On the scene on primary day


Riley Burley 15, left, and Jon-Luc Comtois 15, get an autograph from Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee at his primary watch party in Manchester, N.H., on Tuesday.

The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Even a cup of coffee didn't sway one stubborn independent voter - though Republican Mike Huckabee gave it his all Tuesday as New Hampshire residents went to the polls in the state's presidential primary.

Outside the Brookside Congregational Church in Manchester, Huckabee waded into the crowd to greet voters outside the polling place. He ran into Joe Legay, 70, and asked him what candidate was getting Legay's vote.

"I'm independent,'' Legay said, ducking the question.

"So I have one more chance, what can I do? Can I pour you coffee?'' Huckabee asked, then poured him a cup of coffee from a doughnut shop coffee container. "Where else than in New Hampshire does a candidate come out and personally pour coffee?''

Then he asked Legay again how he would vote.

"I'm independent so I have to be quiet,'' Legay said - apparently not wanting to hurt Huckabee's feelings, because as Huckabee moved on, Legay told a reporter he was voting for Democrat Barack Obama.

"My suggestion is that if he (Obama) makes it, then (John) Edwards should be his vice president,'' Legay said.

Huckabee had more success later outside a church voting precinct in Dover. For more than eight minutes the candidate engaged an undecided voter one-on-one on the intricacies of Medicare reimbursements and health insurance. Wendy Hay, a nurse, walked away a convert.

"I was originally a (Fred) Thompson supporter, but I was unhappy with the amount of time he spent here,'' Hay, 48, said.

It was mere coincidence that she chose the noon hour to vote, just as Huckabee drove up to the St. John's Methodist Church parking lot shake voters hands and distribute granola bars and bottled water to his volunteers.

Elsewhere, at Republican Mitt Romney's second stop of the morning - a polling location at Bedford High School - a line of cars that snaked out of sight was moving too slowly for the candidate. He and U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., got out of their car and trudged the last third of a mile across packed snow, shaking hands with voters and posing for pictures along the way.

"I liked his stance on immigration the most,'' said Mary Doughtie of Bedford, a Romney supporter. "And I'm against abortion. And I'm against gay marriage. So, his ideals were the most like mine.''

At the Beech Street School in Manchester, city highway department employee Daniel Lencki, 58, said he had been going back and forth between Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Edwards, but decided after watching Saturday night's debate to go for Clinton. The deciding factor, he said, was when Edwards boasted about backing a patient bill of rights as an accomplishment in the Senate and Clinton noted that the plan didn't pass.

"I like the other day the way she fought Edwards,'' he said.

Republican John McCain was mobbed by supporters after arriving at a polling place in Nashua, N.H., in his campaign bus.

The crowd of media and supporters were so big that some voters complained. Finally, one of the poll workers climbed onto McCain's bus and pleaded for him to leave.

"People are so upset because they can't get in here to vote,'' she said. Seconds later, the bus pulled away.

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