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PA Gov. Shapiro to Speak in New Hampshire, Traditional Presidential Primary Proving Ground

With less than a year as governor of Pennsylvania under his belt, Gov. Josh Shapiro will be headed to New Hampshire next month to talk to Democrats in the home of the First in the Nation primary.

Shapiro is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s state convention, “a premier Democratic political event in the country,” according to the party’s press release.

“Every national Democratic leader in the last 50 years has spoken at a NHDP convention, attracting sitting presidents, vice presidents, potential presidential candidates, every chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and other notable national leaders,” it stated.

Joe Foster, a Democratic state committeeman from Montgomery County, said, “Gov. Shapiro speaking at the convention is a testament to his ability to win Democratic elections in Pennsylvania and his unstinting support of President Biden and Vice President Harris in their bid for reelection. The governor is the perfect choice to speak, as he, like President Biden and Vice President Harris, are solid in their opposition to attempts to strip Americans of their rights and liberties.”

There has been talk that Shapiro might have his eye on a run for the White House in the future,  and it is never too soon to get your name in front of first-in-the-nation primary voters. It is also worth noting Granite State Democrats may be less-than-enthusiastic about President Biden after he attempted to strip them of their place at the front of the primary calendar.

Republican Christopher Nicholas, with Eagle Consulting, said Shapiro is “being a savvy press manipulator” and that he will get a lot of publicity from the appearance.

“It’s trying to build national political cred and to get reporters to ask him about 2028 that he can then humorously try to push away and pooh-pooh. It’s too cute by half,” Nicholas said.

Asked if that meant Shapiro is not serious about a potential presidential run, Nicholas said, “Too serious on his part.”

“What’s he going to do, go there and defend Joe Biden?” asked Nicholas.

But with his poll numbers sagging, Biden may need defending. A July Delaware Valley Journal poll found Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester County voters do not want Biden to serve a second term. Just 43 percent approved of his job performance, and only 33 percent wanted him to run again next year.

However, they are not happy with the current GOP frontrunners, either. Former President Donald Trump received only 39 percent, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis got 37 percent.

Meanwhile, Biden’s shaky performance in Hawaii — comparing the horrific Maui fire that has claimed more than 100 lives to a minor kitchen fire (“I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat”) — isn’t helping.

The RealClearPolitics average shows Biden in a neck-and-neck race with Trump, holding just a 1.1 percent advantage over the former president, who has been indicted on criminal charges four times in the past five months.

Shapiro has been mentioned as a potential future presidential contender, along with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado.

Shortly after Pennsylvania voters elected him, pundits started putting Shapiro on the White House shortlist.

“He’s going to be a national figure because obviously, Pennsylvania is a battleground state; he won a decisive victory and carried in the ticket from Senate all the way down to the state House,” Larry Ceisler, a Democratic public affairs strategist from Philadelphia, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “You’ve got to admit, the Democratic Party right now does not have too many prominent leaders under the age of 50.”

Charlie Gerow with Quantum Communications quipped, “Is he going to file for the New Hampshire primary while he is there, or wait four years?”

“He missed the Iowa State Fair, so I guess he has to make up for lost time,” added Gerow, a Republican who ran in the primary for governor in 2022.

Shapiro said, “In Pennsylvania, we defeated extremism and showed the rest of the country what it looks like to come together behind a vision for a better future – one where we create real opportunity while defending our rights and advancing real freedom for all. New Hampshire voters face a similar choice next November – they will decide a critical open race for Governor and play a central role in reelecting President Biden and retaking the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak to Granite Staters at this critical time for both New Hampshire and our nation’s future and rally with them behind Democratic candidates who, like me, believe government can be a productive force for good,” he added.


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RFK, Jr. Blends Progressive Populism and Talk Radio Politics in POTUS Speech

Toward the end of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr’s bravura performance in a ballroom at the Boston Park Plaza Wednesday, an alarm bell sounded and a robotic female voice announced “a report of an emergency in this building.” The crowd on hand to hear Kennedy formally declare his candidacy, some 2,000 strong, was instructed to evacuate.

After a moment of confusion, RFK, Jr. told the crowd he’d been informed that there was no emergency and he was going to press on with his speech. The bell sounded again and the demanding, automated voice repeated the call to evacuate.

“Nice try,” Kennedy quipped. He wasn’t going anywhere.

And the crowd went wild.

