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MANCHESTER, N.H.—A group of groggy but enthusiastic Harvard Democrats filed out of a yellow school bus Saturday morning to spend the day courting New Hampshire voters for their favorite presidential hopeful.
“There is nothing more fun than a campaign,” said Maryellen C. McGowan ’09, a member of the Harvard College Democrats who coordinated the trip.
Saturday’s expedition was the second campaign trip the Dems have organized this year.
Twenty-nine students, including three Harvard Law students, spent the day convincing voters to support their candidate. Students volunteered for the campaigns of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), former Sen. John Edwards, and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). Several students campaigned against New Hampshire Sen. John E. Sununu, a Republican. Jeanne Shaheen, the former director of the Institute of Politics, will seek Sununu’s senate seat in 2008.
The campaigners were split almost evenly between the Clinton and Obama camps, with a small group of students volunteering for the other campaigns. Several did not decide which campaign they would volunteer for until the bus ride.
With lists of Democrats in hand, students knocked on doors across Manchester, trying to identify supporters and create goodwill for their candidates.
“There is great value in creating a good impression,” said Eva Z. Lam ’10, who canvassed for Obama.
“We have seen tremendous excitement and involvement from students on campaigns in New Hampshire and Massachusetts,” said Kathleen Strand, communications director of New Hampshire for Hillary.
The Harvard Republican Club has planned a similar excursion for Nov. 2, according to Vice President Colin J. Motley ’10.
As the Radisson Hotel prepared to host Saturday night’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner—a “who’s who” of New Hampshire Democrats—Harvard students supporting Clinton joined a crowd of campaigners lining the street. Trying to outdo the Obama supporters down the block, the students wielded “totems”—lawn signs skewered on two-by-fours—and the colossal cardboard political signs that have invaded New Hampshire as the primaries approach.
Harvard students supporting Dodd pinned down the senator for a photo when he stopped by the warehouse that serves as his New Hampshire campaign headquarters, as well as the campaign office for “Stop Sununu.”
“We made signs that said ‘Dudes for Dodd’ and ‘Broads for Dodd,’” Audrey A. White ’10 said. “And ‘Just Dodd It.’”
On the bus, the sleepy Dems exchanged campaign gossip and stories about romances within—and between—campaigns.
Some Clinton volunteers recalled the time they gathered to watch the Sept. 27 debate in a Hanover, N.H. pizzeria. After the debate ended, Clinton paid the restaurant a surprise visit.
“Everyone was rushing to the front,” said Clay A. Dumas ’10, who is also a member of The Crimson’s editorial board. “Luckily I was standing right where she was coming into the pizzeria, and I got to shake her hand.”
—Staff writer Carolyn F. Gaebler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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