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NH Fourth of July: Parades, Cookouts and Candidates

It was more than kids and marching bands at July 4th parades in early presidential nominating states like New Hampshire, as the candidates descended on them to try to make positive impressions on voters. (Mike Licht)
It was more than kids and marching bands at July 4th parades in early presidential nominating states like New Hampshire, as the candidates descended on them to try to make positive impressions on voters. (Mike Licht)
July 5, 2019

MERRIMACK, N.H. – This week's Fourth of July parades acted as honey for the swarm of presidential candidates trying to break through the media clutter and meet voters directly.

Will racing from parades in Amherst to Merrimack and up to Laconia – along with scores of personal appearances this weekend – match the power of last week's nationally televised debates?

Polls are indicating those debates reshaped the field. But political scientist Wayne Lesperance at New England College says don't count anyone out.

He still has faith in the power of old-fashioned handshakes, or what is sometimes known as “retail politics."

"Most Americans, they didn't watch the debates, so there is an opportunity for lower tier candidates, candidates that are still trying to introduce themselves to the public,” he points out. “And participating in the Fourth of July parade, you'll see them at Memorial Day fields, and this is all a way of introducing themselves to the general public. So, there's still time for that."

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Congressman John Delaney of Maryland, all Democrats – as well as former Republican Gov. Bill Weld – marched in parades across the state, flanked by their supporters.

Backers of other candidates also marched, as a sign of their local support.

Lesperance contends the value of retail campaigning – symbolized by the New Hampshire Primary – is even more important in the age of intense media coverage.

By way of example, he says he would have given at least one candidate this advice:

"The biggest challenge that a frontrunner has is, everybody's coming for you,” he states. “One of the ways to inoculate yourself against that is to engage in retail politicking.

“Let folks make up their own minds about you, face to face – in a parade, at the fair – as opposed to having it defined in a TV debate."

And the holiday weekend continues. That means more campaign cookouts and house parties before next week, when another six candidates are scheduled to return to the Granite State

Kevin Bowe, Public News Service - NH