Paul Steinhauser: A bit of NH's political history gets demolished in Wayfarer Inn
BEDFORD - An inglorious end to a legendary political hangout.
Demolition crews are tearing down the Wayfarer Inn. The hotel, vacant for five years, is being demolished to make room for a shopping center and apartments.
It's hard to tell looking at it now, but for decades the Wayfarer was the unofficial nerve center of New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, with the national political press corps, network correspondents and even anchors, and the political campaigns, setting up shop for weeks on end.
"The Sheraton Wayfarer became the go to spot because a lot of reporters hung out at night, a lot of campaign staff, even a candidate or two. So if you were pulling up at the bar and getting a drink, most likely there was a national reporter sitting next to you," Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, told NH1.
"And before spin was called spin, you could go in and have a conversation with some of these national reporters and maybe get some advantage for your candidate. and there were a lot of stories being written out that Wayfarer," Levesque added.
At last month's New Hampshire primary centennial celebration at the Newseum in Washington, which NH1 and WBIN-TV co-hosted along with Bloomberg Politics, Saint Anselm College, and the Newseum, stories involving the Wayfarer were flowing.
"That Wayfayer. I know people talk about it. It was a legendary place. All of the consultants, the reporters, everybody, republican, democrat, was in that bar," said storied Democratic strategist James Carville.
"That was the way it was in there, the republicans and the democrats, and everybody, would get drunk," Carville added.
The moderator of the event at the Newseum, Bloomberg's Al Hunt, who's covered the New Hampshire primary for some four decades, shared a story about David Broder, the longtime dean of the National Political Press Corps, who died a few years back.
"He was cremated and he had his ashes spread in two places: Wrigley field in Chicago and the old Wayfarer hotel in New Hampshire and one of his kids climbed the fence and spread the ashes there, Hunt said.
On a personal note, this reporter stayed at the Wayfarer just before the 2004 primary, as part of CNN's team in the Granite State.
By then the hotel was tired and definitely past its prime, but the building still had some of the political mystique left.