Md. on the road in N.H.

O'Malley, Mikulski stump for Clinton

surrogates multiply

January 06, 2008|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,Sun reporter

DURHAM, N.H. -- Hillary Clinton was running late, so Martin O'Malley changed his plans.

The Maryland governor was supposed to knock on doors midday yesterday in Portsmouth, a coastal city wedged between Massachusetts and Maine, to ask voters to chose Clinton.

But the New York senator was late for a campaign stop about 20 minutes away, and her staff didn't want the crowd there to get antsy. So O'Malley, an early Clinton supporter, was asked to make an impromptu detour to the town that is home to the University of New Hampshire's main campus.

He filled in for an hour at a strip mall bagel shop just off the main drag, shaking hands and talking up Clinton's merits with voters sipping coffee inside and shivering in the cold outside.

The work was more challenging than it might have been a few weeks ago, before Clinton finished third in the Iowa caucuses and Barack Obama became the perceived Democratic front-runner.

As he greeted a woman with a Clinton button affixed to her red wool coat, O'Malley asked how things were going in New Hampshire for the senator's campaign. The report was mixed.

"A lot of Obama people," she told him. "A lot of undecideds."

"There's only one state that has made its decision so far," O'Malley said later, trying to play down the impact of Iowa. "People here [in New Hampshire] are truly independent."

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski found a similar mood yesterday as she made a separate campaign swing through New Hampshire on Clinton's behalf.

A national campaign co-chairman for her Senate colleague, Mikulski was helping sway undecided women voters - a valued commodity here.

"They don't like to tell you who they are voting for," Mikulski said in an interview. "Everybody is telling you they haven't made up their minds."

Voters are asking a lot of questions, she said, and seem to be unaffected by the caucuses. "Very few people talked about Iowa," she said. "It's not like it created some great big boom."

During the final weekend before Tuesday's primary, campaign surrogates from Maryland were sprinkled throughout New Hampshire.

Harford County Executive David R. Craig traveled with a team of volunteers that included his chief of staff and son, Havre de Grace Councilman Randolph Craig, to assist Rudolph W. Giuliani.

While Giuliani's campaign has avoided the early primary states, "we thought we'd volunteer to go up there and cover some bases," Craig said last week. He said it would be "fun" to be in New Hampshire in person.

A busload of union members from Maryland and Washington also came to New Hampshire. Unions representing teachers, government workers and trades have endorsed Clinton, and they held a rally in a Manchester hotel yesterday evening at which former President Bill Clinton was the featured speaker.

O'Malley and Mikulski also addressed the union crowd, displaying their strong labor roots.

"They were fired up," said Norbert Oliveiro, a member of the International Painters and Allied Trades Union from Massachusetts.

Taking the microphone after the Marylanders, Bill Clinton said he had predicted that his wife would have a tough fight for the nomination. He implored union members to make sure they ask New Hampshire residents directly to vote for her.

"I know something about this state," the former president said, alluding to his second-place 1992 finish, which was considered a comeback in the wake of the Gennifer Flowers scandal. ""People want to be asked."

david.nitkin@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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