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Ms. Smithie Goes to Washington (and New Hampshire)

By Sara Barz ’06

Last fall Liz Hartmann-Dow ’10 found herself with stacks of Barack Obama campaign literature in the middle of No. Weare. That’s North Weare, New Hampshire, but the locals pronounce it “nowhere” -- a little joke by the hardy Granite State folks who live on a hillside completely foreign to the dispatch of Smith canvassers.

“We drove up this misty, eerie mountain on a single-lane gravel road,” laughs Hartmann-Dow. “The houses were 500 yards apart or more. It took us one hour to talk to talk to four or five people.”

However, Hartmann-Dow’s perseverance was appreciated by the residents. Smith Democrats overwhelmingly reported that New Hampshire voters like to be courted, and the residents of No. Weare were no different. “Some of them who came to the door looked at me like, ‘What are you doing up here?’ But they were all really considerate,” Hartmann-Dow says. “One woman -- a Hillary supporter -- engaged me in this huge debate on policy. Then after five or 10 minutes she got this shocked look on her face and ran back into the house. She had left dinner on the stove.”

Left: Members of the Smith College Democrats with John Edwards: (left to right) Claire Stein-Ross ’10, Davida Ginsberg ’10, Tessa Keefe ’10, Katy Frank ’10 and Sarah Mueller ’10. Right: Members of the Smith College Republicans in Washington D.C. (top, left to right): Kelsey Radwilowicz ’10, Samantha Lewis ’08 and Sarah Brock ’09.

Tales like Hartmann-Dow’s became familiar in the run-up to the New Hampshire primary on January 8, 2008. According to Claire Stein-Ross ’10, the campaign coordinator for the Smith Democrats, “we did seven canvassing trips and three phone banks at Smith.” All but one of the campaign trips went to New Hampshire, and the club worked with the Obama, Edwards and Clinton campaigns. “We tried to work wherever we could be used most,” says Stein-Ross.

One highlight for her was the October canvassing trip to Keene to work with the John Edwards campaign. “We always asked to stay overnight so we could get as much exposure as possible,” explains Stein-Ross. “When we worked for Edwards, we slept on the floor in the campaign office. It was more like a middle-school sleepover than a campaign trip. We had a carton of ice cream, and we were all curled up in our sleeping bags. It was really fun.”

On the other side of the aisle, this presidential primary season did not provide the best opportunity for the Smith Republican Club to flex its political muscle. “We had nine candidates for four volunteers,” explains Samantha Lewis ’08, president of the Smith Republican Club. “Most of our members were abroad or in Washington, and even among those who were on campus there was no consensus regarding candidates to support. Some people did not make up their minds until the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.”

The Smith Republican Club regularly attends the annual CPAC in Washington, D.C. Held for three days, this year’s event highlighted the divisions between conservatives across the country as well as those within the Smith Republican Club.

“When Romney announced that he was leaving the presidential race at CPAC there was just chaos in the room,” says Gretchen Hahn ’09, secretary of the Republican Club and editor-in-chief of The Right View, a conservative campus newspaper. “People were sobbing and crying. Then when McCain got up to speak, the man sitting next to me booed him the entire time.”

Hahn, who did not decide that McCain was her candidate of choice until CPAC, hopes to continue her political involvement over the summer, campaigning for either McCain or her congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT).

Both organizations are gearing up for fall 2008. “Last fall we were reorganizing, but in the fall of ’08 we plan to be a lot more active,” says Hahn. “In the fall we intend to publish The Right View on a more frequent basis, and we also will paper the campus much like the club did in 2004 for President Bush.”

“In the spring semester we’re bringing Madeleine Kunin, the first female governor of Vermont, to campus, and we hosted the Liberal Date Auction in March,” says Sidnie Davis ’08, president of the Smith Democrats. “We want to make sure we go into the general election cycle strong on funds.”

Smith Alum Is a Super-delegate

As a member of the Democratic National Committee, Lauren Wolfe ’05, president of the College Democrats of America, is also a “superdelegate,” one of very few in the country whose opinion may weigh significantly in this year’s national elections. As a junior and senior at Smith, she was president of Smith College Democrats. After graduation, she went to Germany with a Fulbright Scholarship and taught English and American culture to elementary and high school students.

Now a student at Detroit Mercy Law School, Wolfe was recently profiled in the Detroit Free Press, which noted “It’s not many 25-year-olds who get calls from former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle or get a few minutes of one-on-one time with the leading Democratic candidates for president.... Lauren Wolfe is no ordinary twentysomething law student. She’s one of 28 superdelegates from Michigan hoping to be seated at the Democratic National Convention. Her status is the same as that of party power hitters like Gov. J ennifer Granholm and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.”

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