In New Hampshire, voters have begun casting their ballots in the country’s first primary of the 2008 election. State election officials have predicted a record turnout of more than 500,000 voters. Student volunteers have flooded the state to campaign for their candidates. We speak two students from St. Olaf College who are campaigning for John McCain and Ron Paul. [includes rush transcript]
In New Hampshire, voters have begun casting their ballots in the country’s first primary of the 2008 election.
In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton trails Barack Obama by double digits in the polls five days after finishing second in the Iowa caucuses. She actually finished third. Clinton has vowed to stay in the race until Super Tuesday on February 5th, when twenty-two states hold nominating contests. John Edwards and Bill Richardson trail a distant third and fourth.
On the Republican side, surveys show John McCain holding a narrow lead over Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee, the GOP winner in Iowa, was far behind, bunched with Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul.
Two tiny hamlets in New Hampshire, Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, opened their polling stations at midnight, giving small early victories to Obama and McCain. Most of the rest of the state began voting at 6:00 a.m. local time. Polls close at 8:00 p.m., first results expected shortly afterward.
State election officials have predicted a record turnout in New Hampshire of more than half-a-million voters, many of them independents. Student volunteers have flooded the state to campaign for their candidates.
Yesterday, we spoke with students volunteering for Democratic candidates; today, two students from St. Olaf College campaigning for Republican hopefuls. Daniel Wick is with us, with the Ron Paul campaign, and Matt Gallagher is with the McCain campaign.
Matt, talk about, as you stand there in the New Hampshire cold, talk about why McCain?
Well, it’s better than the Minnesota cold right now. Why McCain? I feel that Americans, and particularly the youth of America, are sick of the partisanship that’s been going on in Washington, D.C. And I feel that McCain is really the only Republican candidate willing to — he has in the past, and he will in the future, I believe — reach across the aisle.
And what is it most that you like, outside of being bipartisan, about his record?
You know, I believe we can trust him. As a Republican, you know, he has reached across the aisle. I don’t know if I can say I agreed with everything he has done, but at least I know where he stands. And I don’t know if that’s the case with our current president. You know, when he was campaigning, he campaigned as a unifier. I don’t know if that exactly happened. But I believe I can trust him, and I think that’s important to the American people after eight years of President Bush.
I want to turn to Daniel Wick. You are supporting Ron Paul. Why?
Yes. Well, I actually found Ron online on YouTube this summer. And I just — some of the points he made — I was especially attracted to his foreign-policy, when he started talking about how we’re paying billions of dollars to destroy and rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, where, being from Minnesota, we know the kind of condition this country’s infrastructure is in. So it was, you know — it was very interesting to kind of hear that come from a Republican candidate, and I was really attracted to that.
You didn’t see him in the debate, in the Fox debate in New Hampshire, despite the fact he has raised $20 million, had a 10% showing in the New Hampshire polls. He was excluded, while he got more votes in Iowa than Rudy Giuliani, who was included in that debate. Your response, Daniel?
You know, I just thought that was very ridiculous, because I understand the need to have criteria for people to be in the debates, you know, people with 1% of the vote, which is — actually I’ve seen Fred Thompson with 1% of the vote in a few polls here in New Hampshire — you know, and legitimate criteria, but when someone does as well as Ron Paul is doing, it just feeds the whole idea that the, you know, mainstream media is trying to marginalize Ron Paul, and it’s just — I just can’t believe that they would actually do something like that.
Daniel, is war an issue for you and Ron Paul’s opposition to the war in Iraq?
You know, I was always a war supporter for a long time, until I kind of started following Ron Paul. And it’s — you know, it’s just —- I think what the Republicans are saying right now about how, oh, they hate us for our freedom and everything like that, I just don’t think we’ve had enough time to see if that’s actually true or not. And, you know, I think it will be interesting -—
Matt Gallagher, your view on war, Matt Gallagher?
Yeah, no problem. You know, I don’t know if we should have gone into Iraq. You know, of course, hindsight is 20/20. But I do believe that McCain was the only one — he was the only one in Congress in the Senate to stand up to the Bush policy and to Donald Rumsfeld and said, no, what we’re doing is not working. What we need is a surge. And, you know, the McCain surge, it’s showing now —- it’s evident that it’s working. So I don’t know if we should be in Iraq, though, but, you know, if we’re going to destroy the infrastructure, you know, destroy the country, I certainly think we need to rebuild it. And I think -—
Matt Gallagher, we’re going to leave it there. Matt Gallagher and Daniel Wick. Matt Gallagher from St. Olaf College, campaigning for John McCain. Daniel Wick, also from St. Olaf College, supporting Ron Paul. They are speaking to us from Manchester.