Vol. 38 No. 5 · 3 March 2016

Driving through a Postcard

Christian Lorentzen reports from New Hampshire

5523 words

The​ Whitestone Bridge crosses the East River, connecting Queens to the south-eastern tip of the Bronx. To the west are the ten jails of Rikers Island and to the east are the 18 holes of the Trump Links golf course, the name spelled out in giant letters of grey bricks set into the brown grass. It was a Tuesday morning, and we were on the way to see Donald Trump address an arena full of New Hampshire residents at Great Bay Community College on the outskirts of Portsmouth. On the radio the former Colorado senator and disgraced 1984 presidential candidate Gary Hart was saying that left and right were less useful concepts than the question of whether a president would push the country forward or drag it backward. The news updates led with Obama’s visit to a mosque the day before, and followed with the Zika virus. This was liberal public radio, and the next segment was about sexism in the technology industry.

When the signal faded I switched over to AM and found the right-wing talk-show host Laura Ingraham asking Donald Rumsfeld whether it was possible that the country was on the verge of another five decades of domination by the Democratic Party, as had been the case from the 1930s until 1980, when Ronald Reagan restored normality and routed the commies. Rumsfeld had for the past week been ubiquitous in the American media, hawking a phone app he had helped devise called Churchill Solitaire, based on a card game taught to him by another diplomat during his stint as US ambassador to Nato and supposedly a favoured pastime of its namesake. He wasn’t as agitated as Ingraham but he said that if 84 per cent of Iowan Democrats under the age of thirty were supporting a self-declared socialist it was a sign that American high schools weren’t teaching economics properly.

In northern Connecticut, Rush Limbaugh occupied multiple frequencies on the AM dial. His voice seems to emanate from the anterior of his nasal cavity and to bear an evolutionary resemblance to a canine bark. He was talking about the claims that Ted Cruz had committed fraud in the Iowa caucus by spreading a rumour that the somnambulant retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had dropped out of the race. Trump had called for a nullification of Cruz’s votes or a caucus redo. An aggrieved Carson had asked for an apology and explained that the rumour was a distortion of reports that instead of proceeding from Iowa to New Hampshire he was returning to his home in Florida for a few days to get some clothes. Limbaugh, who has cast himself lately as an opponent of the Republican Party establishment, was amused that on a cable morning show Rick Santorum, the dropout also-ran famous for saying that the legalisation of gay marriage would lead to the mainstreaming of ‘man on dog’ bestiality, had on endorsing Marco Rubio been unable to cite a single accomplishment that made the Florida senator worthy of support. AM talk radio is dull, repetitive and largely repugnant. Right-wing radio hosts talk about the plague of political correctness, microaggressions, trigger warnings etc more than liberal New Hampshire public radio presenters talk about the Zika virus. Zika didn’t seem an imminent threat in New Hampshire in February, but it’s true that the summer months bring an onslaught of mosquitoes. The location of the Granite State’s PC gulag was less clear.

‘Everybody who’s white, you have to feel guilty because you’re white,’ Roberto told me. He was a silver-haired retiree waiting in line in front of me to enter the Trump rally in Portsmouth. He then launched into a version of the ‘I’m not a racist but’ formula I would hear several times over the course of five days in New Hampshire without ever raising the topic of race myself. Roberto’s case rested on his years dating a black woman and then living with a Muslim woman before at last marrying an Italian. He was a big fan of The Apprentice, and said he was voting for its former host because we need a president with ‘rough edges’. ‘We need a guy with big ones right here,’ he said, pointing with both hands to his crotch. He said he’d voted for Bill Clinton but felt differently about Hillary. ‘I just can’t take her. Her voice is like sandpaper.’ A few yards away a dozen Hasidic Jews were holding a pro-Palestinian banner and another that read: ‘Israel Does Not Represent World Jewry.’ ‘They like the Palestinians?’ Roberto said. ‘That’s pretty weird. I used to live in the Middle East. They’ve been fighting each other there for two thousand years.’ He told me he had also lived in the UK and regretted the Muslim takeover of Birmingham. As for immigration, he said: ‘It’s like you’re making dinner at home and you want to make Italian food, but then a bunch of people come over and they want to eat Chinese.’ His phone rang and he asked the person on the other end of the line whether the toga party later was still on.

