Q. When did you start and what have you accomplished?
I guess I officially started in February. And I think that we have done what I think you have to do in New Hampshire in terms of getting a campaign up and running, which is we went out and hired some really good people. We have a number of field people who are already very familiar with New Hampshire, having worked here this last fall on the Coordinated Campaign; a press secretary who has spent a lot of time in this state obviously. So I think those were key components in terms of getting the campaign up and running. We have since that time obviously done all the other things you need to do like secure office space and what have you.
But I think our fundamental challenge at this point is to do what is the absolute mandatory requirement to run a campaign in the state of New Hampshire, which is to have your candidate here as often as possible talking to voters. There is no state in the union that is more about one-on-one voter contact than New Hampshire. And I think in the case of John Edwards he is a person who thrives on exchange and back and forth with people so I think it's not a factor of that not being a setting he's comfortable in, it's just that we need him to get here more often. He knows that as well, and so that's what we're doing right now.
Q. You don't want him to miss a lot of votes as Gephardt has where you have 85 percent of your votes missed?
I think all of that is a balancing act. There's no question that
when you're holding elective office and trying to do this, you don't want
to be there. And that's the other place that John--he's had a number
of tasks as a newer candidate, one of which is he takes very seriously
not missing votes. And I think we're quite proud to say that we have
missed the fewest of anybody.1
That being said, with that hat on, I'm completely supportive of what he has to do. With my state director hat on, the more I have him here the better. So that's the balancing act for all of us and those are the discussions I have on a daily basis with Raleigh about what we need to do. And they understand. So we're just sort of dealing with it.
I mean obviously as important as it is for a two-day trip we have coming
in the next two days, it's obviously absolutely critical that John Edwards
is in the Senate to deal with the George Bush tax cut vote. So we'll
live with what we have to do in terms of revamping our trip if need be.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how you came to support John Edwards? When did you first become aware of him?
I actually first met John at the convention in 2000. As you know, Nick Baldick is running his national campaign, and Nick and I worked together in both '96 and '99-2000 on the Gore primary effort here. And Nick called me back a year and a half ago and said, you know I've met this person and I'd really like you to meet him because I think he is very seriously thinking about a presidential endeavor and I think you would really like him. And if he were to decide to do it and I were to decide to go and work for him, what I'd like you to do is run the New Hampshire campaign.
And I said, I'm never doing another presidential campaign, Nick, you don't need to call me. And I was also planning on being in the State Senate again. But all that being said, I said look, the only way I would consider it is if I have a chance to get to know this person. I'm going to be a New Hampshirite and get to know him. And so Nick called me the first trip that John came up with in February of a year ago, and I helped him do that trip and spent a lot of time with both he and Elizabeth; helped him do the other trips that he came up with; spent some time down in DC with him.
And I am frankly from the deep South. I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. I graduated from college in North Carolina. And so there was probably an automatic slight connection there, but I think also for me it actually became a pretty easy decision because once I met John and Elizabeth and listened to them talk specifically about their sort of core beliefs about civil rights and public education opportunity, those are for any deep South southerner like myself, they are my core issue, and they are exactly where I am on that, which is that's truly the opportunity that you can provide anybody in this country, and then it's about hard work and taking advantage. And they believe that to their core and so do I. So for me everybody's got that issue... So it was a very easy decision.
1. According to the RNC's May 16, 2003 tally, the numbers of missed votes were: Gephardt 85%, Kerry 34%, Lieberman 22%, Edwards 12%, Graham 8% and Kucinich 0%.
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