New Hampshire’s primary stands as the most fair test of presidential candidates, says a slightly biased observer, former New Hampshire GOP Gov. and Sen. Judd Gregg. Candidates don’t need money or support from special interests in New Hampshire, he writes in The Hill
. They simply need to make their case to the voters.
“Over and over again, New Hampshire has allowed the nation an opportunity to observe candidates outside of the shelter of their managers and their media,” Gregg says. “It has exposed them in a light that is not filtered by campaign spin but actually shows who they really are and how they will really govern.”
Gregg cites the case of former President Jimmy Carter in 1976, when he was a little-known governor of Georgia.
“He chose to run for president and campaigned throughout New Hampshire. Although he did not have the large financial resources necessary to run a truly national campaign, he had enough to deliver his message in person, in living rooms and luncheonettes across the state,” Gregg writes. “He won because he made his case in New Hampshire, without the imprimatur of the national media.
Bill Clinton launched his underdog candidacy in 1992 by impressing New Hampshire voters who met him, Gregg says.
“New Hampshire is the only place that creates this opportunity,” he argues. “Caucus states such as Iowa can be dominated by committed interest groups. New Hampshire is a primary state where there is an extraordinarily high level of participation by voters, and interest groups cannot dominate.”
The inclusion of independents in each party’s New Hampshire primary adds an element of unpredictability. Independents’ participation means a party’s base doesn’t have dominant influence, Gregg says.
“This produces candidates who have a much better shot at leading their party to victory in the November general election when independent voters decide the day.”
Bottom line: “New Hampshire has a track record that justifies its role in the nominating process,” Gregg maintains.
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