Apologies to IJ Review and WMUR9/ABC— cosponsors of the Republican debate set to begin in about two and a half hours, as I type—but from the perspective of someone sitting at a desk in the media center at St. Anselm College’s Sullivan Arena, forget the other sponsors and even the candidates, this is “The Google Debate.”
The world’s richest company, depending on the day (Google, Alphabet or whatever you want to call it), knows how to seduce the press. This debate is catered. Of course, no booze, but catered in a Silicon Valley sort of way with a trendy coffee bar to beat Starbucks and Peet’s, serving the most up-to-date in brews—flat white (plus the usual array of lattes, soy and otherwise).
There is also—as of this moment, more to come, including dinner—a dessert buffet that would wreck anyone’s diet, including a plate of chocolate truffles arranged in the shape of the state of New Hampshire. (Yes, I ruined it.)
It’s not all about the food, however. The media center is teched out to the far reaches of Steve Jobs’ office (okay, wrong company). Constantly moving LED displays inform you of every electoral trend you might want to know, as they happen. In the minute-by-minute candidate online search interest derby, Trump is one and Cruz and Rubio are duking it out for two. No surprises there. No surprise, either, that Bush, Carson, Kasich and Christie have been bouncing around beneath them, like a bunch of kids playing musical chairs until most, or all, of them are out.
One thing that surprises me from one of the Google read-outs is that the number one issue in New Hampshire is still gun control. Education is two and ISIS three, out of the five listed. South Carolina also shows gun control at one, but ISIS is of no interest to them. Go figure. (You would think with all the military in SC….)
Now to some pre-debate local political gossip. Several of the people who think they know, or act as if they do, at JD’s Tavern (see my previous post) noted that Trump, who had no discernible ground game in Iowa, seems not to have a ground game in New Hampshire, either. His state campaign office is perfunctory and mostly devoid of volunteers. Does that mean Trump will have the same slightly disappointing results he had in Iowa? We shall soon see.
What this has me speculating about for the umpteenth time is whether Donald really wants to be president—or wants it enough. Although he’s holding a rally at Manchester’s Verizon Arena before the voting, he seems to rely primarily on His Donaldness and his mighty television presence. That’s a lot, obviously. But he doesn’t like to sleep away from his own bed. I admit the local Holiday Inn isn’t as nice as a Trump Tower, but the other candidates seem to be sucking it up.
Apropos Trump Tower, I was there a couple of days ago, trying to see if I could get a tour of Trump Election HQ. The man at the elevator desk kindly gave me the office phone number to see if they would let me up. (I have been in email communication several times with Trump’s communications director, Hope Hicks.) I phoned the office, but no one answered, even after I let it ring so many times I thought I was calling an airline. Finally, voice mail picked up.
“They don’t usually answer,” the desk guy explained, trying to be helpful. The way he sounded, it didn’t seem as if a lot of people were there. You could buy plenty of Trump hats in the lobby, though.
And now for the debate… but first let me get a refill on that latte. No, make that a low-foam macchiato with double ristretto and and a shot of Sambuca.