Scott Walker, Rick Santorum in Manchester, N.H.

 

Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and others were in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday to campaign in advance of a candidate forum hosted by the Union-Leader. I went to the Walker and Santorum events.

Scott Walker Theo's Pizzeria ManchesterWalker met voters at Theo’s Pizzeria. I was seated at a booth with two brothers, Alex and Mike, who had driven to New Hampshire from New York. Alex is a college student and seems slightly more engaged politically than Mike, but both are enthusiastic and eager to meet Walker. Alex wonders how these candidate events work, and — as an old hat by this time — I obligingly explain how I’ve previously met Perry, Fiorina, Carson, and Kasich, though I do have to admit that I moved to New Hampshire from New York City only last year. (I grew up in Maine!) We’re joined by Ricochet’s own James of England before Walker arrives, and we quickly fall into a discussion about the Supreme Court. Alex voices his concern that conservative causes will suffer if the next Supreme Court justices are appointed by a Democrat in the White House.

When Walker arrives, he thanks everyone for coming but otherwise doesn’t make a speech before beginning to work his way around the restaurant. We’re in the last booth in his path, but after he speaks to the people next to us, he abruptly turns toward the exit. We all look at each other and pile out of the booth. Alex and Mike reach Walker first, and have their picture taken with him. James and I struggled through the crowd and accost him, as politely as possible, at the door. “Can we have a picture, please?” I ask. “Uh, yeah, sure,” says Walker, looking at the door, pizza box in one hand, a brown paper bag in the other hand. James hands his phone to Walker’s assistant.

James Spiller Scott Walker Max Ledoux

If the primary were won based on the photography skills of a candidate’s assistant, Walker would lose. I was also not impressed that he skipped our booth — it would have taken him only a few minutes to finish the meet-and-greet and say hello to those of us who were last in his path.

James and I arrive early at The Founders Academy, a charter school in the industrial park by the airport. The school staff welcomes us in, and explains that no one from the campaign has arrived yet and that indeed the event has been pushed back by half an hour — but in the meantime won’t we please have a seat and by the way would we like an ice cream bar? I prove unable to say no, and happily consume a second ice cream as well. Looking around the lobby, I spot prints of Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware, and John Trumball’s Declaration of Independence. A few other people start to arrive, including Alex and Mike.

“Weren’t you at the Walker event?” asks a man who introduces himself as David. He’s here from New York on a political-junkie tour. He’d been to a Bernie Sanders rally the night before. “I’m not a conservative,” he says. “But I’m open. Bernie was incredible though. He was so substantive!” David likes Walker. “We were in the first booth so he talked to us. He was really nice. I’m here with my husband, and I introduced him as my husband, and Walker didn’t miss a beat, just shook our hands and continued talking to us. I’m not sure I dare do that with Santorum.” He laughs.

David makes introductions to me, though: “This is my husband, David.” I must look confused, because he laughs again and says, “We’re both called David.”

I laugh, too. “Well, that makes it easy!”

“Yeah, so we’re really in the middle,” says David I. “Our liberal friends think we’re Tea Partiers, wouldn’t you say?” David II agrees. “And your boss, who is a real conservative Republican,” says David I, “he thinks you’re a communist.”

“Well, here’s a good measurement,” says James. “Abortion at 21 weeks. Yes or no?”

“Oh, well I believe in choice.” Says David I. James presses the issue by asking about partial-birth abortion, but David I demurs “I really haven’t thought about it.”

Santorum arrives and shakes everyone’s hands and we all head to the school library. There are about 15 people present, and I think that most of us heard about the event only at the Walker event, and otherwise would not have come.

