On to New Hampshire

As pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates from both par­ties criss­crossed Iowa last weekend, North­eastern jour­nalism stu­dents headed north to pre­view the New Hamp­shire pri­mary. We asked them to blog from the road.

The dozen stu­dents are in jour­nalism pro­fessor Jonathan Kaufman’s class “Cov­ering Cam­paign 2016.” Kaufman, the director of the School of Jour­nalism and a Pulitzer Prize-​​winning reporter and editor, cov­ered the 2008 cam­paign battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for The Wall Street Journal and never forgot the excite­ment of seeing can­di­dates and voters close up as America chose a president.

A few months from now these can­di­dates will be sur­rounded by the Secret Ser­vice and speaking to crowds of 20,000,” Kaufman said. “Now is the time we—and the voters—can see them up close.”

First stop: Kasich cam­paign, Keene, New Hampshire

The stu­dents, a mix of jour­nalism majors and polit­ical junkies, arrived with note­books in hand at a town hall meeting held in the city of Keene by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Repub­lican can­di­date who is rising in the polls. They inter­viewed voters and met with reporters from National Public Radio and CNN. They even inter­viewed top cam­paign strate­gists and Kasich himself.

Here are their sto­ries (click each head­line to read the full story):

[Another group of Kaufman’s stu­dents will head to New Hamp­shire this weekend to follow more can­di­dates and con­tinue cov­erage of cam­paign 2016. Stay tuned for those stories.]

 

Kasich bet­ting big on New Hamp­shire
By Dylan McGuin­ness, AMD’18
As the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates can­vassed Iowa last weekend to raise last-​​minute sup­port before the state’s cau­cuses, there was one can­di­date who didn’t bother…

As the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates can­vassed Iowa last weekend to raise last-​​minute sup­port before the state’s cau­cuses, there was one can­di­date who didn’t bother to make the trip. John Kasich was 1,200 miles away in New Hamp­shire, holding his 83rd and 84th town hall meet­ings in the Granite State.

It’s part of a strategy—focusing his nom­i­na­tion hopes on New Hampshire—that Kasich, the Repub­lican gov­ernor of Ohio, said he’s had since the begin­ning of his campaign.

It’s more man­age­able,” Kasich said in an inter­view after addressing voters at the Cheshire County His­tor­ical Society. “You want to be in a posi­tion where you can meet people in person. Iowa is hard because every­thing is so spread out.”

While Kasich lags behind in national polls of the crowded Repub­lican field, he has surged in recent weeks in New Hamp­shire, where he hopes his mod­erate appeal can attract inde­pen­dent voters like John McCain did in 2000.

A recent Suf­folk Uni­ver­sity poll has him at second place in the state with 12 per­cent of the vote, ahead of fellow estab­lish­ment can­di­dates like Jeb Bush (11.2 per­cent), Marco Rubio (9.6 per­cent), and Chris Christie (5.6 percent).

I’ve always seen New Hamp­shire as a great launching pad,” said John Weaver, a promi­nent GOP strate­gist who has been advising Kasich. Weaver explained that Kasich’s message—a respon­sible gov­ern­ment that refuses to leave people behind—opens him up to voters that others in the GOP can’t reach. “He’s a con­ser­v­a­tive with a broad appeal,” Weaver said.

The next week will deter­mine whether Kasich’s progress in New Hamp­shire can mate­ri­alize into votes on pri­mary day against other “estab­lish­ment” can­di­dates like Rubio and propel him into South Car­olina and Nevada with momentum.

I’ve never met a voter who said, ‘Oh, I was going to vote for you but then you lost in Iowa,’” Weaver said.

At the end of his Q&A, which was held in Keene, Kasich made clear the stakes. “If I get snuffed out here, I’m going home,” he told the crowd, acknowl­edging that a poor per­for­mance in the state would likely end his cam­paign. “If I do well, the country will hear what I have to say.”


Even after months of speeches, unde­cided voters still ponder the choices
By Cas­sidy DeSte­fano, AMD’19
Bill Hutchinson is split between par­ties. The Social Secu­rity worker, proudly don­ning sev­eral Bernie Sanders but­tons at the event, said that he would likely…

The piv­otal New Hamp­shire pri­mary is less than a week away. But, as voters poured into the His­tor­ical Society building in Cheshire County to hear remarks from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, many remained unde­cided about how they will vote.

