Notes from New Hampshire to Texas:

Sanders Ramps Up His Message, while the Media’s Message Wranglers Ride Herd

Bernie Sanders addresses 7600 students and other supporters at the University of New Hampshire the night before the New Hampshire primary. (photo by Laurie Dobson)


In my travels through New Hampshire before the February 11th NH Primary, I witnessed no negative energy of any kind being displayed during 12 Sanders campaign event stops. This included: at canvassing/GOTV organizing offices in Salem, Hudson, Portsmouth and  Manchester, at rallies in Keene, UNH Durham, and SNHU Manchester, at a breakfast rally in Manchester, two coffee-time meet-ups in Salem, and at a press event with Sander’s spokesperson Nina Turner, and a podcast by Michael Moore in Derry, NH.

During each of the six times I saw Sanders, there were familiar and similar themes that he expressed, which were nearly identical, and seemed designed to be recognizable as classic Sanders platform ‘planks’. Sanders shows a steely resolve in his exact delivery of these speeches. His timing and execution were flawless, no stumbling; like a practiced racehorse, Sanders was keeping pace. 

The seemingly unanimous response by attendees at each occasion was exuberance. In contrast  to the constant reporting by the media, suggesting that there was a fear that Sanders will lose to Trump, the prevailing atmosphere was not fearful. At UNH, where 7,563 attended, Sanders and his speakers expressed a commitment to everyone’s well-being and a message of “Not Me, Us.” The public mood was infectious and buoyant.

There was, however, the occasional loud shout-out, to correct the record, when the media covered Sanders. In a pub, where the news show “Weekend Today” being taped in Manchester, NH, Kristen Welker posed a question to the live audience.

“Let’s find out-how many Bloomberg people are here? Voice response!” Not many answered her question, and after a pause, she said, “Ok, 50/50.” This was loudly responded to with double thumbs down by some people who protested, saying, “That’s not true!” The voice vote for Bloomberg was misrepresented, and it was not corrected.

As Welker was leaving the set, some people came up to express dismay about Bloomberg’s record as New York City mayor. One person said that he had deliberately had people’s property destroyed when he ordered New York Police to evict them from the Occupy encampment; which had been set up in Zuccotti Park, NYC, near Wall Street. The Mayor had ordered a night-time eviction and police got overzealous (see link). 

Welker seemed rattled that her pro-Bloomberg message was so quickly contradicted.

Their lesson learned, the message control over undesired voter comments was more firmly set in place at the next public live set. “Morning Joe” had about 100 guests allowed on their set on Monday morning, the day before the New Hampshire primary vote. The early morning crowd was jovial; breakfast was served, and people were prepared for there to be audience participation during the 3-hour show. 

The segment had several commentators, each of them pressing their point that Biden was finished and Bloomberg was rising. Host Joe Scarborough mentioned early on that Pete Buttigieg was rising, and that there had been 1800 people at his rally and that Klobuchar had had 1300 at hers. Sanders, he and his guests said, had stalled, and no numbers were given for attendance at his rallies.. 

An audience member yelled out, “Bernie had 2,500 in Keene’ (at his rally there the night before). Scarborough joked that he had tinnitus but he could certainly hear that comment. The person was given strict instructions not to speak up again. No further comments were asked from the crowd during the show. 

When Klobuchar came on the set, she did not look towards the crowd; instead, she waved a partial wave and kept eyes straight ahead. After five minutes, she exited as she had come on, through a side door.

James Carville, during that same morning segment appeared on screen. He said that Sanders, even if nominated and elected, could not win the Senate and was not acceptable as the Democratic Candidate. (Unaddressed was whether he thought any other Democratic candidate, if elected, could usher in a Democratic Senate Majority.) Later that day, Nina Turner was at the MSNBC studio where she made a stellar case for Bernie, while the commentator used Carville’s screed against Bernie as a case for his non-electability.

The point where Sanders started to breakout from his script is not exact, but from about that moment on, I watched him shift into hard drive. His followers have been begging him to turn into a scrapper and fight back hard. 

Even Joe Scarborough wanted to see some fight; he said that he longed for someone to start pulverizing their opponents. He seemed to be talking about Sanders.

Sanders did not change his talking points very much in New Hampshire but his passion intensified at the SNHU Arena in Manchester the night of his victory speech. Bernie used his moment of triumph to good effect, as the media on the screen overhead showed that that he had won New Hampshire.

That’s where I last saw him speaking live, but he will return to New England for Maine’s contest. In the meantime, his speeches, since becoming the clear Democratic frontrunner, have been looser, more at ease and more freeform. Sanders opened in Texas with a funny joke about bullshit. Bernie can crack a joke! Nobody is fooled, however, since he knows what he’s up against.

The corporate media has not relented, but they are playing from the same beat-Bernie-at-all-costs playbook, and they have not been able to make it stick. They are not out in the public, like they would be covering a hurricane, but are instead watching and taping their shows from within in the safety bubble  of their security-protected control rooms.

It may seem to the paid pundits, gazing at their large screens in their back rooms at the studios, and remaining insular and consumed with ways to control the election, that they can actually decide who gets to win. 

The voters have other plans. Sanders is becoming beloved. At one point, someone needed water and he offered his water bottle to them. Someone yelled out, “It’s holy water!”  I would tread lightly if I were them. This is new ground. Who would have expected a self-proclaimed socialist to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, and to solidify that lead nationally by more than ten points heading to Nevada?

I can say, unequivocally, that experience is helpful, in regards to anticipating trouble. If you know what to look for and have a developed radar for sensing election fraud, you are ahead of the game.

Observing the Bernie campaign in action, I believe he still has considerable bugs to work out going forward. Granted, they have had a lot to contend with so far.  Considering the young age of his workers and the relentless attacks by the media, they prevailed, and trying to conduct a primary with so many competing candidates, (including one who has yet to enter the field with an unlimited budget, Michael Bloomberg) it was nothing short of miraculous that the focus of all the workers remained positive and peaceful. They should be given a lot of credit for their restraint and persistence.

Bernie’s people would legitimately have the right to stage a protest at the Hilton where MSNBC held forth in Manchester, New Hampshire. I was there and watched Nina Turner making a stellar case for Bernie while the commentator used crackpot Carville’s rage-filled rant to counter her. 

MSNBC, the supposed liberal alternative to Fox, seems hell-bent on tearing Sanders down at any cost. They appear to be afraid of losing their jobs. If so, such a fear does not justify the means used to  undermine Sanders.

These practices need to be opposed vigorously. It has become standard procedure for the liberal media to trash Sanders when, in fact, he represents the best hope for beatingTrump. 


LAURIE DOBSON  is a Sanders campaign veteran. She garnered considerable political experience in key races in CT, VT, MA, NY, NH, and ME over the years notes that she has observed fraudulent election practices at various levels in campaigns, caucuses, elections, conventions, and in judicial oversight. She contributed this article to ThisCantBeHappening! and is blogging for TCBH! during the primaries.