With 2 Days to Go, Non-Stop Campaigning in N.H. With New Hampshire's primaries just two days away, the presidential candidates blanket the state in a near non-stop frenzy of rallies, debates and speeches.
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With 2 Days to Go, Non-Stop Campaigning in N.H.

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With 2 Days to Go, Non-Stop Campaigning in N.H.

With 2 Days to Go, Non-Stop Campaigning in N.H.

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/17887072/17887065" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

Today, the clouds cleared and the temperature rose in New Hampshire, where a dozen candidates for president may be producing climate change themselves with near-nonstop frenzy of rallies, debates and speeches.

Last night, there were debates for both Democrats and Republicans. And tonight, the GOP candidates meet again near Manchester. NPR's reporters have accompanied the candidates across the landscape today. And they sent us their insights, beginning with Tovia Smith who's travelling with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

TOVIA SMITH: As he takes to the stage in New Hampshire these days, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney waste no opportunity trying to sell himself as a favorite son and exploit what he hopes will be his home field advantage.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. MITT ROMNEY (Former Republican Governor, Massachusetts; Republican Presidential Candidate): Now, Tag, my oldest son isn't here but his son, Joseph, is here, wearing the Red Sox hat, of course.

T. SMITH: New Hampshire voters have been kind in the past to candidates from neighboring Massachusetts. Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas and John Kerry have all won here. Romney is hoping his familiarity - and his conservative fiscal stance - will appeal to voters in live-free-or-die New Hampshire. He brought up his friend and anti-tax crusader, Barbara Anderson, to remind voters of the uphill battles he has fought in the base state like opposing a retroactive capital gains tax.

Ms. BARBARA ANDERSON (Executive Director, Citizens for Limited Taxation): Mitt Romney saved Massachusetts because he said that was crazy. You can't do that.

T. SMITH: It's a storyline that resonates with many New Hampshire voters like Steve Presstack.

Mr. STEVE PRESSTACK: It can be an easy thing to do to be, you know, a Republican in a Democratic state. And just to get elected, I think, was pretty amazing.

T. SMITH: But New Hampshire voters' familiarity with Romney doesn't always work in his favor.

Mr. CHRIS LONUS (Resident, New Hampshire): It's a double-edged sword.

SMITH: Thirty-year-old Chris Lonus remembers the pro-life, anti-gay marriage Mitt Romney back when he was pro-choice and vowing to be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Ted Kennedy. Now, he doesn't which is real and which is fake.

Mr. LONUS: There are too many things that make you wonder why the flip-flopping. And if you don't believe in what you're talking about, then how's the rest of the country are going to believe in you?

T. SMITH: So the better you know him for you…

Mr. LONUS: The more I second-guess him.

T. SMITH: But for some voters the increasing attacks on Romney hurt his attackers more than him. This voter made up her mind for Romney after watching John McCain go after him in last night's debate.

Ms. SHARON FAKE (Resident, New Hampshire): It was childish. It was not presidential. It was a little scary in some parts. So today, we just felt we've kind of sealed the deal.

T. SMITH: And tell me your name, please.

Ms. FAKE: Sharon Fake.

T. SMITH: Fake?

Ms. FAKE: F-A-K-E.

T. SMITH: Really.

(Soundbite of laughter)

T. SMITH: And you're for Romney.

Ms. FAKE: Fake for Romney, is that bad?

T. SMITH: His opponents would have a feel to it.

Ms. FAKE: That's right. I know. But I think that, you know, politics - there's all kinds of politics. I mean, you know, that's the way it is.

T. SMITH: Tovia Smith, NPR News.

ROBERT SMITH: I'm Robert Smith.

Scripture tells us remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy, but Baptist minister Mike Huckabee wasn't resting two days before the New Hampshire primary. In fact, at a rally in Windham, he was advocating distinctly unchristian behavior.

Mr. HUCKABEE: If you've got neighbors that say I'm not voting for that Huckabee guy, shovel your snow in his driveway.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HUCKABEE: Do me and yourself a favor.

R. SMITH: In Iowa, Huckabee build himself as a Christian leader. In South Carolina, he preached from the pulpit. But New Hampshire doesn't have that many evangelicals, so today Huckabee's only mention of religion was a quote from the "Declaration of Independence." Instead, in New Hampshire, he mostly talks about his rural upbringing and the economy - sometimes simultaneously.

