Photos by Nick Moorhead
Hours before her Democratic Town Hall appearance with opponent Bernie Sanders yesterday, Hillary Clinton held a rally at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Derry on the outskirts of Manchester. No big deal, but it’s an interesting choice of arena considering revelations earlier this year that the former Secretary of State left one group of boys and girls hanging, and on another occasion charged a Boys & Girls Club $200,000 to speak at an event.
While Clinton caught heat from Politico and others for steering two hundred grand to her own foundation without returning a dime to the host organization, with the New Hampshire primary less than one week away, the candidate returned asking for something more than a paycheck—the support of young voters.
Turnout was lackluster. Especially if you consider the number of people in Clinton’s entourage and the crush of press, the total sum of which seemingly equaled the number of actual voters there to hear her speak. With so many Republican sideshows in town though, it was a respectable showing, with anywhere from 50 or 60 cars lining the street spilling out of the youth facility’s parking lot. For a few hours this morning, this neck of Derry was the land of minivans unbridled.
Clinton was scheduled to appear at 10:30 am, but didn’t show until about 10:50. In the meantime, pop fillers like “Happy” by Pharrell and “Roar” by Katy Perry kept the largely middle-aged crowd occupied until a sentimental campaign video screened in the back of the room took over, awkwardly segueing into a clip about the courage of Americans since 9/11. An onlooker quietly cracked to a campaign worker, “How many times have you seen this thing?”
The atmosphere changed as Clinton entered the room. She worked the crowd without effort, coming out in classic stump mode alongside astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman turned gun control activist who was shot in the head five years ago during a public event. “Speaking is difficult for me,” said Giffords, “but I want to say two words: Madame President.”
Clinton jumped right into her alleged disadvantage against Bernie Sanders in the polls. In a tone that was more condescending than joking, the secretary suggested that New Hampshire residents who vote for the Vermonter are just being “neighborly,” then went on to address gun control and to slam opponent pols for being afraid of the firearm lobby. From there she briefly went sentimental: “The heart has to be matched with your head,” and encored with a throwback call for “change.”
Unlike at the Boys & Girls Club event for which she was paid handsomely, this time Clinton stuck around and answered questions from the crowd. Fielding an inquiry about cyber attacks, the secretary opined that hackers are hard to catch. Even with the elephant of recent email scandals in the room, however, people in the audience were too friendly or shy to note that she’s hardly an ace on the topic.
“Keeping our technology safe” is tough, Clinton said. “[Hackers] live in virtual reality basically.”