Wow! There’s nothing like actually being at the World Series or the Super Bowl. Watching on TV just can’t deliver the same sense of excitement, the electricity in the air. And for political junkies, there’s nothing like actually being on the ground helping in headquarters for a key caucus or primary. Things are buzzing, people are hustling, and there’s a palpable excitement when you feel you can win. Four years ago I was able to travel to Iowa and help in the 2008 caucuses, where we got an exciting 2d place, but the experience left me longing for more. This time I’ve been lucky enough to be able to come to New Hampshire to be “feet on the ground” for Romney 2012. And I think a 1st place finish is a realistic possibility!
I left California early this morning. For a point of reference, here’s what winter looks like where I live…
…but today flew to Boston, then drove to Nashua, NH, where the weather’s a bit different. Not that I’m complaining, but I had to dig deep in my closet for a coat that would suffice!
The Locals are Fantastic
One thing I noticed on the drive to Nashua: Boston / New Hampshire talk radio is great. We happened to catch an impromptu radio appearance by Governor Romney discussing the political events of the day. The excitement was high as we felt we had finally arrived into the center of the political universe. While the host didn’t shy away from tough questions, the tone was respectful and in the nature of dialog, not combat. Callers’ knowledge of the issues was refreshing, and it was clear voters here work to make informed decisions. The one main theme I heard repeated was the need to rally behind the most electable candidate to defeat President Obama, and the consensus is Mitt. While it appears Santorum is getting a closer look as a result of his performance in Iowa, any bump seems to be taking away from Huntsman and Gingrich, not Romney. The general thought is that Senator Santorum, while a solid social conservative, would not survive a general election, and is therefore unlikely to be the GOP candidate. It was also great to hear reports that the latest polling numbers show Mitt with nearly a 2:1 lead over the next closest candidate here, with leads nationally and in South Carolina and Florida as well.
A Visit to Mitt’s NH HQ
Soon after a trip to Mickey D’s for some sustenance, our group, which included Jim and Rod Davies (Ann Romney’s brothers) and Rod’s wife, Cindy, took a quick trip to visit Romney New Hampshire headquarters and get ready to dig in and work over the next few days. Here’s the group, ready to hit the ground running. I’m the goofy one on the right, and yes, that’s a vintage 2008 Romney beanie.
As for the staff and volunteers, I was very pleased to see that things were still buzzing for a Friday night. Phone calls were being made and people were getting things done. That’s one thing I love about the Romney campaigns: Mitt runs a tight ship!
I met Jill, who was clearly in charge and doing a great job. In her office she’s surrounded by calendars of key events, including one at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning where Governor Romney will be appearing with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. And of course there are two (2!) debates in a twelve hour period Saturday evening and Sunday morning, where Mitt is likely to be the primary target of newly negative Newt, big hopes Huntsman and slightly surging Santorum. There are appearances from Governors Chris Christie and Tim Pawlenty as well over the weekend. And then the big days: Monday’s last full day of politicking and Tuesday’s primary! Here’s Jill (on the right) with Stephanie, a member of her team.
A Quick Drive Through Manchester
As we went back to our hotel, we took a quick detour to look around Manchester. We saw that CBS had set up a serious broadcast booth outside the Radisson. That’s when I felt things were really getting serious!
Yes, this is the big time. If Mitt wins, it’ll be the first time in a long time a GOP challenger will have won both Iowa and New Hampshire. And with polls also encouraging in South Carolina and Florida, my (not so) secret hope is that voters in New Hampshire will select Mitt as their nominee and can give him the momentum to win South Carolina and Florida, permitting him to move more quickly to what everyone in the GOP really wants: defeating President Obama.
One interesting note: the Occupy folks had set up camp across the street from the Manchester Radisson. They were very polite (offering us corn chips–see the bag in the photo) and said their numbers had reached a couple hundred during the day. But it seems most had gone home to spend the cold night indoors.
I feel very lucky to be here and hope to be able to share with you what its like on the ground these last few days before the New Hampshire primary. For die hard Romney fans, there’s no place they’d rather be. And I’ve got to say, it is pretty cool. The people here know Governor Romney can win. There’s a lot to do between now and Tuesday, but if he does win, as expected, it’ll be because Mitt and his great New Hampshire team “Earned it!”