Romney's New Hampshire Primary Shoe-In: The Race for Second Place Among the Also-Rans

South Carolina, here they come!

“I just can’t take any more!” one reporter assigned to cover the former speaker said to her colleagues after yet another Gingrich stem winder. Mr. Paul’s supporters were everywhere, but not so much Mr. Paul. Mr. Huntsman was enjoying a bit of the spotlight, but his candidacy would likely collapse even if he somehow eked past Mr. Paul.

Mr. Romney had the most volunteers in the state, but they too were a relatively muted crew. During Saturday’s debate, the campaign headquarters in Manchester locked the door against all press and outsiders and hosted a debate-watching party for a few dozen supporters. They snacked on popcorn chicken and Dum-dum lollipops but mostly fought off drowsiness as the candidates refrained from attacking one another. The only time they got energized was when Mr. Huntsman said that a typical Saturday night for him meant speaking with his sons who were serving overseas in the military. “Boo!” the Romneyites yelled. “Pander!”

Even the protesters couldn’t quite summon the energy.

Ms. Hutchings, the Occupy protester bird-dogging Mr. Santorum at the lake, did eventually get called on. But before the light of the TV cameras and few hundred Republicans, she lost her nerve, and could only meekly offer up a question about what he intended to do about jobs, which Mr. Santorum brushed off with vague rhetoric.

Disappointed, Ms. Hutchings gathered a half-dozen of her fellow Occupiers and chased after a confused Mr. Santorum chanting, “Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Wall Street!” Reporters stopped her to find out if she was from New Hampshire and what she thought of the candidates.

“Don’t you see?” she implored. “It’s all a charade!”

dfreedlander@observer.com

Romney's New Hampshire Primary Shoe-In: The Race for Second Place Among the Also-Rans