Water, Water Everywhere…should I take a drink?
When Bernie talks, like many speakers and candidates on the presidential campaign trail, he has a bottle of water nearby, as in the photo above. However, that hasn’t always been the case. If we think back to early 2013, a young Marco Rubio was giving the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address and ducked off camera to get a bottle of water. Rubio’s Water Shed Moment While it is natural to need a drink while talking, the response to Rubio’s duck and drink made politicians shy away from drinking in public. Bernie wasn’t outside of this reaction.
Back in September, Bernie marched in the Labor Day parade in Milford, NH. It was a clear sunny day and the temperature was 95˚+. It was hot, hot, hot. Lindsay Graham was there, Carly Fiorino was there, John Kasich was there…all were there with their supporters to woo the support of Milford voters and everyone was sweating. I was there, too. And yes, the pavement was hot. I was thirsty. I noticed that Bernie wasn’t drinking even in this extreme heat. As I was taking photos of Bernie, I asked his security person if Bernie was hydrating…”No, he doesn’t want to be seen as weak not being able to handle the heat,” was his reply. So, I saw Phil Fiermonte, Bernie’s “long time campaign manager” on the other side of the street; I went over to him and asked if Bernie was going to drink. He gave me the same line trying to scoff at me like “we have this under control…don’t worry, old fella.” So, being a former school teacher and administrator got my means business face and voice in gear and I looked him right in the face and said…”If Bernie passes out from heat exhaustion and is laying on the pavement all of you can pack up and go home cause the campaign will be over.” He looked at me…eyes wide…grabbed a bottle of water, walked over to Bernie and had him drink. Since then Bernie hasn’t been without a water bottle.
It hasn’t been a smooth transition to treating this 74 year old candidate appropriately. With so many young staffers around, none knowing what it means or is like to be 74, they struggled to help Bernie appropriately. Two weeks after the Milford parade, at the NH Democratic State Convention in Manchester, I noticed that an aide brought a water bottle out and put it on the floor next to the rostrum where Bernie was going to speak shortly. However, it was a 2 liter bottle…HUGE! and on the floor. Bernie came out to give his talk. After a few minutes of talking he wanted a drink and bent over to get the bottle at his feet…fumbled with this 2 liter bottle and finally didn’t drink and looked disgusted and continued his talk without the benefit of a moist mouth.
His staff was asking the candidate, trying to look Presidential, to bend over, pick up a large water bottle at his feet, take off the cap and drink out of it without spilling and put it back down and keep the attention of his audience. Even the most youthful candidate couldn’t do that gracefully. That night when I got home I emailed my contact at the Sander’s campaign, Nick Carter, and told him about the incident. He emailed me back saying that he had passed the info along to the appropriate staff and they will get on top of it. Since then, Bernie has had his water, at table height, in a smaller bottle and no one is condemning him for having a swig. In Keene on Tuesday, there was a reasonable size bottle of water in the rostrum. Bernie without shame took it out and placed it on the top of the rostrum for all to see and marvel at.
So, the long and the short of it is…if Bernie wins or however far he gets in the whole process of running for the most important job in the world…he will have me to thank for getting him water when he needs it. I wonder if that guarantees me an invite to the inauguration?