Friday, January 18, 2008

The Civil War in 4 Minutes

We interrupt this campaign hand-wringing to present the coolest video on the Civil War I've seen.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


This really hurts. Takes me back to 2004, lulled by faulty polls. I remain a passionate Obama supporter. I sent him another contribution as soon as I got out of bed this morning at 5 am in Manchester. There's nothing like three days trudging through the snow trying to persuade strangers to vote for your candidate as a means of increasing your commitment.

I rationalize that a primary struggle will make him a better candidate in the Fall. But I still would much rather have put it away in NH. I had a foreboding listening to the media burying Clinton over the last couple of days. I suppose it's also a good thing that the people of New Hampshire would not let the media talking heads railroad them into a pre-ordained result.



Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dragging Out the Vote

I just came in from my second round of canvassing. My teammate is a young woman from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She is, as my mother might say, "a little slip of a thing." But a very hard worker. We've got about 64 confirmed Obama households that we have to go back to, again and again, until we can confirm that they have voted. We put doorhangers on their doors between 5 and 7 am this morning. Then we went around again to actually knock on their doors. A good visit is one where the person on our list has voted because it means we don't have to go back. My most disheartening visit went like this:

"Hello, I'm Bill Black from the Obama campaign and we're visiting supporters to make sure they have voted. Have you voted today?"

"Oh yes, I voted this morning and I voted for Obama."

"Great, good job. Thank you!"

As I turned to go, thrilled to be crossing this house off my list, the woman said, "But I don't live here."


Obama Speaks

When I first arrived in New Hampshire, I called a reporter friend who tipped me off to an Obama rally not too far from the airport at Nashua North High School. So, I thought I'd get a dose of "Hope" before going to work.

Approaching the event was like arriving at Woodstock. As I got close there were more and more people walking toward the school as if on a pilgrimmage. Cars were parked everwhere, on snowbanks, sidewalks, etc. I got pretty close, but then encountered a huge line leading into the school. I despaired of getting in, but, while the main gym was full a half an hour before the event, they opened a overflow gym and piped in the sound. Then, the line moved quickly.

While I didn't see his main speech, he clearly had the house rockin'. Reports indicate that he had 2,000 people in the main gym. The overflow was about 1,000. At the end of his speech, he came into the overflow area for a brief greeting. As it happened, I got closer to him in the overflow than I ever would have at the main event.

Here are some video clips I took:

As goes Litchfield...

My team is working the town of Litchfield, about 10 miles outside of Manchester. In many ways, it is quintessential New Hampshire. A large number of "Undeclared, i.e. Independdent" voters who have voted Republican in the past, but more Democratic in recent years. It's a testament to the number of volunteers that Obama has that he can even send people to a town like this. Very little activity by the other candidate. We are a group of about 10 fanning out every day. None of our group had seen evidence of the other campaigns(some have been here for a week). Yesterday, there was some Clinton literature spotted and we did finally see one lonely Romney canvasser. He told us he envied the fact that we were canvassing with cars. He was apparently dropped in the morning and left to fend for himself.

The reception I got from my doorknocking varied. A good number of "not homes." Most people are polite, to varying degrees. "Thank you, but I haven't made up my mind yet." The smallest number are either terribly rude or thrilled to see me.

My two favorite rude comments were as follows:

"I would vote for my dog, before I'd vote for a Democrat!" Seems in the North, we have yellow dog Republicans.

To my question, any chance you'll vote for Obama? "Not a f(*&(^en chance in Hell!"

Fortunately, those comments were few. An most of the canvassers detected a shift toward Obama over the last few days. Many undecideds coming our way. This is totally unscientific, but, we'll be watching the returns from Litchfield closely.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Ron Paul, Save Us All!

The Ron Paul volunteers are the comedy relief of this campaign. They are a bunch of happy warriors who do nothing but demonstrate in support of their candidate. They all seem to be having a blast. Last night they assembled outside a storefront where Fox News was holding a focus group for the debate they hosted, a debate where Paul was disinvited. The chanted the entire night, "Ron Paul, save us all!" shouting this into the storefront. I can't imagine the focus group was able to function.

They also commandeered the intersection near the Renassaince hotel, which is the media center for the campaign. Here's some video of these wild and crazy guys and gals.

Gotta love'm.

In New Hampshire for Obama

I am in New Hampshire campaigning for Barack Obama. Not a whole lot of time to blog, but I will try to provide some dispatches when I can. My job is door to door canvasing, talking to voters, recording their preferences and make the case for Obama if they invite a converstion. You really get a sense of how people think. If all politics is local, this politics at its more pure. The way it's been done for time immemorial, face to face persuasion, probably like the Greeks did it at the dawn of small "d" democracy around 300 BC.

I hate it. Deeply.

I do it because every election I regret not having gone to New Hampshire. This time I decided to do it. And I really do beleive that Obama is a once in a generation candidate.

So, I was sent out to a somewhat rural suburb of Manchester. Didn't get started until about 5 pm. It was pitch dark, there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground and these houses are all on acre lots. So, you feel like you're the only person in the universe as you walk these deserted roads.

At the first house I visited, after steeling myself for 20 minutes, the woman came to the door visibly upset. I started my schpiel, "I'm Bill Black, a volunteer for Barack Obama, are you going to vote on Tuesday?" Recognizing her distress, I asked if she was OK? She blurted out that, "I just learned that my husband is in the Intensive Care Unit!" I immediately recoiled and assured her that that was way more important than the election and started to make my exit. But she insisted on talking about Obama, saying she thought he was a nice man, but thought maybe he'd be more appropriate as vice president.

I said, "No, no, he's ready to go, very impressive guy. I just saw him this morning. He's amazing. I think he's thte best man running, by far!"

She said, "Really? Do you really think so?"

I said, "Do you think I'd be out here in the middle of nowhere on this cold, dark, snowy night if I didn't think so?"

She said, "Good, good. I'll consider him."

I resisted the temptation to offer an absentee ballot for her husband in case he doesn't make it to Tuesday.