Presidential lengthy shot Marianne Williamson flitted down the aisle of a two-century-old granite church, pausing to gracefully bow to dozens of supporters as they chanted her identify.
The creator, essentially the most well-known Democrat who will seem on the poll Tuesday, when New Hampshire holds the nation’s first presidential main, spent a lot of her grownup life in Los Angeles earlier than transferring east in 2018.
Williamson, who has by no means held elected workplace however was as soon as dubbed Oprah Winfrey’s non secular guru, has subsequent to zero probability of denying President Biden his renomination. Polls recommend that many New Hampshire voters might write in Biden, who won’t seem on the poll after the Democratic Occasion selected to revoke the state’s first-in-the-nation standing and make South Carolina the primary official main.
However Williamson’s quixotic second bid for the White Home (she additionally ran in 2020) is a take a look at of a unique query: Precisely what number of of those supposedly flinty New Hampshirites will vote for a girl who has been stereotyped as a “woo woo” Californian?
The Texas native’s ties to California date again many years. In 1970, she moved to California to attend Pomona School, the place she studied theater and philosophy and protested the Vietnam Warfare earlier than dropping out a few years later. After bouncing across the nation and being sidetracked by what Leisure Weekly known as “unhealthy boys and good dope,” she moved to L.A. in 1983 and shared an residence with actress Laura Dern.
Williamson, 71, turned a non secular chief and wrote greater than a dozen books, one in all which Winfrey promoted by saying, “I’ve by no means been extra moved by a ebook than I’m by this one.” Tens of millions have purchased her books, and he or she was adored by celebrities, officiating the 1991 marriage ceremony of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
Williamson was additionally actively engaged in charities that helped these with HIV or dwelling in poverty.
She got here to imagine that the two-party system disenfranchises the typical voter by prioritizing the pursuits of rich elites.
“Nearly all of People are demonstrably just a little bit left of heart,” Williamson advised The Occasions in an interview final 12 months. “The issue is that we have now a political system which is extra beholden to the short-term earnings of their company donors than to the desire of their very own constituents. Their concept of an appropriate candidate is somebody who will perpetuate the system as it’s. What we want in a president is somebody who will disrupt that system.”
Williamson’s message resonates with a various group, however particularly with individuals who imagine that altering the system begins with altering oneself. Her followers embody followers of her books, disillusioned Democrats and a few former Bernie Sanders supporters.
However not many are New Hampshire voters.
When she arrived this weekend at South Church Unitarian Universalist in Portsmouth, the pews had been crammed with practically as many volunteers as voters.
Orson Maazel drove from rural Virginia to volunteer for the marketing campaign. Sporting a “Disrupt the corrupt” sweatshirt, he mentioned he was drawn to Williamson as a result of she’s an outsider who doesn’t take cash from firms.
“I agree along with her that we don’t simply want individuals who bought us into the local weather mess we’re in and financial mess we’re in to get us out of the system,” Maazel, 35, mentioned. “We’d like someone exterior who’s not purchased by anyone and who has a extremely good character.”
Williamson introduced tears to the eyes of Nicole Dillon, 47, who lives in Massachusetts. Dillon, who hadn’t recognized a lot of Williamson earlier than the occasion, mentioned she cherished the candidate’s message about advocating for ladies and kids, ending the struggle on medicine and combating local weather change.
Dillon watched intently when, about 20 minutes into Williamson’s stump speech, a person approached the stage and took the candidate’s hand, quietly thanking her. The 50 or so individuals seated within the pews watched in uneasy silence till a few safety guards approached the person to usher him off the stage.
“Are you able to simply sit down for me now?” Williamson mentioned softly to the person.
He rotated, observed the gang within the pews and, with a glance of shock, allowed safety to usher him up the aisle, apologizing for the disruption.
“Simply tripping on his birthday,” a guard mentioned, shrugging and laughing, after main the person out. “She attracts all types!”
“He was drawn to her fact and her gentle,” Dillon mentioned. “She was so light with him and like a mom. She’s very motherly; she’s gonna collect us all in her basket and handle us.”
However neither Dillon nor Maazel can vote in New Hampshire’s main.
Solely 2% of New Hampshire’s registered Democratic voters mentioned they deliberate to vote for Williamson, in contrast with 64% who deliberate to write down in Biden’s identify, in response to a latest Suffolk College ballot.
“She has a perspective that really reaches a sure share of the inhabitants. The problem is, was that ever going to be sufficient to catch on nationally?” mentioned Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Occasion. “I don’t know anybody that doesn’t suppose she’s individual. She’s in it for the fitting causes. She simply doesn’t appear to be connecting with sufficient voters to have the ability to achieve success.”
Maybe the lack of ability to attach with voters is available in half from her uncommon political presence. Williamson peppered her speech with $20 phrases, ebook titles and quotes. Her solutions to voters’ questions often invoked references to books she had learn, and generally an esoteric historical past lesson.
She repeatedly voiced frustration with the Democratic Nationwide Committee’s dismissal of her marketing campaign. In a number of states — together with North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee — Biden would be the solely Democratic candidate on the poll.
Ought to one thing occur to the president to forestall him from operating for a second time period, “I suppose their concept can be to place [California Gov.] Gavin Newsom …” she mentioned, earlier than catching herself. “I don’t know. I don’t know any greater than the following individual does.”
Tables on the entrance laden with “Marianne Williamson for president” indicators, buttons and stickers had been nonetheless full on the finish of the night time.