A cacophony of voices fill a vacant store front sandwiched between a chocolate shop and a used-guitar store on the main drag in New Hampshire's biggest city.
“It’s really buzzing. It’s crazy here tonight. I don’t know if you can hear in the background but it’s a bit nutty,” Ann Krupp said to a New Hampshire Republican – one of several she telephoned tonight.
A regular at the phone bank, Ms. Krupp is used to quieter evenings but tonight was a big push and about 40 volunteers showed up. Their task: to round up support for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Fortified with lollipops, Laffy Taffy and SweeTarts, volunteers included former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and New Hampshire State Sen. Jack Barnes.
“I’m calling from the Romney headquarters. There’s a big election coming up next Tuesday. Can you help us out?” Mr. Barnes asked one of the people on his call list.
Polls show Mr. Romney has a commanding lead in New Hampshire, and the evening’s phone bank calls seemed to reflect that.
That doesn’t mean it’s time to let up on the phone calls.
“We’ll run in New Hampshire like we’re three votes down with three minutes to go,” said Jim Merrill, Mr. Romney’s senior adviser in New Hampshire. “We’re trying to win this the New Hampshire way. That’s door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor.”
Ms. Krupp, 51, who grew up in Fox Chapel, said she appreciates face time with the candidates, some who made several dozen campaign appearances in New Hampshire this election cycle. Although she had her mind set on Mr. Romney from the start, she went to four or five other candidates’ events “just to make sure.”
As the first in the nation primary -- (New Hampshirites poo-poo the Iowa caucuses as not a real primary) – theirs sets the tone for what follows.
“It is a responsibility for New Hampshirites. It’s a responsibility we have to really vet the candidates,” said Ms. Krupp.
Richard Christie of Goffstown, who sat next to her at the phone bank, said anyone who has really vetted them knows that Mr. Romney is the only candidate worth supporting.
“He has the best prepared,” said Mr. Christie, 59. “If he doesn’t win, something’s wrong with this country.”