An N.H. Pocket of Progressivism
By Joel Achenbach
LEBANON, N.H. -- John Edwards had way too many people turn out for the small room at Lebanon High School where he was to speak, so the crowd spilled over into the gym and listened to his stump speech on a loudspeaker. That was kind of lame (did the Edwards team fear that they couldn't fill the gym? that a camera might pick up empty seats in the background?), and to make up for it, Edwards showed up briefly in the gym for a demonstration of his set-shot prowess.
No snark is intended when we report that he has a pretty shot -- a smooth stroke with excellent ball rotation. He clanged a few off the back of the rim and blamed the ball ("I need a boy's ball! This is a girl's ball!"), but eventually he got warmed up and sank four in a row from just beyond foul-shot distance.
This part of New Hampshire is progressive -- it's practically Vermont, to the point that Vermonters were all over the event today. Many progressives all over New Hampshire may be thinking strategically about Tuesday's vote. Both Barack Obama and Edwards are viewed as progressive -- and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, too -- but many voters today told me they want to make sure that Hillary doesn't win. So even if they like Edwards or Kucinich more, they might vote for Obama in hopes that he'll beat Hillary Clinton.
"I think she's a Republican in sheep's clothing," said Kate Devine, a physician in the Upper Valley (of the Connecticut River) town of Lyme. She likes Kucinich's policies and Chris Dodd's verve. People in this area, which includes Hanover, home to Dartmouth College, "tend to vote more like Vermonters. Even though the student population of Dartmouth is very conservative, the faculty and staff is less so."
Pat McGovern, a retired teacher from here in Lebanon, said of Clinton, "I feel like she's part of the entrenched interests."
"I'm deciding whether I'll vote with my heart and vote for Kucinich, or vote for a more electable candidate," said Karen Swanson, a librarian from Andover.
"I will not vote for Hillary Clinton," said John Corrigan, a "hard-core Democrat" in Concord. "I'm looking for the progressive alternative to Hillary Clinton. That could be Obama or it could be Edwards."
This isn't a scientific survey, of course. And Jesse Wolfson, 22, a Yale student from Hanover who will vote Tuesday, told me he thinks the national news media have been vicious in their coverage of Sen. Clinton.
But he's voting for Edwards, for sure.
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