I hadn’t put away my notebook when we got to the entrance to the rally. ‘You’re media,’ the bouncer told me. ‘We’re not letting you in.’ I told him I was a ticket holder. ‘You’re media, this is a private event, and you have to go in through the media entrance. We put you people in a cage so you can’t go into the crowd and get them to say things.’ We smiled at each other. This seemed to be the most fun he’d had all day. ‘Go to the media entrance, or I’ll get the Secret Service to drag you away.’ On the way round the building, I bumped into a Secret Service agent who told me he couldn’t do anything for me. At the media entrance, they Googled me and wouldn’t allow me in the press cage, but I was told I would be allowed in with the ticket holders if I left my ‘equipment’ behind (the notebook and a laptop). I put my equipment in the car, and returned to the bouncer, who was happy to see me. ‘I know you’re just doing your job. Mine is to make yours harder.’

Inside, many in the crowd were wearing the insignias of the region’s professional sports teams, especially the New England Patriots. I grew up outside Boston, and spent summers as a child with my grandmother in Rindge, New Hampshire, in the state’s rural south-western corner. I felt more or less, though not necessarily happily, at home in this crowd – as if it were a family gathering of my more aggressive cousins or a high school reunion to which only the former schoolyard bullies had been invited along with a few of their mothers and sisters. I noticed three black faces in a crowd of about a thousand. In front of me stood two bearded men around the age of thirty, and I asked them for recommendations of bars in Portsmouth, not mentioning that I was looking for a place to watch that night’s debate between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They told me to go to the Thirsty Moose. A few moments later I noticed that one of them was holding up his phone and the two of them were fixated on it. They were scrolling through images of the Confederate battle flag, and I overheard them discussing where in the country you’d ‘get jumped’ if you wore the flag in public. They agreed that you would ‘get jumped’ in Detroit, but not south of the Mason-Dixon line, and not in Maine or New Hampshire, which are ‘different’. I stifled the impulse to say that we were from the North and that the Confederacy was the enemy in the war we’d won, or that someone who wore the symbol of American white supremacy out in public perhaps deserved to ‘get jumped’. Though I’d read about Trump supporters shouting ‘Sieg heil!’ at his Southern rallies, I was surprised to see Confederate flag fetishism in New Hampshire. Its population is 94 per cent white, 1.5 per cent African-American, 3.3 per cent Hispanic. Racists don’t have many people around to hate. From the loudspeakers a disembodied voice told the crowd that if a protester interrupted the proceedings they were to hold up their signs and begin chanting: ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ ‘Do not harm the protesters.’ The line got a lot of laughs.

The skin on Donald Trump’s face resembles the tan upholstery on the seats of my grandmother’s 1982 Buick LeSabre. ‘On June 16th I came down an escalator,’ he said from the podium, referring to his announcement of his campaign. ‘I talked about illegal immigration, and everyone went crazy. What a horrible thing to discuss. Two weeks later everybody was saying, you know, Trump is right.’ He mentioned two women murdered by illegal immigrants in California, one of them a 65-year-old veteran, ‘raped, sodomised, killed’. He went on to assert that he had introduced the topic of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ to the national discourse, something no one was talking about before he entered politics because of political correctness, which is strangling America. The other big problem was the incompetence of the political hacks employed by the government, who make terrible deals. A case in point was Obama’s recent deal with Iran, in which we ‘paid’ $150 billion and Iran spent it on imports from ‘every country but us’. Trump would make better deals, retrieving jobs from China, Japan and Mexico, and bring US corporate money back from offshore by lowering taxes, putting an end to ‘corporate inversion’, a concept no other politician had ever heard of. His indignation reached a peak when he mentioned the Obama administration’s refusal to ‘bomb the oil and take the oil’ from Islamic State because bombing the oil would pollute the atmosphere while Obama travelled on Air Force One, with its antiquated engines ‘spewing crap into the atmosphere’, to Hawaii, where he spent almost three weeks playing golf. Trump loves golf and owns the greatest golf courses in the world, but if elected he would never set eyes on them while in office: ‘I just want to stay in the White House, work my ass off, make great deals.’ He veered into an extended riff on a deal he’s recently made with the government to turn the old post office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC into a hotel. He had been chosen by the government over the owners of Hyatt, major donors to Obama, because of his superior negotiating skills. If he had a flaw, his father used to tell him, it was that he was too tough: ‘Be a little like Jeb Bush once in a while, soft.’

