Tuesday October 14, 2014
Surrounded by sizzling grills, rambunctious chants and the unavoidable scent of alcohol, University of New Hampshire students watched U.S. Senate candidate, Scott Brown, chug a beer.
It was the homecoming celebration for the university on the weekend of October 11th. Students and alumni gathered in masses at Boulder Field, adjacent to Cowell football stadium, where tailgating activities ensued all the way from 11:30am to early evening. Republican Scott Brown’s presence did not go unnoticed, even amongst the hundreds of vehicles parked for as far as the eye could see. A Facebook event was created before hand, titled “Tailgating with Scott Brown.” Hundreds had RSVP’d they would be attending. The outpouring of student support was immense; whether students wanted to take a photo with him, simply introduce themselves, or hoped to shotgun a beer with their possible representative.
When asked by WMUR, Brown himself commented on his ultimate motive at the tailgate.
“It’s going to be about bringing my message to not only the young voters, but to everybody across the state,” Brown said.
His message was received loud and clear, at perhaps one of the most substantial events UNH hosts each year.
“(Brown’s) presence at the tailgate was unbelievable,” said Chris Morelli, campus ambassador for the Scott Brown campaign. “We had so much support from the students and from alumni who were there. It definitely sparked talk and really made the campaign alive on campus.”
While opponent Jeanne Shaheen was present at a pancake breakfast in Concord at the same time on Saturday, voters had to wonder what did the tailgate genuinely mean for Brown and his fight to the finish line.
“This really showed students that federal politicians are people too; they can hang out and drink a beer,” Morelli said. The tailgate with Brown was made possible by the College Republican National Committee, in partnership with the local chapter on campus. Staff members from the Brown campaign also assisted.
UNH student body president and Salem representative Joe Sweeney openly supports Brown and his campaign. Sweeney was shown being interviewed by WMUR on TV that afternoon. A Republican himself, Sweeney believes Brown made a smart decision by attending the UNH tailgate.
“I think he tailgated with all of us because he wants to be seen as the regular guy that he is,” Sweeney said. “He isn’t some elitist who has his own agenda – he just wants to connect to the people in ways that they’ll be connected to. He wouldn’t want people to come meet him; he wants to meet the people. He gained a lot of respect (at the tailgate) from college students and voters our age.”
As for the controversy regarding Brown’s initial position in Massachusetts, Sweeney believes once a New Englander, always a New Englander.
“When it comes to his residency, I see nothing wrong with him having lived in Massachusetts for a time. Most of New Hampshire’s citizens are technically from somewhere else- many of them hailing from Massachusetts.”
While many UNH students on Twitter claimed that Brown did in fact give beer to them, director of media relations at the university, Erika Mantz, made a statement to The Huffington Post, completely discounting these comments.
“University of New Hampshire Police Chief Paul Dean escorted Scott Brown the entire time he was at the university’s homecoming celebration Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. At no time did Mr. Brown provide alcoholic beverages to an attendee,” Mantz said to The Huffington Post.
Whether they were informed voters or not, Scott Brown may have won the support of many students at the tailgate on Saturday for one reason alone. Not everyone gets to drink a beer with a potential US state senator.