It was a balmy 32 degrees when voters first began arriving at polling stations around New Hampshire to cast their ballot in the first-in-the-nation GOP primary. Though the five candidates vying for votes in the Granite State stayed close to Manchester, residents from small towns all over the state rose early to do their civic duty.
The weather certainly wasn't a deterrent – one woman paused her morning job to swing by the voting booth. Another arrived on her bike.
Given the crush of media that descends on the small, northeastern state every four years, it's not surprising many voters shy away from curious reporters, particularly those in the less populated parts of the state.
"Nope," said many a voter leaving the Kingston Town Hall at about 8 a.m. Tuesday. Other popular responses were, "I'm late for work" and the brutally honest, "not interested."
One couple, Andrea and Pete Veroneau, were generous with their time, pausing for several minutes to chat. But this reporter wasn't special – they'd gotten up at 3:30 a.m. to go meet with a popular conservative radio host and the chance to meet with U.S. Sen. from Kentucky Rand Paul. Paul, son of GOP candidate Texas Rep. Ron Paul, couldn't make it, but they did end up doing a local television spot and radio interview. Their willingness to take pity on desperate reporters was impressive, especially because they blame the media for keeping Paul down in the polls by claiming he's unelectable.
"Anybody can win if people vote for him," says Pete Veroneau.
In Exeter, voters meandered through a gauntlet of obstacles and distractions – from supporters holding signs for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and President Barack Obama, to exit pollsters, those distributing surveys, as well as a pair of reporters.
But in the polite New Hampshire tradition, even those who declined to reveal which candidate won their mark on the ballot offered good natured advice to the hapless reporters.
"Keep warm!" more than one said, with waves and slightly satisfied smiles.
By noon, the sun shone brightly and temperatures had risen into the mid-40's.
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