Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

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The 69 Percent Of Westporters Who Voted For Hillary Clinton React To Last Night’s Vote

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Eli, George And Hillary

Tomorrow is zero hour for 2 candidates. For over a year, they’ve campaigned to be president. They rely on national staffs, pollsters, and family members offering free advice.

But presidential campaigns are won or lost at the local level. Phone calls drive enthusiasm and turnout. Something as simple as a ride to polls — replicated thousands and thousands of times — can spell the difference between the White House and history’s dustbin.

Since mid-August, Hillary Clinton’s most successful phone bank in Connecticut has operated from a cramped Westport storefront, across from Stop & Shop.

Remarkably, it’s organized entirely by 2 Staples High School students.

George Kane (left) and Eli Debenham run Westport's Democratic headquarters phone bank and volunteer operations.

George Kane (left) and Eli Debenham run Westport’s Democratic headquarters phone bank and volunteer operations.

George Kane rowed with the Saugatuck Rowing Club. He skis for Staples, and teaches skiing to people with disabilities.

His mother Melissa chairs the Westport Democratic Town Committee — but for years he did not share her interest in politics. “I always felt dragged to events,” he says.

In the spring of junior year though, his Advanced Placement Government class inspired him. “It just hit me,” he recalls. “I thought, if there’s anything I can do for this election, I’ll do it.”

He called Clinton’s statewide director of field operations. Soon, he was running Westport’s Democratic phone bank.

Eli Debenham — like George, a Staples senior — serves organizations like Builders Beyond Borders, and works at Gilbertie’s. He’s been fascinated by politics for a long time. Now Eli is the volunteer coordinator for Westport’s DTC.

The storefront opposite Super Stop & Shop.

The storefront opposite Super Stop & Shop.

The 12th graders work like a well-oiled machine. Together, they’ve gathered up to 40 people a night to the Westfair Center office. One evening, they logged 3,500 calls.

Not just for Clinton. Volunteers phone in support of local races. They also call voters in New Hampshire, the nearest battleground state.

A couple of days ago, I watched the phone bank in action. Our conversation was punctuated by questions — most of the technical kind. The volunteers — coming from as far as Stamford and Ridgefield, some of whom could be George and Eli’s grandparents — asked for help with the calling software on their laptops and cellphones.

The duo solved every problem. In between, they told stories of their months of work.

It’s been eye-opening. A man with military ID asked for Hillary posters and lawn signs. They apologized; there were only a few on hand.

“That’s okay,” he said. ” I just want it for target practice.”

Most other encounters have been far more positive. Though few people like being interrupted for a political call, there have been enough willing to listen that George and Eli feel like they’ve done some good.

westport-democratic-town-committee-logo“When we get a Republican who thinks Trump’s a maniac, but doesn’t want to vote for Clinton, we may be able to have a conversation,” George says. “Some people really are undecided. We’ve had 20-minute phone calls where we really think we make an impact.”

“If we have 5 to 10 calls a night light that, it makes a measurable difference,” Eli adds.

He called a 24-year-old Greenwich man, who planned to vote for neither candidate. After 25 minutes, Eli says, “he was actually crying on the phone. He said that a protest vote would help give the election to Trump.”

He and George know they won’t reach everyone. But they’re encouraged by little examples, like the volunteer who took her phone into the headquarters bathroom to speak quietly with a retired man who originally did not want to talk at all. At the end of the conversation, he said he would “think about” Clinton.

Eli Debenham, in charge last week.

Eli Debenham, answering questions last week.

With Election Day almost — and finally — here, Eli and George describe their mood as a mix of anxiety and optimism. They know the race has tightened, and it’s been vitriolic. But, George says, “I’ve seen far more positivity than negativity” at the phone bank he runs.

“I’ve made real connections with people I’m excited to share Westport with,” Eli notes. “I’ve seen a whole new layer to this town that I love.”

There’s no school on Election Day. George and Eli will be up at 3 a.m. They’ll deliver signs to polling places. They’ll oversee one final round of canvassing. Then they’ll watch the returns — maybe at the headquarters that’s been their home since August, perhaps at a bigger venue.

The 1st presidential campaign for either of them has changed them both.

George says, “I never enjoyed conflict. But this election opened me up to seeing that differences are important. I’ve seen how I can make an impact. Politics is now a love of mine. Plus, my mother is happy.”

Eli always wanted to go into politics. This experience has only enhanced his interest.

“It’s exhausting, discouraging, challenging and satisfying,” he says. “It’s what I want to do.”

Donald Or Hillary? Vote Here!

Our long national nightmare will soon be over. On Tuesday, we select the next president of the United States. So help me God.

