By Brian Doherty
By the time I got to this morning's planned Ron Paul meet and greet with the diners at Moes and Joes in Manchester, New Hampshire, the candidate and his team has already cut the event short--his time in the restaurant lasted mere mere minutes, I was told--and were trapped by many dozens of reporters and cameras mobbed around his escape vehicle.
Paul's political director Jesse Benton told me later that the press scrum inside had been so intense, making even moving through the restaurant much less having any meaningful voter interactions so impossible, they decided for the peace and safety of all concerned to regretfully bow out. (Paul's wife Carol had herself been shoved by a reporter, according to a campaign press release on the matter today.)
The press surrounded one upset woman who had brought her 90-year-old mother to see Paul and was now bereft. She seemed to feel the whole thing was Paul's fault. Six or more cameras and mics picked up her sad tale, and Democratic presidential hopeful Vermin Supreme (who kind of looks like a wizard, a wizard with a boot on his head) was shouting through his megaphone at the trapped van: "Ron Paul, we are the media. We have you completely surrounded. You will answer all our questions."
One version of the woman's sad tale:
Tyler Clark, a Young Americans for Liberty activist, had brought his grandmother Virginia Clark to see Paul. Despite her grandson's efforts, she expected to give her vote tomorrow to Jon Huntsman, because she wants to boost him to South Carolina. She thinks he hasn't had the chance to get the exposure he deserves. (Every voter is a political strategist here in New Hampshire.)
Virginia has liked Huntsman for a month, but seeing him get more attention has made her more inclined to actually vote for him. She appreciates both his foreign policy and his gubernatorial experience. She met a personal friend of both Huntsman and Romney, she says, who "didn't have much good to say about his friend Mitt Romney." Tyler adds that this friend of Mitt's reported that Mitt in private is exactly like Mitt in public--"a stickler and an elitist." Tyler adds, "He can't connect to all of us because his heart has been ripped out and replaced with $400,000 from Goldman Sachs."
Tyler has seen every candidate but Perry, who he is angry with over his anti-gays-in-the-military ad. He says Santorum's crowds tend to skew toward older, and to media.
After about 20 minutes of the weird media standoff, they backed off enough to allow Paul's van to take him on to his next appearance, an invite-only meeting of largely homeschooling families in Hollis, New Hampshire, more on which later.