EXETER, N.H. — After Barack Obama captured the vote of thousands of students in Iowa on the way to his commanding victory, former Senator Mike Gravel stood before a few dozen students a Phillips Exeter Academy here on Sunday night with his own message of change.
But unlike Obama, it isn’t catching on among many students. And Gravel offers a reason why.
“A lot of young people, they’re sophomoric, and they haven’t really thought very much,” he said in an exclusive interview with the News. “And so they’re into celebrity. These are the people that follow Paris Hilton and Britney Spears — and they follow Obama.”
HART’S LOCATION, N.H., 4:30 a.m. — It is the land of moose crossings and low, clinging fog; a place, in the immortal opening words of Twin Peaks, where “an orange light still means slow down.”
But Hart’s Location, N.H. has attracted the attention of the nation every four years since 1996 when it restarted the tradition of positioning itself as the first town in the first primary state to vote. True, there is another contender, Dixville Notch — a small community 80 miles north of here. But Hart’s Location-ites don’t like to think about them here.
“We believe that we are the first town to vote,” said Nancy Ritgard, a resident who helped in the polling booth. “There’s another small town that does that, but we’re much faster. And better.”
She added, “We were the ones that started it.”
The tradition began in 1948 but was phased out in 1964 when, some say, Dixville Notch stole the spot with a fast clock and an intrepid photographer who managed to get pictures out before anyone did here.
“They just got tired of it and they stopped,” said Caroline King, a volunteer who owns the original kitchen table where the votes were collected from 1948 to 1964. “I’ve got the table at home,” she said.
True to its basic origins, the poll takes place in a small makeshift cabin up a small bank, indicated only by a truck with flashing lights sitting on the road. The atmosphere is jovial, almost that of a village fête but on a tiny scale. Everybody knows each other, apart from the two or three journalists (one who comes from as far away as France). Lumberjack shirts abound even though we are miles away from Williamsburg, Brooklyn and its hipster chique. The ambiance contributes to the tight-knit nature of the gathering, festooned with flags and posters of previous results.
Two hours away from any substantial hub of civilization on a desperately lonely road, Hart’s Location residents should not be surprised that they attract so few here. The cabin doesn’t even have running water.
The fourth in a series of spin room interviews following this weekend’s debates.
MANCHESTER, N.H., 1:55 a.m. — A few months ago, Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 was the “inevitable” candidate.
Not anymore. And that puts Mark Penn, her chief strategist, in a precarious position.
But fret not, Penn says. Speaking to reporters this weekend, he offered nothing but confidence in Clinton’s prospects, even as polls place Iowa caucus winner Barack Obama far ahead among New Hampshire voters.
Just look at Obama’s record, he said. Then see whether he speaks for change. (more…)
The third in a series of spin room interviews following this weekend’s debates.
MANCHESTER, N.H. 1:40 a.m. — John Edwards may seem like the third wheel in the Democratic showdown between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton LAW ’73. But even so, that’s no reason to give up, says his wife, Elizabeth.
“John is in this race to the convention,” she told reporters this weekend, shooting down rumors that his campaign could fold in the coming weeks if he cannot break into the Obama-Clinton pantheon.
Why? Simple, Edwards said.
“His message is important enough,” she said.
But that doesn’t mean getting that message out has been easy. (more…)
HUDSON, N.H., 1:15 a.m. — One person who is not hopping on the “change” bandwagon is Rudy Giuliani.
“In four or five days, the word ‘change’ has been in the news more often than I’ve ever heard it used,” the former New York mayor said in a speech here Tuesday. “It’s like in the old days when somebody at the bank asked for change. Keep the change! Or, can you change a dollar bill? Change, change, change, change, change! Everybody’s talking about change!”
The crowd laughed, but Giuliani had a serious point to make.
“It’s got to go beyond change,” he said. “Change for what?”
In a town-hall meeting at a local grange hall, replete with ribbons from the state fair, the former New York City mayor answered exactly that — if he were to be elected president. (more…)
The first in a series of spin room interviews following this weekend’s debates.
MANCHESTER, N.H., 10:15 a.m. — Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat and an African-American, said he knows what Senator Barack Obama is going through.
“When I ran for governor of Massachusetts, a state with a very small African-American population, there were people who said about me many of the same things they’re saying about Senator Obama,” Patrick told reporters after the debates Saturday night. “He can’t win, he’s not electable, … he’s not part of the Democratic establishment, it’s not his turn. I got that a lot.”
But in the spin room, Patrick, 51, offered an answer to those complaints.
“One of the things I said to the people of Massachusetts, I say now, and I think Senator Obama is saying it to the people of America, ‘It’s not whose turn it is, it’s whose time it is’,” he said. And Patrick said he is “not surprised” that voters are beginning to agree with him.
“The challenges we’re facing are so profound, and the messages of hope and optimism and unity of purpose that Senator Obama is bringing are so timely that people are prepared to overlook all kinds of differences,” Patrick said.
“I think you saw that in Iowa in a big way,” he added, “and I think you’ll see it in New Hampshire as well.”
SEABROOK, N.H., 7:08 a.m. — “For the Democrats,” CBS News correspondent Chip Reid said a minute ago on The Early Show, “it’s all about change.”
Thanks. Didn’t notice that one.
Both the CNN-WMUR poll and a new Gallup poll (which shows Obama with a stunning 13-point lead) are getting heavy coverage on the morning shows today. Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 is getting good coverage of her counterattack yesterday, when she deployed a new stump speech, and John Edwards, too, is getting credit for campaigning at a breakneck pace, with events at 2 a.m., 4 a.m., and 6:35 a.m.
I was sleeping, mind you. But we will try to catch Edwards at a rally he’s scheduled for 12:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.
MANCHESTER, N.H., 6:23 p.m. — As if it weren’t obvious already, the New Hampshire primary is going to come down to the wire.
A new poll released minutes ago by CNN and WMUR, a Manchester television station, places Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton LAW’73 in a statistical tie among likely voters in this state, with each garnering 33 percent of the vote.
The poll was conducted Friday and today following Obama’s decisive win Thursday in the Iowa caucus. On the Republican side, the poll found Senator John McCain leading the pack with 33 percent, followed by Mitt Romney at 27 percent, Rudy Giuliani at 14 percent and Mike Huckabee at 11 percent.
NEW HAVEN, Conn., 9:00 a.m. — The candidates that survived Thursday night’s Iowa caucus have all arrived in New Hampshire, and the News will soon be there, too.
We will be live from the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., beginning Saturday evening, with ongoing reports from the site of the primetime presidential debates sponsored by ABC News, WMUR-TV in Manchester and the social networking Web site Facebook. (Yes, that Facebook. We’re not sure what they could possibly have to do with a presidential debate, but we’ll do our best to figure it out and let you know.)
Charles Gibson will moderate the debates, and we will be here to live-blog them for you. (more…)
INTERSTATE 80, Iowa, 3:30 p.m. – The cameras left today. So, too, did the candidates, in big airplanes that flew north to New Hampshire. Iowans settled back to their lives. In a Country Kitchen off I-80 just west of Des Moines, the talk was once again town gossip – not the candidate haggling heard in a Le Mars Subway just six days ago.
When all settled in the most heated Iowan primary contest in fifty years, two men — Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee — took home the blue ribbon.