Drove to Nashua High School for a Kerry rally at 2:00. Made good time, but was surprised to run into a long line of cars exiting the highway for the event. By the time I exited, I didn’t even try to drive to the high school. I parked my car in the parking lot of an office building, and walked a quarter mile to the event. When I entered the high school, it was 2:00, and the gymnasium was full with nearly 2,000 people. I had no hope of seeing Kerry, but was content to listen to his speech from the entrance to the gym.
A long list of Democratic dignitaries spoke before Kerry, including former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Edward Kennedy.
Kerry thanked the people of New Hampshire for their support, particularly the Fire Fighters’ Union. “We should not be opening up firehouses in Baghdad, and shutting them down here,” he declared.
Kerry asked the crowd to remember back when Bush landed on the aircraft carrier in his rented flight suit. President Bush declared then, “Mission accomplished.”
Kerry talked about some of President Bush’s accomplishments: a Medicare Prescription Drug Program written by and for pharmaceutical companies, mission accomplished; pollution increasing everywhere in America, mission accomplished; huge tax breaks for the wealthy, mission accomplished; 2.3 million jobs less than when he took the Presidency, mission accomplished. The one man that needed to be laid off in this country was G. W. Bush.
In his first 100 days in office, Kerry would close the tax loopholes that made it profitable for Benedict Arnold corporations to move their headquarters overseas. In his first 100 days, he would make it illegal for a government regulators to become lobbyists within five years of leaving office.
President Kennedy believed in America, and so did Kerry. He pledged to be the first American to bring healthcare to all Americans. He pledged that American foreign policy would never be held hostage to Middle East oil again.
This was the most anti-science Administration in history. Kerry would restore stem cell research. He would fund the scientific frontier in the great tradition of Lewis and Clark. He pledged that by 2020, 20% of America’s electricity would be generated by renewable fuels. He pledged to fund studies of the more than 70,000 synthetic chemicals in society now, only 6,000 of which have been properly tested. There was an obesity problem in this country; a cure was needed. This President was gutting the Clean Air and Water Acts. He didn’t understand that the environment was jobs. Kerry pledged to hold the President accountable for making a mockery of the words “no child left behind”.
The nation was at war. But it was a different kind of war. The United States needed the intelligence and cooperation of all nations to fight the war on terror. But instead, the President had alienated the international community by conducting the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological driven foreign policy in history. President Bush would run for office on national security and his policy of preemption. The Democrats needed a candidate who could go toe-to-toe with the President on national security, a candidate that could be strong and right at the same time. If President Bush wanted to run on national security, Kerry said, “Bring it on.”
Remember FDR, Truman, Kennedy. The American people deserved a President that understood that this nation could not turn its back on AIDS, that this nation could not turn its back on the 160 nations that had signed the Kyoto Treaty, that this nation must rejoin the community of nations at the UN.
“Stand with me, and we will fight for civil liberties. Stand with me, and we will fight for the environment. Stand with me, and we will fight for healthcare for all. Stand with me, and we will fight for education. Stand with me and we will defeat George W. Bush, and declare to the world, ‘Mission accomplished.’”
The audience stood, applauding enthusiastically. There were no questions. I scurried out of the high school to avoid the crowd.
Drove to Plymouth, an hour and half north, for a Dean Town Meeting in the fieldhouse of Plymouth University. The Town Meeting was to be at 7:30, but I arrived at 6:00 to get a good seat. In particular, I wanted to position myself so I could give Dean the list I’d recently created of the numbers of self-employed in all 50 states. The stage was a long platform set in the middle of the fieldhouse, so that the audience was on both sides. The fieldhouse filled quickly, until about 800 people were in attendance.
The event began with a fabulous group of students, ranging in ages from elementary through high school, performing three songs from the musical Mail to the Chief, based on letters sent by children to the President. A woman supporter then spoke of the importance of removing George W. Bush to protect the children. She then introduced Dean and his wife Judy. The crowd chanted, “Judy, Judy, Judy...” and gave her a long standing ovation. She spoke just a couple of sentences, describing Dean as a wonderful father and husband, totally supportive of her career as a physician.
Dean’s voice was much improved over the hoarse croak of two days earlier. He kept the speech short, focusing on the three reasons he was the most electable candidate.
During his speech and the long questioning period, Dean used the phrase “small business and the self-employed” four times.
Once again he received a standing ovation. He crossed to the audience opposite me to shake hands. I had to jump two rope barriers and cross the stage to cue up with his well wishers. When I got to him, I said, “Self-employed lobbyist here. Yesterday, I created this list for you; it’s the numbers of self-employed in all fifty states.”
Dean gave me a big smile, saying, “Hey, you’re great.” And slipped the list into the inside pocket of his coat.
Drove back to Wolfeboro, where it was ten degrees below zero. Stoked the wood stove, and called my brother while waiting for the water tower to heat up. He told me that he’d seen a campaign clip on the PBS NewsHour in which Dean had used the phrase “small business and self-employed”. He congratulated me, and hoped that Dean had better luck than the horses he’d seen me bet on.