Jon Huntsman volunteer Alex Alex Schultheis, 22, canvassing in Hooksett, N.H.
HOOKSETT, N.H.--The 75-year-old bearded man in a frayed Princeton sweatshirt looked skeptical when he answered the knock at his front door and found two college students waiting for him with pamphlets in their hands.
"Good evening," one of the students said, "I just wanted to remind you about the primaries tomorrow, and I'd like you to consider voting for Jon Huntsman."
For months, New Hampshire residents have been inundated with commercials, flyers, kids on their doorstep and candidates--complete with a media horde and an entourage--barging in on their breakfasts.
Alex Schultheis, 22, and Jake Wagner, 19, are students at St. Anselm College on the 11th-hour front lines here for Jon Huntsman. Over the past several months, they've had doors slammed in their faces, been threatened by dogs and learned how difficult it is to drive a campaign sign into the frozen New Hampshire ground. (It's not called the Granite State for nothing.) They've resorted to drills, hammers and even blow torches to make sure the signs stay put.
Tuesday is make-or-break time for Huntsman. The former Utah governor and ambassador to China ignored Iowa entirely and has lagged in the polls nationally and in the Granite State. Unfortunately for Huntsman, Mitt Romney seems to have a lock on the state. All Huntsman can realistically hope for is a strong second-place or third-place finish.
But that will take intense on-the-ground work that won't end until the polls close on Tuesday.
At Huntsman's Manchester campaign headquarters on Monday, dozens of volunteers, mostly students, scurried around the small, five-room office. In the main room, college kids worked the phones amid pizza boxes and Dunkin' Donuts pastries. The walls were covered in signs, to-do lists, precinct maps and pictures of Huntsman, and a television in the corner plays Fox News around the clock. An English foxhound darted back and forth, and there's usually a wiener dog named Sidney wearing a tiny T-shirt covered in Huntsman stickers.
In a nearby room, a new crop of volunteers received a crash course in how to talk to voters. "Hi," a brown-haired teenager sitting in the corner, reading the official phone bank script, said into a receiver. "I'm calling on behalf of presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. Can I ask you two very quick questions regarding tomorrow's election?"
She went on to discuss his three ambassadorships ("he always puts country first") and didn't ignore that one of those was for a Democratic administration ("never apologizing for crossing a partisan line to serve America"). As mandated by law, she ended the conversation with, "This call has been paid for by Jon Huntsman for president."
A middle-aged woman named Laura Ramos stood up for a break. "I'm always just dying here near the end," she said. Ramos is the the campaign's star volunteer. Since the end of August, she has clocked 6,000 calls for the phone bank, an office record. Last cycle, she worked for Rudy Giuliani and made 20,000 calls.
Read More »from Jon Huntsman’s New Hampshire ground team: ‘At least he didn’t slam the door’