“When Senator McCain takes the stage for a town meeting at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, N.H., Thursday, his performance will serve two purposes. First, it will represent an effort to win a vital swing state. Second, a return to a town meeting style of campaigning, where candidates respond to questions from voters for a prolonged period of time, could help him perfect a vital tactic of being able to answer tough, surprising questions.”
McCain will need to do something other than set-piece pieces to compete with Obama.
Read more here in my New York Sun column.
A comment of Michael Castaldo who is involved with the advocacy group ONE came too late for my column. One is an international anti-poverty and anti-aids campaign. From his perch in New Hampshire, Castaldo saw more of all the candidates than almost anybody during the last year. I should point out that Castaldo attended Democratic and Republican events throughout last year and had one agenda item: spreading awareness and support for his non-partisan group.
Castaldo: “I believe that John not only enjoys ‘town halls’ but uses them as a reasearch tool…When we first met I was pretty sure he knew very little about ONE. So he listened and learned. The rest is history, at almost every stop he let us introduce the shanty town to the town halls of new hampshire and the 2008 presidential race. He has added the gravitas that all the rock stars and activists could never achieve.
At his last town hall before the primary he again passed me the mic; the only difference was that the ACT UP people had showed up and tried to embarras him by demanding more funding for AIDS in Africa. They had interrupted 4 times. When I finally had the mic I was almost in tears – for the last year he had done more to help our cause than any of the candidates from either party. So it was up to me to explain that to the crowd and additionally plug ONE.
If there were any ‘undecideds’ in the crowd before, they were not at the end. He truly thrives off the interaction between the crowds desire for answers, and this meeting was a prime example. There was one ACT UP member that had avoided getting thrown out and when he handed her the mic she had very little to charge him with, i had answered all he questions and she was left to mumble about how PEPFAR was a good thing and she was glad he supported it… John then said ‘I think you have your answers’ to her and ‘thank you all for coming’ to the rest of us. The crowd leapt to its feet and a thunderous round of applause ensued. It lasted for a estimated 10 minutes. He had listended to me about ONE and trusted me – I came through and was there to defend his record when he needed it. He won that hall and two days later won the primary that would carry him to be the Republican nominee for president.”