On Thursday our class attended a Town Hall Meeting for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Hillside Middle School in Manchester. While this event had one of the biggest crowds, it also had the longest wait time of any event we have been to. We waited outside for just over an hour before we were let into the venue, and then another two hours before Hillary tok the stage.
The Vice Principal of Hillside Middle School was the first person to welcome the crowd and give a brief biography of Hillary. We were sure she was about to begin. Not quite. It wasn't Hillary, rather New Hampshire Senator Lou D’Allesandro that came on next. D'Allesandro came on to share his endorsement of the campaign, to get the crowd excited and to welcome two students from Hillside, one who would sing the National Anthem, the other who would lead the Pledge of Allegiance. When those were completed everyone was ready. Surely Hillary was up next.
Still no Hillary. Instead came one of the organizers of Hillary’s New Hampshire office. He gave a speech on who he was, and why he was supporting Hillary. Then he pumped-up the crowd by asking, “Who is ready to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Who is ready to see the next president of the United States?” The audience was roaring with applause, shouting “Hillary! Hillary!”
She still didn’t come out. This time a video montage of Hillary’s time in government played. That clip ended after about 5 minutes, but another one came on immediately. The second was the same length as the first, and when this one finished a third clip came on. All of these clips had interviews with Hillary, supporters, and pictures showing what she had done throughout her career.
Finally, Hillary arrived. But she still didn’t start. Senator Jeanne Shaheen accompanied Hillary onto the stage. Senator Shaheen gave a fifteen-minute speech on the accomplishments of Hillary Clinton, and some of the main policy issues that Hillary focuses on. All the while Hillary was standing next her nodding along.
By the time Hillary finally began her speech we had been waiting close to three hours. I wonder if having all of these opening acts is the best strategy. On one hand the variety of speakers showed the attendees the support Hillary has throughout the New Hampshire community. On the other hand, in a state that is so used to "retail politics", it seemed a little overdone. The videos made it seem like a production rather than a town hall meeting, and made it seem like celebrity was speaking rather than a presidential candidate. To Clinton’s credit though, she did answer quite a few questions after her speech which made up for some of the wait time.
--Lily Ansel is a St. Olaf senior from Edina majoring in Economics with an emphasis in Management. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential election.