Monday, October 31, 2011

Jon Huntsman – Dover Town Hall

Between petting Izak the goat and holding one of his frequent "press avails" with reporters, Gov. Huntsman lead a town hall meeting with Dover voters yesterday.

A memorable moment came when an elderly man smiled and nodded as Huntsman rattled off the names of various far-flung Pacific islands crucial to maintaining security in the Southeast Asian theater; I imagine the man hadn't heard a politician mention those foreign-sounding names with such familiarity in at least a half century.

View complete Dover town hall photography HERE.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jon Huntsman – Atkinson Town Hall

Braving the snow and a loss of power at the Atkinson Community Center (thanks, generator!), Gov. Huntsman held a town hall meeting last night for around two dozen "intrepid" voters.

Thoughtful questions and informed answers. This is becoming par for the course for Huntsman events, and that's why I'll continue covering him throughout New Hampshire in the months ahead.

View complete 2012 Campaign photography HERE. Gov. Huntsman in the Snow JonHuntsmanAtkinson-11-7-2

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mitt Romney – Manchester Town Hall

View complete 2012 Campaign photography HERE.

(All photos: Luke N. Vargas. 2011. All Rights Reserved)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ron Paul – Hampstead Town Hall

View complete 2012 Campaign photography HERE.

(All photos: Luke N. Vargas. 2011. All Rights Reserved) 

Rick Perry – Concord, NH State House

Governor Rick Perry just wrapped up filing for the New Hampshire Primary with Secretary Gardner at the State House in Concord.

Here are some photos from the State House and a campaign reception held across the street for supporters.

(All photos: Luke N. Vargas. 2011. All Rights Reserved) 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Rick Perry Iowa Ad Buy

Rick Perry began running a new television spot in Iowa today, a state where he should theoretically stand a chance of being competitive.

Instead, it's been hard for Perry to gain traction in Iowa, and he currently polls under 10% after a brief surge into the lead there in late August.

So does an ad harping on the jobs potential of fossil fuel development stand to shake things up for Mr. Perry in Iowa? For one thing, Perry's got the second highest "negatives" among Iowa voters (according to a PPP survey conducted earlier this month), and with energy not a major issue in Iowa, I don't see how Perry's message will be an adequate introduction to voters who much prefer their candidates to campaign heavily in the state.

But hey, I'm not spending the money!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hanging Up: Bachmann's Political Theater (feat. Donald Trump)

Candidates and their campaign managers frequently make mistakes during primary season, and as the first caucuses and primaries edge closer, the consequences of these mistakes magnify. Michele Bachmann's been in just such a rut of late, miscalculating the backlash against her absence from the campaign trail in states like New Hampshire, and I'm sure there have been numerous discussions among her staff as to how best turn things around.

To be honest, I enjoy covering Michele Bachmann, and I had a great time photographing her events in New Hampshire two weekends back, but why in the world she would so publicly revisit one of the most shamed figures of the past year — Donald Trump — and hold a joint event with him tonight is beyond me.

IMG_9447 - Version 2

I dialed in to Michele Bachmann's "Telephone Town Hall" expecting to hear more of the same hackneyed lines about Obama being a one-term president and the urgent need to repeal Obamacare, and perhaps a surprising remark or two about her recent slide in the polls and how she plans to become relevant again within the GOP field. What I heard instead was

The American public knows Trump as a businessman, but even his television admirers wouldn't go so far as to praise him as Michele did when she called him "one of the most admired, respected businessmen in the country." She later described him as being known around the world as a leader in understanding the economy.

Are you kidding?

Over the course of an hour Trump led the way, answering callers' questions and steering the conversation onto more ridiculous topics by the minute. The two of them took turns raising the temperature of political desperation in the country, warning Americans with grand schemes of Chinese economic and military domination, OPEC manipulation, and in the words of Trump, an Occupy Wall Street movement he senses to be a George Soros-organized protest composed of people simply having a "really good time." Trump went so far as to say that the Libyan rebels should have given the Americans half of their oil in exchange for our tactical military assistance, that Barack Obama's personal mortgage should be investigated, and that the Obama birth certificate matter is not a closed discussion.

If Michele Bachmann sincerely thinks an association with Donald Trump is a wise campaign strategy, she makes Mike Huckabee's 2007 joint television advertisements with Chuck Norris look like brilliant political strategy. I like to think the strength of American political discourse owes to the wide spectrum of viewpoints that are represented, but tonight's event was a farce, an embarrassment to reasonable political thinking, and another misstep for the Bachmann campaign. As more and more voters realize they couldn't possibly agree with the outlandish remarks Bachmann has surrounded herself with, it's not surprising this national figure commands the support of only 5% of GOP voters in recent polling.

As my roommate listened in from the other room and remarked that "there are no rules that apply to anything they're saying," I couldn't agree more. And with that, I hung up.

(All photos: Luke N. Vargas. 2011. All Rights Reserved) 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bloomberg GOP Debate Assessment

Below are my thoughts on last night's debate.

Since I couldn't scale the image to fit into the size restraints of the blog, click the table to view the image at its full size—


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Consider: Huntsman Unveils Foreign Policy at SNHU

Yesterday morning I attended Jon Huntsman's presentation of his foreign policy doctrine.

Below is a full video of his remarks, which I recommend any prospective voter next year watch. Huntsman frames almost all policy matters — including the national debt, domestic spending, border security — in terms of their foreign policy implications.

This perspective is fresh, and a far more balanced and considered understanding of the role of the president than the wide-ranging policy promises I hear from other candidates who seem to believe they'll be able to implement all the economic ideas they tout in isolation on the campaign trail.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mitt Romney – Hopkinton Town Hall

(All photos: Luke N. Vargas. 2011. All Rights Reserved)

Michele Bachmann – Moultonborough Town Hall

(All photos: Luke N. Vargas. 2011. All Rights Reserved)

Jon Huntsman – Tilton, NH Town Hall

Jon Huntsman just wrapped up a town hall meeting at a beautiful train depot in Tilton, New Hampshire.

Below are some photos I've had time to upload before heading to Hopkinton to see Mitt Romney.

(All photos: Luke N. Vargas. 2011. All Rights Reserved)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Huckabee, Meet Herman

Just a few weeks back I postulated that the Republican primary field could give rise to a 2011 incarnation of Mike Huckabee—that is, a candidate with 1) solid conservative credentials, 2) strong debate skills that allow him to appeal to a wide national audience, and 3) who has been in the race for a long time.

Herman Cain fits this criteria and in recent polling has jumped into a statistical dead heat with the fading Rick Perry.

Say what you want about Republican primary voters, but this election cycle they have tired quickly of upstart candidates (see Perry, Bachmann). Even though an early Iowa caucus, South Carolina and Florida primary stand to benefit Mr. Cain, I believe his rise in polling is occurring a month or two prematurely for it to translate into successive primary victories. Mike Huckabee's rise in 2007 occurred in early December and continued into March on the backs of a series of state wins until John McCain was able to sew up the nomination.

Regardless of this assessment, Herman Cain is now a legitimate contender in the Republican race, and I intend to treat him as such on this blog and in future analysis.