HENNIKER, N.H., 1 p.m. — For the people of this small town of Henniker, politics is more than something for pundits and politicians. Active participants in this microcosm of American democracy stand outside the local schoolhouse urging passers-by to vote on this beautiful primary day.

“This is the way politics should be,” said Cathy Calob, the Edwards supporter. “It really gives us hope that (the) candidates will listen and represent us. My daughter’s in 8th grade, and even she’s getting involved.”

“Nine out of ten times, New Hampshire picks one of the presidents, ” said Tom Clark, who works behind the counter at the pharmacy. “It’s the first primary, and one of the most important.”

“Yesterday, Bill Clinton was here,” said Hillary Clinton supporter and campaign worker Janice McElroy, “and an 8 year old asked him, ‘What are you going to do about obesity in children?’ to which Clinton replied, ‘I’m very glad you asked that, because my foundation is working on that issue.’

“To have an 8 year old learning from a former President? That’s just fantastic.”

A John McCain campaigner, Sue Robbins — who carries with her a 2000 era poster of McCain as a buxom young aircraft pilot — said her town is “involved because we meet the candidates.”

“Normally I meet every one of them,” she said. “All of the democrats came to the college and Huckabee was here last week. The whole State is very independent.” McCain, she added, “did a good job in 2000 [in New Hampshire], and he’ll do a good job today.”

Residents say there is increased interest in this primary because of the important nature of this election. “People are finally waking up to Global Warming,” said McElroy, for one, “and America’s going to have to take a whole new leadership role.

Despite the increased interest, heavy snowfalls a couple of days ago mean most of the signs were covered. “Normally this whole street would be covered in signs,” said McElroy, “but most of mine were covered by the snow.”

Let’s hope it stays sunny today.

Calob moved here from Louisiana a few years ago. “We really have to get it right”, she said. Fellow Bayou stater, Lindley Houghton, a medical worker in Concorde, added, “for us, it’s the first year that we’ve watched a lot of C-SPAN, I was flicking between it and the LSU game last night.

“It’s that important this year.”

—Nicolas Niarchos