I’ve watched many of Trump’s speeches, all of which seem to be posted instantly online. The difference that night was that, aside from a few insults aimed at Bush, he never mentioned his rivals or the polls or his loss to Ted Cruz in Iowa. This was Trump ‘humbled’, as the New York Times put it with barely suppressed glee. Reports had been outlining Trump’s strategy of refraining from major ad purchases and investment in a conventional ‘ground game’ to bring voters to the polls. He had instead relied on the mass media to pay attention to him on account of his celebrity and his penchant for offensive rhetoric. There was no denying that for months the polls had indicated this strategy was working, but his loss in Iowa had given the press and his rivals’ aides, the people who get paid to put together a ground game, the chance to gloat and to recast the race as a contest between Cruz, the Tea Party evangelical, and Marco Rubio, the neoconservative protégé of John McCain. The inevitability of Rubio’s nomination had now been accepted as an article of faith by the pundits. Here was a young, slick, good-looking reactionary whose parents had fled Cuba. The themes of anti-communism, which somehow continue to animate US politics, were his birthright. Once the field was cleared of lesser lights like Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Carly Fiorina, he would bring about a future of Republican national majorities by bringing swelling numbers of Hispanics into the tent. The dominance of this narrative was enough to make you feel sympathy for Trump, at least until the next moment he opened his xenophobic mouth.

None of the bars in Portsmouth was showing the Democratic debate. Most of the television screens were showing a hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres. I had dinner at the State Street Saloon, where I overheard conversations about the things most New Englanders talk about most of the time: their property and their vehicles, the placement of septic tanks and the replacement of tailpipes. I collected opinions about the candidates. Bush was a ‘milquetoast’, Cruz a ‘wackjob’, Rubio a ‘salesman’. Christie had ‘too much baggage’, a reference to collusion by his appointees and staff to limit access to the George Washington bridge and create traffic jams as a form of revenge against the disloyal mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Feelings about John Kasich were neutral, and no one seemed much aware of his work for Lehman Brothers at the time of the financial crisis or his role as Newt Gingrich’s sidekick in the House during the 1990s. Mention of Hillary Clinton induced fatigue. Even those fond of Bernie Sanders were ready to quote Margaret Thatcher’s quip about socialism and other people’s money. By this point the Bruins had beaten Buffalo, and the post-game shows were replaying a scene from another match where a player had knocked a referee down onto the ice. Later I watched a replay of the debate and fell asleep as Clinton accused Sanders of making ‘artful smears’ about the donations she accepts from Wall Street without citing any instances when the money had changed her vote. She had a point. Clinton would probably abet the bankers even if they weren’t funding her campaigns.

We woke before dawn and drove through the snow to Manchester, where we saw Carly Fiorina complain to supporters in a basement about her exclusion from the next night’s GOP debate due to insufficient poll numbers. She went on for some time about holding national referendums via smartphone, an idea that I (a flip-phone user) find anti-democratic. An elderly man quoted Khrushchev’s remark that the Soviets would destroy America from within and asked if that danger had been renewed with the rise of Bernie Sanders. The Sanders crowd I joined two hours later at the Exeter Town Hall seemed the least menacing of mobs. One of the going media narratives equates the supporters of Trump and Sanders: both draw on an ample well of white male outrage. There’s little escape from white males in New Hampshire, but the difference in ethos between the two camps is stark. To resort to a crude analogy, male Sanders supporters are the guys male Trump supporters used to beat up at school, joined perhaps by some who might defend them from such beatings. That, at least, was the impression I formed from attending two rallies; something about returning to New England always puts me in mind of getting beaten up.

Support for Sanders on the American left is hardly universal. In his column in the Nation, the late Alexander Cockburn rarely neglected an opportunity to trash him as a sellout to the Democratic machine, as well as being a gun-toting socialist who backed interventions in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, reliably supported Israel, acquiesced to Pentagon appropriations and didn’t object to drone deployments. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who says he’ll be voting for Sanders, has asked what’s so radical about a leftist who doesn’t support reparations to African-Americans. Protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement have disrupted Sanders’s campaign events. These criticisms have the merit of substance, whereas the attacks on Sanders from the Clintonite centre tend to either dismiss his ideas as ‘fantasies’ (Paul Krugman’s word) or evacuate the content of his politics and then tear him down in symbolic terms. Sanders’s callow millennial supporters are attracted to his purity and authenticity and are due for a wising up: his socialism would make him unelectable in the general election. There was also the ‘Bernie Bros’ phenomenon, a label applied to Sanders supporters who subject Clinton supporters, especially journalists, to vicious sexist attacks online. In New Hampshire no one I spoke to who wasn’t a campaign worker or a journalist was aware of the Bernie Bros, and no one at the Sanders rally expressed their disregard for Clinton, if they had any, in sexist terms. (At Republican rallies I did hear her disparaged in sexist terms.) It was simply that she is, as a middle-aged woman from Exeter put it, ‘a corporate Democrat’.

