Cross-Border Campaigning: Vermonters Canvass in New Hampshire Ahead of Primary

Just days before New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, Vermonters are traveling to their neighboring state in an attempt to win over supporters for their preferred presidential candidates.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, and Madeleine Kunin, a former governor of Vermont, traveled to Keene, New Hampshire, Thursday to thank the team of volunteers working in and around Keene with an aim of helping Hillary Clinton win the Democrats' nomination.

"She is, probably, the smartest woman I have ever met," Kunin told a room of Clinton supporters, adding she believes a female president would excel at listening to diverse points of view and at prioritizing issues such as education, childcare, and the environment.

They may be from Bernie Sanders' backyard, but the Vermonters told the neighborhood canvassers they believe Clinton is more ready for the responsibilities of the White House.

Shumlin said in addition to Clinton's foreign policy experience, he was drawn to her candidacy because she impressed him as a good listener who wanted to learn from Vermont's experience combatting heroin and prescription pill addiction as she formulated her national plan to tackle drug addiction by emphasizing medical treatment.

"I love Bernie, I'll never say a negative word about Bernie," Shumlin told necn. "But I tell you - president of the United States is the toughest job in the world, and you'd better hire someone who's really ready, able and capable of doing that job. I think we've never had a candidate more qualified than Hillary."

Several polls have shown Sanders with a commanding lead over Clinton in the New Hampshire primary.

Shumlin and Kunin acknowledged that lead in the Granite State, attributing it at least partially to the appeal of a candidate from next door. But they said they believe the Clinton volunteers can help narrow the gap over the next few days.

Vermont volunteers have been crossing the Connecticut River into New Hampshire for months, hoping to win over more supporters for their chosen candidates.

Liz Blum of Norwich, Vermont. was in Hanover, New Hampshire Thursday, urging Dartmouth College students to back her senator, Bernie Sanders, in his run for the White House.

"Bernie is the people's candidate," Blum told necn. "With many of the people I meet, they're very impressed with the fact Bernie is such a grassroots candidate, and they feel they are part of the campaign, and ask what they can do to help."

Blum said she is active with the grassroots group Rights and Democracy, which has endorsed Bernie Sanders. Rights and Democracy works to foster healthy and just communities, according to its mission statement.

Blum said Sanders' push for Medicare for all and his vocal advocacy on environmental issues are two of the prime reasons she has been a supporter of his since the 1980s.

"He is working for working people," Blum said of Sanders. "He always has."

"I'm sure their efforts are welcome by the campaigns," said Linda Fowler, a Dartmouth political science professor, describing Vermonters who volunteer in New Hampshire on behalf of candidates.

Fowler said she believes face-to-face encounters like the ones Shumlin, Kunin, and Blum were having Thursday can have a modest impact when it comes to building buzz and encouraging voter turnout, which is always critical in the New Hampshire primary.

"If Vermont had a primary that was as prominent nationally as New Hampshire's, there would be a lot of New Hampshire folks over working in Vermont, I'm sure," Fowler said.

After the event in Keene, Shumlin and Kunin headed to Claremont and Lebanon, New Hampshire for more meet and greets with Clinton campaign volunteers, to encourage them to keep at their door knocks and other get-out-the-vote efforts through the primary on Tuesday, February 9.

Blum said she and Sanders' other grassroots supporters will also continue to fan out across the state on behalf of their candidate, including holding a health care rally Saturday at 11 a.m. in Salem, New Hampshire, outside the Sanders field office there.

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