hello, shaking hands, taking pictures and at times hugging everyone who wanted to do so.

Bush has many strengths; he’s skilled at retail politics and the back and forth of a town hall, with substantial experience as a two-term governor and knowledge of many issues and topics.  He continues to be hampered by his weak points, however.  Foremost among those weak points is a decidedly different personality from what voters have, so far anyway, indicated that they are looking for in a 2016 Republican candidate.  He’s not low-energy but he is largely low emotion, seemingly interested in ideas, data, how to change things and not structured around visceral anger.  In a campaign season dominated by Donald Trump’s disgust at the state of America and Ted Cruz’s attacks on government tyranny the analytical Bush is a man adrift.

Bush - Hampton, NH 1-21-16

Continue reading Jeb Hits Hampton

Sidenote: Cruz Campaign Bus Homogeneity

Ted Cruz’s campaign bus features photo montages on both sides and the rear.  From a brief viewing Thursday at a Cruz Meet & Greet in Manchester, New Hampshire it appeared that everyone in the photos is white.

Cruz In Manchester

Cruz - Manchester, NH 1-21-16Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz wrapped up a four day New Hampshire bus tour Thursday afternoon in Manchester.  Speaking to 150-200 people, Cruz painted a dark portrait of America as a “country[] in crisis” and “at the edge of a cliff”, with saving the country as beyond both Democrats and other Republicans.

Cruz’s basic theme was a combination of the destruction caused by President Obama, saying that “constitutional rights are under assault each and every day”, and the role of faith, prayer and Judeo-Christian values in restoring America to its rightful greatness, declaring that “there is an awakening that is sweeping this country.”

A bumper sticker outside a Ted Cruz meet & greet in Manchester, New Hampshire. 1/21/16
A bumper sticker outside a Ted Cruz meet & greet in Manchester, New Hampshire. 1/21/16


Cruz fully embraced his reputation as a man intensely disliked by many, including his Republican Senate colleagues.  Although his disdain is first and foremost directed at President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democrats generally, he enthusiastically attacked the “bipartisan corruption of career politicians in both parties.”  His audience seemed to share that view, primarily rejecting Democrats but also showing disdain for Republicans.  Later, as the crowd dispersed, two 40-ish men were discussing their Cruz enthusiasm.  Their bonding intensified as each revealed that they were first drawn to Cruz “when he called Mitch McConnell a liar on the floor of the Senate.”

Cruz - Manchester, NH 1-21-16

Continue reading Cruz In Manchester

Kasich, Music Critic

Avowed Linkin Park fan, and Republican presidential candidate, John Kasich had a discussion of music this morning as he entered the New Hampshire GOP candidate town hall.  Kasich encountered Rod Webber, a New Hampshirite who tries to advance the cause of peace by presenting each candidate with a symbolic peace flower.   Kasich declined the flower, but lingered momentarily to talk tunes:

Kasich Press Q&A: The Franklin Edition

Kasich - Franklin NH 1-22-16Republican presidential candidate John Kasich spoke briefly with the press following a town hall in Franklin, New Hampshire this afternoon.

Asked who he views as his main competition in the New Hampshire primary, Kasich declined to answer directly and instead describing his “biggest challenge” as getting in front of enough voters.  He recounted advice he said he gives to his daughters; “in a race … if you look around you lose time.”  Kasich sidestepped a question on an attack ad targeting Jeb Bush that Kasich’s campaign just released.  Saying that “the campaign is gonna do what it has to do” Kasich added that “I let my campaign do what they want as long as it’s not personal.”

Kasich soundly rejected any engagement with a Republican group focused on “anybody but Trump or Cruz.”  When asked if he plans to visit Israel he said yes.  The timing of such a trip was unclear, with his only specificity being that it would not be before the February 9th New Hampshire primary.

Bush Discusses The Bushes

IMG_6040Jeb Bush gave a lengthy answer to a town hall questioner Thursday night who urged Jeb to engage and embrace his father and brother in his campaign.  The woman, who described herself as a “Bushophile” and brought pictures dating from the 1980s or 1990s of her own mother with George W. Bush, Laura Bush and Barbara Bush, captured Bush’s quandary well.

