The NH Diplomatic Observer Program began in 2004 with the vision of Ambassador George Bruno to invite foreign officials and diplomats posted to the United States to participate and observe events surrounding the nation’s first presidential primary. Since then we have run 4 previous programs. 2020 is shaping up to be the most vibrant and interesting campaign season ever. The NH Primary is a signature event in the election of the President of the Unites States and represents a unique opportunity for our participants to to meet the candidates and their staff, and to watch history being made. The program’s climax occurs in the final weekend before the primary, tentatively set for Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
As campaigns come into full swing, NH will once again become a hotbed of grass-roots politicking with all eyes on NH. Recent visits to NH by potential primary hopefuls include Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Governor Bill Weld (R-MA). There have also been recent sightings of Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Vice-President Joe Biden.
Program partners include the University of New Hampshire Center for International Education, the NH Institute of Politics at St Anselm College, the New England College Center for Civic Engagement, and the World Affairs Council of NH.
The Primary Weekend Program (tentatively February 7-9, 2020) involves a plethora of different activities that allow diplomatic guests to experience what a NH primary is and feels like over an intense three days through a whirlwind of daily briefings, attending rallies, visits to campaign headquarters and war rooms, interactions with national and state leaders, meetings with candidates on the campaign trail and contact with voters and lodging with prominent NH families.
Previous participants include the ambassadors and diplomats of Cyprus, France, Angola, Japan and many more [link to past participants]. In previous years the success of the program has resulted in some countries being turned away as delegation spots have filled quickly. There is a program registration fee to cover expenses.
This year we also offer Mini-Programs starting Summer 2019. This season’s primary campaign is like no other with 22 major Democratic candidates (and counting!) and a primary challenge to President Trump from Governor Bill Weld of Massachusetts. There are already rallies and events taking place almost daily in NH. Major candidates are visiting weekly. If the aim is to meet and size-up the possible next president of the United States, then why wait until February 2020? They are all here now. We would be happy to put together a targeted program for interested participants on an ad hoc basis as opportunities may arise. Watch this site to see who is coming to NH in the coming weeks and months.
The program is managed on a bipartisan basis by Ambassador George Bruno and Attorney Phillip Walker (bios below). For further information about becoming a sponsor or participating in the Diplomatic Observers program click here
Phillip James Walker, Esq., is an attorney, diplomat, and international legal/political affairs consultant. He has served in US embassies or consulates in Riyadh, Kuwait City, Tunis, Jerusalem and Cairo. As a consultant he has served in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Israel/Palestine,Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Macedonia.
Among his current activities, Phil serves as expert on law of the Middle East for the Federal Research Division of the U.S. Library of Congress, and is a research affiliate and thesis adviser at the Harvard Center for Middle East Studies.
Recently, Phil served as Senior Justice Adviser to a major US & European effort to support governance alternatives in rebel-held parts of Syria. He also participated as a subject matter expert at UN-sponsored consultations on Syrian transition. Prior to this, he had been Senior Legal Adviser to the Afghan Ministry of Finance 2010-2014, where he had been intimately involved in that State's most critical decisions in the area of economic and fiscal policy. When not in the field, Phil lives in Dunbarton, NH, with his wife and four children in their 1783 farmhouse.