The same could be said for the town hall, which is at least more lively, if no more novel, than last night’s Gingrich event. Santorum is an engaging stump speaker who interacts with his questioners; Gingrich is the professor who spends the entire first class session reciting his own syllabus. If nothing else, these trail events tell you a lot about a candidate’s public speaking prowess—which, as we know, is the key qualification for a president.
Monday, 6:00 PM: An hour-long drive brings me back toward Manchester in time for a Mitt Romney rally at a school in nearby Bedford. It takes me a while to find Bedford (dark, map-less), and when I get there the parking lots are full and the side streets are jammed with parked cars, as if they were giving away free wallets inside. The Ron Paul people are there, with their homemade signs and their devotion, simultaneously inspiring and disconcerting. I eventually find a parking spot a quarter-mile away, but it’s cold outside, I’m late anyway, and Romney’s not going to say anything of interest. (Although, CNN found Romney’s “demeanor” during a “skirmish” with a protester to be “markedly different.”) I head back to Manchester.
Monday, 6:30 PM: Newt Gingrich is scheduled to give a speech at his Manchester headquarters, but the event has been hijacked by Occupy protesters and Ron Paul people, who have rigged a digital projector to flash “RON PAUL 2012” on top of the “Newt 2012” headquarters sign. This is the most technically advanced tactic to come out of the Paul camp all week. Whereas the rest of the candidates have professionally-designed signage, the Paul people often favor ominous, black-on-white signs that appear to have been made all at once in some dilapidated punk squat using particle board and stencils purchased at a discount from a Big Lots that lost its lease. Also there: two people wearing pig costumes. The protesters block the sidewalk outside of Gingrich HQ, and Gingrich is apparently spooked by all this, because he cancels the event. (The AP noticed this, too).
I consider whether to talk with some of the Paul people—who, as I said, are always lively and talkative—but I see nothing particularly interesting in their current theatrics and I’m too hungry to get sucked into a long debate about monetary policy. Consider whether to attend a Santorum rally at a restaurant in downtown Manchester. Decide against it, because I’ve already seen Santorum today. Consider whether or not to go tailgate with Buddy Roemer in Durham, New Hampshire. Decide against it, primarily because I do not know how to get to Durham, New Hampshire. Consider whether to go and get more chicken fingers. Decide to go and get more chicken fingers.
Monday, 7:45 PM: I end up at a sports bar called The Draft in Concord, where my old pal Newt Gingrich is scheduled to watch the BCS Championship Game. Gingrich makes a quick tour of the restaurant, trailed by a gaggle of cameramen, jockeying for position—“Let’s talk about how you were pushing me out of the way,” one hisses to another. “This is my fourth presidential campaign, honey. It’s not my first.”—and then disappears to an upstairs party room for the rest of the night. As the game proceeds, I spend about an hour talking to an exuberant woman who had just come from a Huntsman rally in Exeter. “I tried to see him at a bakery earlier, but he was gone before I got there,” she said. I know the feeling.