“Politics Unplugged: 2020” Series Brings Candidates to NHIOP

January 15, 2020

By Alexis Soucy

Through a new event series, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) has brought presidential candidates U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker to campus for a casual, get-to-know-you kind of discussion in partnership with Stay Work Play New Hampshire.

Leading up to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, Politics Unplugged: 2020 aims to be unique and engaging, serving those who are looking for an alternative to the traditional political process. The free-flowing format allows attendees to learn about candidates as people, rather than just political figures. 

Previously known as the “Life of the Party” series, Politics Unplugged kicked off on November 22 with Klobuchar, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. John Heilemann, co-host of Showtime’s The Circus, moderated the discussion to help the audience understand Klobuchar’s positions on health care, higher education, gun safety, and more with a mix of personal stories.

On January 2, Booker headlined the series for a lively conversation on everything from his taste in movies and music to key policy proposals of his then-presidential campaign. He was joined by Will Stewart, executive director of Stay Work Play, and Victoria Adewumi, chair of New American Africans and a community liaison at the Manchester Health Department.

“This event series was a lot of fun during the 2016 election cycle,” said NHIOP executive director Neil Levesque, referring to moments like Marco Rubio giving his take on Star Wars and John Kasich sharing items on his bucket list. 

“It’s a great opportunity for young voters in the state to get to know the candidates and discuss topics that their age group is interested in.”

In addition to food, music, and lighter conversation than at traditional political events, Politics Unplugged serves as a friendly atmosphere for college students to network with local young professionals.

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard was the latest to take Politics Unplugged stage on January 16 to talk about life in Hawaii, her presidential campaign, and more with Stewart and Adewumi.