NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

January 5, 2008

Presidential candidates converge on New Hampshire

With the Iowa caucuses behind them, the presidential candidates have mobilized their forces for the final days leading up to New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary.



Bill Richardson, who plans to make at least 35 stops in 21 local towns over the next few days, met with voters in Windham and Salem yesterday. Rudy Giuliani also made a campaign stop in Salem.



Mitt Romney is scheduled to be in Derry and Hampstead today, and Mike Huckabee - with Chuck Norris alongside - is set to appear at Londonderry Middle School. John Edwards, Ron Paul, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain also were planning to be in Southern New Hampshire between now and Tuesday.



Political observers said there is still time for the candidates to woo voters, although time is quickly running out.



"The candidates are going to get out and try to appear before as many voters as possible," said Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. "Whether that's in person, doing radio interviews or on the 5 o'clock news on television.



"The candidates' time is best used putting him or her in front of voters. At this point, you're playing before as many as 500 to 700 people at a campaign event itself, and also to the national media and the local media, who will say how big the crowds are for the different candidates."



Part of their efforts will be focused on undecided voters, Scala said.



"There are voters who are still mulling over their choices," he said. "I think Democrats are largely happy with the choices they have before them, but they are looking at who will make the best run. Who is the most electable.



"The only evidence on how electable they are will be how they performed in the Iowa caucus. That may not be decisive, but it should be a factor in their decision."



Jack Goterch of Derry is one of those undecided voters.



"I'm looking at Richardson, but he's below the radar screen and I don't think he has a chance," said Goterch, a registered Democrat.



To help make up his mind, he planned to attend one of Richardson's local campaign stops yesterday. On Thursday, Goterch participated in an Obama event, sitting down for coffee with Congressman Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, who is spending time in New Hampshire to campaign for Obama.



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