With sights on N.H., Kasich separates himself from the pack


KEENE – As the presidential candidates canvassed across Iowa this weekend, trying to raise last-minute support before the state’s primary caucuses Monday, there was one candidate who didn’t bother to make the trip. John Kasich was 1,200 miles away in Keene, N.H., holding his 83rd and 84th town hall meetings in the Granite State.

It’s part of a strategy—focusing his nomination hopes on New Hampshire—that Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, said he’s had since the beginning of his campaign.

“From the beginning, it (New Hampshire) is more manageable,” Kasich said after one meeting at the Cheshire County Historical Society. “You want to be in a position where you can meet people in person. Iowa is hard because everything is so spread out.”

And it seems to be paying off. While Kasich lags behind in national polls of the crowded Republican field, he has surged in recent weeks in New Hampshire, where he hopes his moderate appeal can attract independent voters like John McCain did in 2000.

A Suffolk University poll published Saturday has him at second place with 12 percent, above fellow establishment candidates like Jeb Bush (11.2%), Marco Rubio (9.6%) and Chris Christie (5.6%).

“I’ve always seen New Hampshire as a great launching pad,” said John Weaver, a prominent GOP strategist who has been advising Gov. Kasich. Weaver explained that Kasich’s message– a responsible government that refuses to leave people behind– opens him up to voters that others in the GOP can’t reach. “In terms of his own lane, he’s a conservative with a broad appeal.”

The next two weeks will determine whether Kasich’s progress in New Hampshire can materialize into votes on primary day, and whether that surge in support can withstand a low placing in the Iowa caucuses to propel him into South Carolina and Nevada with momentum.

Weaver questioned how influential the Iowa caucuses were to New Hampshire voters, and he said he believes they have the organization in place to overcome any such decay in support.

“I’ve never met a voter who said, ‘Oh, I was going to vote for you but then you lost in Iowa,’” Weaver said. “He’ll (Kasich) have done 100 town hall meetings by the primary, and he has 7 of the 8 New Hampshire newspaper endorsements, plus the New York Times and Boston Globe.”

The New York Times unrolled their primary endorsements Saturday morning, just before Kasich addressed the crowd gathered in the Cheshire County Historical Society.

Many of the undecided voters who attended the rally agreed that Iowa would have little impact on whether they support the Ohio governor or not.

“Probably not, I look at the caucuses as very small and a different sort of thing,” said Perry Faulkner, a 47-year-old Democrat who lives north of Keene and works for a medical device company. “I’m really into foreign policy, particularly the Middle East, so I’m interested to hear what he has to say about that. You haven’t heard a lot about that on the Republican side, beyond the stuff that Cruz says.”

Martha Ladam, a 70-year-old retired secretary from Keene, said she was a registered Democrat but was considering registering as an independent so she can vote in the Republican primary.

“I’m not thrilled with the Democrats, I seem to get more conservative with age,” Ladam said. “He just seems sane, like someone you would leave with your kids with.”

She also said Iowa wouldn’t impact her decision, calling the caucuses a “different thing,” but added that Kasich’s recent surge in New Hampshire definitely matters to her.

At the end of his question-and-answer session in Keene, Kasich said he wanted to bring people together and asked for the crowd for their support.

“If I get snuffed out here, I’m going home,” he told the crowd. “If I do well, the country will hear what I have to say.”


Connecticut bound

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: This trip has been the most stressful, and somehow also the funnest, experience I’ve maybe ever had.

But first, there’s something about challenging yourself (or, more realistically, having Carlene challenge you, relentlessly) that kicks the routine, planned-out schedules of traditional college semesters in the ass.

So much has happened in the past five weeks. I’ve somehow completed three stories (Olympics, Church, Chinos). I’m still not really sure how that happened, but I do know they’re a far cry from a solo effort, so some last shout-outs go out to my repeat-collaborator and roommate Adam, the sometimes unrealistically high expectations and unconditional support from our professor Carlene, the Insta-famous caliber photography and Chinese bilingualism of @_Joe_Thomas_, the translations and reporting help from Monica, and last but not least the story idea and ingenious headlines of Danny the TA, Man of Madrid y Master Wordsmith.

