“I remember we were scrambling for a speaker—and I didn’t make an ask to Senator Sanders, but somehow his people got wind that we were looking for a speaker, and they came to us and offered to speak,” Kilchenstein, who’s no longer the county chair but backed Senator Michael Bennet in the state’s primary this year, told me. “It struck me that he came down to this group three hours away from Burlington to speak to us, and secondly, he gave a very animated and rousing speech, which was beyond the norm for your usual county-barbecue speeches.”

“It seemed like he had an objective,” Kilchenstein said. “He wasn’t there as a courtesy as much as he showed up with a message.”

According to other internal emails among Obama’s reelection-campaign staffers, they’d already caught notice, on August 2, of Sanders coming to the event. “Check out the special guest,” one wrote, noting Sanders. Half an hour later came a reply from another aide: “The Cheshire County Democrats are in the process of lining him up too.” That was for a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser a few weeks later. Attending these sorts of events is one thing that potential candidates for president do to test the waters, get their names out there, and try out their stump speeches.