Dismissing what “the liberals are saying, that you ran home to mummy and had a meeting”, she affectionately described George W. Bush in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. “Your mother probably didn’t approve of you calling Trump a jerk, even though he is” the questioner added as her query unfolded.  “She probably did approve.  Trust me, I have first hand knowledge of this” replied Jeb.

Saying that he “love[s] them dearly” Bush spoke fondly about about his presidential relatives and reflected on the necessity of neither under or over relying on them and the oddity of having a third president from the same family.   Declaring that he’s “not running away from them” Jeb described George W. as the “most popular Republican in the United States today” and said that he expects to campaign with him.  (In a post-town hall Q&A Jeb said that no such plans are yet in place, however.)

Video – Here’s the full question and response:

Bush Press Q&A: The Dentists Edition

Bush - Hampton, NH 1-21-16Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush spoke with the press tonight following a town hall in Hampton, New Hampshire.

His family figured prominently in the question topics, beginning with  Bush’s mention during the town hall that his mother Barbara will appear in a campaign ad scheduled for release Friday.  Saying that “it’s good to get an endorsement from your mother” Bush said that he has not seen the ad and does not know what it’s content is.  Bush was also asked about his brother, former president George W. Bush.  Jeb said that he expected to have George W. campaigning for him, but that plans for doing so have not been made.  When asked whether he regarded his brother’s presidency a success and what elements he would seek to emulate in his own presidency Bush skipped replying on an overall assessment of the Bush 43 presidency, instead saying “the focus on building a homeland security structure that kept us safe, that avoided further attacks is probably the greatest accomplishment that my brother had,” along with “restoring a constant vigilant effort to protect the homeland”.

Bush was also asked about illegal immigration and the effect of the use of a “non-detained docket”, whether his father’s recent comment that he’s “mellowing out” on same-sex marriage affects Jeb’s view and for a reaction to to former Senator Bob Dole’s description of a Cruz nomination as “cataclysmic” for the Republican party.  He avoided the issue of a Cruz nomination, focusing only on saying that he’ll win it over Cruz.

As Bush was departing he was asked if he’s having fun and what the best part of tonight’s town hall.  As he wrapped up his answer and again moved toward the door a final, killer question rang out:  “Why do you think 4 out of 5 dentists in Florida prefer you over Rubio?”

Pat Benahhtahhh!

An audience member and Jeb Bush traded New England-accented “Pat Benahtahhh”‘s during a recent town hall.  As she rose to ask a question on term limits Bush blurted out “what’s that t-shirt.”   Her reply prompted a repeat from Bush, while her question prompted a fist-pump, swaying and a “praise the Lord” from Bush.  It also elicited support for congressional term limits, a constitutional convention and praise for the role of term limits in Florida.

Jeb Asunder

Bush - Hollis, NH 1-15-16His world has been torn asunder and he’s not quite sure what to do about it.  Among Jeb Bush’s observations at a recent town hall was the somewhat stilted characterization that “the world has been torn asunder.”   There’s truth in that statement, but it’s not the way that other candidates or most voters would say it.

Jeb Bush is a candidate out of sync with the current mood in his party who, notwithstanding some significant strengths, continues to struggle at gaining traction as the New Hampshire primary approaches.  He held a lengthy town hall Friday night in Hollis, New Hampshire, speaking with about 200 people for an hour and a half.  Casting himself as the “only guy taking Donald Trump on”, Bush argued that both electorally and substantively the Republican Party and the country will ultimately decide that they want “a serious leader” and that he is that “serious leader.”  His audience was very attentive and receptive, starting and ending with a standing ovation for Bush, but mostly they listened as he spoke for about 20 minutes and then answered 16 questions over an hour and ten minutes.

Bush - Hollis, NH 1-15-16

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Trump v. Beck

Donald Trump bashed his latest adversary Saturday – conservative TV and radio host Glenn Beck.  Beck recently attracted Trump’s ire by saying that Trump voted for Barack Obama.

Beck has since apologized for retweeting a tweet he now recognizes was a fake as evidence of Trump’s vote, but Beck still maintains that Trump voted for Obama over McCain.

Here’s what Trump had to say during an appearance in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.