Last Debates Pack Primary Promise, Peril
The candidates deliver closing arguments, cast themselves as leading player.
And then there were six. Tonight's debate in New Hampshire holds promise and peril for the candidates invited. Promise for the underdogs. Possible peril for the leading Republicans. And for you? Some must-see TV.
Welcome to the Primary Countdown for Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 – three days left for undecided voters to make up their mind. Plenty of time.
Will you make time for one more debate? How about two? The presidential candidates return to Saint Anselm College for the second-to-last debate before Tuesday's primary. A fine chance to score political points? Win over undeclared voters? Play it safe? Follow the Live Blogs with Patch tonight and for Sunday's debate, at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.
Don't MA$$ Up New Hampshire. Jeff Semprini of Portsmouth sports T-shirts with that slogan that knock, you guessed it, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Semprini's supporting Newt Gingrich.
A surge. Jon Huntsman just keeps getting good news. The Citizen of Laconia just endorsed him, following up on The Boston Globe support. Now there's a new poll showing Huntsman in third place with 16 percent, just 3 percent behind Ron Paul.
The Sweater Vest Surge. Yes, there is such a thing. Just read here. Covering Santorum's caucus watch party in Bedford earlier this week, Patch could not help notice the sweater vest surge. Santorum's NH co-chair Bill Cahill and William Boyd of Merrimack were rocking the sweater vest. (In full disclosure, your Patch editor was wearing one that night, too. Sweater vest does not = endorsement.)
When Push Comes to Shove. Evangelicals Consider Asking Gingrich, Perry to Drop Out And Back Santorum. Jon Ward reports.
More Santorum: The candidate is too late to buy TV time in New Hampshire, and he returned the fire and ire directed at him recently by John McCain, Huffington Post reports.
The Gauntlet: Newt Gingrich is looking forward to competing one-on-one with President Obama. Speaking at the Hillsborough County GOP Gala last night, the former Speaker of the House offered a glimpse of his argument in a general election campaign. He said, "I'll argue paychecks, he'll argue food stamps." Of course, there is that little contest on Tuesday, and subsequent hurdles for the leading candidates before a party nomination.
Climb Every Mountain: "Tough mountain to climb," Jesse Benton, campaign manager for Ron Paul, said when asked by Patch how they aim to defeat Mitt Romney in the state. "Romney's got a lot of establishment support. We've run a great campaign. We've got organizational strength that can match his. We're going to turn people out and in the last final days we have to hammer home the message: If you think things are just fine – you like the establishment – you like the status quo – Mitt Romney's your guy. Ron Paul is the most electable candidate because of his ability to reach both conservatives and independents."
Gosh, that was a long quote. Let's get on with it.
About that establishment. New Hampshire's power players stand with Romney. A Patch story recapping all the endorsements. All the major candidates have some major players, but Romney has much of the elected class and past Republican State Committee members.
Fed Up: Texas Gov. Rick Perry picked up another eight supporters, including Littleton Tea Party Coalition Coordinator Sylvia Smith and Karen Thoman, a Nashua Republican activist. Others include Paul Thoman of Nashua, Rep. Walter Kolodziej, R-Windham, and former state Rep. Mark Clark, R-Bedford.
But of course they served "Presidential Red" wine at a Hillsborough County GOP Gala –here is a photo gallery of a night of cocktails and campaigning in Nashua, including talks by Newt Gingrich and NH House Speaker Bill O'Brien.
Paul Policy: Ron Paul is sticking to his constitutional compass. The congressman, speaking in Nashua on Friday, addressed the GOP criticism of his foreign policy as "dangerous," Nashua Patch Editor Carol Robidoux reports. Said Paul, "You know, in a way we are – to their empire."
Romney Widens Lead: That's accoding to a new poll for WMUR which has Mitt Romney at 44 percent, Ron Paul at 20 percent, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich at 8 percent and Jon Huntsman at 7 percent.
Around the Horn:
- Huntsman: "Of course corporations are not people." The former Utah governor takes aim at Mitt Romney again, this time speaking to the College Convention 2012 in Concord.
- Soup to nuts on how to vote in the New Hampshire Primary.
- Overflow Crowd fired up for Ron and Rand Paul.
- Huntsman upset by use of adopted daughters in Paul supporter's attack video.
Roll with Patch: Check out the Patchback as our mobile Primary Patch headquarters drives around the state to capture the final moments of the New Hampshire Primary. Stop by and say hi.
Primary tips or quips? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter. And follow the Patchback as the little, green Hulkster rolls around the state.