Filed Under:

Looking For Boost, Candidates Hit The Ground In N.H.

Play associated audio

With three weeks to go before the New Hampshire primary, presidential campaigns are working at full speed to reach out to voters.

Political strategists say a good ground game — a campaign's ability to identify voters and get them to the polls — is worth 3 points at the ballot box. That's a boost any candidate would want.

Earlier this month, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney kicked off a canvassing drive that his campaign called "Earn It With Mitt" this way: "You guys are going to knock on doors. We're going to make calls. We're going to get the job done and keep America the greatest nation in the history of the Earth!"

The goal that day was to knock on 5,000 doors by sundown. With his small army of volunteers — some local, some imported from Massachusetts — the campaign hit its target with relative ease.

On Wednesday, Romney embarks on another "Earn It With Mitt" production, a three-day bus tour of the state. Along the way, Romney will be joined by many of the local officials who back him.

"We are making a very multilayered effort to make sure that the voters see and hear our campaign," said Jim Merrill, Romney's top New Hampshire consultant. "And when they go to vote on Jan. 10, we've given them the best opportunity possible to learn about Gov. Romney and choose him as their nominee."

Romney has nine full-time staffers in New Hampshire, and workers from his Boston headquarters visit frequently. For Romney, the only acceptable outcome is a solid victory.

Huntsman's High Stakes

But the candidate who may have the most riding on ground organization in New Hampshire is former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

"We've done 127 public events in this state. Nobody's working it nearly as hard as we are," Huntsman said Monday night in Manchester.

He's staked it all on New Hampshire, basing his entire campaign in the state. Huntsman hammers home the importance of winning New Hampshire in every campaign speech.

"When New Hampshire speaks, everybody pays attention. That's a big deal," he said.

Gingrich Tries To Rally After Late Start

The guy who has been the big deal recently, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also returns to New Hampshire on Wednesday. About 1,000 people attended Gingrich's last local stop one week ago.

Since then, his poll numbers nationally and in Iowa have dropped. Gingrich got a late start organizing in New Hampshire, but adviser Bob Smith, the former U.S. senator, said the idea that Gingrich lacks a ground game in the state is no longer valid.

"We were criticized early on for not having it. Well, we didn't open the office until October — late October — but you saw an example with 1,000 people," he said. "I mean, you don't get 1,000 people turned out without some organization. So that's changing now."

Paul's Volunteers Take To The Phones

Texas Rep. Ron Paul spent two days in the state this week, but his phone bank has been going on for months.

Paul's support is nothing if not motley. And it includes the Yakovs, a family of Israeli immigrants who became citizens just 18 months ago. Merav Yakov said Paul is the only politician she has ever supported and, she added, her family has placed 10,000 calls for Paul. If true, that means each family member has made more than a dozen calls on average every day since August.

"Ron Paul is really a messenger — he's a good messenger, but the message is what's important," she said. "We believe in the message and we are just full-blown behind it. We are not going to miss a day here."

Words every New Hampshire campaign would want to hear — and never more than within weeks of the primary.

Copyright 2011 New Hampshire Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.nhpr.org/.

NPR

'Swiss Army Man' Directors Explain The Symbolism Behind A Farting Corpse

The directors of Swiss Army Man — Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert — talk to NPR's Kelly McEvers about what inspired them to make a movie about a flatulent corpse, and the deeper meaning behind it.
NPR

Can Arnold Schwarzenegger Persuade China To Eat Less Meat?

Like the U.S., China is battling obesity and climate change. So it's urging citizens to eat less meat — and spreading the word with public service ads featuring Hollywood stars.
NPR

Brexit Created Many Losers, But Some Winners Too. Which Are You?

Uncertainty generated by Brexit caused many investments to head south. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.39 percent. Still, there were some winners, like homebuyers seeking low-interest loans.
NPR

Shock, Rage And Gallows Humor: A Brexit Backlash On Social Media

Young voters had overwhelmingly voted to remain in the European Union. Now there's a flood of anger from those who accuse older generations of choosing a future they don't want.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.