NH Union Leader - November 6th, 2008

"It's all about the Meatballs."  

    John Sununu was a big winner Tuesday night.
    Well, it wasn't his night in the political sense. But he was the winner as far as victory parties are concerned.
    You may have watched the results trickle in on WMUR. You probably saw a bunch of reporters spread out throughout the city, tucked away in banquet halls and convention rooms.
    There's nothing worse, in the broadcasting world, than being stuck at the "Victory" party when it's obviously turning out to be the opposite. I always feel sorry for those reporters. It's the same feeling you get when watching a reporter interview the losing Manager in the locker room after the World Series. No champagne here. Just a bunch of guys cleaning out their locker.
    It's with that notion that a few of my friends and I head out every election night. We dress the part. Suits and ties, dress shoes and an attitude that we belong. We're in search of the party. Not the political party. The party with the best food.
    Shallow? Maybe. One of my friends claimed we were "belittling the political process." Non-sense. We just wanted to see which candidate had the foresight to serve more than just chicken fingers. These things are important in the first 100 days after taking office.
    Sununu beat everyone that night. Hands down. At the Wayfarer, he had a full spread of food. Supporters and covering press were treated to meatballs, turkey wraps and cheese tortellini in pesto. His cheese and fruit trays dwarfed his opponent's. It nearly made me forget all the negative advertising in the weeks leading up to election night.
    Stand with President Bush? I don't care who did, did you try the meatballs? Those things were delicious.
    Everyone was marveling at the food at Team Sununu. A NECN cameraman winked and gave us a half-cocked smile as he walked by with a plate of tortellini. He knew. 
    It was a bizarre scene. There were depressed looks all around the room. Except from John Sr. He was busy hectically typing on his Mac laptop and sharing tidbits with those at his table. The picture of all of this struck me as odd.
    Our next stop was Murphy's Taproom. The crowd inside was diverse. It seemed like a strange place for Jeb Bradley's party headquarters. A van with a very big "Ron Paul" sticker was parked outside the Libertarian hot spot. During the primaries, this was the spot where Al Gore's television network, Current TV held their party. Funny how things change.
    This was a very different crowd.
    Our entrance was ill timed. We walked in immediately after a wave of exit polls came through. It wasn't looking good for Ole' Jeb.
    Moments later, Bradley himself made an appearance. He was wearing a bomber jacket. Now that's a real Maverick, I thought. We casually chatted with him. 
    "Nice spread." A friend of mine said to him.
    Bradley laughed and said "I better get some of that." And walked over to his own cheese platter. I think he could see the writing on the wall. He's always seemed like a decent guy. Those people are the casualties of political campaigns.
    The food was decent, with the usual fare. Still, Sununu had his fellow Republican beat.
    Next, it was on to the Radisson, and our first encounter with the Party of Change.
    In the crowd, skirts and suits were replaced with jeans and t-shirts. They were feisty inside, frothing at the mouth at the results on the giant television in the corner.
    These people were sharks, and there was blood in the water. They could taste it. Obama had already been called the winner in the state.Shaheen had been declared the winner on our walk between Murphy's and the Radisson, and this crowd was ready.
    But, there was no food to speak of. By contrast, there were more people here than the other parties. All that was left were the remnants of the cheese and fruit platters. I was disappointed. IfShaheen is an agent of change, next time I want to see a wider selection of food.
   Shaheen held the same room at the Radisson that Rudy Guiliani booked for his primary party. It was another odd twist. Just a few months ago, the same room was the scene of Guiliani's assertion that he never planned on winning here. That night, I got the sense that they were warming up the jets to leave before the polls even closed in the Granite State.
    The atmosphere on Primary night was very different from the one Tuesday in that same room.
    Gathered at the back of the room, were a collection of cameras and tables for the assorted press. They outnumbered the press at the other parties by a 2 to 1 margin. Obviously, they had some sense of what was happening.
    Our evening was drawing to an end. A few of my cohorts went to the Puritan to take in the Governor's party. It was already over for me. I drove home, taking it all in, wondering what all of it meant in the grand scheme.
    Oh, and thank you John Sununu for the Meatballs. They were delicious.
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