Iowa? New Hampshire Voters Make Up Their Own Minds


MANCHESTER, N.H. (Jan. 5, 2012) — Even after Iowa, many New Hampshire voters are still undecided on their presidential choice.

A small random sampling on Thursday in Manchester found some New Hampshire voters were impressed by Rick Santorum, who came within eight votes of Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses. But others maintain they are not influenced by Iowa’s outcome.

Margie Merrill, 53, a Republican from East Kingston, was undecided before Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses. “I put everybody on the fence because I just wanted to see what they had to say and see how much they stuck to what they were saying,” Merrill said.

She is still has not settled on a candidate, she said. But she was impressed, she said, with Santorum’s strong showing and his speech Tuesday night in Iowa after the votes were counted. Merrill did not watch the speech live but read the text online the next day.  She agreed, she said, with his message. He said, she recalled,  “Our country need helps, and he is trying to address those issues based on work ethics and things like that.” She added, “I really appreciated that.”

Larry Lovejoy, 45,  is a Manchester Republican who works in the food service industry. He  is leaning toward voting for Santorum after Iowa, he said, but not because he agrees with Santorum’s  politics. Santorum is not electable, he said. But he  also does not trust Romney.

Lovejoy doubts Santorum will keep his momentum up past New Hampshire. But, he said, he would still like to see a repeat of Iowa’s results, if only to rattle the Romney campaign.  “I’m thinking of switching over to Santorum,” Lovejoy said, “just because everyone is saying this is such a runaway for Romney that I kind of want to scare him.”

Other New Hampshire voters said they are unaffected by Iowa’s outcome.

One of them is Sandy Gausch, 54, of Merrimack who works at a mortgage company. “Iowa has no bearing on how I think,” declared Gausch.

Gausch describes herself as a political centrist. She will probably vote for Romney, she said. But Santorum, she said, “ I like the guy a lot, like his values.” But Santorum, she said, is not an option because he is more conservative than she is.

Michelle Rapagli, 44, a medical assistant from Manchester, said she did not know much about Santorum and his second-place standing in Iowa has not changed that. She lived in Massachusetts when Romney was governor there. She knows she is definitely not going to vote for Romney, she said.

“I don’t think you can run a country if you can’t run Massachusetts,” said Rapagli. She is still undecided, she said. She added,  “They all have a lot to prove to me.”

(Rebecca Kheel, a undergraduate student in newspaper journalism and history, is covering the New Hampshire primary for The Berkshire Eagle.)

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