Sanders always delivers the same stump speech about economic inequality, the rigged economy, and the corrupt US campaign finance system. He calls for a single-payer healthcare system, the reform of the Veterans Affairs Administration, the expansion of Social Security benefits, mass refinancing of student debt, free tuition at state colleges and universities, mandatory paid leave for new mothers, and the elevation of the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He pledges to end mass incarceration and do something about the 51 per cent unemployment rate among young African-American males. He calls out the Walton family for amassing its wealth on the backs of employees paid so poorly for full-time work that they still qualify for welfare and Medicaid – essentially a government subsidy to Walmart. He calls out the Koch brothers as the reason the Republicans refuse to take action on climate change. He cites the 3.5 million small campaign donations he’s received at an average of $27 each. He says that whenever Republicans talk about ‘family values’ they mean the denial of abortion rights. Unlike Clinton or Obama, he never couches his policy prescriptions in maudlin stories of one individual’s suffering. Instead we are all the victims of the billionaires. The only ‘story’ he tells is about the fact that no bankers were prosecuted in the aftermath of the financial crisis, which he contrasts with the criminal records of young people arrested for marijuana possession. Listening to Sanders heightened my sense of my own cynicism. When he said ‘our country is based on fairness,’ or spoke of inequality and said, ‘that’s not what America is supposed to be about,’ I realised it had been years since I had thought of America as a fair, just or equal society. It was nice, for a moment, to imagine it could be otherwise. Perhaps that’s what they mean when they say: ‘Feel the Bern.’

The snowstorm had reached its height during Sanders’s speech and we drove out of Exeter on slushy back roads to see Chris Christie appear at a pizza place in Sandown. Christie had spent the week saying he would use the debate to confront the inexperienced Rubio, whom he called ‘the boy in the bubble’. We passed a yellow pickup truck that had spun out and flipped on its side. The driver seemed unharmed, and when we offered help he said it was already on its way. He looked as if he might have first-hand knowledge of the state’s much reported rampant heroin epidemic (a problem Trump promises to solve with his beautiful Mexican border wall). At Bruschetti’s pizza in Sandown, I ordered a small pizza and a Cherry Coke and waited for the governor, who was delayed by the snow. Nate Silver, the statistician journalist who came to fame predicting Obama’s victories with great specificity, walked in and ordered a slice of pepperoni. He told me the odds were that Trump, whose demise he has been predicting for months, would win the New Hampshire primary, but that he would put his money on Rubio winning the nomination. I walked outside to smoke a cigarette, and met a ten-year-old boy who was playing in the snow. He told me his parents had brought him up from Washington so he could shake hands with all the candidates. So far he’d shaken hands with Fiorina and Kasich. He said he didn’t want to shake Trump’s hand and if he was old enough he would vote for Sanders. Christie arrived and said he’d just come to say hi to the town where he’d announced his campaign a year ago. That campaign would last five more days.

We got back on the road, and the fresh snow on the trees made it seem as if we were driving through a postcard. From the highway we also saw a few functioning smokestacks. In Concord, Jeb Bush was holding forth in a school auditorium. He has suffered the campaign’s greatest humiliations, and his family deserves them. His stump speech was a farrago of false modesty, boastful citations of his record as a hurricane-fighting Florida governor, and thumbnail sketches of privatisation schemes that go by the name of ‘reform’. He talked about having a ‘steady hand’ and a ‘servant’s heart’ and sheepishly admitted to being his father’s son and his brother’s brother. A man in the audience told him he would give him his vote if he could provide a satisfactory answer to one question: ‘What was the objective of the 9/11 attacks?’ A flummoxed Bush attempted to explain that the terrorists wanted to attack the values of Western civilisation, showing that he lacks his brother’s gift for simple nonsense statements like ‘they hate our freedom.’ The man in the audience told him his answer was wrong and that he believed al-Qaida had done 9/11 to stick America with knives that would cause us to invade Afghanistan and commit fiscal suicide. I left the room with the comforting sense that there would be no third Bush presidency.

