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Vermin Supreme is running for president

Anyone with $1,000 and a dream can run for president in New Hampshire. This year, there will be 43 candidates on the ballot. Among the contenders: Vermin Supreme of Rockport, Mass., O. Savior of Minneapolis and Caroline Killeen, an American citizen currently residing in Assisi, Italy. She and other out-of-towners registered by mail, but the big shots always make it official in person.

"Hillary Clinton sat here, Barack Obama sat over there,'' said Secretary of State William Gardner, gesturing at the chairs surrounding a wooden table outside his office. "It's important that there be a place that candidates can come, and start, and have a chance.''

The presidential free-for-all contrasts with the process in Florida, where the leaders of the two political parties and four legislative leaders get to decide the names that go on the ballot. Other New Hampshire claims to fame: brainchild of the first national conventions, the name of the Republican party, first signers of the Declaration of Independence. Despite its small population, the state has the largest state house in the country, with 400 members.

New Hampshire has more officials elected to more offices more often than any other state; even polling place supervisors are elected and the governor has to pass muster every two years. That citizen-as-legislator political climate translates into the presidential campaign, Gardner said.

"You can't be an imperial candidate,'' he said. "You can't come with an entourage. You have to be willing to do the one-one-one."

Posted by Beth Reinhard at 04:06 PM on November 13, 2007 | Permalink


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