So long New Hampshire

Florida lawmakers might dismiss New Hampshire as nothing but a suburb of Boston, but the Granite State is big stuff when it comes to picking the next president of the U.S.

The state guards its position as first primary state in the nation zealously and the Herald spent several days last week talking to voters in the Granite State who are convinced the state, dotted with dairy farms and mill towns, deserves to be at the top of the pack. Read the story here.

And read about one of the most powerful men in politics, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, who may not carry a cell phone, but has the sole authority to set the date of the presidential primary here. The Democrat who has been in office longer than Florida's last 12 secretaries of state, also offers his opinion of Florida's most famous Secretary of State, Katherine Harris.

And spend breakfast at a tiny diner where regulars never know when the blue-plate special might come with a visit from a presidential hopeful. That story is here.

And check out the photo gallery as candidates seek votes in high school gynasiums and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Posted by Lesley Clark at 10:37 AM on November 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

On the air in New Hampshire, on the ground in Florida

Rudy Giuliani is campaigning today in Florida, but he begins airing his very first TV ads in New Hampshire - stumping in two states at once.

Giuliani's new spot, Tested, touts his accomplishments as New York City mayor.

It marks a bit of a departure in strategy for Giuliani's campaign, which has held off spending television dollars in the early primary state, under the belief that it didn't necessarily need a major victory in Iowa and New Hampshire because it could count on wins in mega-states like Florida on Jan. 29, and New York and California on Feb. 5.

But pundits say going 26 days from the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus without a strong showing could damage Giuliani's campaign and the ad reflects Giuliani's bid to boost his numbers in New Hampshire, where a recent CBS News/NY Times poll shows he's tied with Arizona Sen. John McCain, both of them trailing frontrunner Mitt Romney, who campaigned in New Hampshire on Monday.

As Naked Politics on the Road departs New Hampshire (in rainy 61 degree weather, maybe Florida and New Hampshire are not so different after all) McCain arrives in New Hampshire for a four-day swing. He'll make a pilgrimage Friday to tiny, remote Dixville Notch, a Republican stronghold and home of one of the state's most fabled political events: Every four years, Dixville Notch voters - all 30 or so of them - gather at the stroke of midnight before the primary to cast their ballots in the ballroom of The Balsams, a resort hotel.

McCain lost there to George W. Bush in 2000 by 2 votes out of 23 cast. Giuliani will be closer to home, campaigning today in The Villages in Central Florida and mingling with NASCAR fans Sunday at the Ford 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Finale at Miami Speedway in Homestead.

Posted by Lesley Clark at 10:25 AM on November 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Obama taps beer, support in Portsmouth

Dick Gephardt picked out Christmas gifts in this chaming harbor town in the 2003 presidential campaign, and last month, Barack Obama got behind the bar at a local pub and poured a beer.

"It brought a lot of business into here,'' said Dominic Valdez, a host at The Portsmouth Brewery. "He went around the entire restaurant and shook everybody's hand. I couldn't believe how patient he was."

That New Hampshire's position at the head of the primary calendar generates revenue for shopkeepers, restaurants, hotels and media outlets is unmistakable. In fact, some Florida politicians argue that New Hampshire's lofty rhetoric about preserving political traditions aims to gloss over its bottom-line incentive.

A University of New Hampshire study found that the ecomomic impact of the 2000 primary was $264 million, only a fraction of the $42 billion gross state product.

Cindy Pariseau, owner of the Simply Unforgettable gift shop, said the extra business every four years helps, but doesn't keep her afloat. She added that moving New Hampshire's primary -- which used to be in March --into early January to protect its frontline status cuts the campaign spending season short.

"Although if they do move it up, it might help our Christmas season, because chances are the candidates are going be around,'' she said. "They've all got to buy gifts, right?''

Posted by Beth Reinhard at 09:58 PM on November 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stumping Under the Steeple

Portsmth The steeple of the North Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire serves as a landmark for the square where presidential candidates have stumped trying to get support for their campaigns in the state that has carried a lot of weight in the primary. PHOTO BY CHARLES TRAINOR JR.

Posted by Miami Herald at 09:35 PM on November 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Clinton's thirsty, undercaffeinated campaign

Democratic gains in once-mostly red New Hampshire have emboldened presidential campaigns to venture north into previously untapped territory, akin to setting up camp in Republican strongholds in the Panhandle.

Hillary Clinton has 16 offices across the state, including small towns such as Berlin, at the edge of the White Mountains, and in Peterborough, home to one of the oldest basket manufacturing plants in the country.

"Those are not typical spots for Democrats," said spokeswoman Kathleen Strand. "Historically it's been a Republican state, but 2006 was a tidal wave."

Last November, Democrats took New Hampshire's two congressional seats, grabbed control of the State House, and re-elected Democratic Gov. John Lynch with 74 percent of the vote.

