New Hampshire notebook

By MARGARET DORIS  |  January 9, 2008

Old Mitt of the Mountain: How the Romney campaign crumbled and fell in the Granite State primary
HENNIKER, NH — Blame it on Michigan. The day after the Iowa caucuses, more than a dozen reporters and a hundred or so citizens, grimly exercising their civic duty, trudged to ice-shrouded New England College to watch Mike Huckabee get down with Chuck Norris and a hoochie-mama band (“What the Fuck! We want Chuck!” the cadre of teenagers camped outside Huckabee’s campaign bus chanted through the 10-degree darkness). After all, if Michigan had not tried to hijack the national primary system, forcing New Hampshire to schedule its first-in-the-nation primary for the second week in January, everybody would have had time to work off their New Year’s hangovers before settling down to the serious business of selecting the nation’s next president.

No wonder the Detroit Free Press reporter looked uncomfortable as she cast about for the quintessential New Hampshire voter to interview. She settled on the bearded gentleman with his welcoming smile. Possibly she failed to note the tall boot chapeau tucked under his arm. Maybe she mistook the spider lace of bat wings spread across his shoulders as a home schooler’s project.

Could she have his name? She couldn’t quite catch it. Could he spell it? He was only too happy to oblige.

“V-e-r-m-i-n S-u-p- . . .”

Thank you, never mind, she said, snapping her notebook shut.

Once again, it was Michigan’s loss. Presidential candidate Vermin Supreme is no rodent-come-lately to the New Hampshire primary. In a state where any US citizen over the age of 34 who has an extra $1000 to spare can get on the primary ballot, Vermin is a legitimate get.

In New Hampshire, candidates expect at least some of the voters, some of the time, to listen. When ABC News decided a former US senator lacked sufficient stature to participate in the final primary debate, Mike Gravel set up shop in the basement studios of Manchester’s public-access station. Perched next to a wide-screen TV and wielding a TiVo wand, Gravel provided real-time debate commentary for cable and Web viewers. Using the power of freeze frames, Gravel held the candidates accountable with cries of “This is drivel! This is foolishness!” Buying into the Bush administration’s climate of fear, Gravel said, would “close down our entire society, wipe out your entire democracy.” According to the station, the webcast alone drew more than 400 viewers.

Some voters don’t want much. The Saturday before the primary, Sue Ann Devine squeezed in a McCain event at a Salem middle school and a Barack Obama appearance at the high school while shuttling her four kids to various activities. A registered Democrat, Devine has hung this year’s Christmas card from the Clintons on her refrigerator. On the other side of her duplex, “My mother has Jonathan [sic] Edwards’s Christmas card on her mantle.”

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  Topics: News Features , Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Elections and Voting,  More more >
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