Back to the events of the past five weeks: I’ve learned more Spanish than I thought I would; I might even be able to add it to the list of languages I know a minuscule portion of (although the majority of what I’ve learned concerns Big Mac-related pickup lines and food/cerveza orders). I’ve met 20 awesome new people. I’ve seen every Mad Max movie (kind of), from Mel Gibson & Tina Turner to Tom Hardy & Charlize Theron. While they were usually disappointing, we got some funny quotes from (and for) the Thunderdome. ‘Member this? I’ve listened to (and sang, unfortunately often in public) “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits and “Confessions pt. II” by Usher more than I’d care to admit over the past three weeks. I’m hoping the karaoke audiences in Spain share my lack of bilingualism. I never got churros con chocolate, which is among my only regrets. I tried once, but they were ultimately ‘sin’ chocolate.

Joe, Adam, and I somehow managed to grow incredibly close to a woman we couldn’t even really communicate with (shout-out to charades). Francoise was the coolest. We also somehow survived her maniacal driving and decaying car, which is in and of itself an accomplishment and a blessing. I’m not going to address Gus to the extent that he deserves because words can’t describe that dog. I’ll just say that we fucking love him (my high school English teacher used to say there’s nothing wrong with the well-placed expletive, so here’s to that advice).

I’ve a learned a lot- notably about the Olympics; about Barcelona, Madrid, and Spain in general; about Catholicism and religion; and about “personas de China en España” and Spain’s economic crisis, to name a few- which is probably my favorite thing about journalism.

I’m grateful for this experience both personally and professionally. I’m so much more prepared for my first co-op (which starts about 5 days from now) than I was five weeks ago. My primary concern now is just making sure I don’t ask “Hola, hables Ingles,” during my first interview there. It’s muscle memory at this point.

I don’t really know how to end this post, just like I wasn’t really sure how to end the trip. All I can really say is that it’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m astonished at how fast our time in Spain came and went; I wish we had more time but I’m also excited to get back home and see my family and friends, to start my co-op, to get back to Boston. I’m excited for my brother’s wedding in August, for games at Fenway Park (get your shit together, Sox), and for my 21st birthday in the fall.

I guess I’m just conflicted between wanting to continue this trip and wanting to get back to the interesting things life has in store for me back in the states. Here’s to hoping I can return to those and Carlene launches another dialogue before I graduate (*cough* Istanbul *cough*).

Over and out from Spain…

American Food, I’ve Missed You

I got my two fixes and reflexively wanted to throw it up on the blog (adjusting back to America, sin blogging, is going to be kind of odd). I figured I’d share so those on the plane know I wasn’t kidding… 

Good Ol’ Chic Fil A
A bacon pizza, fresh out of the brick ovens of New Haven. My dad wasted no time: We ate right this right after Chic Fil A

Madrid’s Chinese community insulates itself from economic turmoil

Madrid’s Chinese community insulates itself from economic turmoil

NU Journalism Abroad · Spain 2015

Story by Dylan McGuinness and Adam Tismaneanu

MADRID–It’s 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday and Elena Wang is sitting alone in the front room of her empty Sichuan restaurant, just before closing between the lunch and dinner rushes. She’s waiting on her 10-year-old son to come back from his school lesson. He walks in, greets his mother and heads to the kitchen to speak with his father who works as the chef.

Elena Wang's restaurant and Xin Chan's convenience store are located just off Plaza de Españ–a. Malasa–ña, in central Madrid, is one of the dominant neighborhoods of Chinese immigrants in Spain. Photo by Joe Thomas Elena Wang’s restaurant and Xin Chan’s convenience store are located just off Plaza de Españ–a. Malasa–ña, in central Madrid, is one of the dominant neighborhoods of Chinese immigrants in Spain.
Photo by Joe Thomas

Theirs is a quintessential family business. There are no employees outside of Wang and her kin. Before she opened this Chinese food restaurant four months ago, just off of Plaza de España, they had another one, and one before that too, all in the…

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Thunderdome Penultimate Finale

Tonight, the men of the Thunderdome (minus Marco, who went to see a bullfight) set out for a final group dinner before we leave Tuesday. The subsequent attempt to pull it off was the perfect microcosm of our three weeks of living together here in Spain. In every plan we’ve made, save the Mad Max Marathon, our intentions usually fell to shambles. This was no different. 

Joe and I decided to bring the gang to a neighborhood we discovered the other day while we were clumsily entering alimentacion after alimentacion in hopes of collecting sources for Adam’s and my third story. There were a bunch of cool bars and restaurants, or so we thought, in between the alimentacions we interrogated. 

