It has been w while in coming but Fred finally came to the Lakes Region of NH to the Laconia VFW Hall. While there was not a lot of advanced notice, a reasonably good sized crowd showed up. As we saw with a couple of Rudy’s events, neither Doug or I recognized a lot of people that arrived – a sign that Fred is attracting yet a different kind of crowd than some of the others.
He talked well and quickly during his opening remarks and certainly knew what he wanted to say. Speaking off the cuff, he did well in painting the pictures in the telling of his anecdotes, gesticulating widely. No hesitation at ALL and is quite smooth.
You know, I’ve read and heard other folks talking about Fred’s laconic laid back style and the seemingly lack of fire in the belly attitude. While I cannot speak to that sentiment personally, I can definately say that there was no evidence of that here today. While this was a short stop consisting of a small amount of time for opening remarks and only 3 questions from the crowd, he seemed upbeat in a serious type of way (no, he was not bouncing around the stage) as he brought his defense and strength message to this bastion of veterans.
Look, I was quite disappointed that the time between the "Ask Fred" event (of which the ‘Grok was blessed by being chosen as one of 6 blogs nationwide to participate – see the questions here and the compiliation here) and his answers. Further, I thought that the lack of being in NH often kinda let folks go off the cliff as far as expectations were concerned ("hey, where’s Fred?"). This did not, his chances help.
That said, if he does come often and shows the same type of command of details and the speaking presence he did today, who knows? Maybe some of that "uncampaign sparkle and mystery" may return to the Fredster.
Anyways, as always in covering these events, my rough Notes and a few more pics follow.
Crowd slowly coming in…
… and a few more
2:45: Just met Kevin Conroy – he had been with the Rudy campaign and is now is with Fred with the shift partially due to business and partially personal. I wish him well as he is a nice guy and always watched out for the ‘Grok and MTNP whenever anything happened with Rudy.
The place is starting to fill up. You can tell the campaign workers – suits without ties, adjusting little things here and there over and over. The regular folks – well, for most it is a day off and the dress is NH casual – mostly jeans, sweaters, and thick coats (fall / winter has arrived with a vengence here in central NH – temps are now in the 20s and we had snow for a white (kinda) Thanksgiving cover with a few mounds of white here and there still visible).
2:50: Not a lot of folks here yet but it has gone from a mere handful of folks about 20 minutes ago to 3/4’s full and more filling in. Spent the time talking with a number of folks that I had not met before.
Well, VFW Commander Dan Kenny making an announcment that Fred will be in around 3:30pm
3:38 Well, this was supposed to start at 3pm and he’s not here. Talked with a few people in the meantime – Joe McCormack who is the Belknap County Chair for Fred as well as a few others with the campaign
3:40 He just walked in and Dave Kenney, NH Vets for Fred chair is now introducing him. He is emphasising the call of duty and the honesty. He goes on about that Fred will tell the truth.
Fred: Glad to be back. Mentions that he really only likes only 2 types of states – low tax and no tax states. Tennessee has no income tax but does have a sales tax, thus he say "one down and one to go". We have a lot to be thankful for – especially for the brave folks that are serving in the military and we have a large obligation to them. He is emphasising the need for a strong defense. Relating his experience on Senate committees dealing with defense and intelligence and talking with the folks that are responsible for it and ifor intelligence.
Note: Big surprise – talking defense at a VFW! TMEW and I talked about this event just a little bit ago. She’s not a political animal like Doug and I but has been going to the events with me – I AM thankful for a patient wife. She actually has enjoyed seeing the different candidates, but the single issue event today had her wishing to hear about more topics. Well, you can always saunter over to the Fred site here.
He’s talking about the heroes he’s met at different events, the Congressional Medal of Honor winner that introduced himand the folks in the Vets hospitals.
"Without the brave, there would be no land of the free."
A bit of a dig at the Dems in DC: Our 20 year olds coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq have a better idea of what we need for security than that 30 year vet in Congress."
His #1 issue – if our government cannot keep us safe, nothing else matters. That is our #1 obligation. We are the freest nation on the planet – that’s why we are the target.
Soviets were the threat in years gone by but the strategy of MAD kept things in check. Not true any more as now there is a multiplicity of threats: AQ, rogue nations (NK, Syria, Iran). There is weaponry in the world that we didn’t know about before, and the delivery mechanisms are new. Bio-warfare – we could be under attack and not even know it. We are not doing all that we can do to protect ourselves.
