This time last year, Democratic state committees across the country were reconsidering the name of one of their long-held traditions: the annual Jefferson-Jackson banquet, named for Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
Now New Hampshire Democrats are following suit. The new name: the Kennedy-Clinton Dinner, in honor of John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton. Jefferson and Jackson are considered the forefathers of the Democratic Party — but they were also among the dozen US presidents who owned slaves.
“While Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson played instrumental roles in the founding of the national Democratic Party 200 years ago, the [New Hampshire Democratic Party] officers and so many others believed it was time to rename the dinner in honor of two more recent Democratic presidents,” wrote Raymond Buckley, the New Hampshire party chairman, in announcing the change. Buckley noted both Kennedy’s and Clinton’s roles in boosting the fortunes of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. And, he said, the name “Kennedy-Clinton” has a nice ring to it.
Whatever the name, the New Hampshire dinner generally draws a VIP speaker, eager to connect with first-in-the-nation primary activists. Last year, presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Bernie Sanders spoke. The year before, Bill Clinton addressed the crowd; speakers have included Paul Tsongas in 1991 and John Kerry in 2006.
This year’s VIP guests at the dinner later this month? A Kennedy (Joe III, the Mass. representative) and a Clinton (Chelsea, the daughter of the presidential candidate).
Massachusetts, by the way, hasn’t traditionally had a Jefferson-Jackson event. The state party hosts an awards reception named after Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Felice Belman can be reached at email@example.com.