Tom DeFrank: New
Hampshire Voters Expect to See the Candidates Up Close
January 9, 2012
In U.S. politics, six Republicans
vying to be their party’s presidential nominee face a crucial test
Tuesday in the New Hampshire presidential primary. Traditionally, a good
showing in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary is seen as major
step toward winning the presidential nomination of either major U.S.
Mitt Romney can feel the love (support of voters). Before he can reach
the White House, Romney must first pass muster with these voters in New
Hampshire. And the voters here like to see their candidates up close and
That suits Romney just fine. He cheerfully goes about the task of
greeting voters, signing autographs and posing for pictures, all in a
day’s campaign work here in New Hampshire.
Once every four years, normally tranquil New Hampshire and its quaint
New England landscape is invaded by presidential contenders and an army
of news media, like the horde that descended on this event for former
Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.
Though chaotic, Santorum’s impromptu parking lot appearance did attract
undecided voters eager to hear from someone new.
“My wife has not told me, but she thinks she is 95 percent sure. I am
still debating,” voter Craig Gallant said.
Gallant brought his wife and son to the Santorum rally and is well aware
that New Hampshire voters get special attention from the candidates.
“We always have a wider field to choose from. We get to meet these
people face to face and shake their hand and look them in the eye," he
stated. "Sometimes that matters, sometimes it does not, but it is always
nice to have that option."
Santorum is a Republican, but that did not stop Democrat Mary Claire
Heffernan from stopping by to give a listen.
“It is unique and we really take our job seriously. We take pride in the
fact that we have this opportunity and people pay attention, people get
to know the candidates and people come out to vote,” Heffernan noted.
Veteran journalist Tom DeFrank has covered U.S. elections since 1968.
DeFrank says New Hampshire voters expect the personal touch from their
“People in Iowa and New Hampshire and places like that expect to be
courted, expect to be asked for their vote, expect to see you in dozens
and hundreds of places,” he said.
and Michael Lopacki came all the way from Pennsylvania to see Romney and
democracy in action.
“I love being part of this whole thing. It makes you really love being
an American and feel good about what is happening,” Judy Lopacki said.
Her husband Michael found the experience overwhelming.
“Although some people may look at is as a carnival, which it is to some
extent, it is very serious business," he stated. "It is democracy. That
is it. Sorry.”
Once the candidates leave and take the reporters with them, New
Hampshire will revert to its quiet self, a beckoning landscape of
rolling hills, town greens and colonial churches that once every four
years becomes a critical testing ground for those seeking the highest
office in the land.