Marco Rubio made a townhall stop at a Senior Center in Plymouth, New Hampshire, at daybreak at 7 A.M. The center was created as a recreational hangout for senior citizens in the Plymouth area and the Rubio campaign selected their venue as an area where we they could reach out to an elderly community.
As we loaded to the building to help set up for the event, we were met with confused looks of one of the patrons. They asked us who we were and what we were doing up this early in the morning. It was cordial and pleasant with the staff as we began placing signs around the area and direct voters to the area to hear him speak. Thinking about choosing locales for these events made me realize that selecting a senior center has the obvious appeal to the senior vote. Allowing the candidate to be visible to different crowds is helpful to diversify the voting contingent. From the events I was able to attend, I saw an older populous at Rubio’s events at venues from Boys and Girls Clubs, hotel ballrooms, and even college campuses, and I bet the choice to have an event at a Senior Center was to solidify the older voting bloc or answer any questions they may have about Rubio’s platform.
While welcoming voters to the event with a big smile, one woman comes in with a confused look on her face. She asks the receptionist why parking was so busy and why the dining hall had all these chairs. Nancy, the receptionist, told her that there was a Marco Rubio event and they wouldn’t be done for three hours. The woman, who identified herself as, Patsy, was disgusted that she was unaware of this event as it obviously was causing her unnecessary stress. Instead of being excited for the chance to see possibly the next President of the United States, she was worried about not being able to get to the kitchen to start cooking. I learned that Patsy was the head cook for the Meals on Wheels program and wanted to get a head start on creating meals for the elderly. Nancy exclaimed that it was on the calendar for the past weeks. Patsy was still upset that she didn’t know.
My first reaction was disappointed that a Presidential appearance wasn’t higher on someone’s priority list, but I realized that the state can’t stop it’s regular happenings completely for this “President Carnival” that enters their state every four years. Patsy and Nancy are running their institution by volunteering their time and this political machine often inconveniences their lives. We don’t have to completely get rid of this “retail politics” of meeting voters and having town hall meetings, but I’m reminded that every citizen of New Hampshire isn’t going to have time for our questions or surveys. I came to this experience with the assumption that everyone in the state has some equivalent of a political science minor and knows how important their state is. I realize that residents of the Granite State view themselves as regular citizens -- breakfast starts early and can’t wait for anyone.
--William Seabrook is a Senior Political Science and Economics major with Finance emphasis at St. Olaf College. He looks to work in politics upon graduation and is excited to see the details and logistics of the event planning as he has a first hand look while in New Hampshire.