Michael Callis for Congress 2018 1st District NH Republican Primary
Presidential Campaign of Michael Callis 2003-2004 Liberal Republican
From Journal written in 2004 by me concerning Russian connection
“Where are you going from here”, the reporter asked. Rolling up the sleeves
of my jacket in a Deanish fashion I proclaimed, “I’m going to Manchester,
then to Durham, Peterborough...” I felt sorry for Howard Dean and his media
assassination, but I couldn’t resist, laughter can be healing tonic if
given in the proper dosage and I hoped that the Dean camp would take it
that way. True to my interview, I headed home to check messages and see
what happened to Nathan and Shane, before heading South.
Nathan’s* voice came over the message machine with an explanation that they
were delayed on another story and instructing me to call so they could get
a picture of me on election day. I called him on his cell phone, he was
still somewhere in northern NH and wanted to meet me in Durham after he
interviewed a candidate in Rochester not far from the UNH campus in Durham.
We agreed on a time of 6pm and would meet at the Wildcat Tavern near the
campus. As soon as I hung up the phone it rang - it was a reporter for
Valeesa was representing a Moscow TV concern interested in filming a
candidate, a Republican candidate in action on election day at one of the
voting centers. After a few moments of introduction I informed him that I
could meet them in Manchester, at the Holiday Inn, at 4pm. I would have to
leave immediately to get there on time. Filling the cat dish and putting on
a fresh shirt, I began to realize how tired I was. There were other
messages on the machine and some 3-mails that would have to wait. It was
grueling being the candidate, campaign manager, and primary campaigner all
rolled into one. On to Manchester, on to Durham...get some gas, feed the
cat, do the laundry, meet the Russians.
The drive afforded me time to grab some fast food and at exactly 4pm I was
pulling up to the Holiday Inn. I entered the main lobby and saw a lot of
activity. when it dawned on me ‘What do Russians look like, how do I
recognize them? I asked a film crew if they were with Russian TV, “no,
we’re Dutch TV. Perhaps if I stand with my violin in hand they would find
me. Soon a stalking fellow came up to me exclaiming that he knew me in high
school and had seen me on TV concerning my campaign. He went on to explain
in a loud voice how he was in trouble with the Internal Revenue for some
kind of scam and could I help him out. I had no idea who he was and it
dawned on me that being in the public eye had a down side. It was making me
uncomfortable listening to him go on and on about the details of his legal
problems. “Hey, do you know who thatis” he was pointing to a young man a
few feet away being interviewed. “That’s Ron Reagan, you know, Ronald
Reagan’s son,” I was more concerned that I had no money on me and how I
could leave my station and get to the ATM machine at the other end of the
lobby. “Could you do me a favor,” I asked. “Just keep your eyes out for
Russians while I visit the ATM machine?” I was hoping he would be gone when
I returned from the ATM which, as it turned out, was out of service. He was
still there diligently scoping out the
lobby. It was now 4:30pm and teh thought of bailing out was crossing my
mind when the troubled man found a new focus for his attention.
A very large, bald, well-dressed black man was circling me eyeing the
violin case and Patriot ID brushing up against me as he circled. His
shoulders were about eye level with me and I decided to throw him a
question, an icebreaker. “Are you with the Russian TV crew?” I
inquired.Some chuckles came from the direction of Reagan’s son, he shook
his head and drifted to the lobby desk. Ron Reagan was being interviewed
and I was reminded of his father, the time he saved me from being arrested.
Ronald Reagan, the former President, had a campaign headquarters located on
Hanover Street yards from Elm Street at the old Messenger book storefront.
It was the presidential primary and Reagan, a former governor, was running
against Nixon for the ’72 election. Reagan didn’t stand a chance and was
likely testing the waters. His headquarters had large plate glass windows
affording a full view of the side walk. I was in high school and was
moonlighting as a photographer for a very small newspaper called the
Manchester American. I had just purchased my first camera and was given a
NH press pass. My first assignment was to get a picture of Reagan at his
When I arrived, there was a line of anti-war protesters marching in front
of his campaign headquarters. The fact that my hair was to my shoulders
identified me as anti-Viet Nam War, but I considered myself a member of the
press and there to do my first assignment. Crossing through the
demonstrators, I entered the old Messenger Book Store (now the temporary
headquarters for the man I remembered as the host for Death Valley Days.
