N.H. Dems ditch Clinton, Kennedy names from fall dinner after controversy

  • FILE - In this February 1943 file photo, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt poses on the White House lawn in Washington. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, filed legislation Tuesday, April 14, to create a citizens panel to recommend an appropriate woman candidate to be put on a 20 bill. Roosevelt is among the women suggested by a group promoting the effort. (AP Photo, File)

Monitor staff
Published: 8/7/2018 5:03:37 PM

New Hampshire Democrats are renaming their fall fundraising event the Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner, and dropping the “Kennedy-Clinton” name after a recent spate of criticism.

In an announcement, party chairman Ray Buckley said the state committee chose Roosevelt for her role as “an historic trailblazer whose compassion, bravery, and intelligence,” adding that the name would fit into what he called “our party’s steadfast commitment to electing Democratic women.”

The change punctuates a troubled history. Last fall, after numerous celebrities faced accusations of sexual harassment and assault, New Hampshire’s “Kennedy-Clinton” event drew fresh scrutiny.

Former president Bill Clinton was publicly accused of sexual assault by four women in the 1990s; those charges resurfaced ahead of the 2016 presidential election. As the #MeToo movement took hold in 2017, criticism of the dinner continued, with state Republicans attacking the name and many Democrats expressing their own discomfort.

When the dinner was held last November, the controversy spilled over, with Republican Party chairwoman Jeanie Forrester urging the Democrats to drop the Clinton name.

But an attempt to formally do so at a party meeting a month later, in December, was unsuccessful. At the time, party officials said they were confident the change would eventually happen.

In his statement, Buckley did not mention the previous title, nor explain the reason behind the renaming. But party spokeswoman Sarah Guggenheimer said the vote was intended to allow for the change before invitations were sent out to attendees.

“We wanted to resolve this issue,” Guggenheimer said.

The move represents the third name in as many years. The Kennedy-Clinton moniker was chosen in 2016 to replace the dinner’s original name, Jefferson-Jackson.

Both former presidents Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson have come under recent criticism for racial transgressions committed in office.

In making the change, the 266-member Democratic committee voted by mail-in ballot; Eleanor Roosevelt won with 52 percent of the vote, Guggenheimer said.

Among the other suggested names: the Unity Dinner, the Victory Dinner, and Democracy for All.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at

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