Rick Santorum Founders AcademySantorum is a sincere man. Nothing he says sounds rehearsed (which is not to say he’s unprepared). He sits at a table in the library and speaks about education policy. It’s broken. Why? Government involvement is a major factor. We have an educational system that really hasn’t changed in 150 years, he says. The breakdown of the family is a bigger factor, though. He urges every one to read Charles Murray’s Coming Apart and Robert Putnam’s Our Kids. “One’s a libertarian and the other’s a liberal,” Santorum says ruefully. Putnam writes that it’s more important for parents to read to their children in the first four years of their life than to pay for four years of college, Santorum notes. He says that regardless of race, people who grow up in intact families are more likely to succeed, but children in single-parent homes have just a 3 percent chance of reaching the top 20 percent of income earners.

That’s not to say that single mothers are bad parents, he adds. He favors local control because then there will be accountability. I ask him about the federal Department of Education. He says he wouldn’t outright abolish it because he does see a need for some federal funding for special-needs children. Alex asks him about college tuition. Santorum says he has a son enrolled in community college. “If you can’t afford $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year to go to college,” he says, “then don’t go to a school that costs that much.” Also, not everyone needs to go to college, he says. “I see young people coming out of college no better prepared for a career than before they went to college.”

David I asks what Santorum thinks of the idea of making community college free for students. “I’m not in favor of free things,” Santorum answers. “In general, people value things more if they have skin in the game,” he says.

James asks about religious schools, and says he’s read Our Kids and notes that Putnam wrote about the significant affect of school prayer and religious activity on education outcomes. Santorum is in favor of school vouchers, “or whatever you want to call it,” so that parents can send their children to whatever school they want. However, he’s wary of using government strings to get people to do things that conservatives think are good, when “we complain all the time about liberals doing the same thing.” He notes that he was a principle author of  the welfare reforms of the 1990s, which involved grant blocks to the states so they could make their own decisions.

“I knew they were going to do things in New York that I wouldn’t like,” he says. “And, in fact, their welfare rolls barely went down at all. They did a little. But  in Wisconsin, under Tommy Thompson, the welfare rolls went down 93 percent.” But at least if there’s local control, there’s more accountability. So how will he change the education system? The bully pulpit, he says. He contends that Obama has used the bully pulpit to shape the national debate on “climate change.” And he’ll do the same on education.

I ask him what he’ll do if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, either before January 2017 or after. “Well, if they get one before then, there won’t be much to do,” he says. He’ll have to put a lot more thought into that, he says. “But I’ll tell you what I’ll do if they haven’t gotten one yet.” He’ll tell them the deal’s off. “You can’t negotiate with terrorists. And that’s what they are. The greatest terrorist nation in the world. You can’t negotiate with them. You have to tell them what is acceptable to you, and then be willing to back that up with action.”

Alex wants to know why, in Santorum’s opinion, the other P5+1 nations agreed to the deal. “Well, the Europeans, they’ll do what ever the United States does. We lead them, for good or bad. We lead. The French were even publicly against the deal, which amazes me. The French! But they can’t go against us, and they can’t go against their public. The Europeans are a defeated people who don’t have the will to fight anymore. If we don’t lead, no one will take our place, except for evil.”

James asks whether Santorum has a short list of possible Supreme Court nominees. “I have a short list of people whom I’d trust to help me make that decision,” says Santorum. “I wouldn’t trust just myself on that.”

When James presses the issue, Santorum says, “I’m a little busy right now, believe it or not. I’ll wait until I’m president to  make those decisions. I’m a one-thing-at-a-time person. I like to put my socks on first, then my shoes—not my shoes and then my socks.

Afterwards, James and I ask for a picture. Santorum’s communications director, Matt Baynon, absolutely destroys Walker’s assistant in the photography department.

Max Ledoux Rick Santorum James Spiller

There are 18 comments.

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  1. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    Thanks for the report!

    • #1
  2. David Sussman Contributor
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Awesome. Felt like I was there with you.

    I almost feel sorry for Rick… almost.

    • #2
  3. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I’m getting a really clear picture of the candidates from these reports.

    Thank you.

