Why you should care
Because don’t we all want to pepper the next POTUS with questions?
In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”
Brian Grodman, certified financial planner
Manchester, New Hampshire
I work two blocks from where you have state police and Secret Service setting up for all the candidates coming. Every four years it’s a madhouse. But there has never been an election since I’ve been in New Hampshire like this, where you have well over a dozen primary candidates, so I took on this challenge to meet them all.
We at Grodman Financial Group have a client base, and we send them a weekly financial newsletter. Since the summer, we’ve been embedding a photo with me and one of the candidates. I have a photo with Chris Christie and Mary Pat. I did get to Bernie Sanders. We did the lesser-known candidates at the beginning. The penultimate candidate was Hillary Clinton. Clients wanted to know: Will he get Donald Trump? I did. Next week will be a collage of 15 candidates.
I’m 56 and I began life as a registered Democrat because my parents were. I moved to New Hampshire in the ’80s. In 1980, I actually protested against Ronald Reagan — he was conservative, and I was a 20-year-old college student who had rose-colored glasses. I was within a few feet but didn’t shake his hand. Somewhere in the late ’80s, I registered as undeclared.
Once I loitered around a senior citizen home before Ben Carson came. All these cars were being turned back, and I asked someone, “Where does the media park?”
The 1992 election was the first one that I became involved with, because that’s when I met George Bush, No. 41. It was before the primary and Bush came to the synagogue where I was president of the men’s club and we had a function called deli night. I was the one the Secret Service interfaced with. I was very surprised by how cordial and down-to-earth Bush was. I asked him if he had a business card; he opened his wallet, and he had about $30 or $40. I recall thinking, “What would the president need money for?” Barbara Bush was also very nice. I was told the president and his wife wouldn’t eat any of the food, for security reasons, but on the way out she asked for a corned beef sandwich. Secret Service didn’t care because it was a random sandwich — it wasn’t prepared for them. She took it into the presidential limousine.
(All images courtesy of Brian Grodman)
Every primary since, I’ve met with many, many of the candidates and spoken with them. It’s such a special opportunity that a New Hampshire resident has. I’m trying to find out about what relationship we should have with the current Iranian government, what kind of bilateral relationship the United States should have with Israel and other Middle East partners and why the U.S. and Europe are taking so many refugees but wealthy Gulf states aren’t.
For this race, I’ve completed my list. The major one I didn’t get was Mike Huckabee; he was concentrated on Iowa and virtually unseen here. I didn’t see Bobby Jindal or Scott Walker, but they were short-lived. With Clinton, it’s challenging; if you go to an open event, it’s almost impossible to get to her because of the throngs of people. I actually signed up at the last second as a media person. I walked in with a Steno notebook; the people from the media were half my age, and they all had a fancy Apple notebook. But it worked.
Once I loitered around a senior citizen home before Ben Carson came. All these cars were being turned back, and I asked someone, “Where does the media park?” I drove in and parked. It was just assumptive I belonged. I also try to build trust with Secret Service. I tell them about different stories, like one visit to the Oval Office, or mention the 150th-anniversary Secret Service pin they’re wearing. I slither right to whoever it is, and I make sure I’m right next to the guy I’ve befriended. I’m ready.