Posted: 12:08 pm Thursday, February 4th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
From Nashua, New Hampshire –
The significant turbulence that my plane encountered on the way to New Hampshire on Wednesday only foreshadowed what was going on down below on the ground in the Granite State, as Ted Cruz and Donald Trump battled in the Republican race and Hillary Clinton fought it out with Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side.
My return to New Hampshire brought a smile to my face as I walked off the plane; this is the seventh New Hampshire Primary that I have covered – the first back in 1992.
That first time, I arrived to breaking news about Bill Clinton and his draft board – in 2016, there is still news here on the trail involving the Clinton family.
As for the Republican race, even though my plane was late to Manchester, I managed to get down to Nashua to catch a town hall by Ted Cruz – who conveniently waited to start speaking until I came rushing in the door like a crazed reporter who was late.
“Have you noticed that Donald doesn’t take losing well?” Cruz asked to laughter and cheers from a crowd at a middle school.
“I don’t think people are interested in a temper tantrum, or you could call it a Trumper tantrum,” Cruz said to more applause.
This was not a quick aside, as Cruz went out of his way at his final event on Wednesday to skewer Trump repeatedly.
A few minutes later, I was down the street ducking into a drug store to get a reporter’s notebook, since someone on my staff evidently didn’t pack all the right stuff for this trip.
“Are you with one of the campaigns?” the girl behind the counter asked before she even started ringing up my purchase.
When I said I was a reporter, she didn’t waste one second.
“I don’t like Donald Trump,” she said sternly.
While Trump and Cruz were locked in their struggle over who did what in Iowa and whether there should be a re-vote of the Iowa Caucus, Marco Rubio continued to push ahead with his campaign, not getting involved in the Trump-Cruz back and forth.
At a town hall meeting in Portsmouth on Thursday morning, Rubio focused on what was wrong with the Obama Administration, not what was wrong with his rivals.
At one point, a now-former backer of Rand Paul made clear to Rubio that he might be ready to join his wife, already a Rubio voter.
“I hope to bring unity to your household,” a smiling Rubio said to laughter from 200 people gathered for his first event of the day.
Cruz also was offering an invite to former supporters of Paul, as my ear noted that Cruz was inserting the word “liberty” into his stump speech more here in New Hampshire, making a clear play for Paul’s more libertarian supporters.
It was a distinct change from Iowa, as the field in the 2016 race has been winnowed since Monday’s first vote with the departure of Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Martin O’Malley.
Trying to avoid the primary dustbin – and looking for a spark here in New Hampshire – was Carly Fiorina, who convened a conference call with supporters on Wednesday afternoon, giving no hint of ending her bid for President.
“We are feeling very, very good about where we are,” Fiorina said two days after getting 1.9 percent of the vote in Iowa.
“This was always going to be a long game,” as she assured donors and supporters on the call that she was planning for “the long haul.”
Fiorina then groused about the rules for this Saturday night’s debate hosted by ABC, which leaves her on the outside looking – and there is no pre-debate as a consolation prize.
“I will be the only candidate kept off the debate stage,” Fiorina said in a letter to the Republican National Committee, demanding that they step in to get her in the New Hampshire debate on Saturday night.
“To review, we beat Governors Christie and Kasich in Iowa this week when voters actually had their say,” Fiorina argued.
Meanwhile, the debate about debates was a bone of contention in the Democratic race, as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders kept sparring over how many debates to have in coming weeks.
It’s a busy time to say the least, here in New Hampshire – as this sign in Exeter showed.