It’s my first time in New Hampshire, for the “First in the Nation” primary of 2012. I’m only days into a year-long hiatus from Penn Law to work for esteemed message guru and owner of Luntz Global, Dr. Frank Luntz. While snow and rain have been noticeably (and welcomingly) absent from New Hampshire, political and journalism might have not. Here are some highlights so far…
Smoothest Operator Award #1: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – Gov. Christie, on stage in Exeter next to Mitt Romney, was rallying Mitt’s Militia when a few Occupiers started disrupting. Or so they tried. Christie bellows, “Oh really?” into the microphone and reminds the rabble-rousers he has created 60,000 new jobs in NJ. But he does so without upstaging the candidate, bringing the focus back to Romney by proclaiming him the only one capable of creating millions of jobs in America and kicking Obama out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Smoothest Operator Award #2: Rick Santorum – Now best known for his Iowa surprise, Santorum has always been a deft political operator. He always impressed me during the few times I met him. But his event on January 7 in Hollis, NH scored serious points. Santorum arrives at a barn to, well, too many people to fit in the barn. With hundreds already inside, and hundreds eagerly awaiting his arrival outside the barn, Santorum gives everybody what they wanted from him: Time. Santorum gets on a rock outside the barn, stumps for a few minutes with those of us who arrived on the later side, and even takes several questions. Totally unscripted, totally smooth.
Best “Wow” Moment: Sitting in the lobby of the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester late one night, watching Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Joe Scarborough, Brett Baier, and Chris Matthews pow-wow. Think about how many times we’ve let those giants of journalism into our living rooms to break down the most transformational world events of the last 50 years . . .
Best Rally the Troops Moment: Jon Huntsman’s rally in Exeter – Last night, several hundred “joined the Hunt” with Jon Huntsman for one final rally. Huntsman and his team converged on a small meeting house in Exeter, the same one in which the former Utah governor announced his candidacy for President. Can Huntsman pull of a “Santorum” and shock the political world tonight? Here are my predictions…
1st – Mitt Romney (32%)
2nd – Ron Paul (19%)
3rd – Jon Huntsman (15%)
If the numbers come in like this, Romney is going to face even more criticism. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have already started their attacks on the former Massachusetts governor in South Carolina, and there are still two more debates in the Palmetto State.
Stay tuned for more updates from the road!