There was just one person at the front desk and I showed him my pass and
requested a photo. Getting up from his desk he went to a back room serving
as an office. By the time he came back, the police had arrived and were
charging the demonstrators not just arresting them but beating them up.
Reagan’s helper was focused on the battle as he told me that Reagan was
busy and did not have time for a picture.
I was not anxious to leave and soon Reagan was standing beside me and his
helper, aroused by the commotion, in full view outside the windows. A man
was being held by two of the police as a third was hitting him with his
nightstick. He was on the ground. A pregnant woman grabbed the hand holding
the nightstick and without looking to see who was preventing him from
delivering a blow, the officer struck her to the ground. “That’s terrible,”
Mr Reagan was visibly upset by the scene unfolding. I had no intention of
stepping outside, as two officers entered the store. Their first reaction
was to come for me thinking I had ducked into Reagan’s headquarters to
escape arrest. Without hesitation, Reagan put his arm across my shoulders
while the police had their hands holding my arms. “Leave him alone, he’s
with me,” Reagan told them firmly. They left and to this day I am convinced
that Reagan is a good man. Unfortunately, I did not take one picture.
The police are human and were overreacting, pumped up by the cowboy image,
surrounding the no nonsense host of Death Valley Days and what they
perceived as un-American protests. The Manchester police saved my life when
I was 13 years old, when lifted off my feet and seconds away from being
knifed. They had been chasing three hundred pounds of deranged rage. I was
looking at a meat cleaver bearing down on my face held by an arm that had
self-inflicted bleeding wounds. Four of them acting in concert put
themselves in great danger, without hesitation and saved me from being
slaughtered. The police have a stressful job and they deserve training,
understanding and treatment to deal with the toll and challenges that comes
with their occupation.
It was close to 5pm and the Russians were not in sight. It was with some
hesitation that I approached the son of Ronald Reagan to convey a note of
thanks for a standup act his father had performed. As I was trying to
explain my motive, I noticed a camera crew arrive and cut short my
conversation with an awkward exit. The Russians are here and it was getting
dark and late. Valeesa introduced himself and the short husky cameraman
accompanying him. They requested to find a voting location so they could
capture the process. Valeesa was wearing a dark coat that stopped just
below the knees and had the countenance of a well-traveled cosmopolitan. By
his side the short cameraman with long hair was carrying a large camera on
his shoulders and the top of the camera was even with the height of
Valeesa’s head. I couldn’t help but think if Igor, the assistant to Dr.
Frankenstein in the movie Frankenstein with Boris Karlof.
The front desk suggested a polling place just beyond the block across the
street that housed the Merrimack Diner. We exited through the revolving
door and headed to the courthouse behind city hall in the shadow of its
eight-spire steeple and clock. I remembered a comment about vodka, made by
a native Russian, at the Irish Rover Tavern a few days before. As we passed
behind the Merrimack Diner, I repeated the Russian proverb, introducing it
as a message to the Russian people, “the only bad vodka was warm vodka.”
This caught them off guard and the laughter I hoped was a welcome tonic on
a cold night. Unfortunately the voting site was a false lead and we
retraced our steps to the Inn. The next location was on North Elm Street
and was across the street from a Masonic Temple.
It was dark but the deterioration of the cement exterior from the action of
acid rain on the monolithic Masonic Tempe was visible in the night lights.
This was contrasted on the opposite of the street by throngs of campaigners
corralled by saw horses and all were holding political posters on wooden
posts. The Russians set up the camera and I elbowed my way through the
crowd to greet the votes only to find out there were few and far between.
It was a great place to wave a sign to traffic but because the neighborhood
was mostly businesses and it was almost supper time,there were no voters.
The Russians asked me to play the violin and after several waltzes, someone
asked me to play a fast one. It’s hard for me to play the fast fiddle
without moving my feet and succumbing to the rhythm. My judgement was
becoming dulled by the lack of sleep and the demands of traveling on fast
food and lots of coffee. I stopped playing.
