DURHAM, NH -- At her first campaign outing in this college town thirty miles east of Manchester, Hillary Clinton unveiled her nationwide young voter activist platform. They're her Hillblazers, (not to be confused with the Hillraisers, who are mostly big-money bundlers).
Young Democrats in New Hampshire are supposed to like Barack Obama and his message of generational change; Young Democrats everywhere are supposed to like Barack Obama and his message of generation change, but Clinton will not cede him one inch of ground. One of her earliest political experiences, she said, was traveling up I-93 from Wellesley College near Boston and campaigning for Eugene McCarthy in 1968. "I don't care what the polls say," Clinton said. "I'm going to campaign for every vote."
Just in case YOU care what the polls say: as Clinton was speaking, an aide distributed a memo to reporters highlighting the numbers showing that "young people are standing up to voice their support for Hillary Clinton." Young women, in particular.
To wit: 50,000 supporters on Facebook and "more Friendster supporters than any other candidate." As Clinton's national lead expanded over the summer, her performance across every demographic group has improved.
Her speech mixed policy proposals aimed at young voters with a bit of nostalgia about her own college days. Clinton poked fun at her Wellesley-era verbiage: "authentic reality" and the like. But one phrase, she said, stuck with her.
"Politics is the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible," she said
The crowd was more appreciative and curious than enthusiastic, but campaign aides privately acknowledged they did not expect a raucous rally. A thirty minute post-call start-time may have contributed to the blah feeling along the outer reaches of the crowd. The campaign's advance staff (see diagram) made sure to pack the front of the house with dozens of sign-waving true-blue supporters, thereby amplifying the applause lines .Don't fault the campaign for this tactic: every campaign does it at every event. But when the periphery of the crowd is less ecstatic, it shows. Don't misunderstand -- Clinton did shake hundreds of hands, and her campaign collected hundreds of names.
Before and after her speech, Clinton met privately with privileged supporters, including a few dozen of the 352 Student Leaders For Hillary the campaign announced in a press release.
From there, she was off to a stop at a nearby coffee shop. Her staff, Secret Service contingent and random magazine bloggers outnumbered the patrons, but the proprietor was thrilled to see her second presidential candidate in less than a month. (The other was the diner-hopping Rudy Giuliani).
Clinton should get a sheaf of good press clips out of the day. The national press will stick to the debate storyline, and in a way that is arguably favorable to the campaign.
And when he introduced her at UNH, state chair, Billy Shaheen, couldn't help himself. "If you stick together," he said, "no matter how much garbage they throw at her, we're going to change this country. We're going to change this world."
At the coffee shop, a dentist presented Clinton with a toothbrush "just in case the debate left you with a bad taste in your mouth."
And ABC's influential tip sheet/racing form "The Note" led its afternoon digest by pointing to Clinton's remark, earlier in the day, about the "All Boys' Club Of Presidential Politics."
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