Amherst, N.H. — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy arrived here Monday to rally Hillary Clinton supporters, some of whom were plainly anxious to see the media move beyond the issue of how she handled emails as secretary of state.
Malloy, making his first trip on Clinton’s behalf since endorsing her presidential candidacy in June, reworked a Clinton campaign talking point to sound like a fresh tidbit on why the email scandal will fade.
“They are invested in trying to damage her candidacy,” Malloy said of the crowded Republican field. “They don’t tell you the prior two Republican secretaries of state kept their email system the same way.”
The line seemed to surprise about 30 supporters gathered in the living room of a retired Army colonel, Peter Stearns, and his wife, Nan, two self-described “recovering Republicans” who abandoned the GOP during the presidency of George W. Bush.
“Well, I didn’t know that,” said a woman named Liz.
But according to FactCheck.org, it’s a stretch to say that Clinton’s two predecessors kept their email systems the same way. Colin Powell did use personal email for business, but neither he nor Condoleeza Rice used their own email servers, as did Clinton.
“Listen, this is going to run its course,” Malloy said.
The governor traveled with Nick Balleto, the chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party, and its executive director, Michael Mandell.
Malloy had two stops Monday, each dedicated to the early business of keeping volunteers engaged and believing they are making progress identifying the voters who can make Clinton the first female president.
At a Clinton phone bank in Nashua, where pizza boxes were piled high, Malloy was introduced to volunteers by a state senator, Bette Lasky, as a progressive who has defended gay rights, passed gun control and helped abolish the death penalty.
Malloy told them his political activism began in high school in Stamford and blossomed as a student at Boston College.
“I have sat in those seats,” Malloy told them, smiling. “I have eaten that pizza.”
On Tuesday, he hopes to go on offense, speaking about gun control in Manchester and then holding a press conference at the State House in Concord over a GOP effort to block a state contract with Planned Parenthood.
Chris Sununu, the son of a former governor and brother of a former U.S. senator, cast the deciding vote as a member of the Governor’s Council, which has authority over contracts, to block a contract for family planning with Planned Parenthood, citing the controversy over the use of fetal tissue for research.
“In the past, I supported funding for Planned Parenthood as a provider of reproductive health services in my district,” Sununu wrote in a public statement. “However, investigations into potential criminal activity on both a federal and multi-state level have convinced me to withdraw that support.”
Malloy said the Planned Parenthood controversy, generated by an undercover video in which employees talk about use of tissue recovered after abortions, was a smokescreen to deny women access to health services.
“I’m shocked that a guy by the name of Sununu would lead the charge, and I’m shocked that a guy like Jeb Bush would find that acceptable, even though his family was one of the founders of that particular organization,” Malloy said.
At the Stearns’ home, Malloy had to compete with an acrobatic family dog, Bella, a white cockapoo who repeatedly circled the room, once jumping into the lap of a man whose body language labeled him: Not a Dog Person.
Malloy scooped Bella off the grateful man’s lap and kept talking about Clinton’s plans to make college more affordable.
The governor was shown, however, not to be fully versed on all positions Clinton. The first question came from a man who wanted to know what Clinton would do to save Social Security.
Other than vouching for Clinton’s support for maintaining the program at current benefit levels, Malloy confessed he couldn’t go deeper.
“I’ll take your name, and I’ll get you a detailed position on it,” Malloy said.
A former state legislator, Melanie Levesque, asked him about a natural gas pipeline proposed for a route through southern New Hampshire.
Malloy called it a local issue, but Levesque told him to warn Clinton she needed an answer, if only because it would be an issue before a federal agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Smiling, a man in the back of the room asked Malloy about the proposed Northern Pass transmission line, which would bring hydro-generated power to southern New England.
Malloy is on record saying the region needs greater transmission capacity to lower its high electric costs.
One woman, Becky Casey, stumped Malloy by asking if he had recognized a former opponent in the room. It was her husband, Cris Casey, who competed with Malloy for class president during their junior year at Westhill High School in Stamford.
Malloy squinted at Casey, then laughed in recognition. Casey brought their high school yearbook for Malloy to sign after the meeting ended.
Peter Stearns said the volunteers appreciated the visit. He added that he’s met a number of governors and found them all to be bright — with the possible exception of Rick Perry of Texas.
His audience laughed.
Malloy said he would be back. After leaving the phone bank in Nashua, the governor said visits by campaign surrogates are part of the long haul that are presidential campaigns in early primary states.
“I know what primaries in New Hampshire are like,” Malloy said. “I was here in ‘76. I was here for Muskie when I was in high school. I was here for Joe Lieberman. I’ve done this stuff. It is hands to hands. It is relationships. But it is also, like every other campaign, rallying the troops, getting the supporters in a good place, having them be happy and doing the work.”
“The thing that somebody like me can do at this point is rally the workforce,” he said. “But later on there’ll be other dicussions and other roles to play.”