Candidates jockey for position in New Hampshire Fourth of July parades


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is one of six 2016 hopefuls marching in one or more Fourth of July parades in New Hampshire. (Photo: Jim Young/Reuters).

HANOVER, N.H. — Fourth of July parades in most towns across the country are celebratory but low-key affairs that attract, at most, a mayor and maybe a few council members.

Not here in New Hampshire. Six presidential candidates will march in different parades on Saturday. A few candidates are attending two parades.

It’s a chance to put themselves in front of voters who may not yet be paying close attention to the presidential primaries. New Hampshire is the second state in the primary process, and its voters expect presidential candidates to campaign in person, to talk to regular folks, to shake their hands and look them in the eye.

Where each candidate marches may seem like a trivial matter, but political operatives for some of the candidates were surprisingly insistent to Yahoo News that their locations were better than some of the others. So we let them make their cases.

Rich Killion, who is running former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s New Hampshire campaign, said Bush will march in parades in Merrimack and Amherst because they are “two of the larger parades that are located in close proximity to each other, enabling the opportunity to participate in as many as possible.”

Michael Dennehy, who is running former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign in the state, agreed with Killion. Perry, like Bush and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, is attending the Merrimack and Amherst parades, which are downstate, just south of Manchester.

But Dennehy also took a shot at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., both Republicans, for their choice to march in the Wolfeboro parade in the region around Lake Winnipesaukee.

“Wolfeboro may rival Amherst and Merrimack in size, but more than 50 percent of the spectators are tourists. Amherst and Merrimack are strictly locals who attend,” Dennehy said.

“If a candidate or campaign does what they are supposed to do, they have a ‘float’ that gets attention, they have a bunch of people walking with them holding 10-foot signs, and the candidate goes back and forth shaking hands,” Dennehy said. “Quite frankly, in my opinion, if a candidate does Wolfeboro, it has nothing to do with getting in front of Republican voters and more about wanting to be in a different area of the state — maybe so as not to compete with other candidates who would be in Amherst and Merrimack — and maybe so they wouldn’t have to be compared to another campaign’s operation.”

Dennehy wasn’t the only one eager to throw an elbow at Christie, and Rubio by association, for their choice of parade location.

“Chris Christie will feel at home at the Wolfeboro parade because he is likely to meet more people from New Jersey there than New Hampshire voters,” said Paul Young, who is running the Granite State campaign of Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Graham is marching in Amherst in the morning, then going to the lakes region but not to Wolfeboro. Graham will be in Center Harbor, further up Lake Winnipesaukee.

“Of the two parades in the lakes region, most of the locals go to Center Harbor, whereas the lake vacation crowd goes to the Wolfeboro parade,” Young said.

Christie’s New Hampshire campaign manager, Matt Mowers, didn’t respond to an email. Neither did Rubio’s state manager, Jim Merrill, who worked for the GOP’s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney. Romney has a house on Lake Winnipesaukee and marched as a candidate in the Wolfeboro parade.

As for the Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also be in the state for a parade. She’ll be farther north than anyone else, in Gorham, above White Mountain National Forest.

The decision to go so far north on Independence Day, said the spokesman for Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign, Harrell Kirstein, was intended "to activate supporters and volunteers in every corner of New Hampshire.”

Kirstein also noted that the Gorham parade was rated one of the best Fourth of July celebrations in New England by Yankee Magazine.

Clinton will certainly have the spotlight all to herself. All the Republicans except Graham in Center Harbor will have to compete with other candidates for attention in the southern half of the state.

Here is a list of where each candidate is marching:

Jeb Bush: Amherst and Merrimack

Marco Rubio: Wolfeboro

Chris Christie: Wolfeboro

Lindsey Graham: Amherst and Center Harbor

Hillary Clinton: Gorham

Lincoln Chafee: Amherst and Merrimack