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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Primary season not over in NH

Telegraph Editorial

There is nothing new or surprising about New Hampshire commanding the attention of the nation in the months leading up to the presidential primary elections every four years.

After all, that’s pretty much been the case ever since the emergence of the modern-day primary in 1952, when Republican Dwight Eisenhower and Democrat Estes Kefauver won their respective contests.

But in the months immediately after the primaries? That’s when attention traditionally shifts to states further down the primary calendar or to those states that promise considerably more than the Granite State’s four electoral votes.

Well, apparently not this year.

If there was any doubt, that was put to rest when presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney chose the Radisson Hotel Manchester for his “victory” speech Tuesday night after his anticipated wins in the Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island primaries.

Just consider what’s happened here in the 106 days since Romney topped a field of six candidates to capture the GOP primary with 39.4 percent of the vote Jan. 10:

Jan. 26: Vice President Joe Biden makes the first of three trips to the state, this one to Rochester to speak about job training partnerships at a facility operated by Albany Engineered Composites and Safran USA.

Feb. 23: Biden returns a month later for a campaign event at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in downtown Manchester, where several hundred people hear him trumpet the president’s goal to rebuild the nation’s middle class.

March 1: President Barack Obama tours the automotive center of Nashua Community College and then delivers a 30-minute speech, calling for an end to oil and gas subsidies in favor of renewable energy sources.

March 9: First lady Michelle Obama brings her campaign against childhood obesity to the Penacook Community Center in Concord, a nonprofit organization that uses exercise and a vegetable garden to promote healthy habits among children.

April 12: Biden makes another campaign trip to Exeter Town Hall, calling Romney “out of touch” and advocating for the so-called “Buffett rule.”

Three visits by the vice president. One by the president. One by the first lady. And one by the soon-to-be Republican nominee, who used a state appearance to deliver what is considered by many to be his first speech of the general election campaign.

“We’re not used to seeing a presidential campaign up here,” Dartmouth College political science professor Linda Fowler told The Boston Globe this week. “We’re a tiny state, and our four puny electoral votes don’t attract attention. But they are this time.”

Don’t expect it cool down here anytime soon, either.

NBC political editor Chuck Todd took care of that on this past Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” when he mentioned New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte as a dark horse candidate to be Romney’s VP.

While that’s not the first time the Nashua native’s name has been dropped in recent weeks – ABC News’ Jonathan Karl touted Ayotte and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin last week as two women who would get a “close look” by the Romney camp – it was arguably the most high-profile mention to date.

Looks like the Red Sox won’t have the summer all to themselves this year – which, certainly at this point, is something for which we can all be thankful.