Entries in Winning New Hampshire (4)



By Rory L. Aronsky

Amidst all the canned speeches, the hard campaigning in numerous states, and the constant need to try to attract the “undecideds”, it’s nice to know that there are people like Vermin Supreme who really care about the important issues that bear down upon our nation, such as funding the necessary time travel research in order to go back in time and kill the baby Hitler. Supreme may be only one of thousands of people who descend upon New Hampshire every four years for their very important presidential primary, but he’s undoubtedly the most unique, wearing a boot on top of his head, decked out in what could easily be considered a style that’s only his, and constantly campaigning for himself in a refreshing and very different manner from the major candidates that have their major speeches planned for them. 

 “Winning New Hampshire” takes a look at the most recent primary, January of this year, but for the first couple of minutes, countless people constantly crow about the importance of New Hampshire. A Fox News correspondent mentions that no one’s been the Democratic or Republican nominee for President without coming in first or second in New Hampshire. And this goes on and on for a little bit and it’s remarkable to see the level of enthusiasm many people have for being at this place at this time. Another interviewee mentions that voters will go to see a candidate more than once because they’re comparison shopping and that is so true, except it’s a more careful form of shopping. It’s necessary to find a person whose ideals match yours or are as close to yours as possible, who believes in some of the same things you do. The thing is that if you help vote in a candidate who really screws things up, it’s harder to try to return/exchange/recall him than it is to return a faulty coffee maker. And therein lies much of the documentary, where there’s many glimpses at the on-going campaigns in New Hampshire, though it becomes very Kerry-heavy. There could be two reasons for this. One, the filmmakers liked Kerry from the get-go even before the Iowa caucus, and two, they decided that Kerry should be followed and examined closely due to his unexpected win at the debate in Iowa. 

 Unsure voters will no doubt be appreciative of much of time spent with Kerry, as we get to a point near the election where everything is really heating up, where both candidates are campaigning aggressively to try to suck up votes into their political vacuum bags. It’s crunch time now. And that brings up another point. Once you decide to run for President, it’s goodbye to any full night’s sleep. I thought I’d hate going back to college because of losing many hours of sleep, but I’d hate running for President even more. Watch John Kerry in “Winning New Hampshire” and think of all that he’s done since January, shaking hands, appearing at rallies, doing his best to sway voters, it’s remarkable not only for him, but for any candidate because you’ve got to appear tireless, ready to take on the most well-known job in the United States if you’re elected. 

 “Winning New Hampshire” properly covers all the bases, from the media, to the campaign workers, to the young voters who’ve gotten up and realized that they have to do something for their country. It’s solid work in a 48-minute package, and a perfect documentary for our current time. Things are going to get tough, discussions amongst many are going to become even more heated as election time nears, but it’s also nice to know that there are people like Vermin Supreme, who are able to have some fun with the political system. He actually paid the grand to put himself on that primary ballot and there were probably a few votes thrown his way. Anyone who wears a boot on their head  deserves that.



News - October 18, 2004

By JODY RECORD, Union Leader Correspondent

PORTSMOUTH — There is one line in the documentary “Winning New Hampshire, A Portrait of the 2004 Democratic Primary” that captures the very essence of the first-in-the-nation primary.

 It goes something like this: no one in New Hampshire votes for somebody they haven’t met.

 If filmmakers Will Rabbe, Aram Fisher and Mark Lynch had only wanted to give Granite Staters an up-close-and-personal glimpse into the political process, they might have stopped there, but they didn’t. And that’s a good thing for the rest of the nation who might not understand just what all the hype is about.

 The short film that debuted at the Music Hall last night as part of the Fourth Annual New Hampshire Film Expo captured it all: Retired Army General Wesley Clark doing jumping jacks with basketball students; Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman telling a group of supporters polls don’t matter in New Hampshire and then noting, as a matter of record, that his numbers were up; Sen. John Kerry’s stepsons doing dead-on impersonations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush and a certain movie star turned governor.

 Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and vice-presidential challenger Sen. John Edwards are shown in more traditional roles, pressing palms, signing autographs and highlighting the differences between their ideas and those of the other candidates.

 But primarily-no pun intended — “Winning New Hampshire” shines its light on Kerry because, when the film was first started, he was tanking in New Hampshire

 “I thought we’d have the best chance of covering him; getting access to him,” Rabbe said last night after the documentary had been shown.

 But providing a glimpse of the uniquely New Hampshire process required following the other candidates as well, Rabbe said.

 The Boston University graduates opted to make a film of the New Hampshire primary because of their shared interest in politics. The 45-minute flick is shot in quick jerky motions, as though the person holding the camera was caught in the media jostling that is an innate part of campaign coverage.

 “We used a lot of really tight close-ups,” Rabbe said. “And shots of people’s feet. It’s what people don’t usually see. It’s like being on the outside looking in.”

 The documentary opens with a selection of newspaper headlines, most notably The Union Leader and the Boston Globe. Scene changes are marked through quotes from past Presidents, including John Quincy Adams and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 Throughout the film there are numerous references to the historical significance of the New Hampshire primary, with Sen. Ted Kennedy noting the Granite State was the first campaign stop for John F. Kennedy when he was seeking the presidency.