Before we do, it’s time for “06880”‘s 1st-ever presidential poll. It’s completely unscientific — but then again, it’s also not rigged. (I hope.)

Vote below, in the appropriate poll (Westport residents only, or non-Westporters). Let’s see how closely our readers mirror the real America.

Whatever that is.

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Not Cool

There’s a noticeable lack of presidential political lawn signs in Westport this fall.

This might be one reason why:

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The alert “06880” who sent in this photo — taken this morning on Roseville Road — said: “I keep myself from defacing Trump signs. They need to control themselves too! ;-)”

November 8 can’t come soon enough.

Proving Without A Doubt That Donald Trump Is Proud To Have Support From The Uneducated

Seen cruising slowly up and down the Whole Foods parking lot recently:

hillary-clinton-sign

(Photo/Jane Sherman)

Whether you’re with her or him — and whether you agree with or oppose everything this driver believes — you have to admit:

That last line is a classic.

Larry Aasen Buttons Up

In 1928, Larry Aasen’s father returned home to North Dakota from the national Democratic convention. He brought his young son an Al Smith pencil.

The souvenir is long gone. But Aasen — in his 90s, and a longtime Westporter who with his fellow politcally activist wife Martha has attended “many” national and state conventions — amassed over 2,000 other buttons, posters and assorted mementos.

Aasen mounted some in wooden frames. He donates others — worth at least $15 each to collectors — to local non-profits, to sell at silent auctions. They raise $100 to $150, he says.

Though Aasen is an avid Democrat — and his collection skews that way — his collection is non-partisan. His Republican memorabilia dates back to Wendell Willkie. He trades for some of them. Others come from his many GOP friends.

jfk-posterStarting tomorrow (Wednesday, September 21), his favorites will be on view at the Westport Library’s lower-level Riverwalk display case. They include a Woodrow Wilson button, and posters for FDR and JFK. The exhibit runs through (of course) Election Day.

An opening reception is set for Thursday, September 29 (6 p.m., McManus Room).

Aasen will be there. He’ll tell stories about his buttons — and his political life.

Like this one. In the 1950s, he was in Kansas City on business. He found out where Harry Truman often parked, to walk to his office. Sure enough, early in the morning, the former president drove through heavy snow, got out and prepared to walk.

There were no Secret Service agents around. Aasen asked if he could walk too.

Martha and Larry Aasen.

Martha and Larry Aasen.

They talked about politics, including Aasen’s native North Dakota and Martha’s Mississippi.

Somehow the discussion turned to the disputed presidential election of 1876. As Truman recounted how — 80 years earlier — Rutherford B. Hayes beat out Samuel Tilden, Aasen says, “he really got worked up.”

There’s no question who Aasen is voting for this Election Day. He’s met Hillary Clinton many times, he says, going back at least 20 years.

“People don’t realize how many times she’s been in Westport for fundraising,” Aasen says.

At the opening reception next week, maybe he’ll pair his “I’m With Her” button with one that says “We Want Willkie.”

wendell-willkie-button

Trump And Hillary: JP Vellotti Compares The Rallies

Alert “06880” reader/photographer JP Vellotti is an equal-opportunity political rally-goer.

On Saturday night, he attended the Donald Trump rally at Sacred Heart University. Afterward, he sent photos and a report to “06880.”

Here’s Part 2 of his journey to Election Day:

There was a lot to process after the Trump event. Having never been to a political function, I wondered if his rally was a normal state of affairs.

The next day I checked out Hillary’s website, to see if she had any events planned nearby (other than the $34,000-per-person dinner in Greenwich).

To my surprise, there was an event Monday in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I clicked the link, and got a ticket. I don’t have $34K, but I do have enough for a tank of gas.

At 5:30 a.m., I headed 150 miles west on I-84. It’s a nice drive. I was early, but that helped me get a great spot close to the stage.

The same type of vendors were there as at the Trump rally, selling pins, hats and t-shirts. They seem to be price-fixed, no matter which party (all overpriced and low quality). Bernie Sanders merchandise was marked way down.

Hillary pins - JP Vellotti

There were about the same number of protesters in the parking lot — all peaceful. I’m not quite sure what the people with the giant inflatable spliff were protesting (or supporting).

It was really interesting to see both sides. I don’t think a lot of people can say they did that, especially in a 48-hour span.

Part of the anti-Hillary protests.

Part of the anti-Hillary protests.

I’d be interested to hear what Hillary said at the $34K event, versus this free one in Scranton. I especially wonder how she can tell the people of Scranton certain things will be done with money that comes in from the wealthiest 1% paying their fair share of taxes.

