This weekend, reporters from all over the country descended on New Hampshire to cover the first presidential primary of the campaign season. Today the candidates and their legions of volunteers scoured the state to convince undecided voters to choose them.
Several people, including Soledad Guzman Salazar, already knew that she wanted to vote for Barack Obama. Others, like Frank Hotchkiss of the United SteelWorkers, came to the City of Manchester to encourage voters to choose John Edwards.
Soledad Guzman Salazar, who moved from Colombia to New Hampshire seven years ago, said she felt happy to have been at the rally.
“I believe that I have made an excellent choice,” Mrs. Guzman Salazar said in Spanish. Obama will win, he will be a good president and he will bring about fundamental change.”
Click here for a picture slide show with Mrs. Guzman Salazar.
For the steelworkers however, John Edwards is the only choice.
Chants of “John Edwards for President” pierced the cold New Hampshire night. A group of about 50 steelworkers and their family members yelled in support of Edwards while some, but not all cars, honked in response. The group, which represented the United Steelworkers’ District 4, hailed from nine different states in the Northeast and chose Saturday the night of the ABCnews/Facebook candidate debates to descend on the city of Manchester.
“This election could be the pivotal turning point for manufacturing in the United States,” said William Pienta, district director for the local. “We need a candidate like John Edwards to rescue the sector.”
This cluster of individuals resembled many others gathered this weekend all over New Hampshire. They came to convince the residents of the state to support their candidate in the polls on Tuesday, the day of the first national presidential primary. And since John Edwards placed second in the Iowa caucus, this group of laborers understood that a win in New Hampshire could halt Barack Obama’s momentum and cause an upsurge in Edwards’ efforts toward the presidency.
Frank Hotchkiss, who has been a member of the United Steelworkers union for 40 years, said that he supported Hillary Clinton for Senator but not for president. Hotchkiss believed that only Edwards would protect the manufacturing sector.
“The labor movement cannot afford another free trade senator or Democrat,” said Hotchkiss. “We need someone to stand up for the middle-class and for working families.”
Pienta and the others referred to the trade imbalances created by the free trade agreements, which have provided manufacturing advantages to countries like China and caused major instability in the domestic labor sector.
“We could compete with anyone,” said Pienta, “if done fairly.”