I went to the bar at the Radisson hotel in Manchester where the journalists and campaign operatives spend their evenings, mixing with local party hacks. MSNBC was broadcasting from the room. The glamorous Clinton aide Huma Abedin was flitting about. My waitress told me that a few nights earlier she had carded Marco Rubio himself; she didn’t recognise the 44-year-old senator and couldn’t tell if he was of drinking age. Some dejected ex-staffers of the Maryland governor Martin O’Malley’s suspended campaign were drinking in the corner. I spoke for a long time to a local party apparatchik who said that everything about the state primary had changed in 1968, when Paul Newman came to campaign for Eugene McCarthy. It was the first time anyone had seen a celebrity, and now many of them were voting for one in Trump. He said that loathing of Hillary Clinton ran high among party hands, who whatever they said would all be voting for Sanders. He said that New Hampshire was a ‘freak show’ and that any young person with brains left for Boston as soon as they could. He had left for Boston University in the late 1970s, studied with Howard Zinn, been involved with the expiring student left, and knew the intricacies of Sanders’s activities in the Socialist Workers’ Party. He said he’d enlisted in the army after graduation, been stationed as a military intelligence officer with the NSA in Stuttgart, and had personally typed out reports for Reagan’s eyes only about Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile violations during Poland’s second Solidarity crisis. He said exposure to radiation had left him with PTSD, and he remained in therapy paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He explained which New York mafia family controlled the New Hampshire drug trade and which the mountain resorts.

On Saturday, Hillary Clinton was campaigning door to door, and at one of her rallies Madeleine Albright told the crowd: ‘Remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.’ The night before Gloria Steinem had appeared on a chat show and explained millennial women’s support for Sanders: ‘When you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.’ I watched the Republican debate at the Radisson bar next to a pair of middle-aged women who were voting for Christie. They were cheered when his jibes at Rubio caused the surging ‘establishment saviour’ to repeat four times a canned line about doing away with the myth that Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing because he knows exactly what he’s doing (i.e. ruining America, which Obama hates, with his military budget cuts and his unconstitutional executive orders). It appeared as if the broadcasters had gone into replay mode, but in fact it was a glitch in the autopilot that steers Rubio’s brain. A lawyer sitting at the bar immediately used his phone to sell the Rubio stock he’d bought on a commodity trading market. A reporter for ABC was combing the bar for reactions, but the Christie ladies had left and no one else was willing to talk to her. I told her I was a journalist but she could say I was an undecided voter from Rindge, which isn’t entirely untrue. I used the opportunity to pursue the anti-Bush, anti-Rubio agenda forming in my head, and said they were the night’s losers. I soon received several texts and emails from friends confused to see me on television; a misunderstanding between the reporter and her producers had placed me at a Ted Cruz watch party. Outside the lobby I came across Bill Kristol, who had predicted a big Rubio win in New Hampshire, and asked him who had won the debate. ‘Who knows?’ he said. I drank whiskey with a former McCain campaign staffer who had been along for Sarah Palin’s infamous shopping spree in 2008. The best thing about it was an expensive dress she took home because it quickly became the wrong size for Palin’s pregnant daughter Bristol.

I was disappointed the next morning to find that there were no pancakes at Rubio’s ‘pancake breakfast’ in Londonderry, only muffins and bagels and weak coffee. It was also disappointing to learn that many present hadn’t watched the debate and were still planning to vote for him. The crowd was mild-mannered, middle-aged, middle-class and worked in middle management. The salesman sitting beside me said the most important issues to him were terrorism and immigration but that he was fine with the country accepting refugees from Syria so long as they were properly vetted. Rubio, by this time dubbed the ‘Rubot’, resumed his message about Obama’s evil genius and the awful pop culture values being rammed down the country’s throat.

