GRASS ROOTS by Dayton Duncan


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In simple, clear, unexciting prose, Duncan, national press secretary for Michael Dukakis's presidential campaign and author of Out West: An American Journey (1987), describes one year in the life of the New Hampshire primary. Duncan focuses on the grass-roots volunteers, the men and women who become acquainted with the candidates as individuals, not just as political figures. These volunteers, he finds, are a human link between their voting family members, friends, and neighbors and the candidates. "For a brief moment," Duncan says, "[the volunteers] are the pivot point of democracy." That may sound like hyperbole, but the scenes Duncan describes to make his point are compelling and convincing: arch-conservative A1 Rubega seated on a dais between George Bush and Pat Robertson at the Gun Owners of New Hampshire Presidential Forum; Shelley Nelkens, mother and homemaker, angering Gary Hart when she accuses him of not doing enough to ban the whole nuclear energy industry. Just as interesting are the very real, very personal commitments the volunteers make to their candidates. Andi Johnson worked for Hart in 1984 and then again in 1988. When Hart dropped out after the Donna Rice fiasco, Andi went to work for Joe Biden. When Biden dropped out, Andi volunteered for the Paul Simon campaign. Hart reentered the race, but Andi dug in her heels and would not abandon her new candidate, even at the cost of losing her boyfriend, a Hart loyalist. Surprising, refreshing, interesting: it's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington played out in real life.

ISBN: 670-81851-8
Publisher: Viking
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