Granite Staters See Hard Choice
The Monitor talks again with New Hampshire voters who were interviewed before the state's presidential primary
IT all started eight months ago in the snow and icy winds of the Granite State. In the first presidential primary of the 1992 race to the White House, New Hampshire voters listened while an angry Patrick Buchanan took aim at President Bush. They also watched 10 Democrats maul one another over such issues as health care, jobs, and the economy.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The state, historically a Republican stronghold, was reeling from an economic downslide. Unemployment was a little over 7 percent. Personal and business bankruptcies were skyrocketing. Thousands of people were behind in their mortgage payments.
When the vote was counted on the night of Feb. 18, Bush was the Republican winner, but spoiler Buchanan drew 35 percent of the disgruntled vote. Paul Tsongas took the Democratic primary, and Bill Clinton was a respectable second.
Now, seven months later, interviews with a few of the people who first spoke with the Monitor in New Hampshire just before the primary reveal some changing attitudes mingled with unshaken political loyalties. Unemployment here still hovers at 7 percent, and the state has the highest bankruptcy rate in the Northeast.
Jeanne Kubiak, a wife and mother from Exeter, stood eight months ago in the jampacked Exeter City Hall where Bush spoke at his first primary campaign appearance. She praised him then, and blamed Congress for causing the stalemate over legislation proposed by Bush.
Last week, standing on the sidelines of a soccer field while her daughter played, Mrs. Kubiak expressed disappointment with Bush. She says she was undecided about voting for him. "He hasn't dealt with the economy," she says. "He hasn't yelled enough at Congress to get things done. I was very uncomfortable watching the Republican convention and the way they used family values. My attitude is live and let live in this world. We don't need Quayle giving single mothers a hard time. You wonder about his judg ment, and Bush's judgment for picking him."
She praises Democratic candidate Bill Clinton for picking Albert Gore Jr. as his running mate. "Gore didn't hesitate to go to the Rio summit," she says, "and with his small kids, I think he really cares about the future of the environment. For me to vote for Bush, he has to show me some real leadership. Getting his photo taken with hurricane victims just doesn't cut it with me."
Seated in the Merrimack Wayside Furniture store in Concord where he has been manager for over 20 years, Donald Willis repeats what he said eight months ago. "I still trust Bush, "he says. "I'm a conservative human being, and I see Bush as consistent, as a man who gets things done quietly. Yes, he lacks charisma, but on foreign policy he is second to none. If Bush has enough guts to stand four more years, then God bless him, I'll support him."
This kind of Republican allegiance continues to be strong for Bush in New Hampshire.
A recent poll of 808 registered voters conducted by the Concord Monitor showed Bush favored over Clinton by a greater percentage than anywhere else in the US. Bush polls 45 percent
The survey gave Bush 45 percent among those polled to 39 percent for Clinton.
When it comes to the president working with Congress, Willis says: "How effective could Clinton be if he's never been on Capitol Hill? If Bush can't do it after all his years there, how can Clinton do it?"
As a result of his growing concern for unresolved problems in the US and his community, Willis says now: "I'm no longer passive as a