Mr. HUCKABEE: Man, we can fix anything in the South with WD-40 and duct tape -except the tax code of the United States of America. It needs a total overhaul.

R. SMITH: He sure converted Steve Moore, a Republican from Windham. And Moore doesn't vote just based on religion.

Mr. STEVE MOORE: I voted for Perot, too. So I want government shaken up, and I want taxes to be revamped, and I think Mike Huckabee is going to do it.

R. SMITH: After his win in the Iowa caucuses, Huckabee said that he didn't expect to win in New Hampshire - he hasn't campaigned vigorously here. But he told the crowd today that all he has to do is surprise people to do well.

Robert Smith, NPR News.

DON GONYEA: I'm Don Gonyea, following the Obama campaign with a candidate that's striking an optimistic tone at rallies that are drawing huge crowds. The theme that runs through every Barack Obama's stump speech is hope. At times, it sounds like a Big Tent Revival meeting. This morning, he was at the old Palace Theatre in downtown Manchester.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): It was because of hope that workers were able to win the right to organize and get a minimum wage and overtime and all the benefits we now take for granted. It was because of hope that women got the right to vote. It was because of hope that young people travel down south to Selma and Montgomery and marched, and sat in, and got beaten, and got fire hosed - all in the cause of freedom.

(Soundbite of applause)

GONYEA: Obama won over a 22-year-old student Ashley Currey of Bedford, New Hampshire.

Ms. ASHLEY CURREY (Resident, Bedford, New Hampshire): He is, you know, like he says, I talk about hope and people kind of talk down upon that. But, I mean, how could you? Hope is what gets people through every day. Hope is, you know, all people can have sometimes, and what a better thing to run on but hope, so.

GONYEA: Currey is a Democrat. But Obama events are also attracting a lot of undecided voters and independents. That describes 54-year-old Manchester attorney Chris Winzer.

Ms. CHRIS WINZER (Lawyer): I'm here to try and decide who to vote for.

GONYEA: You're still trying to decide?

Ms. WINZER: Yes, I am.

GONYEA: So give me a reaction.

Ms. WINZER: Well, I'm looking for an inspiration, and I think I found a little bit here today.

GONYEA: Winzer, who says she voted for George Bush in the last two elections, says she's still wants to see Hillary Clinton in person before making a decision this year. With polls showing the race so close and just two days to go, both says hard to nail down, as Winzer's, can still make the difference.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Manchester.

DAVID GREENE: And I'm David Greene in Nashua, where Hillary Clinton got back into rhythm today, speaking to an overflow crowd of more than 3,000 people at a high school. She used the moment to pick apart Barack Obama's record on Iraq.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Democratic Presidential Candidate): If you gave a speech, and a very good speech, against the war on Iraq in 2002, and then by 2004 you're saying you're not sure how you would have voted and by 2005, '06 and '07, you vote for $300 billion for the war you said you were against, that's not change.

(Soundbite of cheering)

GREENE: And so it went with her line of attack throughout the day. Clinton's advisers backed it up with a conference call to reporters, insisting that the media ask tougher questions about Obama. At least one voter at the Nashua event said she was turned off by Clinton's attack.

Ms. SARAH REYES: In talking about somebody else, I don't think that's going to get anything done.

GREENE: Sarah Reyes came today with her 4-year-old son. She said she was undecided between Clinton and Obama and especially interested in the issue of immigration. Her husband is from Mexico and became a legal resident in the U.S. in 2006. By chance, an audience member asked Clinton about the issue. And Reyes said she liked hearing Clinton say that those in the country illegally should have a shot at becoming a citizen.

Ms. REYES: Yes, they're going to have wait, you know, she was saying about 10, 15 years to be able to be maybe a legal resident. But they'll have that opportunity. Whereas - there are people who have been here for 50 years and haven't had that opportunity, but if they go back they're going to go back to nothing.

GREENE: Clinton's response, she said, helped her decide on a candidate.

Ms. REYES: I think I'm going with Hillary.

GREENE: Then again, she is a good New Hampshirite, so she added Obama and Clinton will still have her ear for another two days.

David Greene, NPR News, Nashua.

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