People attending Fourth of July celebrations around the state on Thursday stood a good chance of running into a candidate for president.
Democratic candidates Amy Klobuchar, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Republican candidate Bill Weld, started out at the Amherst parade. Most moved next to Merrimack. And by 5 pm, Gillibrand, Gabbard, and Delaney were strolling down Laconia’s North Main Street, flanked by volunteers chanting their names and waving signs.
Not far behind them was a group of LGBTQ activists organized by the ACLU of New Hampshire, as part of a national ACLU campaign, “Rights for All,” designed to get presidential candidates talking about civil liberties.
“All of these candidates are coming from out of state and they’re making use of our parades to boost their message, so I would like to make sure we make use of our parades to boost our message,” explained ACLU Trans Justice Organizer Palana Belken.
“It’s definitely like a trans rights road trip – we’re asking about things like banning conversion therapy, the addition of third gender markers on federal ID and the protection of children in school.”
On the sidewalk, families fanned themselves and accepted candidate handshakes and stickers.
Jaimeika Lewis, of Nashua, stood at the end of the parade with her daughter waiting for close-ups of candidates.
“They come to show that they're people too, to be part of the community, to show that they're willing to be out in the hot sun,” she laughed.
Lewis hasn't decided who she'll vote for in the primaries, but she stopped Gabbard for what she called a “sweaty selfie.”
After the parade, Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and Congresswoman from Hawaii put the heat in perspective.
“I went through summer in Iraq with full battle rattle combat gear – body armor and the works - so I guess in the full spectrum of heat, this wasn’t bad at all,” she said.
Hugging her volunteers, she repeated her mantra - “Stay hydrated -- electrolytes!” - before heading to a barbeque with residents of a local sober living house.