Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

New Hampshire has always been full of surprises

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Originally published on on Wed, 01/09/2008 – 10:24am

So we had an upset last night, with Hillary Clinton going against the grain of the polls and the pundits. And even though John McCain was expected to win, given where his campaign had been, it was a night of surprises.

But it reminded me of another New Hampshire winter night.

Setting the wayback machine to 1996 — this was back in the day when the New Hampshire primary was all the way into February. I spent the majority of that day in 1996 in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. I was on a business trip and was wrapping up my visit, ready to fly out that night.

I remember a huge amount of rain, which was funny because when I first landed in Washington the previous Saturday, they had almost a foot of snow. On Tuesday, the snow was gone, but the rain was prominent.

The afternoon turned when I got to National airport and discovered the airport was closed. Naïve one that I was, I thought, “That’s silly. I’m in the airport. How can it be closed?” Well, a plane had run off the runway and flights weren’t going anywhere.

My next thought was, “Well, put me in a hotel by the airport, get me room service, and I’ll sit back and watch the New Hampshire primary coverage.” But for some crazy reason, they wanted to get us back to Chicago.

Their solution was to put us on coach buses and take us to Dulles to fly out there. I thought this ruined any chance of seeing the New Hampshire primary coverage.

Then a saving grace came: TVs on the bus. Since we could only get over-the-air coverage, the logical pick for viewing was the New Hampshire primary coverage. Good ol’ Dan Rather was in the chair, and even though we were crammed into the buses, luggage all around, we were glad to watch the TV.

Now the Democratic side was all set, Bill Clinton on the road to re-nomination. So all we had to deal with was the Republican side.

I do remember rooting for Pat Buchanan to throw a wrench into the Republican race. Others around me were intrigued at that possible scenario, but no one expected it. Regardless of who we were rooting for, it was fun to be with complete strangers enjoying the experience. And we were thrilled when Buchanan did win the primary.

The nighttime was particularly gloomy, rain beating down, our flight plans delayed, and you couldn’t see the extensive pathway that took us from National to Dulles. But as long as we were getting good news from Dan Rather, life was good.

The thing I remember best was once we were at Dulles, this gentleman came along, catching his regular flight from Dulles. Unlike the weary passengers on the bus, he had no idea what was going on in New Hampshire. When we told him Pat Buchanan was the winner, he was shocked. That look on his face was worth all the aggravation we went through that February evening.

Once we got on a plane, and up in the air, I still wished I were at that airport hotel, warm and full. But somehow sharing that experience with others on a crowded coach bus made that New Hampshire primary night that much more fun and satisfying.


Written by democracysoup

January 9, 2008 at 10:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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