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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    Katie O'Neill works in the background as Patricia White talks to a voter on the phone at the Obama headquarters on Main Street Tuesday, January 10, 2012.

  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    The Obama office on Main Street was stirring with callers today, January 10, 2012, during the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Democrats in Nashua didn’t want Republicans to have all the primary fun

NASHUA – From the outside, it looked as if someone forgot to invite the Democrats to the primary dance.

But from the inside, Democrats had on their dancing shoes and were practicing moves.

New Hampshire’s presidential primary season has had a decidedly GOP flavor from the start because President Barack Obama seems all but assured of winning the Democratic Party’s nomination. But that didn’t stop Democrats from treating Tuesday as a big event.

In Nashua, volunteers went to polling stations and made telephone calls to tout the president’s first-term accomplishments and second-term goals.

They also had to remind several people Obama was on the primary ballot. His name appeared on the lower half of the state ballot, along with Craig “Tax Freeze” Freis, Vermin Supreme and 11 other Democratic candidates.

“One caller said there’s not much media coverage. He didn’t know there was a Democratic primary,” Monica Dove said in between calls at the Obama campaign’s downtown headquarters.

Dove has unofficially been selected as the office’s phone bank captain.

For months leading into the primary, she and other volunteers called Democrats and independents to talk about Obama’s track record so that it wouldn’t be lost in the din of the many Republican campaigns.

“We want to send a clear message to the tea party and Republicans, we’re ready to win,” said Dove, a Nashua resident.

The voices of Dove and about a dozen other volunteers bounced around the decorated Main Street office.

On one wall were taped bright-colored pieces of paper offering volunteers’ reasons why they were donating their time: “I’m in it because Obama is for the middle class.” “I support President Obama because he supports health care.”

Another wall had four cutout sheets shaped as “2012” and each number highlighted an Obama achievement. For instance, “2” had “2.6 million jobs” created since he took office – a figure Republicans dispute.

Nashua resident Jo Anne St. John also worked the phones. She has volunteered for Democratic candidates since Bill Clinton’s first run for president in 1992.

It upsets her when people complain about politics but don’t participate in the process, she said.

Even though Democrats were pushed to the sidelines Tuesday, the Obama for America campaign intends to stay in Nashua and other New Hampshire municipalities until the November election and make themselves known, St. John and other volunteers said.

To several of the volunteers who were interviewed, the Republican platform of stripping down government poses a threat to the social safety net that many Americans need in a bad economy. “There needs to be a safety net,”’ Dove said.

Hudson resident Charmaine Bertrand said Obama hasn’t had an easy time as president – between the economy, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and other challenges – but “he’s done a bang-up job considering.”

Volunteers from outside of New Hampshire also came to help at OFA’s Nashua office.

Curled up in a metal folding chair and leaning against a wall, Edan Dhanraj of North Hampton, Mass., made calls on his cell phone.

Afterward, stretching his legs around the office, Dhanraj said Obama’s programs have helped create jobs, while Republican free-market solutions have proven not to trickle down to the middle and lower classes.

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokeswoman Holly Shulman said the Obama campaign has seven offices in the state. On Tuesday, volunteers knocked on doors, went to polls and made calls, she said.

Since April, campaign workers have talked to voters about the president and will continue that communication until Election Day, Shulman said.

After rolling up their sleeves during the day, volunteers such as St. John were looking forward to relaxing, only a bit, at night.

Locally, Obama for America was holding a primary night party at Thousand Crane Restaurant on West Pearl Street. There, as well as at 20 other similar parties across the state, Vice President Joe Biden was expected to urge, via video teleconference, supporters to work hard for Obama’s re-election.

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-6528 or Also check out McKeon (@Telegraph_AMcK) on Twitter.