He is laying some of the blame on the Press, stating that they are not reporting at all well the successes that we are having. If it is good news, the NYT reports it on Page 19….you know what page it would be on if it were bad news…
Starts a riff that we do not have enough men under arms – soldiers, Marines and our equipment is tired. Inteelligence didn’t know what was really going on. We have to do things better.
We have tried to get by on the cheap on this. We do earmarks really well but have not fully funded our military even to historic levels for quite sometime. Historically that has been at 5% of GDP, now at 4-4.5% and heading downward. We need to have 1 million in uniform. We still have the traditional types of enemies – we are seen worldwide as being weak and divided. We have to make sure that the world understands taht we are strong and united.
The numbers are important, and the money is important. 4.5% is needed at a minimum….and we need the will to do it. Historically, the will of the people is at least as important as our military might. The world is watching to see if we are weak. We are steeped in the tradition of honor and a tradition of duty and being the leader of the free world. We didn’t ask for it:
"we don’t always go looking for the bear in the woods, but sometimes the bera comes looking for us".
The more we can stabilize the world, the we will be. He’s hitting on all cylinders right now….emphasising that we need to be strong -> "Peace via strength".
We have to take care of our military when they come home – mentions Walter Reed. They know their appreciation of what is needed and has to happen.
He talks about the fact that he can step up and can communicate to the folks
Early talked about the Soviet Union. Yet Congress still spends on the F22 – will you cut that and spend it on Vets needs instead?
He will cut those programs that we do not need. Don’t make those based on Boeing and Lockheed or someones’ district. You have to proof that the need is not needed. For instance, Russia is now rebuilding and consolidating power and spending oil money (on its military). And the Russians are approving of "that man" (meaning Putin). Europe is only spending 1% of their GDP on defense …. they’d have to depend on us and we have no one to turn to except ourselves.
Mentions the latest cyberattack as a way of demonstrating new forms of warfare (for a background of the attack on the former Soviet vassal state of Estonia, try here). Our satellites are at risk (Chinese showed that they could punch out their own, thus they can do it to ours). We have a lot of vulnerablities and it will cost us more – we may not be able to have everything else (
non-military) we want.
We can talk priorities, but defense has to come first is the jist of what he is talking about.
We treat AQ person like a criminal – they learn more about us than we do about them via the discovery process…
We are a nation of short memory. It it was a low tech attack on 9/11 – we have to learn from our history. We CAN hand off a better future to the next generation.
Deregulation and environmentalism (I couldn’t quite hear the question)
He introduced a bill with Levin D-Michigan, based on the fact that we have regulation upon regulation upon regulation that is not based on any cost/benefit analsysis. How much do we have to pay for it – it may sound good, get a headline, but did it pan out?
We are stifling our business – a lot of costs are based on regulation but price is set by global needs. We are less competitive.
Big concern is whether global warming will be very harmful in the future. Are we as humans responsbile? We have to be concerned with it but there are a lot of questions about it – we have to be modest (example: the new stem cell technique – we thought that only embryonic stem cells would be helpful and this new technique, which might be a winner, wasn’t even thought about it). We are arrogant if we think we have all the right answers at any given time. To what extent is this a cyclical event (warming and cooling) and to what extent is it man made a problem? We don’t know all the answers. we need cleaner air anyways, and have done so with air and water problems. Before we make major decisions, we have to understand that this is a global issue before we adversly affect our economy (which is a bit fragile). If China and India do nothing, and we do a lot, our effort will be miniscule.
Pakistan – what do we need to be doing?
Interesting and dangerous part of the world. He met with Mushareef when Mushareef first took power. Takes a swipe at Bush "don’t trust what I see in someone’s eyes". We have two competing interests: Rule of Law – Mushareef is hurting himeself by jailing lots of his own people. #2 – nuclear state – A. Q. Khan sold nuclear secrets – mentioned Libiya. Pakistan is a high tech land but also have a great capability for destruction. There are those in that govt that are our enemies and are friends of the Taliban. Mushareef has a hard row to hoe. The ordinary Pakistani is not in love with us.
We need to hope that the govt doesn’t fall into the hand of the radicals and he goes back to the Rule of Law and have free elections.