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On the trail: Campaigning one handshake at a time on July 4 parade route

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  • U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., waves to the crowd at the Amherst Fourth of July parade Thursday. She and four other presidential candidates walked the parade on a day with temperatures in the 90s. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Uncle Sam on stilts delights the crowd before the 2020 presidential candidates make their way at the Amherst 4th of July parade on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar waves to the crowd with her daughter, Abigail Bessler (left) and husband, John Bessler at the Amherst 4th of July parade as she and four other presidential candidates walked the parade in the 90s heat on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Former Democratic Congressman John Delaney slowed up so much shaking hands that he was taken over by the Bernie Sanders supporters at the Amherst parade.

  • Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, a Republican, shakes hands as he makes his way during the Amherst Fourth of July parade.

  • U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand starts to run to catch up to the rest of the parade at the Amherst 4th of July festivities Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand greets voters as she tries to catch up to the rest of the parade at the Amherst 4th of July festivities Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at the Amherst 4th of July parade on Thursday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Mary Grallo meets presidential candidate U.S. Rep Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, at the Amherst 4th of July parade. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

For the Monitor
Published: 7/4/2019 3:42:16 PM

The race for the White House once again marched through New Hampshire on Independence Day, as four Democratic presidential candidates and the sole Republican challenging President Donald Trump perfected their retail politics skills by marching in multiple Independence Day parades.

First up, the storied Amherst parade, which always attracts many of the White House contenders on the July 4 the year before the state’s first-in-the nation presidential primary.

“We’re here to wish everybody a happy Fourth of July and get out and meet as many people as possible,” Rep.Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii told the Monitor.

Minutes before marching, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland shared his parade strategy.

“I like to move around and just try to meet as many people as possible on the side of the parade, go back and forth.”

And with the temperatures steady climbing, Delaney acknowledged that “you know you get a little sweaty doing it, but you meet a lot of folks. And that’s kind of how I handle parades.”

It was a similar strategy for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

“My game plan is to shake as many hands as I can,” the senator shared.

But Gillibrand had a secret weapon – candy.

She emphasized that handing out candy to children “is the solution for a strong parade performance.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota touted that “I’m really good at running back and forth. We have done so many parades in our family because I started out in county office and we had 28 parades and I did nearly every single one of them.”

Klobuchar said that her daughter “once wrote her confirmation essay for church and the theme was ‘when life gives you a parade, walk it.’ ”

She shared her parade philosophy: “The key is, who are you next to in a parade? You don’t want to be next to a horse because there can be droppings on the floor. I was once next to a snake zoo. That was unfortunate. You don’t want to be next to a pig, as a politician, with pork and everything. So there’s a lot of judgment calls you make about where you are in a parade.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who’s running a long-shot primary challenge against Trump, emphasized the importance of marching in parades.

“You can tell what people are thinking by how they react to you and there’s no substitute to getting up close and personal. I’ve always loved parades,” he said.

Taking in all the action was longtime Amherst resident Roger Hooper.

“We’re here to wish everybody a happy Fourth of July and get out and meet as many people as possible,” he explained.

And the retired Army colonel noted that “this is the biggest one we’ve seen yet.”

He emphasized that it “absolutely” makes a difference when the presidential candidates show up at the parade in person. “You feel a little bit more of a personal touch.”

Staying neutral, he said “I support everybody who walks in this parade.”

Delaney passes the century mark

Delaney’s appearance in the Amherst Independence Day parade marked his 107th campaign event in New Hampshire, far surpassing any of his two-dozen rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But remember – Delaney enjoyed a huge head start over the other White House hopefuls.

The then-congressman from Maryland announced his candidacy in July of 2017 – nearly two years ago. At the time, Republican President Donald Trump had only been in the White House for six months.

So – has all the time and money spent (most of it his own, as the multi-millionaire is mostly self-financing his presidential campaign) paid off for the long-shot for the nomination?

Delaney says yes – that the repeated visits to New Hampshire – as well as the three other early voting primary and caucus states – has helped build up his name recognition.

“I’ve been coming to New Hampshire. I’ve been going to Iowa. I’ve been doing the early states and I feel like I’ve gotten relationships all over the state,” Delaney highlighted in a one-on-one interview with the Monitor this week.

But the candidate stood at less than one percent in the most recent public opinion surveys in the Granite State.

It’s no surprise I guess that Delaney eschews the polls.

“People are starting to know who I am and I think it’s going to pay off. I believe that New Hampshire and Iowa still matter despite the fact that a lot of people are actually trying to create the social media primary before Iowa and New Hampshire. I actually think the early states still matter,” he highlighted.

Delaney, who went up last spring with his first TV commercials in the state – told the Monitor to expect to see more ads on Granite State airwaves later this year.

Ryan wants a mental health counselor in every school

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tim Ryan vows that if he makes it to the White House, he’ll invest $50 billion in federal programs to aid public schools.

The long-time congressman from Ohio was in New Hampshire on Monday, as part of the rollout of his new education proposal.

Ryan’s new plan is in addition to a $100 billion infrastructure proposal – which would include funding for school buildings and playgrounds.

The long-shot contender for the Democratic presidential nomination told the Monitor that he’d pay for his programs by increasing capital gains taxes, raising the top tax bracket and a transaction tax to “basically get to where the concentration of wealth is.”

Ryan highlighted that he wants to focus “on education investments that can really help kids transform and to me it starts with building these community schools.”

The congressman first called for mental health counselors in schools across the country last week – during the first round of Democratic presidential primary debates.

Asked about his performance at the debate, Ryan said, “I was happy we got our message out. I think I came out of there as the candidate from middle America, the working-class candidate, which was our goal.”

And he touted that “our phone’s been ringing off the hook the past couple of days since the debate.”

Ryan – who grabbed 7.8 minutes of speaking time during the last Wednesday’s first debate, which placed him in the middle of the pack – said, “I hope we get more time next time.”

And he lamented “we didn’t talk about K through 12 education. We didn’t talk enough about wages and getting wages up, retirement security.”

But he explained, “it’s really a delicate balance because you’re raised to be polite and not obnoxious but if you want to get time, it seems like you’ve got to be a lot more aggressive so I hope they balance it out a little bit better.”

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