Every 4 years, Don O’Day spends February in New Hampshire.
The former Board of Education (and, more recently, Coleytown Middle School reopening committee) chair is not there to ski.
A political junkie since 1968, he takes a first-hand look at the men and women who — early in the presidential campaign — crisscross the Granite State before its first-in-the-nation primary.
O’Day is there as they speak to small crowds, mingle afterward, and engage in the type of retail politics that the rest of the country only dreams about.
Eleven months ago he was there, up close and personal with Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.
And very, very personal with Joe Biden.
O’Day attended a small campaign event. Afterwards, he spoke to the former vice president.
I attended a small Biden campaign event in New Hampshire and spoke to him afterwards.
O’Day said he had used the former vice president’s words several years earlier, when he delivered a eulogy for his brother-in-law.
Biden stopped the rope line, and listened.
“He only seemed interested in how my sister was dealing with the loss of her husband,” O’Day recalls.
“His New Hampshire opponents didn’t seem to matter. When I told him it’s still a day-to-day thing, even though several years have passed, he took her number and said he would would call.
“I wasn’t sure he would. But the next day — in the middle of a primary campaign — he called. They spoke for 15 minutes. No politics — just family, grief, joy and life. ”
O’Day’s sister was “overwhelmed.”
Two days later, he went to another Biden event. O’Day thanked him. They spoke about again — about his sister, the call, and Biden’s approach to dealing with loss.
“He took the time,” O’Day says about America’s new president.
“He’s the real deal.”