A Tie in New Hampshire

by Mark Steyn

Voting starts in Hart’s Location and Dixville Notch in just over an hour, so most of these New Hampshire primary notes will be too late to have any impact. Nevertheless:

1) I had the pleasure of meeting the hottie Huntsman gals the other night and I hear good things from my neighbors about turnout and reaction to the Governor lui-mème at the Horse Meadow Senior Center in Haverhill over the weekend. The standard line on his TV debate appearances is that he’s “condescending. ” He’s less so on the stump. Not sure why, but I notice that, when he’s in diners and Elks’ Lodges, he’s usually open-necked, and with a dark blue shirt that makes his neck and chin come over less Foggy Bottomesque. He appears relaxed and real, and (by the standards of this presidential field) kinda cool. Yet, when he climbs into the white shirt and tie for the telly stuff, he looks like a snotty Foreign Service stiff who’s having a pineapple twisted up his bottom. This is the precise inversion of most candidates: a tieless Newt comes across shifty, a tieless Mitt as if he took his tie off because a consultant told him to. Don’t know what difference it would make, but, if I were his daughters, I’d try to persuade him to try the open-necked look on TV.

2) Now we’ve got the important stuff out of the way, on to Bain Capital. I broadly agree with Ramesh, but the logic of the assaults matters less than the politics. Romney has presented himself to the electorate as a private-sector businessman, but most folks don’t have a clear understanding of what it is that something like Bain actually does. Microsoft makes computers [UPDATE: Whoops! Okay, computer-type stuff] and McDonald’s makes hamburgers, but what does Bain do? Private equity, high-yield assets . . . golly, that sounds less like Main Street lingo and more like Wall Street; less to do with the kind of business built on the virtues of making and doing, and more to do with the kind of too-clever-by-half monkey business that came close to taking out the global economy in 2008. Whether or not that’s fair, that’s the role Mitt the “businessman” is being maneuvered into. Up against the Dems, he’d need a deft and effective response. Up against Newt, he’s yet to find one.

3) We don’t do a lot of limbo dancing in New Hampshire, but Rick Perry is doing his best to introduce it to the state. In this poll, he attracts the support of six voters. Buddy Roehmer has eight. Roehmer polls thrice as high as Perry in this poll. No disrespect but this is less testament to any late-breaking Roehmentum, and more to do with the extraordinary achievements of the Perry campaign. Who knows? If the networks had done him the favor of banning him from the debates, today Rick might have Buddy’s numbers.

4) I greatly enjoy the way (as I’m sure even dear old Derb is discovering today) the merest disagreement with Ron Paul attracts a ton of e-mail from his supporters jeering, “I always knew you were a neocon/Rino/Beltway squish/closet liberal. You’re dead to me, Steyn. I’ll never read you again, and neither will anyone else.” Nothing like demanding ruthless conformist collectivist prostration before the candidate of individual liberty.

On to Hart’s Location . . .

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