NASHUA, NH – Ron Paul's events are much more energetic than those of other candidates crisscrossing New Hampshire, but the hardest things to do at a Ron Paul event here is to actually find somebody from New Hampshire to interview. He has drawn people from all across the country to his rallies and events in New Hampshire. The variety of people at these events goes beyond just your typical Massholes, or daytrippers from Portland, Maine. Based on the people I have talked to Paul has drawn people from Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, and all of New England. This geographically diverse crowd of supporters has made it hard to determine the enthusiasm for Paul emanating from Granite Staters.
Polls tell us that Paul is doing well in New Hampshire. Two of the most recent polls from different firms show him at 20% and 22%. His events are another matter.
At a Paul event you eventually realize you absolutely need to ask people where they are from before you start interviewing them, especially if you are looking for some local color because otherwise you end up wasting precious minutes. Conversations with local New Hampshire voters, even Ron Paul voters, frequently touch on local issues like the Northern Pass project or even the future of the Laconia NASCAR track. Some of the locals bring up Paul's pet issue, the Federal Reserve, but for the most part they all seem to talk about the same issues as most voters but with libertarian concerns. When you encounter an out-of-towner it usually goes something like this:
"Where are you from?"
"So what are you doing in New Hampshire?"
"I believe in the cause of liberty and freedom and that is the message of Ron Paul!"
So if you are looking to talk to actual New Hampshire voters this is not helpful but if you are looking for an activist or movement angle these are your people. You know, the ones who make spray paint signs and hang stuff on highway overpasses. While some of these people are useless timewasters others are pretty interesting.
At each event Paul had today, one a kickoff rally here and the other a town hall in Durham, there was a muted version of the typical Paul caravan/circus. There were the guys from Pennsylvania giving away their Paul DVDs for free and talking about Roswell. Then there are the more entrepreneurial types like Tom Bragg, 55 of Honey Grove, Texas, who follow Paul around the country selling knickknacks with his emblazoned with his name. If you want a busy Ron Paul button, a simple winter cap, or a bracelet this guy probably has it.
Bragg told me that he has been able to cover all of his travel costs and even make a small profit from selling his wares outside of Paul events. "There are two horses in this race and the two of them are from Texas. I'm riding the fastest one right now," said Bragg, referring to Paul.