It’s a required spot for all politicians – and it can be found in nearly every state. Perhaps it’s a greasy spoon breakfast joint like Tommy’s Country Ham House in Greenville, South Carolina. It could be a local bar that’s become a tourist destination like McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola, Florida.
Dollars stapled by visitors to the ceiling, and walls, and floors at McGuires in Pensacola. Not sure if any of the many pols who visit try to pocket ’em.
The food, while delicious, is enough to cause heart attacks while simply reading the menu: I’m looking at you, The Beacon, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In Fall River, Massachusetts, it’s Al Mac’s diner – a quintessential chrome plated, cholesterol filled, artery hardening restaurant where the coffee is strong and the conversation is stronger. These places, and countless more just like them, provide a perfect meeting ground for politicians looking to press the flesh with the voters likely to head to the polls.
They’re also ideal spots for reporters to catch up with those pols on the campaign trail.
Martha Coakley’s campaign trail had proven to be a bit rougher than expected when I met up with her in Fall River in 2010. It was January 19th, election day, and her campaign for United States Senate had long since spiraled out of control. A little-known Republican state senator named Scott Brown – along with his pick-up truck and barn jacket- had taken control of the campaign to fill the senate seat once held by Edward Kennedy. At this point in the campaign the Obama administration, dependent upon a Coakley victory to help pass health care reform, had all but thrown up its hands in frustration at Coakley’s anemic effort. I asked the candidate about the anger –and anger wasn’t too strong a word- coming from the White House about her campaign.
Typical politicianese: she offered platitudes about how the campaign was still alive, all would work out well, and she’d welcome the Administration’s help once she was settled in the senate seat.
Surely she knew she didn’t stand a chance at that point, right?
If she wasn’t paying attention to the pollsters at the point, she needed only look outside at the Al Mac’s parking lot: dozens of union members, supporting her campaign, were holding signs, sipping coffee and waving –halfheartedly- to the passing traffic. I had arrived early and noticed these guys getting out of their pick-ups and SUVs. By a count of five to one, those vehicles bore New Hampshire license plates.
“If she couldn’t garner union support from Massachusetts,” I thought, “how is she going to win this race?”
And today, she is expected to announce her run for another statewide office. She’d like to be Governor.
Perhaps she’s learned her lesson from the 2010 campaign (after all, she was re-elected as Attorney General a few months after the Brown debacle). Perhaps she knows now that “…standing outside Fenway Park, in the cold, shaking hands….” is a good strategy and is not to be decried. Perhaps now she knows that union support –vitally important in the Bay State- is best accomplished when garnering Bay State union workers and not those from New Hampshire.
…but even now there are questions being raised about her candidacy. The Globe reports today that Treasurer Steve Grossman has been campaigning diligently with party organizers across the state. Coakely, the story says, has not. Interesting campaign ahead….
Are you reading this at your breakfast table, readying for your drive to work? Be forewarned, that drive –if you’re in Rhode Island- could bring you over some bridges that have seen better days. David Klepper of the Associated Press has a great story on the troubled bridges.
Yesterday marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Birmingham bombings that killed four young girls in the basement of an Alabama church. The bombing became a seminal point in the fight for civil rights in the United States. Today is the fiftieth anniversary of a speech given by a young white man –angered, troubled, ashamed- about his home city of Birmingham. Read this story in The Atlantic, and become enraged over the results of this man’s efforts to change his neighbors’ minds.
Mariano Rivera stood on the mound at Fenway last night, for, likely, the last time as a professional baseball player. A consummate professional, Rivera – headed for the Hall of Fame after his retirement this year- accepted the thanks and praise from Red Sox players, officials and a gracious Red Sox Nation. It’s hard to hate the Yankees when they employ players like Rivera….
…then again, they still have A-Rod, right?