Campaigns hoping last impressions count
MANCHESTER - Political candidates and their armies of volunteers stormed the state in the campaign's final hours Saturday looking to boost voter turnout and lock down support.
The battle for the state's four electoral votes brought Mitt Romney to the Seacoast on Saturday and will lure President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton to Concord this morning. Romney will appear with Kid Rock in Manchester on Monday night.
Both major political parties Saturday imported surrogates to energize voters, including potential future Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, and Democrat Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John Kennedy.
Both major candidates for governor had packed Saturday schedules.
Democrat Maggie Hassan was slated to make stops in Milford, Peterborough, Keene, Lebanon, Claremont and Manchester. Republican Ovide Lamontagne was set to hit Newington, Rye, Hampton, Windham, Manchester and Londonderry.
Anyone not seeing candidates in the person could sit through a blizzard of television commercials - more than $45 million worth since mid-April on TV and radio stations reaching New Hampshire voters, according to the Hotline, a tip sheet on campaigns and elections produced by the National Journal, a Washington, D.C., publication. Spending, including money spent by outside political groups, was split 52 percent pro-Romney and 48 percent pro-Obama.
"I won't miss it," Laconia voter Heather Bryant said Saturday while visiting with family at Derryfield Park in Manchester. "It's always nice when it's over, all the cut-throat commercials."
Tuesday is expected to be the fourth time in the past six presidential contests in New Hampshire where the victor will win by fewer than 9,300 votes. In 2000, Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by 7,211 votes. He would have won the presidency had he carried the state.
Volunteers at the Obama for America-New Hampshire campaign in Portsmouth, most of them women, put down their phones for a few minutes Saturday morning to listen to Kennedy.
Growing up in a political family, Kennedy said, she knows it is the women who do most of the work, joking that she is the "warm-up" act for Bill Clinton.
Portsmouth was the first of several stops Kennedy planned to make in the state Saturday. She repeated the message New Hampshire voters have heard over and over during the close election.
"In New Hampshire, you have the power to change the course of history and keep this country on the right course," Kennedy said.
Sandra Bisset, a local campaign worker, was happy about Kennedy's visit. "She is such a good leader, such a good voice. She'll inspire us to keep working hard," said Bisset.
Jindal and friends
To boost Republican turnout, Jindal and U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota teamed up to campaign for the GOP ticket in Dover, Rochester, Stratham, Hampstead, Nashua and Londonderry before flying to Iowa on Saturday night.
"This President is much better at getting his job than he is at actually doing his job in Washington, D.C.," Jindal told more than 300 GOP partisans at a spaghetti dinner at North Londonderry Elementary School on Saturday evening.
"I'm here to tell you we simply cannot afford another four years of on-the-job training," said Jindal, accompanied by Lamontagne, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta.
Election night parties
Election night can be filled with tense moments as results trickle in, and those moments will likely unfold at several election night watch parties throughout the state.
Tim Murphy, manager of Jillian's Billiards in Manchester, said Saturday the restaurant has been reserved by Romney's campaign. Obama's campaign will host its private watch party a couple of blocks away at the Radisson Hotel at the Center of New Hampshire.
Murphy said the Romney campaign has reserved the entire restaurant, but no special preparations, such as extra staff or food, will be made.
"We're going to be staffed appropriately," he said. "It's just going to be like any other night."
Echoing Murphy was Eric Zink, manager of the Puritan Backroom on Hooksett Road in Manchester, and Missy Marr, manager of the Executive Court on Mammoth Road, where other watch parties are slated.?"It's nothing different from anything else," Marr said Saturday.
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New Hampshire Sunday News correspondent Gretyl Macalaster and Union Leader Staff Writer Tim Buckland contributed to this report. Michael Cousineau may be reached at email@example.com.
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