Clinton has one of the biggest campaign organizations in the state, headquartered about a block off the main strip in downtown Manchester. Occupying the second floor of a nondescript office building, the headquarters are a maze of tiny offices crammed with computers, campaign signs, and mounds of soda cans awaiting recycling (the caffeine keeps the volunteers going).

A copy of Clinton's official portrait as First Lady hangs above the staircase. "Dial like a champion today," it intones.

Strand declined to disclose how much the Democratic frontrunner is spending on advertising in New Hampshire, saying only it's a "signficant buy." Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has invested $4.2 million on media.

But Strand discounted suggestions that money and TV advertising can seal the deal among New Hampshire voters. About 7 in 10 voters in Iowa and New Hampshire say how much time a candidate spends in their state is an important factor in who they chose, according to a recent New York Times/CBS poll. One in four called the face time "very important."

Clinton has visited the state 19 times - same as rival Barack Obama, Strand noted.

"The candidate has to come and talk to voters, shake their hands, answer their questions, look in their eyes," Strand said. "We'll be in two diners, a coffee shop, a restaurant, 20 voters at one location, 150 at the next...Voters here expect and want to see you here and hear from you directly."

Video | Interview with Kathleen Strong, spokeswoman for the Hillary Clinton New Hampshire campaign


Posted by Lesley Clark at 03:54 PM on November 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Morning on the Owen's farm

Video | Owen's family gets ready for breakfast by gathering eggs from the hens in the coop


Posted by Miami Herald at 11:21 AM on November 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Got milk

Girls_2 Naked Politics on the Road reporters Lesley Clark and Beth Reinhard try pulled milk in the kitchen on the Owen's Farm outside Concord, New Hampshire. CHARLES TRAINOR JR./MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Posted by Miami Herald at 10:21 AM on November 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Talking primary and pulling milk

Milk_4 Farmer and local legislator Derek Owen pulls milk from a cow on his farm outside Concord, New Hampshire. Owen feels New Hampshire deserves the early primary, for historical reasons. CHARLES TRAINOR JR./MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Posted by Miami Herald at 10:08 AM on November 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Milk a cow, pass a bill

Derek Owen rises before dawn to milk the cows at his Hopkinton farm. Chores completed at the 200-acre spread, he showers, puts on a suit and heads to the state Capitol in Concord where he serves in the nation's largest state legislature.

The job pays $100 a year, "plus mileage," Owen added. On the farm, he makes less than $25,000 annually.

"You've got to either have money or the stubborness to want to make change," said Owen, who along with his wife, Ruth, raises and grows most of the food they put on their large wooden kitchen table. Excess is sold and they note the market is expanding for food grown locally.

Owen has hosted underdog Democratic contender Dennis Kucinich at the farm and defends New Hampshire's right to hold the nation's first presidential primary. But he chuckled when asked whether a candidate with a shoestring budget and big ideas can take off in the state.

"Wrong," he said, his words punctuated by the whoosh of milk hitting a metal pail. "Because money is how you get your face and your word out there. The more money you have the more ads you can buy."

And spend they have: Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's campaign has 16 offices across the state; and Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has spent $4.2 million on advertising in the state.

Posted by Lesley Clark at 09:45 AM on November 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Edwards to Florida: "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha."

Two days of talking to New Hampshire voters has failed to turn up a single person who would be offended if the Democratic candidates broke their pledge and campaigned in rogue state Florida.

Informed of this fact, presidential contender John Edwards responded with a chuckle as he walked out of the Salem High School cafeteria where he had met with about 200 New Hampshire voters.

"We've all pledged not to campaign in Florida and abide by the DNC (Democratic National Committee) rules," Edwards said. Then he hopped in his awaiting car and sped off to spend the night in Iowa, another authorized early primary state and the one where he is staking his campaign.

The DNC, trying to exert control over states jockeying for position at the front of the presidential primary calendar, has punished the state for scheduling its primary before Feb. 5. Penalties include stripping the state of its convention delegates.

But many New Hampshire voters empathize with Florida's plight. Donna Thompson, 42, moved to New Hampshire from Massachusetts - which might as well be Siberia when it comes to the presidential campaign because of its late primary. She's been enjoying the attention lavished on New Hampshire voters.

"It's a world of difference up here," said Thompson, who along with her son, Kyle Ruby, 17, has signed up to volunteer for the Edwards' campaign. "The candidates come through town all the time, Barack Obama was speaking on the lawn next to the library."

Thompson said she wouldn't mind sharing the wealth with Florida, but she cautioned that it comes with responsibilities.

"It gets annoying," she said. "Your phone rings constantly, the flyers are in the mail, people are knocking on your door."

Posted by Miami Herald at 09:22 PM on November 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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