Iowa’s governor is in New Hampshire today laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign in 2008. For that effort to succeed, Tom Vilsack must enlist the support of foot soldiers like Carol Appel who talked this week with Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson.
Sixty-nine-year-old Carol Appel was heavily courted by the Kerry and Dean campaigns in 2004 because she’s one of the party stalwarts who turns out voters in Strafford County, which is in eastern New Hampshire. She started out in politics back in 1960 by stuffing envelopes for John Kennedy’s campaign and she’s been active in the Democratic party ever since.
Appel saw Vilsack two years ago when the governor spoke briefly to New Hampshire’s delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. “I think it’s the only time I saw him,” Appel says. “He was a pleasant guy.” Appel judges the 2008 presidential race — in New Hampshire — as wide open at this early point. “People I know who are activists are really looking at people fairly and want to give everybody a chance to make their case,” Appel says. “I’m glad when they come several times because we get a chance to see them get better.”
Appel offers this assessment of the New Hampshire electorate. “My experience sometimes is that the rank-and-file of Democratic voters…sometimes can be more conservative than the party activists and the candidates discover that,” she says. “As party activists, we deserve some credit for the work we do and for thinking about issues and for caring as much as we do and we deserve candidates who speak to our issues, but reality also is that on Election Day, the people who come out to vote are more than us.”
Appel just stepped down after 10 years as county-level chair. She’s now the vice chair of Strafford County, New Hampshire Democrats.