Sunday, October 31, 2004

What I've learned in New Hampshire, so far
I spent many hours today, walking miles in the cold rain, ringing doorbells, and talking to the people of this fine state. There were many unique individuals who stood out:

The 84 year-old man, who announced that he had just slammed the phone down on a Kerry representative who told him, in his words, that "at your age, it's time you learned how to vote."
The equally old gentleman who came to the door announcing "We're Republicans in this house," but that in his weakened state he was unable to make it to the polls without our help.
The young military wife, whose husband is in Iraq, who told me that President Bush is the only man she trusts to bring him and his unit home safe, with the war won, and all the benefits that are springing from a free Iraq.
The fellow canvasser, frustrated by the constant negative media coverage of Iraq, coupled with their refusal to investigate Kerry's past with any sincerity.
The man, awed by the fact that the President, while walking the ropeline in Manchester on Friday, paused to shake his hand with both of his own.
The woman who, surprised that we were walking in the rain, asked where she should go to volunteer herself.
Her neighbor, who asked if she could offer a hand in shuttling those who couldn't drive themselves to and from the polls on Tuesday.
The woman whose yard was littered with destroyed Bush-Cheney signs who said to me "we put them out, they get torn down, and we put up new ones."
And many others.

I should tell you that we had a targeted list of likely Bush supporters, and our mission was not to persuade, but merely to turn-out our voters. Of course, in this list were also the handful of those who do not support the President:

The man who said no, he was not supporting the President, and quickly closed the door.
The woman, holding her angry dog who shouted "don't hand me that piece of paper, I'm not voting at all precisely because of that man."
The father, who had a Yale sticker on his car and told me his son is a Junior at Yale, who said he could not in good conscience vote for the President.
The man wearing a Star of David necklace who said the President did not have his support.
The woman who said the Kerry people have called and come to her house too many times, and convinced her through their behavior not to vote at all.
And a few others.

So, what did I see? The convictions of the everyday Republicans. It's shown me the strength of their support for a man they truly believe must be chosen to continue leading this country.

What didn't I see? A single Bush voter who defined his support on his opposition to John Kerry. Without exception, the people I met support the President, his leadership, and his vision for this nation. None of them expressed concerns about Kerry.

It's a little tough to make comparisons, here, because, as I said, I was not ringing the bells at houses that we expected would support Kerry. But, at Yale, I am constantly surrounded by Democrats, which I think gives me a pretty good basis for understanding the general view of the opposition.

And what have I seen there? With a very few exceptions, Kerry was not the first choice of Democrats. Sure, he won the primaries, but as we saw at that time, his victories focused around the idea that he had the best chance of defeating Bush. He was chosen as the viable candidate, instead of the one that fit best with the views of the Party. We know from his record that he is more liberal than most Democrats. We know that the mission of the Democrat Party has, from the beginning of this election cycle, focused around the idea of "anybody but Bush," creating a campaign of negative definitions, rather than positive ones. I've commented extensively on this idea before, and won't expand on it here, but suffice it to say that I think this is a sad state of affairs, and anything but the road to victory.

I've been energized by the devotion of Party members here in Derry. Despite the generally accepted notion that Kerry will win New Hampshire, these people are confident that we will triumph in the rest of the country (again, I will give you my predictions in a post later tonight). It's exhilarating to meet so many enthusiastic people, and so many volunteers who care so deeply about the outcome of this important election.

I'm going to bed now, as soon as I set my alarm clock back an hour, excited for another day of turning out the vote. Happy Halloween!

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