Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Tired Campaign Workers Ready for the Next Round

NEXT comes Texas, Georgia and Super Tuesday for the presidential candidates. Pause, though, for a quick look at the victories, losses and lessons of New Hampshire, and the true-believers who lived them.

Red-eyed and a little exhausted, Mary Ellen Glyn stood in Gov. Bill Clinton's headquarters on Elm Street here on election night, shook her head and summed up the life and times of all bleary-eyed campaign workers, "It's been a roller coaster ride all the way."

About these ads

Normally a graduate student in Boston, Glyn totaled eight grueling weeks as a volunteer for Clinton, a candidate who finished a strong second despite charges of infidelity and lots of explaining about his draft status during the Vietnam war. Glyn put in 12- and 14-hour days handling the media, slept in spurts and ate on the run.

Over at the Paul Tsongas headquarters, David Deans from Salem, Mass., was as active as Glyn, but came home a winner. "Our message got to the people," he said. "Tsongas is the man who clearly addressed the issues."

Mary Richards, a volunteer from Massachusetts in Sen. Bob Kerrey's campaign, and a state worker, echoed what the polls and others wondered about the man from Nebraska. "It's very perplexing to me why Kerrey didn't catch on," she said, assuring a reporter she will continue to work for her candidate. "He wasn't a man for 20-second sound bites, I guess. That's why I supported him."

At former governor Jerry Brown's headquarters - the only headquarters with recycling bins for glass, aluminum cans and paper - full-time volunteer Nancy Farron was moved by the unselfish acts of people who cared about Brown's campaign.

"An unemployed husband and wife came in here," she said, standing in her stocking feet, answering phones, "and gave us a piggy bank full of coins. They were looking for jobs but they wanted to help. And a Republican for Brown had a blue van with 'We, the people' statements painted on the sides. When he had to go out of town suddenly he gave us the van to use for the campaign."

Why didn't Brown appeal to more voters? "He offered a different message," said Ms. Farron, who stopped running her futon store to work for Brown. "People get used to what is there, and it's hard for them to change."

On election night, workers for conservative candidate Patrick Buchanan were loud and highly charged as they jammed into a huge restaurant here to celebrate Buchanan's strong showing. President Bush was the subject of angry discussions.

About these ads

"Bush has called off the Reagan revolution," said Roger Hatch of Dover, N.H. "Buchanan has the guts to take on the hard issues, and I agree with every position he has taken. He won't back down on anything the way Bush has."

Roger Meggyesy, a retired IBM executive, liked part of Buchanan's campaign strategy. "First, he attacked Bush on his 'no new taxes' lie; once that was established as more than valid, then Buchanan shifted and told the voters what he stood for," said Mr. Meggyesy. "Yes, I can see Buchanan in the White House. His rough edges can be rounded off pretty quickly."

Running as a write-in candidate with a "none-of-the-above" label, Ralph Nader said he was surprised and pleased at "the patience of people to sit and listen for two and three hours to a discourse on the failure of American politics." Nader got 2 percent of the votes in New Hampshire and his name will be on the Massachusetts ballot on March 10.

A recent state-wide poll in Texas indicated that Paul Tsongas had only a 3 percent name recognition there while Bill Clinton had a 40 percent recognition. Playfully acknowledging criticism of his campaign style, and praising his energetic wife, Nikki, Tsongas quipped during his victory speech in New Hampshire, "My attitude about charisma is, if you don't have it, marry it."

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.