Primary Day on the Streets of Manchester, N.H.

On the streets of New Hampshire's largest city, basking in the unseasonably warm weather, NPR's Robert Smith tries to find out what primary day means to the people of Manchester. Along the way, he finds some stories you might not have heard. For example, one candidate's name you won't soon forget: Vermin Supreme.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And I'm Robert Siegel. With no returns to report on yet, the big story out of New Hampshire today is the weather. Temperatures were very high, and that's helping drive turnout. The secretary of state is expecting a record number of voters today.

NPR's Robert Smith went out to take the temperature of voters.

ROBERT SMITH: I'm here in the streets of downtown Manchester, New Hampshire, where voters are asking each other one very important question, can you believe that it's almost 60 degrees in the middle of January?

NORRIS: Beautiful. And we never get a weather like this. I mean, you can't even explain weather like this. It's phenomenal. I mean, it's, you don't get weather like this.

SMITH: Look at you, you're actually giddy. Is this going to make you go out and vote?

NORRIS: Yes, it is.

SMITH: Brian Richardson is actually walking to his polling place, it's so nice. I mean, sure, there are some unusual challenges to a balmy primary day - there are giant slush puddles in front of campaign offices, and the political signs in the snow banks keep tipping over. But the upside is it could be a massive voter turnout. Heck, on a day like this, you don't need a "get out the vote" strategy, you need a "tell people to get back inside" strategy.

Heather Hilton(ph) just came from casting a ballot.

NORRIS: I've been to two different voting places, and they're a lot more than it was a few years ago.

SMITH: The New Hampshire primary is usually an indoor sport. But today, downtown Manchester was like a political street fair. The fringe candidates, who will stand on street corners in subzero temperatures, actually have an audience now.

NORRIS: Yes, all politicians are vermin. And I am the Vermin Supreme. And that is why I am the most qualified candidate in this race at this time.

SMITH: As a candidate who likes to, you know, basically, take his campaign to the streets because that's really all you have, weather like this must be perfect, there's actual people out for you to harass?

NORRIS: Campaign to. Unfortunately, if it gets too warm, this whole global warming thing happens, I mean, there will be no snow banks to stick our signs in and that would be a damn shame.

SMITH: Some people have better things to do on a nice day than voting. I met Dana Millman(ph), who is out for a walk in short sleeves.

NORRIS: I'm a landscaper, so any day above 30 is beautiful.

SMITH: He just doesn't feel like waiting in line at a polling place today.

NORRIS: So, I'll let everybody else take care of that. And when the time comes, I'll make my decision then.

SMITH: You know, if I were to give your name to some of these campaigns, you would have 30 people showing up on your door this afternoon trying to get you out there.

NORRIS: I got that now. I have my - I got a security lock. I got people coming in. I don't even know how they do it.

SMITH: Actually, the time for door-knocking is over. The residential streets of Manchester were strangely quiet this afternoon. Raymond Curval(ph), an undecided voter, could finally emerge from his home.

NORRIS: I think we only got two calls today so far.

SMITH: Wow, it's like a vacation.

NORRIS: Yes, it is. Definitely.

SMITH: Sunny weather, no phone calls...

NORRIS: Right.

SMITH: ...you can just quietly make up your mind.

NORRIS: Yes, definitely.

SMITH: Curval says he still doesn't understand why everyone is paying so much attention to the vote in New Hampshire. He can barely pick a president for himself, he says, much less for the rest of the nation.

Robert Smith, NPR News, Manchester, New Hampshire.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.