Bill Hutchinson, 50, is split between par­ties. The Social Secu­rity worker, proudly don­ning sev­eral Bernie Sanders but­tons at the event, said that he would likely sup­port former Hewlett-​​Packard CEO Carly Fio­rina in the elec­tion. How­ever, the Keene native said his vote is still up for grabs.

I like John Kasich because he believes in Social Secu­rity, Med­icaid, and Medicare,” Hutchinson says. “He believes that the gov­ern­ment has a respon­si­bility to pro­tect the wel­fare of this country.”

During the Q&A, Hutchinson asked how Kasich would reduce interest rates that have the poten­tial to triple stu­dent loan debt. In response, Kasich pro­posed nip­ping high col­lege costs in the bud early by encour­aging advanced place­ment edu­ca­tion in high schools and boosting enroll­ment in com­mu­nity col­lege pro­grams. This solu­tion did not sit well with Hutchinson.

I’m suf­fering from 200 per­cent interest rates from my loans from Keene State Col­lege,” Hutchinson said. “Mr. Kasich’s ideas sound good on paper, and although I like the guy, I’m not sure that he’s put enough thought into his platform.”

Nick Cac­camo, 30, came to the rally as a reg­is­tered Demo­crat seeking a mod­erate candidate.

I think in terms of the GOP, Kasich has made some really rea­son­able sug­ges­tions,” the Pitts­field, Mass­a­chu­setts, res­i­dent said. “The extreme views of some of the can­di­dates in the playing field encourage cen­trist can­di­dates like him to come out of the fold.”

Cac­camo, a city coun­cilor and math teacher at a charter school, was most inter­ested to hear Kasich’s per­spec­tive on financing munic­ipal infrastructure.

I know in Mass­a­chu­setts one of our biggest issues is the for­mula for school choice dol­lars, which there aren’t enough of,” he said. “Our gov­ernor [Charlie Baker] has been pretty vocal about adjusting those, so I’m inter­ested to see Kasich’s take on the matter.”

Kasich responded to Caccamo’s con­cerns, sug­gesting that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment keep the profits nec­es­sary to main­tain high­ways and send the rest of the funding back to the states.

Deb Jacobson, 57, a native of Phoenix, Ari­zona, works for a non-​​partisan mer­chan­dise com­pany that attended the rally. She, too, said that her pre­ferred can­di­date was still sub­ject to change.

I’m really con­cerned about border con­trol and national debt, so [Kasich’s] views on those topics are impor­tant to me,” she said. “I also think his expe­ri­ence with bal­ancing the budget will help him.”

Jacobson noted that the results of the pres­i­den­tial pri­maries are largely unpre­dictable. “Any­thing can happen. I mean a few years ago, they thought Hillary Clinton was a shoo-​​in,” she said. “It’s going to be a long primary.”


New Hamp­shire voters love the atten­tion, except when they don’t
By Alyssa Rubin, SSH’17
The 100 New Hamp­shire voters filing into a town hall meeting in the city of Keene to hear Ohio Gov. John Kasich speak are used to red-​​carpet treatment…

The 100 New Hamp­shire voters filing into a town hall meeting in the city of Keene to hear Ohio Gov. John Kasich speak are used to red-​​carpet treat­ment by pres­i­den­tial candidates.

The def­er­ence is well deserved. New Hamp­shire has his­tor­i­cally been a strong pre­dictor of pri­mary vic­to­ries. About two-​​thirds of the time, the winner of the state’s Repub­lican pri­mary has won the party’s nom­i­na­tion. As a result, can­di­dates pay spe­cial atten­tion to New Hamp­shire in the months leading up to the pri­maries. The 2016 Repub­lican can­di­dates have vis­ited the state a total of 339 times with just over a week remaining before pri­mary day, and Demo­c­ratic can­di­dates have made 119 total visits.

West­morlin res­i­dent Pat Dugger explained how the can­di­dates hone in on the grass­roots cul­ture of the Granite State’s pol­i­tics, making the race, at least for those in New Hamp­shire, feel local. They say they really have a chance to get to know the can­di­dates. Dugger, a retired sec­re­tary, describes the expe­ri­ence as an “exciting duty,” while others agreed that voting in the New Hamp­shire pri­mary is a “civic responsibility.”

New Hamp­shire voters are eager to take advan­tage of the access to polit­ical can­di­dates that a state address offers. For many res­i­dents, Kasich was the third or fourth can­di­date they had seen this elec­tion cycle.

