A review of the Granite State political forum

Kate Lipman

Last year my parents moved to New Hampshire, and this summer I got to live there for the first time. Presidential candidates of both parties come early and often to the Granite State, so I thought I would meet a few of the characters in this upcoming drama who were within driving distance and really gauge their personalities for myself.

The first candidate I met was Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, who was known for being the most outspoken presidential hopeful, at least before mogul Donald Trump joined the race. He was among the wave of Republicans who took the Senate in the 2012 elections, and is also known for aligning himself with the Tea Party.

His speech began with some stories about his family, followed by a discussion of the economy, the IRS and foreign policy. While I had heard he was a great speaker, he did not get me excited as some of the other candidates have, though he was decent at repeating key phrases to try and fire up the audience.

Chris Christie, the current governor of New Jersey, was the next candidate I met. He gave an excellent speech about foreign policy, about which he is extremely knowledgeable. He gave specific figures for different kinds of aircrafts, military vehicles, etc., which I liked.

While I did not particularly like him before, he seemed very informed and his speech was excellent. Afterwards he took the time to talk to my mom for a few minutes despite his campaign advisors trying to move him along.

I tried to attend a Hillary Clinton event, but you had to be pre-screened to get in. I was also unable to meet Trump or Sen. Bernie Sanders due to my work schedule.

My former governor, Martin O’Malley, came to a fair in Portsmouth, but I didn’t get to talk to him because it was impossible to get close because he was surrounded by staffers.

I had hoped to tell him I think it is wrong that the Democratic National Committee is ignoring his many requests for more debates. In fact O’Malley has openly criticized the DNC on this issue.

So far O’Malley has not had any luck in trying to boost his numbers, but believes that debates would give him a better chance, though it might be difficult for him considering he believes global warming is a bigger threat to the country than terrorism.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul showed up at a diner one Sunday morning. He chatted with my family for about 10 minutes. He was very personable and seemed knowledgeable about national security and the economy.

When my dad asked him how he would turn around Americans’ cynicism towards the government, he said he would support a constitutional amendment for term limits for Congress. Rand Paul started his career as an eye surgeon before following his father, Ron Paul, into politics.

He is known for being a strong libertarian, a strict constitutionalist and wanting to replace the current tax code with a flat tax.

I saw former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at a meet and greet event in Portsmouth. I found her speech moving and I thought she had the strength and personality to be the next president. She focused on the need to assure our allies that we will stand by them, and also on ways to unlock America’s potential. Even though I didn’t get to talk to her, she made a point of shaking everyone’s hand.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker spoke to a full house at a nearby Harley Davidson dealership. He was quite personable, and talked about the love he has for his family and his country, and the need for a strong America in the world we live in today. He also mentioned winning the fight with the unions in Wisconsin and that he has been the only governor to survive a recall election.

Of all the candidates I met, my favorite was Senator Marco Rubio from Florida. He is the son of Cuban immigrants, and he stresses the importance of keeping the American dream alive.

I met the senator when I was asked to walk with him in a parade, which I thought could be fun. While waiting for the parade to start, we talked about Russia when I told him my major was Russian and Eastern European studies.

He was young, quick and energetic, and I was surprised by how many people waited to meet him during and after the event. I really liked him, and I actually ended up interning for his campaign. He has specific plans for the country, including an overhaul of the higher education system and a simplified tax code that would give relief to hardworking families in the United States.

Seeing some of the candidates battle it out, trying to win support on the local level in the Granite State, has been amazing. It made for a very exciting summer to see this presidential game of thrones unfold in my own backyard.