“No, no not now keep playing,” Valessa urged me and I immediately went to
sawing my ax. It did not seem something a Presidential hopeful would want
on tape, playing to the Russians.
Overall, it was not my best moment and I probably broke some laws, crossing
and barricades and telling the Russians that Bush was acting unilaterally
to Republicans, Democrats and with foreign policy. Valessa asked me “Why
are you a Republican? I responded “Because of the best Republican political
leaders and NH Republicans I know are good people and have inspired me.” He
repeated the question and I put my hand on his should and reassured him, “I
just answered that question.”
As I was putting my violin away, three little girls introduced themselves
and asked me what did I think of health care. I was prepared to answer this
question, having rehearsed my response for when it would be asked. The
answer dealt with the colonoscopy exam that I had without medication just
three weeks before the election. The bill for the 45 minute exam was over
$5000 and I thought it would highlight the runaway costs for health care.
Of course they had no idea of what a colonoscopy was and I realized the
surreal context of my answer about half way through. I was outdoing Howard
Dean for dramatic behavior of a candidate. The kids shook my hand and went
on their way. As I finished putting my fiddle away, the Russians had
After I befriended a cop on the corner, the Russians reappeared from the
building with some footage of the voting process. I was afraid they had
abandoned me and their reappearance was comforting. I was going to be late.
When we arrived back at the hotel we said good-bye and I asked Valeesa “I
really can’t believe I talked to those kids about a colonoscopy.” His head
bobbed gently up and down reassuring me I had. It wasn’t until the next
day that I would find out about a commotion that had occurred at the
Merrimack Diner when we had passed it at 5pm.
Apparently the Crossfire Show was using the diner as a set for their show
which finished at 5pm. When exiting the building someone began calling
Robert Novak a traitor. Novak charged the name caller and knocked him to
the ground. The audio was on the Internet and I thought, what if the
Russians had caught that on tape as we were walking behind the building.
This is the same Novak that I mentioned in the Mayberry letter that I
distributed the day before. Maybe it was a good thing that I was not on
I really feel now for the grueling pressures that candidates have to go
through and the no end to unflattering situations that can befall you,
especially with a shortage of sleep. Nathan and Shane were just finishing a
pizza when I arrived. He took out his microphone as I recounted the days
activities. During a lull I asked Shane what their next assignment was.
“Shane what are you going to do?” I inquired. As he gave a detailed answer
I repositioned the microphone to get his words. I glanced at Nathan who was
massaging his forehead with his open palms and looking toward the ceiling
with his eyes, he was pretending not to notice. I told Nathan not to worry
about not having a picture of me campaigning because I was sure that the
picture taken in Conway would be on the front page and he could use that if
needed it. We said our good-byes and I headed home for a long-overdue sleep.
A front page story in the Union Leader the day after the primary concerned
Al Franken. Howard Dean was having a campaign rally at the Palace Theater,
when it was interrupted by several fights and skirmishes. The article
describes several Larouche supporters who were intent on making a scene. A
fight broke out and four security guards were pursuing one of the culprits.
He made the mistake of jostling Franken, a controversial comedian and
author who happened to be attending the event. The story describes Franken
taking the protester down like a Patriot football tackler. Another
protester jumped on the balcony threatening to jump onto the stage where
Dean was. He surrendered and serious harm was avoided. I was explaining
this story and others concerning my experience with the Larouche supporters
at my favorite Mexican watering hole when the waitress volunteered that the
night before she was at a gather and a Larouche supporter got on their
keens and started having a conversation with the Queen of England.
The Larouche ** campaign was undermining the election process. Larouche, a
Democrat, wrote negatively about the Unification Church, the Heritage
Foundation and the Bush family. His paranoid writings served to deflect
otherwise serious writers and investigators over the years on those topics
but his attacks on Democrats were real and physical.
*Nathan Thornburgh, editor Time Magazine, 2004, most recently associated
with Roads and Kingdoms and the late Anthony Bourdain
**Lyndon Larouche was investigated by the FBI and CIA when he ran for
President in 1980s. Oliver North is accused of running the investigation
and he is now President of the NRA
“I am not afraid of storms, for
I am learning to sail my ship”
Aeschylus - Greek Playwright 500 BC
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