Thursday, September 20, 2007

D'Allesandro: "I'm An Ordinary Guy"

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Manchester Democratic State Senator Lou D'Allesandro. Senator D'Allesandro is currently serving his fifth term and was the Chairman of the 2004 John Edwards New Hampshire campaign.

Here is the complete interview.

“Why did you decide to hold these house parties?”

“I’ve been involved in the process for a long time and I think it’s imperative that people get to know the candidates and as a result we’ve been holding parties at the house, mainly in presidential years. Now this year, with so many qualified Democratic candidates I think that it’s important to have my friends, family, supporters, to meet the candidates in person and that’s why we do it.”

“Do you have any favorite stories about the parties?”

“I think that one of the great stories about the parties is the Hillary Clinton party. Everyone thought that she was so accessible. She stayed around and took pictures. We had a group of Ukrainian teachers come to the event. I met them at the State House and as a result, they came. It was a real treat and an exceptional situation. Senator Dodd was very terrific, Senator Biden’s plane got held-up, he didn’t make it, and so we had to have a party without him. Bill Richardson was also really good. The unique situation though was that the Ukrainians were at the party. And the whole neighborhood had a good time and that’s really what it’s all about.”

“What do you think people view you has such an important player in the primary process?”

“Well you know I’ve been around awhile, I’ve been able to win some elections. I’m just an ordinary guy, a person of moderate means. I’ve lived in the same house for a long time. I think an ordinary person that brings people to the forefront, in terms of my friends and neighbors can meet the candidates. When a political person comes, they meet ordinary people who are going to vote. I think that’s something that’s been missing in the process. We still have an opportunity to keep that in New Hampshire. Through the good graces of my wife and family, we’ve been able to keep that tradition alive. Columnists, newspapermen have come and written nice articles about what we do and how we do it and people seem to react very positively to it and they (the candidates) keep coming back.”

“What do you think Americans are looking for in the next president?”

“I think they’re looking for a couple of things. The first thing is they are looking for leadership, someone who’s going to take this country and move it in a much different direction. And a president that’s going to tell them the truth. We’ve had some real problems with the truth from the current administration and the public is sensitive to that. They want good leadership, but they want leadership they can trust, belief in, and I belief that’s what Americans are looking for this time. It’s a very significant election. Probably the most significant election in my lifetime. I thought the Kennedy/Nixon one was important and this one is probably has important, if not more important, than that one.”

“When putting together these house parties, which campaign has been the most difficult to deal with?”

“I think they were all very good to deal with. The Dodd campaign was just wonderful in terms of coming to help set-up, they were just really terrific. The Clinton party had more people but we had to deal with the Secret Service, which we didn’t have to deal with when working with the other campaigns. Generally speaking, the candidates have been terrific. Mrs. Clinton was on time and spent a great deal of time with the people. When you’re dealing with the Secret Service, it makes it a little more difficult. Generally speaking it’s a time when everyone wants to do the right thing and be accommodating and generally they are.”

“Why do you think John Edwards has not been doing that well in New Hampshire?”

“I think that when you’ve run one time and had a platform, his two America speech was very well received, and you come back a second time and you deviate from that theme a little bit, people are a bit static. I’m not sure his campaign is doing poorly. First time around, he was a fresh face and now he’s just a part of the group, he’s still in the top tier. You’ve got to stay on focus, stay on message, that’s very important. If you’re on time and answer phone calls you’re going to get elected.”

“Why haven’t you endorsed Senator Edwards yet? Is a part of the reason is because in 2004 he was a fresh face and now he’s not?”

“I have good feelings for John Edwards and I certainly have great feelings for his wife Elizabeth. She’s terrific and a great asset to him. I just think that I’m looking for the right message from the right candidate. I know that we have to win in ’08 and with so many wonderful candidates it’s a tough field to chose one to support, that’s mainly the reason right now, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support John Edwards. We have the best qualified field that I’ve seen. They are all very qualified, all very capable. It’s a race of thoroughbreds, it’s like the Kentucky Derby and everyone’s a 2 for 1 shot.”

“When do you think you will endorse a candidate and are they any early favorites?”

“I hope to endorse a candidate in early October. I’m going away on vacation in business. When I come back I’ll seriously consider endorsing a candidate.”

Do you have any favorites?

“I think they’re all good, they’ve all impressed me. We haven’t had a party for Obama at the house but I’d like to do something. So possibly I’ll wait until after that happens to announce something.”