After weaving and winding away from Plaza España, we finally found the restaurants we thought were worthwhile days before.  We sat down on the terrace and the night started to get away from us. 

Bad turn #1: The tapas were really expensive. 

Bad turn #2: It was un characteristically freezing and at some point  it started to rain. We were out on the terrace. I was wearing flip-flops. 

Bad turn #3: The “spanish lasagna” that we ordered after our waiter said “we wouldn’t regret it” ended up being one, single piece of lasagna. One piece of lasagna and nine croquets for six guys. 
We ended up ditching the “cool place” Joe and I wanted to go to and hitting up 100 sandwiches. But it wasn’t until after we checked every restaurant (disclaimer: none of them were really restaurants, they’re all just bars apparently) in the area. When we walked into one promising place and asked for a table for seis, that man working there simply replied “No.”

Hopefully tomorrow’s group farewell dinner goes a little better…


Package: Catholic church tries to adapt to a younger generation

Package: Catholic church tries to adapt to a younger generation

NU Journalism Abroad · Spain 2015

MADRID–Attendance at Catholic churches in Spain is rapidly declining, especially among young parishioners. Since the Spanish Constitution separated church and state in 1978, the number of Spanish citizens who identify as Catholic has continued to drop. Churches are now looking for new ways to appeal to those born after this separation. Catholic nuns have also felt the negative effects. Both communities are using technology in an attempt to appeal to a younger generation.

DSC_0175 Story by Dylan McGuinness and Adam Tismaneanu // MADRID–The church is struggling to attract members–especially young ones. As a result, one congregation is using technology to appeal to the disinterested. Click here to read more.

Story by Chloe Bayhack // MADRID-- Story by Chloe Bayhack // MADRID–As the number of nuns in Spain has dwindled since the end of the Franco dictatorship, convents have taken an alternative route in order to recruit: the internet. Click here to read more.

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Did I Really Just Do Three Interviews in Spanish?!?

This isn’t the linguistic epiphany that many of my classmates have optimistically recounted before me (the jealousy is real, and so is the struggle). I, along with my roommate Adam, was forced to strike conversations and conduct interviews today in Spanish. We, unlike those other classmates, actually don’t know any Spanish. Like actually none. Like less than everybody except Haley. As you would guess, we therefore weren’t pleasantly surprised by how much Spanish we actually knew (maybe we were impressed with how much we didn’t know?).

Without our regular (and highly valuable, as is now clearer than ever) translators, and with non-native-but-conversational Danny busy as well, Adam and I struck out on the reporters’ path with a language-barrier collision inevitably ahead. To help, though, we had Danny write in our notebooks some useful phrases and the questions we’d ask.

This is where an alternate, upbeat blog would reflect that we didn’t end up needing that cheat-sheet; that the Spanish we’ve learned from two weeks of class (shoutout to Mireia, Hangman, y Jamon) and about a month of living in Spain have bore more Spanish-speaking skills than we’d previously realized; that podemos hablar espanol and WE JUST DID IT (shoutout to Adam, the Men of the Thunderdome, y of course Shia LaBeouf).

But unfortunately, that was not us. We needed that cheat-sheet: Actually, our sources needed that cheat-sheet too. It turns out our botched pronunciations of the words, which were literally written out for us, couldn’t pass for acceptable Spanish either. We didn’t learn that our capacities surpassed our expectations. We learned that two weeks of laughing at Hayley’s Spanish mishaps, failures, and Canadian accent (team Oxford-comma, sorry Carlene) doesn’t really count as having studied the language, and that being spoiled with four or five fluent speakers by our side has even further widened the learning curve.

I’m being a little melodramatic. We got the quotes (we think) and the churchgoers of Chueca were patiently understanding of our ignorance. But it served as an experience that further proved how little of this very, very common language I know. And it drove home the deep-seated regret of splitting up 8 years of language studies on Italian (when will I need to speak Italian), Latin (hopefully it helped on the SATs?), and Arabic (I actually don’t have any regrets with Arabic). As a matter of fact, it maybe, just a little bit, even made me regret taking a philosophy minor over Arabic. But philosophy is just too cool: Screw practicality.

At least I can eat three Big Macs in one sitting (porque yo puedo). Show me a Spaniard with those skills…