Primary Season at Dartmouth Gears Up With Candidate’s Visit

6/01/2015
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Students got a look at the first of many presidential hopefuls Sunday evening when Democrat Martin O’Malley made a campaign stop at Dartmouth the day after announcing his candidacy.

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Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley speaks to students, faculty, and other community members during his visit to campus May 31. (Photo by Rob Strong ’04)

“This is the first time I’ve said this at any college campus: I am a candidate for president of the United States,” O’Malley told a packed Carson Hall crowd of about 75 Dartmouth students, faculty, and members of the Upper Valley community.

The former governor of Maryland said Dartmouth was the first college visit of his new campaign because he is committed to reaching a new generation of leaders, and to running hard in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

O’Malley won’t be the last candidate to visit Dartmouth, a traditional stop on the campaign trail. In recent years, the 2011 Republican Presidential Debate and the 2007 New Hampshire Democratic primary debate both took place on campus.

At Sunday night’s event, Madeline Cooper ’16, president of Dartmouth College Democrats, introduced O’Malley. The student group does not endorse candidates, but has reached out to all the Democratic hopefuls to offer them a chance to engage with Dartmouth students in the run-up to the New Hampshire primary, Cooper said.

“The opportunities we have to interact with elected officials, and candidates running for office, is an incredibly exciting part of going to Dartmouth and being in New Hampshire,” Cooper said. “We’re very much hoping to host all the Democratic primary candidates.”

Cooper said the College Democrats are in contact with the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the other declared Democrats in the race.

Campus GOP organizers will likely also bring candidates to campus.

In addition to campaign stops by individual candidates, Dartmouth has hosted many national debates and forums over the last three decades. The Republican Presidential Debate came to Dartmouth in 2011, which included all the candidates. In 2007 the College hosted the New Hampshire Democratic primary debate, which included then-senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Edwards.

The College has also hosted debates and forums ahead of the New Hampshire primary in 1984, 1988, and 1999.

On Sunday evening, Dartmouth was the final stop in a New Hampshire campaign swing that included a Manchester diner and a Gilford house party. O’Malley announced his run in Baltimore on Saturday and made stops in the other early-voting state, Iowa, before flying to New Hampshire.

Traveling with O’Malley on his New Hampshire campaign swing was Lis Smith ’05, the candidate’s communications director. Cooper and Smith, who was president of the campus Democrats when she was at Dartmouth, got a chance to talk about the opportunities the New Hampshire primary presents to bring national political candidates to campus.

In 2004, when Smith was an undergraduate at Dartmouth, the College hosted a Democratic candidates’ forum that featured former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, then-Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and then-Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. After Dartmouth, Smith went on to high-profile posts in national campaigns including President Barack Obama’s reelection bid and Bill de Blasio’s successful campaign for mayor of New York.