Posted: 11:40 am Saturday, February 6th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
From Atkinson, New Hampshire –
Mother Nature intervened on Friday in the New Hampshire Primary, as the snow forced Donald Trump to cancel his only event of the day and scrambled the travel plans for many making their way around the Granite State.
But the election work didn’t stop, with only a few days left until Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary.
As I left my hotel around 9 am, the snow had started to accumulate on the road, and only came down harder as I edged my way to a John Kasich event, as police had already closed down various roads along my route.
But while I was able to put it in low gear and make it up and down a few windy hills, others evidently weren’t so fortunate.
Big storm in New Hampshire. Moved my event to Monday. Will be there next four days.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2016
It was a reminder that Donald Trump rarely stays overnight in a state where he campaigns; instead he goes back to New York and his own bed.
In this case, that meant he was unable to make it back to the Granite State on Friday. He did have one event later that evening in South Carolina.
At John Kasich’s event, the snow was piling up as the candidate arrived, and his staffers moved out a number of chairs, knowing that no more than a few dozen people would show up.
In the crowd with their parents were a few young kids – Kasich was a bit surprised to find out that school was closed.
“A snow day?” Kasich said somewhat incredulously. “We’re in New Hampshire, we’re not in Maryland.”
Kasich made his familiar pitch, focusing on his experience in Congress, his experience as Governor, and how he tries to find compromise, which is sometimes a dirty word in politics today.
One of those on hand was Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, fresh off hosting the Democratic debate the night before, as she interviewed voters.
After Rachel Maddow and her camera crew departed, some of those left behind were still chattering about her.
“Yeah, she’s the one who did the Democratic debate,” one person said.
“Obviously she was busy, but i wanted to shake her hand,” said another.
Meanwhile, the snow wasn’t letting up, and I needed to do some live shots, which meant standing outside in the cold, since my air card didn’t like being inside at the Kasich event site.
“We’re canceling the third event and going sledding,” joked some of the Kasich guys who were breaking down the equipment; they had to then take it to the last event of the day, which would be the 100th town hall for Kasich.
“You better come,” one of the Kasich workers said to the remaining reporters, “we had cake for the 50th and 75th.”
“And it was good cake too,” he said with a smile.
Here was our temporary work spot:
I finished up my stories, as did my colleague Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who was again on the road with me – we decided since it was snowing so hard, there was no reason to leave.
Luckily, the lunch place upstairs was open.
“We can eat dessert!” Bluestein said excitedly.
A few tables over, two wire service photographers were comparing notes on the rest of their day. “I’ve already done the web gallery,” one said with a sigh, rattling off what work he still had to do, as both decided to leave, despite the bad weather.
Meanwhile, the snow was still falling.
“Be careful out there driving, guys,” the girl behind the bar said to the photographers, with her distinct New Hampshire accent filling the room.
Then the lights flickered. And the TV’s went off.
A few minutes later, the power went on and off again.
Luckily it stayed on.
Finally, I decided it was time to clean off my car, and get ready to head down the road to a Marco Rubio event in Derry.
The roads were a little tricky to say the least.
But soon enough, I made it to the main road and there was actual pavement. And in a few minutes, I was in Derry for Rubio.
As I walked into the gymnasium and started looking for my audio hookup, a woman suddenly called out to me, but I had no idea who it was.
“I follow you on Twitter!” said Lauren Selsky, who works as one of the network TV “embeds” following the candidates. “I know what you look like!”
I also ran into a couple of old friends from the Voice of America, Jim Malone (in the middle) and Adam Greenbaum.
I went to high school with Adam, while Jim has been a longtime friend and colleague on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail – Jim and I have had some fun times over the years on the trail in New Hampshire.
After the Rubio event ended, I did my usual work, recording my stories, editing them on my laptop and sending them out to my stations.
I even took a few minutes to video chat with my kids, then I started packing up.
And then I realized that Rubio was still in the gym, still shaking hands and meeting voters.
As I headed out the door, I overheard a guy asking for a ride; he had made it out to Derry via Uber, but now wasn’t having luck getting back to Manchester.
I was more than happy to lend a hand.
John Kehoe is the US Correspondent for the Australian Financial Review, “The Wall Street Journal of Australia,” was how he described it to me as we boomed down I-93 in the dark of night.
I told Kehoe how one of my first jobs in the business was doing farm news reports for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – almost 30 years ago.
As we navigated the back way to Elm Street in Manchester, I tried to give Kehoe the lay of the land – he wanted to go to where other reporters would be gathered, so I took him to the Radisson in Manchester, sort of the center of the political universe in New Hampshire.
As I dropped him off at the front door, I assured him that there would be some well known journalists hanging out – and there, through the revolving door, was Chris Matthews of MSNBC.
I told Kehoe to have a beer for me, remembering my younger days here in New Hampshire, when I could work 20 hours and drink the other four. I headed back to my hotel.
It was another fun day on the campaign trail.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.