MANCHESTER, NH – Kelley Ashby Paul arrived to her husband’s campaign headquarters Wednesday fashionably late – white leather zipped jacket with blue leopard-print shirt peeking out from the top, and skinny dark-wash jeans – well heeled in future FLOTUS-casual.
Quite fitting, given her introduction by State Rep. Victoria Sullivan, who called Paul “the woman I believe will be the next First Lady of the United States.”
Paul, wife of Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, was there to meet and greet a small gathering of about 40 of her husband’s supporters. They made small talk at table seating over finger sandwiches until she arrived, about 30 minutes past schedule.
Although the event was touted as a chance to talk with Kelley Paul about education matters, Paul used most of her 25 minutes reading excerpts from her new book, “True and Constant Friends: Love and Inspiration from Our Grandmothers, Mothers, and Friends,” inspired by her grandmother, Julia O’Toole, an Irish immigrant.
Paul relayed her grandmother’s story and humble beginnings, from extreme poverty in Ireland to passenger on the Adriatic, a sister ship to the Titanic. She came to the U.S. at age 12 by way of a third-class ticket purchased for her by a distant aunt in New York.
“My grandmother recalled that on the last night of the voyage everyone was in high spirits because the next day they would sail past the Statue of Liberty, arriving at the greatest country in the world,” said Paul.
She said she’d always admired her grandmother’s lifelong patriotism, and her bravery, for traveling alone at such a young age, to a new country and an unknown future.
“She never did see her mother again, but her stories were never sad – they were filled with romance, danger and the stuff of novels,” said Paul.
The theme supports her husband’s latest campaign slogan: “Defeat the Washington Machine; Unleash the American Dream.”
She said her grandmother’s American Dream taught her something lasting: that no matter what difficult situation you find yourself in, it doesn’t “have to define you,” a statement made in the context of her grandmother’s occupation, as a maid for a wealthy New Yorker.
“My grandmother, she worked hard and did her job exceedingly well, and she thrived in this country… yes, she was a maid. But she helped support her family of four children through hard times,” Paul said. “There is something that is to me compelling and undeniably American about her outlook.”
Paul said during the talk that New Hampshire is near and dear to her heart, as she and her husband celebrated their first wedding anniversary with a trip to New England. A visit to one of Rand Paul’s fellow medical school graduates in Boston resulted in a bed-and-breakfast foliage tour of the Granite State.
Afterward, Paul sat and autographed copies of her book, which was published in April. In it, Paul interviews some of her closest friends, asking each to pay tribute to the women who, like her grandmother, influenced them most in their own life’s journey.
“Well, today’s my birthday and next week is my granddaughter’s birthday, and I didn’t know what to get her, until now,” said Barry Devine, of Goffstown, tucking his autographed copy of the book under his arm. He will read it first and gift it next week, he said.
Paul will return to Manchester June 11 for another event, a Young Professionals Lunch at Wedü, 20 Market St., sponsored by Rand Paul for President.
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