The fifth in a series of spin room interviews following this weekend’s debates.


MANCHESTER, N.H., 3:01 a.m. — In his campaigning, Barack Obama worked hard to attract independent voters, hoping to charm them into coming out and supporting him at the caucuses. Then, last Thursday came, and the independents heeded Obama’s message. Voter turnout spiked, and Obama won in a landslide victory.

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, looked brilliant. But will the same strategy work today in New Hampshire, where Senator John McCain has historically been the darling of many Granite State independents?

Axelrod thinks so.

“From what we seen, this is not like 2000,” he told reporters this weekend. “I don’t think that independents in New Hampshire are all that eager to vote in the Republican primary. I don’t think that’s how they think they’re going to get the biggest change here.”

For independents, why Obama, then?

“They appreciate the fact he’s willing to listen, he’s willing to have dialogue, he’s willing to do the things you have to do to actually solve problems,” Axelrod said. “I think this country is hungry for that.”

He added: “We can’t keep going down this road where we’re shaking our fists at each other over this jagged divide of party. The American people are tired of it.”

— Thomas Kaplan