Why Can’t I Be President?

In 1996, longshot presidential candidate Caroline Killeen mocked President Bill Clinton for saying he once tried marijuana, but didn't breathe in the smoke.

In 1996, longshot presidential candidate Caroline Killeen mocked President Bill Clinton for saying he once tried marijuana, but didn’t breathe in the smoke.

It’s been 20 years (!) since filmmaker Al Ward and I met Caroline Killeen, a.k.a. the “Hemp Lady,” at her presidential campaign headquarters – a homeless shelter in Manchester, NH. Following the lonely ex-nun through the slushy streets on the day before Christmas, we shot the first scenes of our first documentary, “Why Can’t I Be President?”

I celebrate Killeen’s legacy – and reveal what happened to her – in today’s Boston Globe, as part of their fantastic “Primary Memories” series.

Produced for PBS stations, “Why Can’t I Be President?” highlighted the quirkiest feature of the New Hampshire Primary – that ANY American (age 35 and up) who pays $1,000 can run for President.

In most other states, who gets on the ballot is determined by the political parties, the Secretary of State or by gathering tens of thousands of signatures of registered voters (which requires a huge organization and lots of money.) In New Hampshire, the dream is yours – a permanent place in history – for a thousand bucks.

Some “fringe” candidates, like the Hemp Lady, devote their candidacy (and resulting media attention) to a serious cause. Some use their candidacy as a resume line to sell books and get higher rates on the speaking circuit. And some are just simply crazy, like your local Town Meeting crank – but with a much bigger megaphone.

It’s fascinating to consider how the term “fringe” has evolved since then.

In 1996, it meant longshot single-issue candidates such as the Hemp Lady and Georgiana Doerschuck, a New York grandmother who railed against the “tyranny” of the Computer Age. In the oversaturated 2016 race, marginalized candidates desperate for attention now include current U.S. governors and senators.

Look at how many “mainstream” accomplished politicians are being delegated to the “Little Kids’ Table” debate whenever the Republicans join the ongoing Donald Trump Show on TV.

In the spirit of the New Hampshire Primary, we’re looking for partners to do a special 20th anniversary screening of “Why Can’t I Be President?” with a Q&A panel to follow. Stay tuned to this space for future announcements – and in the meantime, here are a few teaser clips.

Would any of these candidates get your vote?

Caroline Killeen, a.k.a. “The Hemp Lady”

An ex-nun from Arizona who fought for marijuana legalization 20 years before the cause became ho-hum.


Michael Levinson – The Poet Prophet

Self-declared prophet from Buffalo who claims to be a 20th Century Nostradamus. Levinson also pioneered the campaign technique of pumping gas for prospective voters at self-service stations. Whether they wanted help or not.

Georgiana Doerschuck – The Anti-Computer Candidate

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Filed under Election 1996, New Hampshire Primary, Why Can't I Be President?

Thanks for Giving the Troops Cavities :)


Halloween candy donations from family, friends and co-workers.

Special thanks to everyone – especially my awesome and generous co-workers – for giving up their sugary treats to share with U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere this holiday season.

My office colleagues donated 42 pounds (!) of Halloween candy based on just one internal email – and the manager of my local CVS kindly sold me 30 pounds of M&Ms at a buck a pound, about 75 percent off their list price.

Here’s a scene from this past weekend of jamming hundreds of USPS boxes with goodies:


Sorting holiday packages at the New Hampshire National Guard Armory.

According to Operation Care For Troops NH, we shipped out exactly 4,751 Christmas stockings stuffed with treats and cards.

Maybe this could become an annual post-Halloween tradition… If you’re interested in helping out with the Valentine’s Day packing event, follow the Operation Care Facebook page.

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Send a U.S. Soldier a Snickers!

Halloween Candy for the Troops

WANTED: YOUR SURPLUS HALLOWEEN CANDY! — If you’re in New Hampshire, I’m collecting “extra” candy this week for Operation Care For Troops, a group that sends care packages to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. I’m headed to Target and CVS tomorrow to get bundles of half-price candy — if anyone wants to help, please message me.

Many times I hear that empty phrase “Thank you for your service,” said to U.S. soldiers. I think it’s better to send them Snickers.

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Jeb Bush Thinks Supergirl is “Hot” (Maybe We Picked the Wrong Year for the Superhero Primary!)


Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush named Supergirl as his favorite superhero at a campaign appearance last week, telling his audience that actress Melissa Benoist “looked pretty hot.”

During the 2012 New Hampshire Primary, I guided my then 9-year-old son on the campaign trail as he asked the candidates about their favorite superhero and why.

Bush’s predecessors were a lot more careful with their answers. Take a look:

I know his campaign ended badly, but Herman Cain’s Kryptonite answer and the warmth of his response still makes me smile. (You can read my original analysis of our Superhero Primary at The Atlantic.)

In any case, Ari and I are also looking forward to watching Supergirl, which was created by the same producers as “The Flash,” our can’t-miss-show-of-the-moment!



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Filed under Election 2012, Election 2016, Excuses to Dress as a Superhero, New Hampshire Primary

Thanks a Zillion From the Garnick Justice League!

Hanging with the Batmobile at the CHaD Hero 5K and Fun Run.

Hanging with the Batmobile at the CHaD Hero 5K and Fun Run.

Special thanks to all my family, friends and co-workers who supported The Garnick Justice League in this year’s Fun Run fundraiser for Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD).

Even though the Incredible Hulk (seated) and WonderGirl didn’t share my intense level of enthusiasm for seeing the 1966 Batmobile, it was a worthwhile event for sure.

If you meant to donate to the CHaD Hero, but didn’t get my email pitch or forgot to follow up, you can still help out this awesome cause here.

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Dream On, Donald: Why Does Trump Defy the Wishes of New Hampshire’s Favorite Rock Star?

Hey, Donald Trump, want to win the New Hampshire Primary?

For starters, don’t piss off Aerosmith.

Lake Sunapee’s Steven Tyler and his lawyers asked you nicely to stop playing “Dream On” at your rallies, and you said you found a “better song.”

So what’s the better song?

At your Oct. 16 rally at Tyngsborough Elementary School (so close to NH, we’re claiming it as our own, like the Pheasant Lane Mall), you played “Dream On” multiple times on your mixed tape. I also heard “You’re the Best Around” from the Karate Kid soundtrack.

You know who played that before? Newt Gingrich at his 2012 fifth place New Hampshire Primary victory party. It’s bad karma.

Steven Tyler warned you. Pick another song.

Steven Tyler: Stop Dreaming On. (Courtesy of Ilya Mirman Photography)

Steven Tyler: Stop Dreaming On. (Courtesy of Ilya Mirman Photography)

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Filed under Election 2016, New Hampshire Primary

Why Do More Kids Choose Lacrosse Over Baseball?


A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – More Major League teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, are taking a page out of the Minor League promotional playbook and letting kids run the bases after weekend games. (Mine got there before the stampede!)

Want insights on why more kids today prefer playing lacrosse over baseball?

That question has haunted me ever since my days as a volunteer Little League coach. And I got to ask it to Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington during my ongoing quest to visit more “foreign” ballparks (outside of Fenway Park.)

You can read my interview with Huntington in this month’s New Hampshire Magazine. Relevance? He’s the son of NH dairy farmers!

P.S. Pittsburgh’s PNC Park is the most impressive ballpark I’ve visited to date.


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