BOW, NH – Earlier this week I sped up the backroads to the lovely lakeside town of Meredith where Ron Paul was hosting a town hall meeting with over 300 people. The usual energetic sideshow was there doing their thing but often unaware that they were preaching to people who were already Paul converts. Call them the Paul Preachers. They don't go to just Paul's events, they go to every event.
After talking to this octogenarian birther I took off for a Newt Gingrich event at a school in Derry. Again, another packed crowd where Newt gave his standard stump speech about how he wants to be the "paycheck president not the food stamp president" and his joke about letting President Obama use a teleprompter in the debates. These witty lines kill it with every fresh crowd he goes before but they become grating after you hear them repeatedly. Gingrich took some questions from the mild mannered crowd before he called it a day. Outside his event were a dozen Paul supporters with signs and, again, the Super Brochure. I talked to a few of them about why they were there and what they thought they were accomplishing by hanging out at another candidate's event.
There was little to no Ron Paul presence at Santorum's town hall event at the American Legion in Somersworth today, still he faced questions and skepticism about his strict social conservativism. When asked about banning contraception he quipped "I don't know whether it's the cold weather up here or whether you folks are so focused on contraception but I don't get that kind of question in South Carolina." He then went on his usual rant about how the Tenth Amendment is cool as long as states do stuff he approves of.
In the debate he was asked how he would handle his son if he came out of the closet. His answer was sincere:
"I would love him as much as I did the second before he said it. And I would try to do everything I can to be as good a father to him as possible."As he was leaving the Legion Hall I tried to ask him how he would handle this hypothetical gay son if he wanted to get married. Here is the exchange:
After scoring some sketchy looking batteries, talking to some Occupiers in the parking lot, and interviewing this mother of four, I journeyed to see Mitt Romney fire some people up at his final campaign rally in Bedford. The Paul Preachers were outside with their signs and literature outnumbering the Romney sign wavers at the corner of Country Road and Gault Road. I spoke to Jean Mike Coutu, lead organizer of the Live Free or Die Rally, and asked him why he was standing in the dark with a big sign on the corner of a low traffic road.
Inside I was relegated to the overflow room with other members of the local press (I blog for the Boston Globe and host on WRKO) while the likes of Joe Scarborough from MSNBC were graciously welcomed into the at-fire-code-capacity auditorium. The overflow room just had a PA system and a big Romney banner. A few minutes into his stump speech Romney was interrupted by Occupy protesters that were promptly thrown out. I caught up with them while and after they were tossed out. Here they explain how they snuck their signs into the event:
Two things are clear: Paul's legion of fans will continue to follow the other candidates around the country until the November election and so will the Occupiers. What they accomplish by doing this is anyone's guess.