John McCain was left for dead six months ago. Things have changed just a little.
The Town Hall in Peterborough, the picturesque village that inspired Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” fits 640 people. But by 11:45 on Saturday morning, 15 minutes before McCain’s only scheduled event for the day was to start, there were more than 800 people packed inside — and the angry fire marshal was at the front doors, shouting away more than a hundred more local residents and media members, a throng that spilled into the narrow downtown street.
A reporter with a Fox News badge — it was unclear if it was for the national cable network or a local affiliate station — tried to talk his way in, but was shot down. He and his cameraman then relocated to the side of the building, hoping to sneak in with the candidate when his bus showed up.
A middle-aged woman clutching a folder began banging on the doors until one of the police officers stationed inside cracked them open.
“I have important information I have to give to the campaign,” she told the officer, who seemed unimpressed. “I just need to give it to someone with the campaign, and then I’ll leave. I don’t want to stay.”
“Sorry,” the cop replied, slamming the doors.
An informal poll of voters near the entrance revealed that most were McCain voters and all had RSVP’d for the event. Some were miffed.
“I was decided,” one woman said. “I signed up for this and drove all the way out here — and now this. Maybe I’ll just decide on someone else now.”
Another woman, this one from Swanzey (about a half-hour away) was more understanding.
“I’ll still vote for him,” she said. “He’s a military man, and I come from a military family.”
At about 12:20, the famous McCain bus finally appeared. The candidate and his wife disembarked to chants of “Mac is back!” He worked his way to the door, accompanied by his chief New Hampshire strategist, Mike Dennehy, and Steve Duprey, the former chairman of the state G.O.P and a top New Hampshire supporter.
As soon as Duprey cleared the doorway, the fire marshal reappeared, yelling at the reporters and cameramen to stay out. He then seemed to reconsider and granted access to the television crews. Then the doors were sealed for good.