That was the message Kennedy and his team came to Boston to deliver: Joe Biden may want to ignore him, and some Democrats — including in his own family — may be embarrassed by him, and the media may hate him. But RFK, Jr. is going to run for president, and he’s going to run like he means it.

Because he does.

Watching him deliver a smart, carefully calibrated speech — the word “vaccine” never crossed his lips — a scene from the movie Rocky came to mind. After Rocky landed some serious blows, Apollo Creed’s trainer tells the champ who’s still not taking the challenger seriously, “He doesn’t know it’s supposed to be a show. He thinks it’s a damn fight!”

A crowd of some 2,000 people turned out for RFK, Jr.’s announcement that he’s running for POTUS in 2024.

Kennedy embraced the longshot nature of his candidacy, comparing his 2024 quest to the campaign his father was running in 1968 before an assassin’s bullet brought it to an end. In RFK, Jr’s telling, the situation his father faced was much like his today: running against an incumbent Democrat in the White House, a time of “unprecedented polarization,” and “the liberal press were all against him.”

Kennedy’s campaign isn’t shy about wrapping him in the Camelot history of his political family. The setting for his announcement — an old-school Boston ballroom with chandeliers overhead, patriotic bunting on the balconies and a brass band playing Aaron Copeland — was straight out of a Ken Burns documentary. And just to make sure the point wasn’t missed, family photos of RFK, Jr. and his famous forebears flashed on flat-panel TV screens at the front of the room.

Kennedy’s political message was an NPR version of Bernie Sanders’ left-wing economic populism, but with a dollop of talk-radio conspiracy theory thrown in. While Liz Warren Democrats rail against Big Business, Big Pharma, etc., RFK, Jr. adds includes Big Government — his opposition to “the corrupt merger of state and corporate power.”

“My mission…will be to end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening to impose a new corporate feudalism on our country, to poison our children and our people with chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs, to strip mine our asset, to hollow the middle class and keep us in a constant state of war,” Kennedy said.

These themes took RFK, Jr. to a variety of topics, from his environmental activism to his views on the COVID-19 lockdowns to his questions about America’s support for Ukraine. And he wasn’t in any hurry to wrap up. After about 50 minutes, Kennedy warned the crowd that he was only halfway through his speech.

“This is what happens when you censor somebody for 18 years,” Kennedy said. “I’ve got a lot to talk about. They shouldn’t have shut me up that long. Now I’m going to really let loose on them for the next 18 months.”

When he “let loose” on lockdowns, denouncing public health officials for a failed policy and decrying the damage they inflicted on small businesses and low-income communities, Kennedy sounded like a caller to a conservative radio talk show.

When he attacked the “corporate media” and its “lies,” he sounded like a talk radio host.

“The media is at its lowest point because we know the media lies to us — everybody knows that,” Kennedy said to cheers — a scene that could have come straight out of a Trump rally. “And when the media and the corporate media and the corporate-captive government see other voices of truth, they have to brand those misinformation.

“They either have to censor us, or they have to lie about what’s true and what’s not true.”

Kennedy even had a few kind words for Trump, saying that the former president’s instincts on the lockdown were right. While he blamed Trump for the national lockdown policy, he added, “in fairness, President Trump will say ‘the lockdown wasn’t my idea, the bureaucrats rolled me. I said we shouldn’t do it.’

“But that’s not a good excuse. He was the President of the United States.”

The elephant in the room was the vaccine issue, which Kennedy never mentioned by name. He did, however, extensively discuss his theory that something happened in 1989 that unleashed an epidemic of neurological and auto-immune disease upon the land, including autism. “Why aren’t we asking the question, ‘What happened?’”

In the past, his answer would have been “vaccine public health policy.” On Wednesday, however, he left the question unanswered, merely noting “There’s a limited number of culprits, or chemical toxins that became ubiquitous in 1989.”

The fact that Kennedy has toned down his anti-vaccine talk is a sign he’s taking this campaign seriously. The fact that 2,000 people from across the northeast and beyond — one man brought his daughter to the announcement from North Carolina — shows he has supporters who are taking it seriously, too.

“Far better than I expected, miles better,” said Chris Bartle from Dover, Mass., after the speech. “I think he was trying to rope people in, reaching for a wider audience. He’s got a Democratic form of populism, informed by the 1968 campaign.”

“It was exciting. He’s what the country needs, and you saw the reaction of the crowd. It was awesome,” said Rita, who was in from Missouri. “He wants to hold corporations responsible for the damage they are doing, particularly to our children. And he wants to help build up the middle class.”

