Ground Game: 4 takeaway from the moment the Beto flash mob took New Hampshire



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PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Beto O'Rourke campaigned for the first time this week in New Hampshire, and the country's first primary has never seen anything like it. In less than 48 hours, O'Rourke hosted at least 10 events and asked hundreds of questions to fans, critics and the media.

When most of the potential candidates or candidates visit Iowa or New Hampshire, they usually stop a few times at a large dinner, a college campus, or any other event. 39, a political rally or an evening at home. Not Beto: his style, very similar to that of his campaign for the Texas Senate, appears to a political crowd.

Through e-mail and social media, the campaign announces that it is in a small restaurant or student union. There are no volunteers guiding people where to go or how to sign up as supporters. It is rare that a local newspaper presents O'Rourke and the campaign does not broadcast campaign theme music to stoke the crowd. There are no signs of campaigns or podiums. Stop me if you've ever heard this, but the candidate is known to jump on a table to talk to the crowd.

It's New Hampshire's most modern and old-fashioned countryside at the same time. Here are four things to remember about O'Rourke's visit to the state this week:

The social media campaign's know-how is unprecedented.

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During this cycle, campaign operations are looking for digital content, with the candidate aiming for a good time for a small dollar contribution. Senator Cory Booker, for example, will be pleased to seduce local activists in a private meeting, but he would much rather have them post a video of their meeting on their social networks.

Now let's take a look at how O'Rourke built his public events in New Hampshire: each stop is supposed to be three social media events in one.

In Portsmouth and Manchester on Thursday, O'Rourke chose little popular restaurants downtown and close to a garage. Even though 100 people showed up at both events – about the same size as other candidates for similar stops – there was not enough room for everyone to enter.

Outside, O'Rourke gave about five minutes of remarks – just the time everyone whip their phones and take a picture of him, posting a moment that seemed buzzworthy and as he was on the hustle. When O'Rourke went inside for a longer speech and a question-and-answer session, the different – but still informal – backdrop offered another opportunity to take photos on social media.

Finally, it's time for selfies. Other candidates, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, are also in favor of booking time for such blows with their supporters. But with O'Rourke, the line of selfies looks like the main event. In Portsmouth, the line was organized quickly by the staff and runs the entire length of the building outside.

His arrival is partly Obama, partly Trump.

No doubt about it: O'Rourke is a celebrity. A group of high school girls from Manchester confided that they had jumped out of school and created handmade posters to meet the pop star, former congressman and former city councilor. El Paso.

The rumor surrounding his first trip to New Hampshire resembled those of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. People wanted to see celebrity – and as a result, guests seem more interested in taking a picture with O'Rourke and watching him speak, perhaps more than listening to what he said.

In Manchester, the flash mob practically closed a one-way street for several minutes. The last candidate to close a New Hampshire street like that at the beginning of the primary? Donald Trump.

Style is the message.

It is clear that O'Rourke's incessant schedule and the resulting controlled chaos are part of the message he is trying to convey to voters, as well as his political positions.

O'Rourke, 46, underlines his youth with so many stops? Asked about it by a journalist, the journalist did not explicitly state that some older candidates might not keep up. But later, he admitted that his style was part of this campaign message.

"I think the campaign is part of the message, in the way we ran the campaign in Texas and visited each of the 254 counties, be they red or rural or blue or urban," said O 'Rourke on the occasion of his event in Manchester. "We have shown that no one has been written off and that no one has been taken for granted, and that no one will be forgotten, and that everyone would have a seat at the table and contribute to the conversation."

The campaign is a return to the traditional N.H.

O'Rourke's time in social media is innovative, but the way he runs his campaign in New Hampshire could also refresh the traditionalists.

In 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton changed the primary course with filled gatherings in high school gyms, avoiding more typical stops for retail and home parties. Trump has mastered the shock and fear of his offer, and now, Bernie Sanders is the one who organizes great exchanges.

But O'Rourke campaigned in the style of Jimmy Carter in 1976, Gary Hart in 1984 or Bill Clinton in 1992. They crossed the state, hitting shops, malls and bowling alleys to meet people and answer their questions spontaneously. .

Indeed, it was obvious that the event of O 'Rourke in Manchester was literally on the other side of the street where Ed Muskie jumped on a flat-bottomed truck in the heat of the primary of 1972 to organize a spontaneous rally where he could or not shed a tear.

James Pindell can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game information letter on the policy: http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp

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