A tale of two rallies

The results from Iowa are in, but now all eyes are on New Hampshire. What do Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders need to do next?

Whoever said it would be easy? .

The Iowa caucuses clarified little for the Democratic candidates besides the fact that the nomination fight will be long.

The Democratic hopefuls have set up shop in New Hampshire, where Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose Vermont home is just across the border, has a healthy lead in the polls. A win here is expected for him, but a loss wouldn’t derail his campaign (or fundraising abilities) now that he’s achieved something tangible. No easy coronation for Hillary Clinton.

The strength of Sanders’ run has pushed Clinton to demonstrate her progressive bona fides. She and Sanders now talk about the same issues, about health care and women’s rights, about criminal justice reform and the influence of money in politics. Sanders would go farther than his opponent, but these are now differences in degree.

Democratic voters have a choice: left vs. more left. But with the New Hampshire primary less than a week away, the candidates are sharpening their differences in style to add to help guide the choice.


The scoreboard at Nashua Community College is familiar — home and away, period and number of fouls, small ads for Dasani and Coca Cola.

Yesterday morning, it kept score in a curious way: The amount of time left in the game: 20:16. The score? Tied at 45, in honor of the candidate on the floorboards, Hillary Clinton, looking to become the 45th president.

It’s not an unusual bit of political theater, but its indicative of the theme of the morning rally yesterday in Nashua — political theater, effortlessly orchestrated. The goal was clear, and direct, the message crisply delivered — beat the Republicans, retain the presidency.

And Hillary is the woman to do it, her campaign wants you to believe.

The events she helms are a testament to this: a well-oiled machine, a sheer unstoppable force. These were the optics at the morning rally, with polished and eloquent speakers, from in the establishment (Gov. Maggie Hassan) and within the campaign — an impressive young organizer who raised the crowd’s temperature, and then the big dog himself, former President Bill Clinton assuring the assembled that he and Hillary were awake (it had been a late night, if you remember) and ready to take on the Republicans.

She was still the progressive who gets things done, her pitch to liberal Iowa caucus goers, but, here in skeptical, independent New Hampshire, also the woman who would halt the Republicans at the gates, refusing them the keys to not just the White House but the Supreme Court.

And of course, she was a woman. The first woman president. The first woman to win the Iowa caucuses. Get on the right side of history.

Do you #feelthebern?

Some 45 miles west and several hours later, the last remaining obstacle before a second Clinton nomination and presidency was rallying in Keene.

Like Nashua, Keene is well-trodden ground for presidential candidates. But this cycle, Sen. Bernie Sanders was the first to visit The Colonial Theatre for his first official event back in New Hampshire.

And the elegant old theater suited the political revolution, a phrase his campaign likes to use—while there were similar numbers to the Clinton rally, here the theater was packed, the acoustics were good, the college town crowd was young and raucous.

Sanders was home again, or nearly, and his hometown jokes on the Patriots and University of Vermont didn’t feel particularly forced.

He was comfortable with his audience and interacted with them: He asked supporters to call out their student debt. A woman bearing $183,000 won the dismal contest, earning recognition from the candidate.

He railed as usual against a politics of the-way-it-is, depicting a politics that should be. And could be, he says, claiming that America wants education, not jails, high wages, not cheating banks. He’s a radical, but these things aren’t that radical, he says.

“Please come out and vote,” he finished.

Outside, cars beeped their support for the posters and pins. Volunteers rushed to sign supporters up. One young woman said she was still “processing” the event. Others said they were inspired by Sanders’ call to “stand up.”

To reach full height, his revolution will have to prove more enticing than coronation.

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