Primary Source: Candidates Now Flooding the Valley

Thursday, November 05, 2015
With less than 100 days to go before the New Hampshire primary, presidential candidates are starting to pay more attention to the Upper Valley.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was in Lebanon and Hanover Wednesday for campaign events, including a lunchtime speech to about 90 Dartmouth College students and Valley residents at the Hopkins Center. Graham presented a dark, albeit coherent, platform which he summarized as “too many terrorists and too much debt.”

Graham spoke out against waterboarding, which he said is torture, but made clear he believes the United States faces a great “generational challenge” to combat Islamic extremism in such places as Syria and Afghanistan. He advocated building schools for girls and taking other measures to buttress civil society.

“We’re going to win this war, and the only way to do this is to build up others. Killing terrorists is (only) a small part of it,” he said.

But when asked about Syria, he said the U.S. should help assemble a “regional alliance” with soldiers from such countries as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, as well as a smaller proportion of U.S. troops, to fight the Islamic State and other threats on the ground. “They pay for it. We’ve paid for the last two wars,” Graham said.

On the domestic front, Graham said he was raised in a small apartment in the back of his family’s liquor store, and that his younger sister was helped greatly by Social Security survivor benefits after their parents died when he was in his early 20s. He called for raising the retirement age for recipients and curbing cost of living adjustments for wealthier retirees to keep the system solvent.

“I’m a Republican, but I do understand why Social Security exists, and I intend to save it,” Graham said.

Graham noted he was part of a bipartisan group that passed immigration reform in the Senate in 2013, but returned to his two-part theme at the end of his speech. Without proper action, he asserted, “Radical Islam will kill us and the debt will consume us all.”

Talking informally after the speech, former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch — who is now teaching at the Tuck School of Business and introduced Graham as part of the centrist Democrat’s efforts to bring a number of candidates to Dartmouth — said he found it odd that an experienced lawmaker such as Graham is polling in the low single digits, while Donald Trump is leading the GOP field. “It’s inverted,” Lynch said.

In other action, Republican Carly Fiorina is holding a town hall forum tonight at 6 p.m. at Salt hill Pub in Newport with the Sullivan County GOP.

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be in Hanover on Friday, with a town hall at the Salt hill Pub there at 3:30 p.m. (RSVP here.)

And Democrat Hillary Clinton is headed back to Dartmouth next week, with a Hopkins Center forum Tuesday at 2:45 moderated by Lynch. (RSVP here.)

Warm and Fuzzy Bernie?

Wonder why U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders had three of his young grandchildren from Claremont go trick-or-treating with him — and a videographer — for about 20 minutes near Lebanon’s Colburn Park on Halloween? Or why earlier on Saturday they had also made a costumed appearance at a Warner, N.H., event with Sanders? Perhaps it had something to do with his campaign’s attempts to make Sanders seem less gruff and more personable. After all, it came on the eve of a New York Times story entitled, “Bernie Sanders Won’t Kiss Your Baby. That a Problem?”

According to a pool report from a Washington Post reporter, Sanders greeted the three grandchildren, who live in Claremont with their parents, Levi Sanders and his wife, Raine Riggs , after a campaign rally at Lebanon High School.

“Hey guys, how are you doing?” Sanders said to the group. “They’re ready to get some candy,” Riggs replied.

For the record, the grandchildren call him “Grandpa Bern,” according to Sanders’ campaign.

Briefly Noted

∎ Former Dartmouth President James Wright, a historian and Marine veteran, appears throughout a new documentary airing on PBS Tuesday, Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History. It’s on both New Hampshire and Vermont Public Television at 9 p.m. on Nov. 10.

∎ The Dartmouth Undergraduate Veterans Association and the Dartmouth Uniformed Service Alumni are holding a Veterans Day banquet on Saturday at Collis Common Ground. The event is free to Dartmouth undergraduates, $65 for the general public. Proceeds will benefit the Jeffery Scott Holmes Memorial Fund, named for the Hartford High graduate who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

∎ After a memorable 22-year run, Imus in the Morning has been dropped by Great Eastern Radio’s Upper Valley stations. He’s been replaced by Portsmouth, N.H.-based Greg Kretschmar and the Morning Buzz.

John Gregg can be reached at

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