Senior Editor/Producer Jonathan Mena And Writer/Reporter Kisha Allison at the New Hampshire Primaries

They hit New Hampshire running, arriving Monday, January 7, in South Boston, via Amtrack, and then hopping a bus ride about an hour later to Manchester where they were hoping to catch up with members of the Independent Press Association of New York (soon – we’re talking days – to become known as the New York Community Media Alliance) which had arrived about an hour before them.

No time to drive to the Holiday Express in Durham to check in (Manchester hotels were filled many, many days before the primaries and that’s why they were staying in Durham). Chauffeured, they arrived at the Merrimac Restaurant, 786 Elm Street, where folks show up for more than just diner food when election fever is running hot. But the IPA members had already moved on, so Mena and Allison shot lots of pictures and tape of the pageantry of candidates’ supporters trolling for votes with big signs and costumes outside the Merrimac. Kisha Allison, right, at National Association of Black Journalists awards banquet.

Mena and Allison grabbed a quick meal (at at sports bar with more culinary atmosphere than the Merrimac) and then – Mena’s GPS at the ready – headed to Exeter, getting there just in time for a John McCain rally at the Town Hall. McCain’s speech that night was boring – he promised to arrest Osama Bin Laden if elected, etcetera, etcetera – and he looked fatigued as he was getting on the bus.

We met up with IPA members, made introductions and then zoomed to McKelvie Intermediate School about 40 minutes away in Bedford to hear, see and record Romney preaching to the faithful. Mena and Allison pretty much went to cover Romney because he was a candidate and they were feverish about getting quickly into news reporting mode, and someone pointed them in his direction, and they wanted to go. That’s it. Otherwise, Romney was about as inspiring as a big yawn (and he was devilishly deceitful).

The next dash, another 40 minutes, was towards the Manchester Airport for a Clinton rally. Mena’s GPS was right on the money, of course, but traffic was so thick, thick and the directions unclear to the specific rally point so they stopped to snack and headed to the Holiday Express in Durham, arriving sometime around 1 a.m. to check in.

Because they had been working on podcasts until a few hours before they arrived at Penn Station for the trip, they were not ready to be up and ready by 7 a.m. Tuesday to go meet Jon Greenberg, producer for New Hampshire Public Radio, at Old Town Hall in Exeter. The plan was to join him as he interviewed voters before they went to work but only about three IPA members were up early enough for early morning trip. The rest slept in but were ready for the sprint to Andrew Smith, Director of the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center in Durham. That was about 9 a.m.

Smith provided excellent, detailed analysis and data-supported information, and, hopefully, we will have stories in various forms in the coming days about what he said about Clinton and Obama and Giuliani and others.  Jonathan Mena, left, at forum on NYPD.

Everyone feeling energized by Smith’s lecture-analysis-commentary, we went to lunch and then broke off into two groups. Mena and Allison went to the home of a New Hampshire state politician and Giuliani supporter while the others went looking for an Edwards rally. Then all groups met up one more time to break up into two new groups: One headed for Obama’s election night rally at Nashua South High School in Nashua and the other to Clinton’s at Southern New Hampshire University on River Road in Manchester. There was talk about members of each group showing up at the other’s stakeout but it never happened.

Just when it was looking as if Mena and Allison would not get the press credentials that they wanted, they finessed their way into the Obama rally while I waited in another room. The rest is history. More stories will be showing up in the WORD.

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