Sure, we are able to get these micro-interviews with supporters, but the crowd (approximately 300 folks under a big tent (and yes, that was deliberate!) were there even on a rainy afternoon to listen to one of the Tier 1 candidates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Here is his presentation to that crowd:
It was interesting as I circulated around and asked this question: are you here as a supporter or as a "listener"? Sure, Cliff Hurst and Sean Mahoney were fine with going on record as supporters, but most of the folks there were telling me they were there, perhaps as a tentative supporter, but more as a listener. We here in NH DO live that old joke "well, I’ve only met him twice" – and yesterday’s event was no different. I think many in the crowd would like to throw in with him, but this tentative approval is exactly that – a wish to back him but not sure if he is the guy – yet. And that seems to be an important point even as the NH Primary is rushing towards us.
I talked with someone "in the media" whose job it is to track these folks (the candidates) around. He commented upon the crowd and has observed the same thing with two and a half exceptions. The two are Herman Cain and Ron Paul. He has noticed and is lending credence to the fact that if you have heard Herman speak, Herman is proving that he has "stickiness" – people believe in what he is saying, what he is saying comes from his heart, that it is straight forward, and that his message is resonating. Ron Paul, on the other hand, is attracting much different crowds than the rest of candidates. While most of the candidates are attracting older middle aged to senior citizens (true – there is a dearth of larger numbers of teenagers and twenty-somethings), Paul is attracting crowds that much more resemble the demographics of NH – not only age wise but a bit wider breadth politically IF they have any bit of a Libertarian streak in them).
Oh yes, the "half" exception? That would be Michele Bachman. She, too, has a great stump speech, but it has turned out (at least here in NH) to be like that philosophical question: "If a tree falls in the forest, but no one is around to hear it, has it really fallen? In her case, the tree has been missing in the NH forest.