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Jenny Felsen, graduate student instructor Kathryn Pearson, and Gary Li At the Dean headquarters, (left to right) Berkeley students Jenny Felsen, graduate student instructor Kathryn Pearson, and Gary Li

Report from New Hampshire 
Students on the primary trail

The Dean campaign: The day after Iowa

Read all the dispatches >
About the New Hampshire project

During the coming week, the NewsCenter will feature coverage of the Jan. 27 New Hampshire presidential primary written by three Berkeley students working for the campaigns of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich.

The students are enrolled in UC Berkeley's Washington Program Office. Michael Goldstein, program director, says the New Hampshire primary provides students in the program with hands-on experience in politics, bridging the gap between what they learn in the classroom and the reality of hardball politics. Later, the students will write research papers on the presidential selection process, and present their findings at an April public forum.

– After a night of nearly no sleep, we left the UC Washington Program center at 6 a.m., arriving in Manchester, New Hampshire at noon, entirely embedded in layers and layers of clothing, and feebly contending with the 10 degree temperature and 20 mph winds. When fellow student Jenny Felsen and I finally got to the Howard Dean campaign headquarters, it was eerily empty. Yes, the vans parked outside had slogans on the window such as "Now is the Time!!" and "NH or Bust!!" but I was a wee bit scared some bad news had come out when we were sleepily flying here. Luckily, my fear was unfounded. Most everyone was out attending a speech Governor Dean was giving. Why hadn't I gotten there sooner? I could have hopped onto an earlier flight.

As I was thinking these crazy thoughts, people began to barge through the door in droves, and within several minutes the office was filled with people running around making photocopies, signs, and phone calls – all the hustle and bustle I expected to see when I first arrived. If anything, the disappointing results of the Iowa caucuses seemed to have made everyone want to work even harder. There was a sense of giving the upcoming week every ounce of persuasive energy we had. In fact, the energy level in the office rose so suddenly that there was no time to take it all in; one girl kept running around bragging about her Howard Dean autographed issue of Rolling Stone (with Dean on the cover) and her handshake with the governor after his speech. I put on my Howard Dean pin and jumped right in.

I started putting together packets of information about Dean that introduced his achievements as governor and his goals for the presidency: health care reform, international leadership, anti-war efforts. I then headed out on the town to distribute the packets. My partner, a volunteer who had come down from New York, kept telling me what a warm day it was in New Hampshire.

I trudged through snow and hurdled steps to deliver a plethora of essential Dean literature to over 60 seniors' homes, and had long talks with many of them about Dean's universal health plan proposal. By the time I returned to headquarters, I was ready to call it a day; but the phone bank beckoned. In every corner of the office, people were on the phone, talking with potential voters, and I joined in. My most memorable calls: the 20 minute call with a 75-year-old man who was impressed that I was from California but was here in New Hampshire helping Dean, and that I supported Dean because of his civil rights advancements in Vermont. Then there was the one who answered the phone proclaiming, "George Bush Headquarters." Nonetheless, I tried my best to convince him as well.

And then I noticed: that which distinguishes Dean from his competition was materializing before my eyes and even within me. The passion that Dean delivers during his speeches is unmatched – except by the commitment exhibited by his staff and his dedicated volunteers. The crowning announcement of the evening was that Dean himself was going to appear at the headquarters at 9 Wednesday morning. There was a collective gasp when the announcement was made, several loud screams, and a renewed round of phone calls. We were out to garner every possible vote for Dean, and if that took everyone's total energy, so be it.

– Gary Li, 1:15 a.m. Jan. 21

Gary K. Li was born and raised in San Francisco and graduated from San Francisco School of the Arts High School in instrumental music. Li studied classical music for 10 years. He is a third-year English and American Studies major at Berkeley, is enrolled in the Washington Program this semester, and will be interning in the office of Senator Hillary Clinton. Li, who is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, is a film and trivia buff and has an "insatiable love for the sport of reading." He says he is planning to get a graduate degree in English literature or law. Or maybe both.