Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

Campaign Trail


by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Londonderry, N.H.

Printable version of this story

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL WITH SEN. JOHN KERRY IN MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan. 27, 2004 -- U.S. Sen. John Kerry took a second giant step Tuesday towards the Democratic presidential nomination with a solid 13-point win over former front-runner Gov. Howard Dean. Kerry got 39 percent of the vote to Dean's 26 percent.

"I have spent my who life doing what I think is right and fighting against powerful special interests - and I have only begun the fight!" Kerry told a throng of cheering supporters in a Manchester hotel ballroom.

"Bring it on! Bring it on!" the crowd of 700 supporters at The Center of New Hampshire Holiday Inn chanted in response.

Asked how he now expects to do in South Carolina, Kerry told The American Reporter, "We're just gonna work hard. I can't make predictions. We're just gonna work hard."

I spent Monday in a headlong dash almost 170 miles to the tiny hamlet of Dixville Notch, N.H., where 26 voters cast the first votes of the 2004 primary season at the Ballot Room in The Balsams, a beautiful resort hotel that is quintessential New England. The temperature was -20 F. when I arrived but 30 F. when I left to make a second headlong dash to Manchester as Kerry claimed victory. I had dreamed of making that trip all of my life, but it proved to be expensive - I got speeding tickets for doing 79 and 80, respectively, in each direction - one on an Interstate.

The rush is over for front-desk staff at The Balsams after Dixville Notch, N.H.'s 26 voters cast ballots in the circa-1866 hotel's Ballot Room. The splendid golf, ski and snowmobile resort offers unparalleled service and early New England authenticity.
Photo: Joe Shea

My own predictions about the outcome of the race turned out to be wrong. Kerry's lead did not diminish in the campaign's closing days, and John Edwards did not surge ahead. Instead, Howard Dean did about as expected with about 26 percent in what would ordinarily be a respectable second-place finish and Edwards tied Gen. Wesley Clark at 12 percent. Sen. Joe Lieberman rose slightly from the polls to 9 percent, while Rep. Dennis Kucinich finished at 1 percent, as he did in Iowa. Rev. Al Sharpton got a negligible number of votes.

Clark was the victor in Dixville Notch, which many reporters found to be a suprising development. But The American Reporter learned from Steve Learned, the executive chef at The Balsams and one of a family of four voters there, that Gen. Clark had come to the tiny hamlet in early December, when the hotel was closed for the early Winter, and spoke to the town's voters in the Ballot Room at a forum hosted by town party leaders.

A group of American and Canadian visitors talk in The Balsams lobby about results that gave Gen. Wesley Clark an 11-3 lead over Gov. Howard Dean. Dean failed to campaign there. "We don't vote for who we don't know," one voter commented. Inset: Snowdrifts lined N.H.'s Hwy. 26 as voters streamed out of Dixville Notch at 1 a.m. after casting the first votes in the 2004 presidential primaries. In -20 F. weather, a police officer in hiding four miles from the hotel ticketed an AR Correspondent for speeding. .
Photos: Joe Shea

Later in December, Clark's wife visited the town and also spoke to voters, and Gen. Clark spoke to some on the phone at a final campaign stop the day before Primary Day; he was at the hotel to claim his victory when the balloting closed at 12:01 a.m., Learned said.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, shown here in Fla. shortly after entering the race, made his strongest showing in Dixville Notch, N.H., winning the town's Democratic voters by 11 to 3 over Sen. John Kerry. Gen. Clark came to the tiny, remote hamlet near the Canadian border in early Decmber and spoke to the town's voters at The Balsams and sent his wife there later. He was the only candidate to campaign there, and was at the hotel to claim his victory.
Photo: Joe Shea

"We have a saying here: "We don't vote for who we don't meet," Learned said, adding that many voters were put off by the fact that Gov. Howard Dean lives in nearby Vermont but never made the effort to seek votes here. Sen. John Kerry also did not campaign there, but his brother Cameron came to the hotel about 6 p.m. and met some of the voters.

The town's voting population was reduced from the traditional 27 this year when latex inventor and Balsams founder Neil Tillotson died at 101. Steve Tillotson now runs the hotel. Learned said four of the voters are in his family, and four others are in the Pearson family.

"We're all very independent, and we don't talk to each other much about it," Learned said. While he indicated that he supported George Bush, his wife did not, and he thought his parents may have cast two of the three Kerry votes.

Marcus Stanley is Captain of the wait staff at The Balsams, where a pot of room service coffee is just $3. He went for a 100-yard walk when the temperature hit -48 F. a few weeks ago, but usually stays inside. Stanley lives at the hotel.
Photo: Joe Shea

Teresa Heinz Kerry spoke with The American Reporter after the victory speech, saying that she will not see her husband until Feb. 3 as she heads West to North Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. Asked if her upbringing "in the slow lane" on the island of Mozambique had prepared for the "fast lane" of a presidential campagn, she replied, "I haven't been in the slow lane for a very long time."

Asked how she managed to seem so relaxed, she folded her hands as in prayer and said softly, "Keep focused. I just keep focused."

Teresa Heinz Kerry, born in Mozambique and fluent in Spanish, is adjusting to the campaign trail. Her secret: "Keep focused." She is shown here in Hampton, N.H., as her husband spoke.
Photo: Joe Shea

Kerry will reportedly spend the night in Boston at the home he had to mortgage to carry on his campaign, and will visit Missouri Wednesday and South Carolina for a Thursday debate. His aides are flying off to Arizona and other key Feb. 3 primary states as othet contenders wait for the shake the snows of New Hampshire from their feet and see how the South responds to them.

It does not appear thant any of the seven who remain will drop out before the South Carolina primary, which proved decisive for President George W. Bush in his victory over New Hampshire victor Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain was in New Hampshire campaigning for the President, who won 85 percent of the vote in a field of 14 candidates including Holiday Inn worker Bob Haines and a President's namesake, John Buchanan of California.

Meanwhile, for all of us who came to New Hampshire to work for him, Kerry gave a special mention in the third paragraph of his prepared victory speech.

"And this victory belongs to all of you who made the phone calls, walked the cold and snowy cold streets, gave your hearts, your hands and countless sleepless nights. You stayed the course here in New Hampshire. And because of you, this has been a successful - and a happy - campaign," he said.

I was overjoyed that my efforts have contributed to electing a President who I can not only believe, but whom we all can believe in.

And that confidence was stronger than ever at the Kerry campaign headquarters along the Merrimack River Tuesday night. A woman answered when I called for directions to the party, and said, "President Kerry's headquarters!" Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter, the original Internet daily newspaper. His observations are his own and do not represent the views or positions of the Kerry campaign.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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