James Spineti, a stu­dent at Keene State Col­lege and a Democrat-​​leaning Inde­pen­dent, has attended events for Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley. He said he was inter­ested in learning about Kasich’s plat­form. Spineti felt that New Hamp­shire voters, on the whole, are more informed than in states that don’t get such inti­mate access to can­di­dates. But, he noted, “they pretty much repeat the same stuff you hear on TV anyway.”

Overall, New Hamp­shire voters seem to enjoy their courtship with the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. “It’s won­derful,” said Diane Clemons of Acworth. “You actu­ally see the can­di­dates, they are willing to answer ques­tions, and they are more candid.”

The one thing they can do without? “The phone calls! We’re lucky if we go one night without any phone calls,” Dugger lamented. “And the junk mail,” noted Nelson Fegley, a retired engi­neer from Chester­field. “You know exactly what to throw away.”


For some New Hamp­shire voters, it’s any­body but Trump
By Lauren Smith, SSH’17
As the nation’s polit­ical focus turns to New Hamp­shire, some res­i­dents are more con­cerned with who a can­di­date isn’t: specif­i­cally, Donald Trump or…

As the nation’s polit­ical focus turns to New Hamp­shire, some res­i­dents are more con­cerned with who a can­di­date isn’t: specif­i­cally, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

We’re looking for a statesman and we haven’t found one yet,” said William Bare­foot of Fitzwilliam. Bare­foot, who is cur­rently unde­cided, described Trump as a “spoiled rich kid” who’s lacking in skills. “We can’t have ‘it’s my way or the highway’ any­more,” he said.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is trying to fill that gap, pre­senting him­self as an alter­na­tive to Trump.

Ban­tering with atten­dees and cracking jokes about not making the base­ball team, Kasich appealed to the “everyman” as just another reg­ular guy.

I don’t think I’m that great,” he said, “but I do have an ability to bring people together and make them a part of some­thing bigger than themselves.”

The town hall, held at the Cheshire County His­tor­ical Society, was Kasich’s 83rd town hall in the state, and second in that very room. The small cluster of chairs sur­rounded by old farm equip­ment seemed in direct con­trast to the huge crowds and chore­o­graphed dancers at Trump’s rallies.

Absent was the mud-​​slinging abun­dant in most of Trump’s rhetoric. Kasich’s cam­paign is focused on pos­i­tivity, in con­trast to the billionaire’s seeming goal to out-​​insult everyone. With endorse­ments from the local news­paper, the Keene Sen­tinel, as well as The New York Times, some­thing seems to be working.

Caroll Lothrop of Surry said that she “would con­sider moving out of the country” if Trump were to become president.

Former New Hamp­shire Sen­ator Gordon Humphrey, who has endorsed Kasich, said that Trump will likely win in the Granite State, but he pre­dicts that he won’t win the nom­i­na­tion. “We can’t afford an ama­teur in the pres­i­dency,” he said, “but espe­cially not in the office of Commander-​​in-​​Chief.”


A young cam­paign worker plays the long game
By Mack Hogan, AMD’19
In a few days, Ryan Dupain will learn whether it has all been worth it. For months, Dupain, 21, a cam­paign advance worker for the cam­paign of Ohio…

In a few days, Ryan Dupain will learn whether it has all been worth it.

For months, Dupain, 21, a cam­paign advance worker for the cam­paign of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, has been working in and wor­rying about New Hampshire.

Before Christmas, the cam­paign was looking down. We thought it might be over, but our strategy is finally paying off and the cam­paign has energy again,” said Dupain before a Kasich town hall meeting in the city of Keene.

Kasich said his focus has been on New Hamp­shire “from the begin­ning,” cen­tering the push for the White House on the deeply per­sonal town halls. Unable to make head­lines in debate per­for­mances, Kasich relies on per­sonal con­nec­tion to sway mod­erate voters.

Kasich isn’t good at debates, Dupain said. “Ted Cruz can drop a one-​​liner like, ‘we’ll carpet bomb ISIS into the stone age’ and get applause, but Kasich won’t because he knows that there’s more to it than that. In this town hall set­ting, he can explain him­self clearly.”

Equally as impor­tant is Kasich’s refusal to be pulled right in the debates. Keeping his stance as a true mod­erate, capable of reaching across the aisle, has not only helped Kasich’s gen­eral elec­tability, but has also lead to endorse­ments by many news­pa­pers, including sev­eral in New Hamp­shire as well as the The Boston Globe and The New York Times.

