Election 2012: Inside Ron Paul's New Hampshire Party
Supporters chant "President Paul" after candidate finishes second in primary
By Sawyer Ames and Christine Zhu
At 3 p.m. Tuesday inside the Executive Court Banquet Facility, cameras were being set up and Preston and Kate were running around, seeing to the media's needs, and handing out credentials.
The Manchester, New Hampshire, banquet hall was being prepared by Ron Paul's campaign staff for the official party following the New Hampshire primary.
The few people there were anxiously awaiting the closing of the polls four hours later. Some supporters came early to guarantee a spot. One of them was Tom Bragg of Dallas. He wore a big black cowboy hat and was setting up a stand in the lobby with various Ron Paul pins and badges that his company created. He said he was taking 40 days off from his job as correctional offer to go to New Hampshire. Selling the pins and badges made him some money on the road. He hadn't been home since December 23, and friends and in-laws were watching his cattle. He was happy on the campaign trail.
"This is what I've always wanted to do," he said.
A few miles up the street at the Derryfield Restaurant was a similar scene. This was the primary night headquarters of Rick Santorum. But the space was much smaller and the camera crews alone were almost filling the small function room.
Next door to Paul's headquarters was The Yard restaurant. Campaign people came here to eat throughout the day. When John the waiter saw Paul media credentials, he said, "He got my vote today!"
By 6 p.m., almost all of the news crews at Paul's headquarters had set up and were broadcasting live. The reporters were standing with their backs to the stage and the blue wall featuring Paul's campaign slogan, "Restore America Now." Some groups of people were gathered at TVs in the corners that were showing the anchors who were talking on the other side of the room.
At 7:30 p.m., the room was opened to the public. When they joined the media and the campaign staffers, the room filled quickly. The aroma of smoke and sweat filled the happy room. A little girl was walking around the room giving "high-fives for liberty."
The polls closed at 7 p.m. and the first results became available at 8. Word soon spread around the room that Paul had got about 25 percent of the vote and finished second to Mitt Romney.
At 8:12, came the first "President Paul!" chant. Soon after, and a man wearing a Revolutionary-style three-cornered hat arrived. A little while later, the Ron Paul campaign theme song was played.
Eventually, the crowd gravitated to the stage to wait for Ron Paul to show up. The crowd was anxious and excited, creating an atmosphere similar to that of New Year's Eve. Once a person found a spot near the stage, they weren't going to move.
Slowly, people filtered onto the stage. The crowd got more jumpy. They started waving flags and chanting "President Paul!"
At 9 p.m., Paul arrived with his family on stage.
"I called Governor Romney because he had a clear-cut victory,'' Paul said, "but we are nibbling at his heels!"
He spoke for about 15 minutes, and the crowd chanted and cheered. He talked about getting rid of the Federal Reserve and spending less on the military. He got a big cheer when he talked about his grass-roots campaign.
"I kind of chuckle when the media describes me as being dangerous," he said. "Because we are dangerous — to the status quo!"
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