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Obama: "People actually get a chance to talk to you"

LEBANON, N.H. - Dem prez contender Barack Obama told an enthusiastic audience at a high school gym tonight that the cozy politics in states like New Hampshire make his bid for the presidency possible.

"We could not compete nationally with the Clinton brand," said Obama, casting himself as a lesser-known contender, despite his success at nearly keeping pace when it comes to the 'Clinton brand' in terms of $$ raising. "But if we focused on those early states where people actually get a chance to talk to you and get to know you, we had a chance.."

New Hampshire voters, he noted, have the "enormous privilege" of voting before all but 48 other states.

"You guys have more juice in this election than anyone but Iowa," he said. "You're probably going to decide the next president of the United States, the leader of the free world. Use your voice."

Among the convinced, Christine Benson, 58, vice president at a local homebuilder.  She's seen Obama several times, along with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

"In New Hampshire you can hang out with all of them," Benson said. "It's said in a joking way, but in New Hampshire you don't vote for someone unless you've shaken their hand at least three times."

Benson said she bears no ill will toward Florida, which wants to move up its primary to gain a little more prominence.

"Why would you not want to?" she said. "It totally makes sense. Who wouldn't want a chance to get up close to the person who could become the next president."

Video | Barack Obama speaks at high school in Claremont, N.H.

CHARLES TRAINOR JR./MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Posted by Lesley Clark at 11:45 PM on November 12, 2007 | Permalink

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