Back in the election of 1992 I got my first taste of real politicking. I was a new TV producer and back then I developed a show called “Politics in Progress” for the local cable company I was working for in New Hampshire. Being the first in the nation primary is a big deal in N.H. and with a mere $100.00 filing fee you could run for President.
The show was hosted be my awesome boss and great interviewer, Steve Lewis, who was to give each candidate a half hour to share their views, solutions and promises to the people within reach of our system. Rochester, NH is the same size as Boston in square miles, and one of the more populated cities in the State. Steve would do a little research on each candidate and then explore some of the things they had been campaigning on. Our promise to the candidates was that we would air these half-hour interviews on a regular rotation, giving equal time to each. For many weeks we aired these shows and the week before the election we aired them 24/7, with the intention of informing our subscribers in a way they had never been exposed to. It was beneficial to the candidates, mostly the ones with little or no press, as well as the voters.
I extended the invitation to all the registered candidates, which was at the time close to 100 in number. Many accepted that invitation, including and not purposely excluding anyone, Pat Buchanan, Charles Woods, Jerry Brown, Tom Harkin, Bob Kerrey, Paul Tsongas, Ralph Nader, Tom Laughlin (who played Billy Jack), and my favorite Da Vid, who ran on the notion that if you drank his green mixture every morning the world would be a better place. For $100.00 you get many characters. Missing, with a reason, was Bill Clinton. I was close to one of Clinton’s cronies in New Hampshire and he explained, as well as his officials at the campaign headquarters, that Mr. Clinton would only submit a pre-produced 30 minute video for us to run and that he did not do off the cuff interviews. I pushed this issue and later, bending a little, his team for the questions in advance, I refused, and their answer was the video or nothing. I had them send me the video, but only upon the insistence of my friend Ray did I run the video on the last day, as a courtesy to him, not Bill.
As a naive, young and energetic producer I was appalled, yet awakened by Clinton’s actions. For the next 2 decades I covered politics for several stations, and most recently New Hampshire Public Television. I learned how strategy and manipulation of the press worked in campaigns and spontaneity and emotion could make or break an election. Just like most decisions we make, and deciding how to answer difficult questions, it’s always better to take time to reflect on the question, and in the case of a political campaign, think tank it, focus group it, dissect it, and then give the “right” answer. The one that gives you the best chance of being elected.
New York Times: By ROBIN TONER, Published: February 19, 1992 Mr. Clinton managed to get some breathing space from the New Hampshire results, after three weeks when his standing suffered amid questions over whether he tried to avoid the draft, and accusations from a supermarket tabloid that he had a 12-year extramarital affair. Mr. Clinton denied both charges, and voters in the polls today seemed to consider them unimportant. Only one in 20 said the assertions about Mr. Clinton’s character were very important in their vote. Still, in a troubling sign for the Democratic candidates, nearly a third of the voters in the Democratic primary said they wanted to see someone else in the race.
You can learn a lot from living with someone a long time, whether you liked it or not, eh Hillary? As a Trump supporter, I give him credit for being out there in front of the people. Before it was possible to manipulate the media and develop a strategy that would reach the necessary people, a candidate would “stump.” He would stand on a stump to speak directly to the citizens of the United States, willing to be questioned and willing to look you in the eyes when he gave you an answer, while showing that he or she had the physical stamina to handle themselves. Any question. Here’s a simple one … would you, Hillary? Why would someone with all that purported “Presidential” experience have to tuck herself away from the public to “study” and “prep” for a debate. You’d think she would know , first hand, the answer to anything anyone could ask her. With all that experience? We can watch the debates and see. I hope they check for wires, or more appropriately “puppet strings.”