Well, THAT was a big waste of time (note: my son who just recently redeployed back from Afghanistan, had just returned home after driving up from Fort Campbell). Sunday, Jon Huntsman was on the fourth of a five day swing through the State. My reaction truly is that old NH political joke "don’t know – I’ve only met him twice". This trip, however, I didn’t even get the chance to shake his hand for the first time – pity, as not all that many folks were at the event. In fact, if you are a local, you can see that it was in the bar area of the building – and not in the larger hall.
Got there early, yakked with some of the folks that were waiting with me before they unlocked the door, including a couple of the campaign staffers. Before Gov. Huntsman arrived, one of them asked me what I thought of the field (announced or not or possibles). I can tell that you have NO idea the horror that came over their faces when mentioned Herman Cain and that 10-15,000 other folks. They kept on insisting it was only 100…until I told them to look it up on GraniteGrok ("dudes, the pictures are already up!") as Grokster Mike was in the front row at the actual event.
I asked if I could do a quick interview – SURE! No problem! We’re going to run an open campaign! Well, I’d say upon entrance, he spent 5 minutes working the room, spent at least 1/2 to 2/3rds of the time playing pool with an old vet (he lost, but it provided a BUNCH of photo ops for the photogs, looking down the table), and then spoke for a few minutes. Standard fare speech for a VFW. Then booked it. He gave individual interviews to some of the national media, and then when I thought it was my turn, he turned and got into the SUV.
Yeah, that didn’t happen either. I shoulda just stayed home with Ian.
Very few people showed up – more staffers and press than people.
Twice, people coming into the VFW asked "er, what’s going on?" and I had to tell them; I would have thought that the VFW would have pumped it’s own event.
Four people from the Belknap County Republican Committee showed up either. That included me.
Gov. Huntsman strode in dressed in a dungaree jacket, trying to look like a man of the people; ditto for his wife and daughter. Look, perfectly fine if that’s how it is to be played or if that is how he really is – perfectly fine. However, it just felt "wrong" or poorly plaid as all the staffers and local "advisors" were all in standard Republican campaign uniform of blue blazers and button down shirts – they obviously didn’t figure out how badly that would look in contrast. If that was the "look and feel" he wants for the campaign, he’s going to tell his staffers and others to go and redo their wardrobes.
When Herman Cain was at Ovide’s, he and his staffers left in a single Suburban. In contrast, 3 or 4 drove up for Huntsman – it looked like the Secret Service piling out for a Presidential arrival.
I had Googled to get a website for this post – Really, dudes? All in all, not a great first impression. That said, I’m certainly willing to take a second look – once is NEVER a good way to judge some one for this position and everyone can have a bad day. Some might say I’ve been a tad harsh here – well, when it is a photo-op event, you can only go after the visuals. Deal.
Skip Murphy writes for GraniteGrok, a popular conservative blog in New Hampshire.
Editor’s note: Caffeinated Thoughts and GraniteGrok have partnered together to bring you early state primary news from a Christian, Conservative and TEA Party perspective. We’ll be offering cross-posts and I’m including their RSS feed in our sidebar. I hope you check them out. We’re also looking for a South Carolina blog to complete this trifecta. I hope you find this helpful! Shane