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Gardner’s green flag: The race gets underway

October 31. 2011 9:21PM

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is going to announce the date of our first-in-the-nation presidential primary tomorrow. With that, the race in New Hampshire will get started in earnest.

In case you haven't noticed, the actual on-the-ground campaigning in New Hampshire has been light so far. Candidates have had to spend a lot of time raising money and preparing for (and participating in) a bunch of nationally televised 'debates' in the hope that a good performance before a national audience would bring in more money.

Those debates and fund-raising are going to continue to interfere with retail campaigning in early states. But from here on out we would expect to see more of the candidates. It would be smart for the ones who are struggling to gain traction in national polls to spend more time here, where campaigning is cheaper and the race is still up for grabs.

No one should be scared away by Mitt Romney's standing in the polls here, or by Herman Cain's rise. Republican and Republican-leaning independents here have not made up their minds, and the polling shows very clearly that most are waiting for a candidate to come and win them over. Those who avoid campaigning here under the assumption that an opponent is going to win are missing a golden opportunity.

Both nationally and in New Hampshire, Republican voters are still searching for their candidate. We would not be at all surprised if another candidate surges in the next month, and maybe another one after that. This race is far from over. So buckle up; things are about to get interesting.

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