I imagine some of that 1% paid to see her in Greenwich. Are they ok with her plan? Maybe she laid it out in greater detail during the dinner? I’ll never know.

Unlike the Trump event, there were no vulgar t-shirts or pins — or chants of the same, from the crowd or candidate.

The arena was much larger, but it was closed off to nearly the same size as the SHU Pitt Center. Both events were hot, but nothing beats the Trump rally heat.

Hillary’s event had a live, local coffee shop-type band. They played mellow songs like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” then funk like “Superstition” and “ABC.” They did not repeat anything.

The Trump rally blasted mostly the Rolling Stones (who asked him to stop using their songs) and Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend” (an odd choice). His playlist repeated 3 times, and the crowd noticed. He also had an opera tune in the mix.

The crowds were almost equal in size — about 5,000. The demographics were again very similar — a bit younger in Scranton, predominantly white, but with more outward signs of diversity (buttons, pins, hats for various causes).

Hillary crowd - JP Vellotti

Much of the same speeches from both sides were snippets from the primaries. The Scranton one had a bit of hometown flavor, because of Hillary’s and Joe Biden’s roots there. Both told funny anecdotes.

Biden was a dynamic speaker. He made his speech feel personal, like your uncle was telling you something important. He also gave direct facts and statistics about consequences of things like dismantling NATO. He said he was off to Kosovo immediately after the rally, to assure them of America’s support.

Vice President Joe Biden.

I thought the talk in Scranton would be more about factory workers and old mills. Not at all. There was no relishing in the past for the American worker, which is the sense I got from Trump’s speech.

Hillary outlined her agenda at a high level. There was no badgering of the press, no name calling, and no Democratic version of “Lock her up!” She did wonder if Trump will ever release his tax returns.

Hillary speaking - JP Vellotti

Both Clinton and Biden came to the front row, and worked the crowd for a very long time. I was amazed at how close I could get. I believe Trump left as soon as he was finished, but I couldn’t see that side of the stage so I don’t know for sure.

Hillary after event

After the event, I walked over to Sonic to get something to eat. I met an 83-year-old Korean War vet named Daniel. He had been undecided, but will now vote for Hillary.

JP Vellotti's new friend, a Korean War veteran named Daniel.

JP Vellotti’s new friend, a Korean War veteran named Daniel.

I bought him lunch, thanked him for serving our country decades before I was born. And then it was back on I-80, to Westport. Without a limo.

Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden leave Scranton. (Photos/JP Vellotti)

Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden leave Scranton. (Photos/JP Vellotti)

Marc Lasry Is With Her

Marc Lasry — the billionaire hedge fund manager/Milwaukee Bucks co-owner — is a noted Hillary Clinton fan. Just 3 months ago, the prodigious fundraiser opened his Beachside Avenue home for an event featuring the Democratic presidential candidate’s husband, a guy named Bill.

Last night, Lasry talked up Clinton’s candidacy with PBS interviewer Charlie Rose.

Alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti watched his fellow Westporter with interest.

But one subject did not come up.

“I wonder what Lasry thinks of her line promising to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share of taxes,” Vellotti says.

Mark Lasry and Charlie Rose talk about Hillary Clinton. (Screenshot/JP Vellotti)

Mark Lasry and Charlie Rose talk about Hillary Clinton. (Screenshot/JP Vellotti)

 

Rock The Vote. Or Not.

Presidential elections are filled with passion and politics.

Presidential primaries, apparently, are not.

This was the scene a couple of hours ago outside the Westport Library, one of our town’s polling places:

Election Day 2016

Several things were noticeably lacking:

  • Candidate signs
  • Candidates (or at least their surrogates)
  • Bake sales
  • Uncertainty.

If pre-primary polling (and our very unscientific “06880” poll) hold up, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should pad their delegate leads nicely, thanks to voters throughout the state — and in Westport.

Wherever they are.

Vote Now: 06880’s Wholly Unscientific But Very Interesting Poll

Tuesday is Connecticut presidential primary day. Our votes will not be as closely watched nationally as last week’s contest in New York (or even next Tuesday’s in Pennsylvania).

But they’re ours. And (unlike Florida) they do count.

ivotedstickerSince politics is such a fun game*, let’s really enjoy ourselves. Make your choice in the poll below. Let’s see how close — or far apart — “06880” readers are (p0litically speaking) from the rest of the state.

To make this as accurate as possible, please vote in our poll only if you are a registered Democrat or Republican in Connecticut — in other words, only those eligible to vote here on Tuesday. (Anyone can view the results, as often as you’d like.)

And of course, everyone is welcome to click on the “Comments” section below. It’s a free country — still.🙂

*Not