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My Turn: Tulsi, Marco and Hillary’s shadow

  • Hillary Clinton AP

  • Marco Rubio AP

  • Tulsi Gabbard AP

For the Monitor
Published: 1/30/2020 7:00:16 AM

So I was with a state rep friend on a Saturday night last November at the Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon watching football on the pub’s TV. Dartmouth was beating Princeton in a game played in Yankee Stadium, of all places. Then Tulsi Gabbard walks into the bar.

Seriously. Not a joke. Tulsi Gabbard really walked into the bar.

My friend and I later moved to a function room to hear what the Hawaiian congresswoman, war veteran and presidential candidate had to say. We both agreed that her politics didn’t mesh with ours – doctrinaire liberal positions that she had to espouse to compete in the primary, positions that will be problematical in the general election for whomever wins the Democratic nomination.

But her unfortunate positions aside, Tulsi was an engaging, appealing breath of fresh air, especially compared to the septuagenarians against whom she’s competing. We liked her.

Fast forward to Jan. 25.

I was with some compadres at the Meredith American Legion. And Tulsi walks into the bar.

Seriously. Not a joke. Tulsi Gabbard really walked into the bar.

As a fellow Legionnaire, Tulsi had every right to join us at Post 33. Patrons there chatted her up and she was very gracious, answering questions and patiently posing for photos with fellow veterans and non-veterans alike. That she’s now suing Hillary Clinton for $50 million for defamation only enhanced her luster – at least for some of us.

And then I thought of Marco Rubio, of all people, whom I’d met at a nearby Meredith restaurant in 2015. Like Tulsi, Marco was young and appealing, and I signed on as a supporter for the Florida senator and GOP presidential candidate.

Then teaching at NHTI-Concord, I later received a call from a Rubio campaign official asking about Marco coming to our college to meet with students and staff before doing a campus taping for the CBS Sunday Morning show. I was thrilled. As a former public information officer, I knew how difficult it was to get media attention for NHTI. Rubio’s visit – with its attendant national media coverage – would shine a light on my beloved NHTI. I referred the campaign official to the college president’s office to work out the details.

The campaign official soon called me back and explained that the president’s office could not have been less welcoming to Rubio – basically pushing him away. He ended up going to Manchester Community College instead. I was stunned and dumbfounded. What a missed opportunity for NHTI. Why?

I soon found out why: Hillary was coming.

Having committed to host a Hillary visit, the college didn’t want to risk having her high profile visit unfavorably compared or contrasted with a Rubio visit. So the students missed out on meeting Marco. (Note: NHTI now has a different administration from what it had in 2015.)

The day of Hillary’s visit I and seven other professors (all women) walked from our North Hall offices toward Little Hall to see Hillary. But the surrounding streets were barricaded and Little Hall was locked down. A campus security officer, who knew all of us well, seemed embarrassed when he sheepishly told us we’d have to stay away. Hillary would meet with the then-president and two students in front of lots of cameras and media. The show was closed to everyone else. So we and the students missed out on seeing Hillary – as well as Marco.

The machinations of Hillary’s people, both at NHTI and nationally, thwarted most potential 2016 challengers, other than Bernie Sanders – who famously routed her in that N.H. primary. Those machinations dispirited the Democratic Party and helped elect Donald J. Trump as our 45th President. Thank you, Hillary.

Hillary’s not a 2020 candidate, but her shadow still looms large over our body politic, as she again tries to undermine Sanders. Of course, she’d earlier referred to Tulsi as a “Russian asset,” hence the Gabbard lawsuit. We’ll know in November how it all plays out, but the Hillary factor could help Donald Trump to win it all once again.

Poor Tulsi probably has little chance of winning the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11, despite having moved to Goffstown a couple months ago. Which is probably a good thing for Republicans, because if she won the Dem nomination she’d probably be the toughest opponent for President Trump.

No matter how many bars she walks into.

(Michael Moffett of Loudon is a retired professor and Marine Corps officer, and a former state representative.)

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