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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

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