By voting for Kasich, New Hamp­shire can reward a can­di­date whose pol­i­tics have been largely positive—and rebuke those can­di­dates who have spent their cam­paign appealing to voters’ fears and biases,” the Globe edi­to­rial said.

Kasich’s pos­i­tive mes­sage has been another pillar of his cam­paign, with a focus on the nation’s ability to fix prob­lems under him rather than the prob­lems them­selves, which have defined the cam­paigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

As the crowd filed in for his town hall, the cam­paign team played songs including “Beau­tiful Day,” “(Keep on Dreamin’) Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” and “Home­grown” to set the stage for his upbeat address.

I have the ability to pull people together to get them to be part of some­thing bigger than them­selves,” Kasich said during his town hall. “A lot of people tell us about our prob­lems. And you know what? They’re all fix­able. If everyone worked together, if we forget about party, imagine what we could do.”


Kasich puts focus on bal­ancing the budget
By Trea Lavery, ‘20
It’s easy to see why Kasich wants to bring so much atten­tion to the debt. During his speech, Kasich recalled his time on the House Budget Committee…

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio is still a small pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in the big polls, so he holds his town hall meet­ings in small rooms.

His num­bers are going up in New Hamp­shire, but not enough to fill sta­diums like Donald Trump and the more pop­ular can­di­dates. But as soon as voters enter Keene’s His­tor­ical Society for his town hall meeting, they are greeted by a clear symbol of his cam­paign focus: Set up directly behind where he will soon stand to speak is an elec­tronic ticker sign labeled “National Debt,” on which the num­bers are steadily increasing.

It’s easy to see why Kasich wants to bring so much atten­tion to the debt. During his speech, Kasich recalled his time on the House Budget Com­mittee and bragged that it was the last time that the national debt went down over a period of four years. He also spoke of his work on the state budget in Ohio.

Everyone says, ‘I’ll do it,’ but Kasich can say, ‘I did it,’” says Doug Bean, of Dan­vers, Massachusetts.

Bean, who came to watch Kasich speak, sup­ports his poli­cies because he believes that he is one of the few can­di­dates with real expe­ri­ence dealing with a gov­ern­mental budget. “Sen­a­tors can live in la-​​la land and never have to do any­thing, but you can’t do that as a gov­ernor,” he says.

Many Kasich sup­porters are wor­ried about some of the other can­di­dates’ abil­i­ties to bal­ance the budget in the way that they believe their per­sonal favorite can. Sev­eral people who attended Kasich’s speech expressed con­cern about Bernie Sanders’ poli­cies, saying that they were not eco­nom­i­cally sound, and that Sanders would not be able to find the money to do all the things he says he will. On the oppo­site end of the spec­trum is Donald Trump, who one man called a “space cadet” with no polit­ical experience.

According to Kasich, his greatest gift is “get­ting people to do what they know they should, but don’t want to.” It is easy to see why he is rising in the polls, when so many people are con­cerned with the national debt at this time.


Will Kasich’s New Hamp­shire strategy work?
By Katharine Thi­bodeau, SSH’19
Kasich’s strategy is unusual, but recent polls have shown him run­ning second in the Granite State behind only Donald Trump…

All eyes were on Iowa, but for Repub­lican pres­i­den­tial can­di­date John Kasich, all hands were on deck in New Hampshire.

Under gray skies, the Ohio gov­ernor began his final push to gain ground before New Hamp­shire res­i­dents head to the polls. With his newest endorse­ments from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and sev­eral of New Hampshire’s most promi­nent local news­pa­pers, he ignored the spot­light in Iowa, where he was trailing badly, and focused on cov­ering the first pri­mary state one town hall meeting at a time.

Kasich’s strategy is unusual, but recent polls have shown him run­ning second in the Granite State behind only Donald Trump. Estab­lish­ment can­di­dates such as Jeb Bush are not gaining as much trac­tion as anticipated

The Repub­lican Party has been my vehicle, but never my master,” Kasich said at a town hall meeting in the city of Keene. His opening speaker described him as an “unorthodox but incred­ible leader.”

Sup­porters of Kasich like this side of him and applauded his atten­tion to
the national debt as well as his ability to sep­a­rate him­self from more par­tisan voices in the Repub­lican Party.

Voters at the town hall said they feel he showed his ability as gov­ernor to
“get along with Democ­rats,” make deals, and con­trol the budget.

Kasich seems to be playing a dif­ferent ball­game than other Repub­li­cans. Will this strategy work and give him a head start in New Hamp­shire? Or will he simply fall behind?