Maggie Hassan's people were hoping their candidate could gain some traction by having Bill Clinton fill the ballroom at the Radisson Hotel with supporters.
They were half right.
Although Clinton only managed to fill the ballroom to about half its 700 capacity, many of those who did come out to hear their favorite former U.S. president went away with a new resolve to support Hassan for governor.
“I came to hear Bill Clinton, not to hear Maggie. However having done that, I will definitely vote for Maggie,” said Suze Scholl of Nashua.
Her friend, Diane Blake of Londonderry, said she, too, will be voting for Hassan.
“I didn't know much about Maggie before, but I will be voting for her, now,” said Diane Blake, of Londonderry, following the hour-long event at the Radisson.
Clinton spoke of Hassan's effective leadership and "true grit" while serving in the New Hampshire Senate.
"I know I'm preaching to the saved here," Clinton said. "But it's important you go out and talk about her record in the senate."
He also spent a good deal of time running down some of the state's more notorious lapses under the current Republican leadership.
"They've cut education so they could cut the cigarette tax? What's that, smoke more, learn less?" said Clinton.
He said the pervasive political "winner takes all" attitude does not serve New Hampshire, or the country.
"Everywhere in the country, whether you're talking about a presidential election or a governor's race, there are usually two huge questions: Who's more likely to get us back to full employment," Clinton said, "...and what kind of people are we anyway? Are we going back to our motto, 'out of many one,' E pluribus unum, do we believe that the founders of this country pledged their lives, their fortune, their sacred honor to form a more perfect union? Or do we really want to go through this 'winner take all, you're on your own, the government is the devil incarnate' direction that the Tea Party/Republican party is taking?"
Before things got rolling, Judy Arnold and Charles Payne of Derry arrived early enough to get a pretty good spot in front of the stage. They were surprised the room wasn't more full – not just because of Clinton, but because this gubernatorial race is pivotal, they said.
"I think it's been one of the quietest races ever," Payne said.
Arnold agreed, saying she's spoken to some people who don't even realize there's a governor's race going on.
"It's making me a little nervous to hear people say, 'Governor of what?' when I mention Maggie is running for governor," Arnold said.
Both Arnold and Payne said they are already dedicated Hassan supporters, and hoped Clinton's endorsement might "wake up" voters to pay attention to the race, and the major issues that are riding on this election.
Clinton underscored that point in his remarks, saying that he hoped voters would pay attention to Hassan's message, and compare her stance on the issues with those of her opponents.
Hassan will face off against fellow Democrats Jackie Cilley and Bill Kennedy in the primary for a shot at whoever wins the GOP primary, Kevin Smith or Ovide Lamontagne.
Last night, Smith released a statement in anticipation of Clinton's arrival, and endorsement of Hassan.
"It doesn't matter who campaigns for Maggie Hassan, it won't change the fact that she raised taxes on small businesses, authored a government takeover of health care, and doesn't have a plan to grow our economy. Whether it's Maggie, John Lynch, or Ovide Lamontagne, endorsements matter little if you can't back them up with the solutions and plan for making New Hampshire more economically competitive and creating new jobs. Voters want leadership and they want results," Smith said.
Clinton poked holes in the GOP's record of leadership throughout his remarks, touching on the resulting erosion to public education, medicare and healthcare systems on their watch.
"I feel a little bad for the Tea Party in Congress; their approval rating is only at 18 percent," said Clinton.
"Thing is, they've done what they said they would do in 2010, but nobody paid attention – politicians are more honest than you think they are," Clinton said. "I know Maggie will do what she says she's going to do. She won't give you miracles, but she will give you progress... she won't drive a wedge through the heart of New Hampshire. She will lead you, and you will be proud."
That particular part of Clinton's remarks resonated with Diane Blake.
"I liked that he said, 'Gee whiz, you get what you vote for.' Because people weren't listening to them during the last election, and they're doing in Concord exactly what they said they were going to do – as Bill said, 'smoke more and learn less,' and that's not the state I know."
Also in attendance was former Nashua Alderman Carl Andrade, who said he's met Hassan before, but it was Bill Clinton that drew him out to the event – even though he's met the President several times before, over the years.
“I'm back because I'm like so many people, who wish he was our president for life,” Andrade said.