Steinhauser: Clinton on friendly ground when she returns to NH
CONCORD - It's official.
Hillary Clinton's second stop on the 2016 presidential campaign trail will be New Hampshire.
The former secretary of state's presidential campaign telling NH1 News Monday that their candidate will head to the first-in-the-nation primary state soon after her swing this week in Iowa, as was widely expected.
And just like her itinerary in Iowa, Clinton will be thinking "small" when she makes the rounds in New Hampshire.
"I think it's important for Hillary Clinton to reconnect with voters and listen to regular people in New Hampshire, Iowa and elsewhere to hear what's on their mind, what their concerns are before she gets up on a stage and starts making speeches at thousands of people," said Terry Shumaker, a longtime close adviser and friend to both Hillary and Bill Clinton in the Granite State.
When she arrives in the New Hampshire, most likely early next week, Clinton will find herself on some very friendly ground.
In 1992, the first-in-the-nation primary state made her husband "the comeback kid." The then-Arkansas governor's second place finish lifted up a campaign in desperate need of lifting, sending him on his way to the Democratic nomination and ultimately the White House.
Fast forward 16 years, and a come from behind victory in the primary for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York was the infusion she needed after a disappointing third place finish in the Iowa caucuses. The primary triumph propelled the former front-runner back into an epic battle for the Democratic nomination against then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.
"In 2008 during darkest days of my campaign you lifted me up, you gave me my voice back, you taught me so much about grit and determination, and I will never forgot that," Clinton said last November, at a rally for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Gov. Maggie Hassan, and Rep. Annie Kuster in Nashua two days before the midterm elections. "I want to thank the people of New Hampshire."
Clinton has many Granite State friends in high places.
Shaheen and her husband Bill, one of New Hampshire's two committee members on the Democratic National Committee, are longtime Clinton allies and strong supporters. So is Hassan, as well as former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan, the other DNC committee member from the Granite State. Current state party chairman Ray Buckley, who has to remain neutral, is also close with the Clintons. Add to that list a bunch of state senators and scores of state representatives.
But regardless, Shumaker said Clinton's taking nothing for granted.
"All indications are she will really make a big effort here. She's hired some top notch staff. We have a core of volunteers who have worked one, two, or even three Clinton campaigns," said Terry Shumaker, a former DNC committeeman, who accompanied Bill Clinton to the State House in Concord when Clinton first filed for the primary in 1991.
"I think New Hampshire presents an opportunity for her to not only connect with people in New Hampshire but to show regular voters across the country who she really is, what she really cares about. Hillary Clinton and her husband are both products of the American dream and she's aware that the American dream is fading for far too many people and I think she wants to be president in large part to do something about that," Shumaker added.
Shumaker was a senior adviser for Ready for Hillary, the pro-Clinton grassroots organization that's energized supporters over the past two years. The group's parting gift to Clinton, a massive email distribution list of people ready to back her.
"It's hard for me to imagine what the terrain would look like now if there wasn't a Ready for Hillary."
While the ground may be friendly, there are plenty of progressives who are far from sold on Clinton.
One of them is Arnie Arnesen, a liberal activist and progressive talk radio host.
Asked about Sunday's video launch by Clinton, Arnesen said "where's the beef. What is this about? I know she wants to be our champion but you know I buy cereal that says that. I want a candidate that proves it. Words have no meaning. I need to know where her policies are going. You know this is nice but there needs to be something more."
Many on the left are concerned that their voices won't be heard if the battle for the Democratic primary is nothing other than a coronation for Clinton.
"it's very important that we should have some other people running so that we can have an appropriate debate around these issues and the potential solutions. If we have no one running except Hillary Clinton, that does not provide an adequate platform to put forth our positions and our message," state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth recently told NH1 News.
The question is whether former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, or even former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee, who are all mulling runs for the Democratic nomination, can tap into some of that angst. But even if they do, Clinton's still the closest thing to a sure bet in New Hampshire.