'Hillary, Come Visit!':
A Waitress's Appeal
The Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, N.H. is an important stop on any presidential candidate's itinerary. It's the only 24-hour eating establishment downtown, and attracts a wide range of customers, including downtown workers, senior citizens, and snow plow drivers who work overnight.
While Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney (remember this?), and Bill Richardson have visited the Red Arrow, they have not earned the support of Red Arrow manager Elaine Boule. She's a mother of five, with no health care coverage, who has managed the diner for eight years. Her brother-in-law died in Iraq in 2003, and she fits the mold of a "military mom" voter, which at least one New Hampshire political expert thinks is emerging as a key constituency.
Despite being a registered Republican, Boule wants to vote for Hillary Clinton. In classic New Hampshire tradition, however, she won't make a final decision until meeting the New York senator in person.
As part of our ongoing Blue Plate Politics reporting project, we have given small video cameras to the staffs of the Red Arrow and the Waveland CafÃ©, an equally popular diner in Des Moines, Iowa. Our "Diner Journalists" are tasked with recording the visits of presidential candidates and campaign surrogates as well as the comments of staff or customers who have something to say about politics. Their contributions will be a recurring part of the project we're calling "DinerCam."
In our DinerCam debut, Boule kindly invites Clinton to visit the Red Arrow. She also rings the diner's traditional "Virgin Bell," which is struck every time a new customer visits.
Sen. Clinton has roughly four and a half months to visit the Red Arrow, and help Elaine make up her mind. Will she visit? DinerCam will be there if she does.
-- Ed O'Keefe
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