I’m back in Boston after spending a couple of hours in Manchester, New Hampshire and must say that I’ve never encountered anything like the surge of interest in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Topic B was would McCain beat Romney? Although the men and the women in the street and at the polls seemed to think that the Republican race would be tight, their sense was that McCain would win.

That’s telling because, as David Bernstein has reported in his Talking Politics Blog, Hillsborough County is ground zero for the Romney Campaign. There were more Romney signs in evidence than for any other candidate, Republican or Democrat.

Topic A was Obama.

Talking to Democrats and Independents at the Red Arrow Diner and on the streets downtown the interest -- and excitement -- about Obama was so real that you felt like you could touch it, taste it.

In all my years of writing about politics I’ve never encountered anything like this before. When I was in high school I volunteered for Gene McCarthy. He was greeted as a breath of fresh air when LBJ’s war in Vietnam was sucking the life of national politics. But he never touched the emotional cords that Obama seems to strum.

Howard Dean came a bit closer. But Dean’s support was limited to college students and those with an activist frame of mind. He too was greated as a new breeze and certainly had more emotional appeal than the sometimes chilly and cerebral McCarthy.

Obama’s appeal seems akin to Bobby Kennedy’s. It is charismatic. It transcends the ordinary and cuts across the divides of age, income, and gender.

I mention gender because I was struck by the number of people I spoke with who were voting FOR Obama, not AGAINST Hillary Clinton. In fact, a number of people said they hoped that the press wouldn’t be too hard of Hillary. It seems that however ClintonNew Hampshire voters. does, she won the respect of a sizable number of

Obama, however, seems to have won their heads and their hearts.


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