Two hours later, in Peterborough, Ted Cruz took the stage and asked how many of those in the crowd had come from out of state. A majority of hands went up: these were evangelical Christians who had come for miles to see one of their movement’s political celebrities make a rare New England appearance. They had driven north from Nantucket and Providence, south from Bangor, and east from Albany, and they were opposed to abortion above all. Cruz is renowned as a college debate champion, litigator for conservative causes before the Supreme Court, and inheritor of the mantle of Barry Goldwater, but he seems to relish the role of cornball stand-up comedian. He led with a flurry of eye-roll inducing punchlines: the Democratic race features a wild-eyed socialist … and Bernie Sanders; Cruz is a defender of states rights and a champion of the Tenth Amendment … or as Obama calls it, ‘the what?’ His campaign branding leaves no pun unturned: his bus is emblazoned ‘Cruzin’ to Victory’; he speaks in front of a ‘TRUSTED’ banner that sets off the last three letters in red. (Get it?) Perhaps the most bogus notion put forth by the US commentariat in the past months is that it’s mystifying that Trump has been leading against such a talented field.

Back in Manchester, Rubio was throwing a Super Bowl party, but by the time Lady Gaga started singing the national anthem journalists and campaign workers clearly outnumbered New Hampshire voters, who had presumably left to watch the game in a place where they could drink beer. I sat down with a cluster of teenage boys holding little signs that read ‘Stop Hillary!’ on one side and ‘Stop Progressives!’ on the reverse. I asked them what it meant to stop progressives, and they had a hard time getting past a personal animus for Clinton and ‘her ugly pantsuits’ and ‘Benghazi’. One ventured that stopping progressives meant preventing ‘the hardworking people of America from having their money taken away from them’. I asked them why they were for Rubio rather than Trump. One boy said it depended on the day, another said that Rubio was the only candidate who said firefighters should be provided with a spare set of gear for days when they fought multiple fires, a measure that would lower cancer rates. Left to their own devices they started talking about baseball. There was a middle-aged man with them who seemed responsible for their indoctrination. ‘I have not a racist bone in my body,’ he told me, ‘but seven white males sitting together as we are now constitutes a microaggression on college campuses. The progressives are the most intolerant people since Stalin.’ One of the boys broke in: ‘Hillary is the next Hitler. I saw this sign and I thought, You know who else would like this sign? Jesus!’ I wished them luck in the coming baseball season and took my leave. Back at the Radisson bar I talked with journalists about the possibility of a national realignment: could the disaffected whites voting for Trump and Sanders be united against a warmonger party fusing the supporters of Clinton and Rubio? The latter yoking seemed more plausible to me than the former.

On the eve of the primary we drove out of New Hampshire through another snowstorm. My phone rang, and it was a Trump organiser from Rindge asking if I could come out the next day to hold up a sign and talk to voters at the polls. (I had given the campaign my number when I reserved my ticket to the rally.) I told him I had to work all day, and perhaps I could send my cousin, but I was worried she was voting for Clinton. On the radio Rush Limbaugh was delighting in the remarks made by Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem over the weekend. The ‘feminazis’, he said, deploying his customary term, had fatally undermined their movement by allying themselves to the Clintons. Outside Boston, the local xenophobe impresario Howie Carr gloated about the failure of Rubio, whom he called a ‘Merkel Republican’. Trump phoned in and said he couldn’t explain Rubio’s breakdown, only that he had been standing next to him and could see that he was ‘sweating profusely’.

Earlier that day I’d attended a Clinton rally at Manchester Community College. The vibe was baby boomer self-affirmation, and a man in a Red Sox hat led a chant that went ‘I believe that she will win’ – an oddly faith-based take on the situation. Chelsea and Bill Clinton introduced Hillary, and Bill managed a moving riff about Hillary’s efforts for the people of Flint, Michigan, where the water supply was contaminated with lead thanks to the state government and children were suffering from deformed brains. Hillary herself talked about the Children’s Health Insurance Programme, which she helped get passed in 1997. She spoke of a father of two daughters with cystic fibrosis who had been told by an insurance company: ‘We don’t insure burning houses.’ He had told her: ‘They called my little girls burning houses.’ She wasn’t so effective when she rounded on Sanders with her new talking point – that Sanders had once received $200,000 in Wall Street donations through a Democratic Senate campaign fund. And anyway, ‘Bernie Sanders and I share the same goals.’ She kept talking about Wall Street, and a man in a red hat shouted from the floor: ‘Why do you take their money?’ Clinton responded to him, ‘Ask yourself,’ and said Obama had done the same thing; they needed the money to fight the Republicans. I happened to be standing near the man and reporters swarmed around us. He told me his name was Edward Anderson, and he was 48 years old, a real estate broker from New Haven, Connecticut. ‘I’m a hardcore Democrat, but she’s on their payroll. She took money from the student loan lobby. I was supporting her, but if the young people can make a revolution, I’m with them.’

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