IN A MANCHESTER STUMP speech, Andrew Yang delivered as many laugh lines as applause lines, making fun of himself, President Donald Trump (with his go-to joke about being the opposite of Trump) and the ultra-wealthy (“It’s going to be up to you all to stick it to Jeff Bezos!” Yang said).
Between hyping the campaign-subsidized New Year’s Eve booze and spraying whipped cream into two kneeling fans’ mouths, the businessman-turned-presidential-candidate talked about tax avoidance, income inequality, automation and the electoral college importance of New Hampshire voters
(“This is like a football stadium of Californians,” he told the 50-some people who came to see him speak).
The Democrat might present himself in a silly way, but Yang’s fans in the room take his candidacy seriously.
“I don’t think I’ve been passionate about any candidate for a while,” said Kevin Hsu of Manchester. He agrees with Yang’s analysis of America’s challenges, and likes that Yang comes from an immigrant family.
Chris Sleeger of Nashua heard Yang on a podcast and said Yang’s ideas have drawn him in.
“He’s kind of changing the discourse,” Sleeger said.
Yang spoke in a former barbershop on Manchester’s West Side.
It’s a shell, with the shampoo sink still in the middle of one wall, but it will become the Yang campaign’s eighth campaign office in New Hampshire — a ninth is opening soon in Keene.
The Yang campaign said he has about 30 staffers in the state, lagging the biggest campaigns. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has 70 staffers in the state, while the New Hampshire campaigns of former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren employ more than 50 people each.
Yang’s campaign reported a record fundraising day on Nov. 30, taking in about $750,000. “We’re peaking at the right time,” he said.
Asked Tuesday if he thought he could win the New Hampshire primary, Yang said only that he believed he would surprise people.
He said his campaign was growing as others were scaling back— a point he made just hours after Sen. Kamala Harris bowed out of the race Tuesday.
“The expectations for our campaign tend to underestimate our strength,” he said.
Department of transportation
Getting campaign staff and reporters from Iowa to New Hampshire was part of Douglas Landry‘s job as an “advance man” for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2008 and 2016.
Clinton and Sanders chartered planes from Des Moines, Iowa to Manchester in 2016, Landry said, and the press rode along.
He wondered if this year’s campaigns will have the resources to transport everyone who needs to get to Manchester on the morning after the Iowa caucus, as they have in years past.
It’s one consequence of so many candidates staying in the race.
“In 2016, there were two 800-pound gorillas duking it out,” Landry said of Clinton’s and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaigns.
“Now, there are like five medium-sized gorillas duking it out.”
Landry is chartering a plane, and is marketing the “Granite Express” flight to campaign reporters.
Landry predicted candidates who do not perform well in Iowa will stick it out another eight days, hoping for a Clintonian comeback (Bill or Hillary, take your pick) in the New Hampshire primary.
All the candidates will have chartered planes, Landry said.
“They’ll do their caucus night event in Iowa, and be shaking hands at the Red Arrow in the morning.”
Meanwhile, a reporter flying commercial could miss half a day on the trail, and might miss something key. Hillary Clinton’s emotional moment in a Portsmouth coffee shop in January 2008 comes to mind.
The privilege of not missing out won’t come cheap — seats on the Granite Express start at $950.
When are the buses coming?
Biden is on a bus trip around Iowa — hopping on and off the “No Malarkey” tour bus to hit fundraising events in New York and Chicago, according to his schedule.
Yang has announced a bus tour of his own, “A New Way Forward” around Iowa next week.
So far Buttigieg is the only 2020 candidate to bring a bus through New Hampshire.
Biden’s campaign is coy about the prospect of a “No Malarkey” bus tour in New Hampshire.
If there’s an announcement to be made, a campaign staffer said, it might be made when Biden is in New Hampshire early next week.
Correction: An earlier version of this column misstated the date of the New Hampshire primary. The primary is Feb. 11.