    • #3
  4. BD Member
    BD
    @

    Thought Sanders was “incredible” but open to voting Republican? Doubt it. Sounds like they were just there to troll Republicans.

    • #4
  5. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    BD:Thought Sanders was “incredible” but open to voting Republican?Doubt it.Sounds like they were just there to troll Republicans.

    Yes, they expertly trolled the Republicans by being open minded and politely listening to what Republican candidates had to say. :eyeroll:

    I plan on attending one of Bernie’s events at some point. That doesn’t make me a troll.

    • #5
  6. J. D. Fitzpatrick Inactive
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    BD:Thought Sanders was “incredible” but open to voting Republican?Doubt it.Sounds like they were just there to troll Republicans.

    They might be in a transitional phase–still emotionally attached to liberal rhetoric, but wending their way toward conservative principles. It’s possible.

    • #6
  7. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Just want to echo MarciN. Great report. Thank you.

    • #7
  8. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Somehow I missed this. I’m still gobsmacked by his claim that he’s busy now, so can’t work on his judicial picks, but he’ll have time when he’s President.

    Happily, it doesn’t appear likely that the question will arise.

    • #8
  9. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    To provide some objective analysis:

    If you are wondering why Walker skipped your booth, and really didn’t want his photo taken with you, it’s the hair.  I mean really.  Do you need all of that?  You have plenty on your head, and plenty on your face, the both of ya.  You look like a couple of hipsters.  Did you ride your longboard to the events?

    :-O

    Oh, I’m just funnin’ with ya!

    • #9
  10. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Spin:To provide some objective analysis:

    If you are wondering why Walker skipped your booth, and really didn’t want his photo taken with you, it’s the hair. I mean really. Do you need all of that? You have plenty on your head, and plenty on your face, the both of ya. You look like a couple of hipsters. Did you ride your longboard to the events?

    :-O

    Oh, I’m just funnin’ with ya!

    Haha. James and I did indeed have a conversation about whether or not I’m a hipster. I’m not. All those other posers just fake dress like me. I dress like me authentically. ;-)

    • #10
  11. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Yes! The example I always like to cite is a while ago I bought a flannel shirt at Walmart for $4. Then about six months later, all the cool people in Williamsburg started wearing $50 flannel shirts. Hmph.

    • #11
  12. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Spin: You were dressing like you before it was cool?

    I made the same joke.

    Max Ledoux:Yes! The example I always like to cite is a while ago I bought a flannel shirt at Walmart for $4. Then about six months later, all the cool people in Williamsburg started wearing $50 flannel shirts. Hmph.

    Max said this. I’m still not sure how serious he is.

    • #12
  13. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Max Ledoux:

    Spin:To provide some objective analysis:

    If you are wondering why Walker skipped your booth, and really didn’t want his photo taken with you, it’s the hair. I mean really. Do you need all of that? You have plenty on your head, and plenty on your face, the both of ya. You look like a couple of hipsters. Did you ride your longboard to the events?

    :-O

    Oh, I’m just funnin’ with ya!

    Haha. James and I did indeed have a conversation about whether or not I’m a hipster. I’m not. All those other posers just fake dress like me. I dress like me authentically. ;-)

    You were dressing like you before it was cool?

    • #13
  14. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    How did the hipster burn his mouth?

    • #14
  15. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Since I don’t know anything about hipsters or how they operate, I don’t know.

    • #15
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Max Ledoux:Since I don’t know anything about hipsters or how they operate, I don’t know.

    See, Max isn’t a hipster. He’d tell you what he is, but you wouldn’t understand; it’s not really your speed.

    • #16
  17. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Spin:How did the hipster burn his mouth?

    He ate pizza before it was cool.

    • #17
  18. Max Ledoux Admin
    Max Ledoux
    @Max

    Spin:

    Spin:How did the hipster burn his mouth?

    He ate pizza before it was cool.

    Hahaha.

    • #18

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