Written in Granite: NH a great state for presidential politics

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NASHUA, NH – I’m not going to lie.

Having the first presidential election in the country has its advantages. Years ago, the candidates were all over New Hampshire, and you could find them anywhere – at the public library, at a downtown luncheon, etc. Security was not the concern it is now. When I arrived on the scene as a news reporter, with zero experience, it quickly became a trial by fire.

No cell phones. No internet, yet.

I couldn’t do shorthand and still can’t. I can’t type correctly. But because I first had a job in radio news, the tape recorder eventually became my friend.

In the year Imagine my embarrassment when 1988 presidential candidate Pete DuPont stopped by the old WSMN radio station on West Hollis Street. I had to record an interview and was mocked with primitive equipment. But he was kind and had a good sense of humor.

I met Jack Kemp when he was running for the highest office in the land. He was giving a speech about the COLA (cost of living adjustment) wars. My brain – I knew it wasn’t about Coke or Pepsi, but I wasn’t sure what it was campaigning about.

I met former presidential candidate Al Gore at the former Howard Johnson’s restaurant. My friend and noted journalist Woody Woodland joined me in the interview. I panicked again and didn’t hit the record button, but Woody graciously let me back out of the interview.

I even sat through candidate Gary Hart’s embarrassing season. It appeared in the former Modern Restaurant on W. Pearl Street. Surprisingly, the interview was a one-on-one arrangement upstairs in a room above the dining room. I can’t remember how I got there and who arranged the meeting. I remember him being tall and lean, wearing cowboy boots and having great hair. At the time, Hart was considered a contender for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination when an extramarital affair with a young woman named Donna Rice came to light.

My favorite presidential meeting was in 1993 with a group of TV, print and radio reporters from Boston (Big Leagues) and local WMUR-TV (News 9). President Bill Clinton was visiting the NH Art Institute in downtown Manchester. At the time, Clinton was trying to get Congress to pass a deficit reduction bill. He also had trouble holding up air traffic at Los Angeles International Airport, so he got a $200 haircut from Air Force One.

When it was my turn, I thought I’d have a little fun with the Commander-in-Chief.

“Mr. President, I like your haircut.” The room erupted in laughter, except for a rising female reporter from Ch 9 who threw me an iron fist.

Clinton slapped his face and said, “Why thank you,” and then I asked him the hardest question I can remember.

Of course, those times were different. And it was an honor for a young reporter (nobody like me) to meet presidents and presidential candidates and hone his journalistic skills.

That’s why I have a special place in my heart for NH’s first-in-the-nation primary tradition. It is a great opportunity. Granite State does a good job of vetting these candidates.

The New Hampshire presidential primary is scheduled for Tuesday, January 23, 2024.

President Joe Biden doesn’t believe we should vote first. Does not appear in NH primary selection. I’m sorry, but that’s an insult to the good people who live here.

Is it a dangerous move by Biden? who knows.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

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