Father Jeff Langan, a Roman Catholic chaplain from the parish next to Harvard University, said he came to the announcement because “I think there is a need for leadership in this country that respects human dignity.” And, added Langan, a former political science professor, “There’s a lot of buzz around Harvard about RFK, Jr., even among the Catholic students.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise. In the world of politics, name ID plus money plus issues that energize your base is considered a recipe for a strong campaign, and Kennedy has all three.

If he puts them all to good use, he could create some real problems for President Joe Biden. Particularly in an early primary state just 30 minutes north of that crowded Boston ballroom.

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HOLY COW! HISTORY: Harry Truman, Comic Book Hero

It’s a fundamental fact: You can’t take gimmicks out of presidential politics. Because like it or not, gimmicks work.

One of the all-time greats was in 1840. A newspaper snidely editorialized about William Henry Harrison, “Give him a barrel of hard cider, and … a pension of two thousand [dollars] a year … and he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin.”

Democrats pounced on a golden opportunity to rebrand the slightly aristocratic Harrison as a sort of frontier Everyman. They featured log cabins at their rallies and passed out hard apple cider drinks by the barrelful—though later generations eventually took a dim view of using alcohol as a vote-getter. It was enough to propel Harrison to a narrow victory.

Some 100 years later, another president was in serious political trouble. Maybe Democratic strategists remembered the log cabin campaign as they desperately fished for ideas to save Harry Truman’s floundering presidency. Because his reelection prospects were pegged somewhere between slim to none.

He had inherited the job when Franklin Roosevelt died. With the Cold War raging in Europe and countless headaches at home as the U.S. made the painful transition from wartime back to a peacetime economy, it seemed everyone was mad about something. And they all dumped their anger at Truman’s feet.

When the 1948 election rolled around, Truman’s Democratic Party fractured. The left didn’t think he was liberal enough and deserted to support former Vice President Henry Wallace’s Progressives. The right thought he was too liberal and went over to South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrats. On top of all that, New York’s popular Republican Gov. Tom Dewey was circling the White House the way sharks circle a sinking ship.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, they say. With almost no money and little left to lose, Truman famously campaigned by train from one end of the country to another. Too broke to rent big city auditoriums, he spoke from the back of a railroad car at dozens upon dozens of small towns from one end of the country to the other in his famous “Whistlestop Campaign.”

But the Democrats also did something else that, although equally revolutionary, is seldom remembered today.

They issued a campaign comic book.

No, seriously, they did.

America was experiencing what collectors now call the Golden Age of Comics just then. Comic heroes had joined the war effort during World War II, supporting the Allied cause so exuberantly that one even showed Captain America punching Adolf Hitler in the face. So, the Democratic National Committee tried to harness that appeal in its quest for votes. And it bet big on the idea.

Three million copies of “The Story of Harry S. Truman” were released in October 1948, just as the country’s attention was focusing on the upcoming election. Its 16 brightly-colored pages recounted Harry’s improbable rise from the small, whitewashed house in Lamar, Mo. where he was born in 1884 to his arrival at the White House in 1945.

Although the artwork is credited to M.W. Ater, we don’t know who wrote it. It’s possible the author wanted to keep his name out of sight. Because those 16 pages are filled with such dialogue gems as, “Y’know, that boy Harry sure plows a straight furrow.” “Yep. The straightest in the county!” Here’s another: “Bess, the boys at the Legion meeting tonight were talking about having me run for county judge… as a Democrat!” You get the idea.

Great literature, it wasn’t. But if you think this comic book was intended for children, think again. Remember, the minimum voting age in 1948 was 21. (It wouldn’t be lowered to 18 until 1971.) Nowhere does the comic say, “Hey Kids! Be sure to show this to your mom and dad and tell them to vote for Uncle Harry on November 2!”

This was a direct appeal to everyday Americans who didn’t read The New York Times. Simplistic, yes; but it also talked to them in words they understood with a message that was impossible to miss. Harry Truman, the one-time farmer turned war veteran turned failed small business owner turned local politician, had reached the very top. He knew what their lives were like because he was one of them. And they could always count on him to look out for them.

When the votes were counted that first Tuesday night in November 1948, Harry Truman had pulled off the greatest political comeback of the 20th century. It was close, but a win is a win.

And a now-forgotten funny book printed on cheap pulp paper had quietly helped make it happen.

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