Reflections on New Hampshire

Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won an expected victory in the crucial New Hampshire primary. With 39.6% of the vote, Romney can claim front-runner status after winning the Iowa caucuses as well.

The big surprise was the strong showing by Utah governor Jon Huntsman who had skipped Iowa and focused on New Hampshire. He came in third with 17% of the vote. Meanwhile Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum got 10% and 9% respectively, with Santorum’s Big Momentum from his almost-victory in Iowa washed away. Gingrich can only be disappointed with his showing after leading the field just six short weeks ago.

Texas governor Rick Perry barely registered in New Hampshire.

Romney gave a very hard-hitting victory speech saying:

“We remember when Barack Obama came to New Hampshire four years ago.  He promised to bring people together. He promised to change the broken system in Washington. He promised to improve our nation. Today, we are faced with the disappointing record of a failed president. …The middle class has been crushed. Nearly 24 million of our fellow Americans are still out of work, struggling to find work, or have just stopped looking. The median income has dropped 10% in four years. Soldiers returning from the front lines are waiting in unemployment lines. Our debt is too high and our opportunities too few. …Over the last six months, I’ve listened to anxious voices in town meetings and visited with students and soldiers. In break rooms and living rooms, I’ve heard stories of families getting by on less, of carefully planned retirements now replaced by jobs at minimum wage. But even now, amidst the worst economy since the Great Depression, I’ve rarely heard a refrain of hopelessness. …Americans know that our future is brighter and better than these troubled times. …We know that the future of this country is better than 8 or 9% unemployment. It is better than $15 trillion in debt. It is better than the misguided policies and broken promises of the last three years – and the failed leadership of one man. The president has run out of ideas. Now, he’s running out of excuses.”

Good for Romney. This is the type of blunt language that will bring Obama down. Republicans no longer can play Mr. Nice Guy politics and be cowed by the Democrat/media mantra that Americans don’t want to hear any rough language. Ronald Reagan won a landslide over Jimmy Carter with the same type of strong commentary.

I traveled to New Hampshire on primary day to follow the pulse of the campaign. The first thing I noted on the drive in on Route 101 from the west was the large number of Huntsman signs. Obviously Huntsman did in New Hampshire what Rick Santorum did in Iowa – he focused his energies there.

I saw only two Rick Perry signs, but many Romney and Santorum signs. And the Ron Paul signs mostly were large, were sometimes planted on overpasses and often were home-made including several that said ‘Ron Paul – Revolution’ In short Ron Paul is not a real conservative but he is a danger to America. Many of his most rabid supporters are extremist college students who favor Paul’s drug legalization plan.

At the Webster School polling place near downtown Manchester, Gingrich and Romney each showed up for a visit. Ten Obama supporters did too. They were all black and very belligerent and I heard one say that she came from Washington DC. Which makes you wonder: Why can’t Obama find just ten supporters in New Hampshire? They infiltrated the crowd and started shouting “Four More Years!” And so the Republicans began to intersperse the reply “Of debt!” with the chant. (“Four more years!” – “Of debt!”)

Gingrich supporter Charlie Spano said that Romney was “bleeding” voters and predicted that Gingrich would do better than expected and will bounce back in South Carolina. The idea that Romney was rapidly losing support in New Hampshire was widespread, but ultimately unfounded.

Gingrich was literally swarmed by media like a circular rugby scrum. I had never seen such a thing. He and his wife could barely move as this mob moved in a big aimless circle. Gingrich made some statements and left. Few at the polling place ever saw him except possibly for his white hair. The media had completely taken over.

Romney’s bus arrived shortly thereafter. It said ‘Conservative’ ‘Businessman’ and ‘Leader’ on it. These are three things that many primary voters are looking for.

While Gingrich and his wife looked very proper, Romney and his wife, son and daughter-in-law looked very relaxed like a J Crew ad. It was a stark contrast. The Romneys also were swarmed such that Mrs. Romney almost could not get into the waiting limo for exit.

Meanwhile Huntsman supporters tipped their signs back and forth chanting “Flip Flop!” at Romney supporters.

The ‘occupy’ kooks were camped out in the public square across from the big Radisson Hotel in Manchester where most of the major media were staying and working from. One ‘occupy’ sign said ‘Want Smaller Government? Abolish Prisons, The Military, Police, Government Contracts’

Really?! Enough said. Expect these people to be all over spouting this kind of extreme radicalism throughout the election year.

Visiting New Hampshire during primary season and especially on primary day is like going back stage at a rock festival. You get to see many major players in both the media and politics – Dan Rather looking old and tired walking to lunch with a small entourage, Andrea Mitchell from NBC, New Hampshire Democrat governor John Lynch stopping by the polling place and chatting with local folks, familiar faces from C-Span, CNN, Fox etc. The sexy young conservative commentator SE Cupp looked delightful in her skin-tight leather pants doing a video roundtable with some New Hampshire Tea Partiers in the Radisson lobby.

Meanwhile senator Santorum did a live radio interview from Radio Row on the second floor of the Radisson, which attracted a crowd; governor Huntsman showed up for some brief radio spots; Minnesota governor Pawlenty posed for pictures in the lobby while a small group of locals buttonholed Bob Schieffer for a quick photo.

CBS had the biggest media presence there – a massive glassed-in portable studio built into a trailer truck that expanded out on hydraulics. Many gawkers stood around watching the live evening news broadcast.

I would like to give a shout out to a great patriot, Christopher V. Hill, who was on the ballot in New Hampshire but who registered only under ‘Other’ He will be on the Arizona primary ballot and on the Maine caucus ballot. Hill is a Desert Storm fighter pilot veteran who now is an airline pilot. He is a good conservative who wants to focus attention on veterans’ issues. Good luck to this fine man. His website is hill2012.com

Please visit my blog at www.nikitas3.com for more conservative insights.