 Secretary of State Bill Gardner points out, among other things, that the “unique political culture makes a difference here.”

 Portsmouth residents Noelle and Kit Clews called some of the film’s footage “absolutely fascinating.”

 “What really interested me the most was to hear Howard Dean had spread his money around the country and John Kerry knew to concentrate on Iowa and New Hampshire,” Noelle Clews said.

 Of the documentary itself, she said, “I think it really represents the process quite accurately. It’s wonderful.”

 Kit Clews said he “loved it.”

 “I particularly loved the line that nobody in New Hampshire votes for someone they haven’t met because that’s how it is,” Kit Clews said. “When we’re abroad and we talk about what it’s like in New Hampshire (politically), peoples’ jaws drop.” 



By JERRY MILLER, Union Leader Correspondent

News - October 12, 2004

PORTSMOUTH — At 22, Will Rabbe has already realized a dream.

 The recent Boston University graduate and filmmaker will have his first film debuted at the New Hampshire Film Expo next weekend in the Port City.

 "Winning New Hampshire," a 45-minute documentary produced by Rabbe and two university classmates, Aram Fisher and Mark Lynch, is a look at the most recent New Hampshire Presidential Primary and John Kerry's victory. 

 The film will roll Sunday at 5 p.m. at Portsmouth Music Hall.

  Nearly two dozen political documentaries were made last summer; "Winning New Hampshire" was made by the youngest team of filmmakers.

  "It's a great product. It highlights a time of history. People didn't know John Kerry would turn it around and become the Democratic nominee," Rabbe said during an interview last week from his home in New York state.

  "It can be seen as almost a tribute to the New Hampshire Primary," Rabbe said of his labor of love. "We found people there take their politics very seriously."

  Characterizing the first-in-the-nation Presidential primary as a "political carnival" of sorts, Rabbe said among the things that make it unique is that for a relatively small entry fee, anyone can participate.

  "It really is the be-all and end-all" for most of the field, he said.

  Rabbe said he opted to target Kerry because "I knew him the best and felt he would be the most interesting of all the candidates to follow."

  But, Rabbe said, it was also important to "hedge my bets," so he ended up trailing not only Kerry but also the campaigns of Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

  In the end, it was Kerry who emerged the winner.

  Despite producing the film on less than a shoestring budget — Rabbe declined to say how much was spent — the filmmakers were able to make their way to Iowa for some footage, including the candidates squaring off in debate.

  Rabbe said, "We set the scene (for New Hampshire) through the Iowa debate . . . everybody attacked Dean."

  About the cost of the project, Rabbe said, "We're college students. We didn't have a tremendous amount of money. We had to be extremely resourceful."

  It meant begging and borrowing equipment; that proved difficult. Rabbe said the trio approached the head of BU's film department to borrow gear. "He laughed at us and said, 'I'm sorry guys; you have the wrong candidate. He was obviously a Dean supporter."

  It was an editing professor who signed off on cameras, microphones and the host of other equipment needed to make the movie.

  "It was a blank check for equipment," a figure Rabbe put at $10,000.

  Rabbe said what impressed him most about politics New Hampshire-style was not only the grassroots nature of the campaigns but also the number of 18- to 25-year-olds who dropped out of their normal lives to stuff envelopes, hold signs and do what it takes to run a campaign.

  "It was a phenomenon, and it was common to all the candidates," he said.

  "The role of youth in a grassroots campaign is vital. It's one of the things the film highlights," he said. "The youth vote is critical to the campaigns of Kerry and President Bush.

  "I believe this is the demographic that will show the greatest turnout" in this election, Rabbe said of young voters, even though in past elections, fewer young voters have turned out than any other demographic.

  The New Hampshire Film Exposition is the first of many film festivals Rabbe hopes to participate in. Outside New Hampshire, the film will be shown at the "Sometime In October Film Festival" Oct. 16 to 19 in Wilmington, Del., and at the International Student Film Festival Nov. 3 in Hollywood.

 The trio hope the exposure will lead to a distribution arrangement after the election, especially if Kerry defeats Bush.

 "We've already gotten some good offers," Rabbe said.

For more information about the New Hampshire Film Expo, go to The "Winning New Hampshire" Web site is


Fosters Daily Democrat, 10/19/04 -- PRIMARY FILM

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — A documentary film on New Hampshire’s presidential primary opened in Portsmouth, "Winning New Hampshire — A Portrait of the 2004 Democratic Primary" debuted Sunday night as part of the Fourth Annual New Hampshire Film Expo. The filmmakers are Boston University graduates.

It shows moments such as retired Gen. Wesley Clark doing jumping jacks with basketball students and Sen. John Kerry’s stepsons impersonating President Bush, former President Bill Clinton and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But it mostly focuses Kerry because his campaign in New Hampshire was tanking and the filmmakers thought they’d have the best access to him.

In a last-minute turnaround, Kerry captured New Hampshire and went on to win the Democratic presidential nomination.