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.]
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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?