Despite stats, NH concerned with economy as Dartmouth hosts GOP debate

By Connor Clerkin
On October 18, 2011

  • Warner Bros. issued a cease and desist to UNH after learning of the online Harry Potter-themed course, taught this summer by professor James Krasner. Courtesy Photo

Charlie Rose started off last Monday's GOP debate at Dartmouth College with clear instructions that it was to be only about the economy, as promised. Its style differed somewhat from past debates, with the candidates sitting around an oval table rather than standing at individual podiums.

The debate followed a surge in the popularity of Herman Cain nationwide, as he settled in slightly behind Gov. Mitt Romney, according to the Washington Post/Bloomberg Poll conducted just before the debate. While Cain was rising, Gov. Rick Perry has been experiencing a fall in his support since he first joined the race. With all of the recent fluctuations in the polls, Romney remained on top. 

Cain started the debate off with another endorsement of his own "9-9-9" tax reform plan and a statement that he would equalize the revenue and spending of the Federal Government in his first year as president.

Perry took the opportunity to declare that within the next three days his full economic plan would be on the table, and Romney started things off with a statement about his ability to reach across the aisle, letting his 59-point economic plan (which he admitted to Cain he could not recite from memory later in the debate) speak for itself.

Based on polling data from New Hampshire, perhaps it already has. Though Romney commands between 20 and 25 percent of voters nationwide based on various polls, in the Granite State he is doing much better, holding between 37 and 45 percent of declared support. Romney said in the debate that the people of New Hampshire, being so close to Massachusetts, simply know him better. 

Sen. Rick Santorum, another of the Republican candidat, offered a reason for a lack of support in New Hampshire for Romney's close national competitor Cain, saying to the audience, "How many people here are for a sales tax in New Hampshire? Raise your hand. [No hands raised] There you go, Herman. That's how many votes you'll get in New Hampshire."

The small town of Hanover, N.H., seemed to many a strange place to host this "economy only" debate considering that at 5.3 percent, according to the state government, New Hampshire has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country, falling behind only Nebraska. 

Yet even with this low percentage, the people of New Hampshire are feeling the pressure of the recession. While second-lowest unemployment rate isn't too shabby, as said by moderator Karen Tumulty, New Hampshire "has lost a greater percentage of its manufacturing jobs to China than any other state."

This weekend, though, while the debate was over and the candidates were long gone to continue campaigning, a group of around 10 Dartmouth students sat at an intersection in Hanover in front of a pitched tent, holding signs saying "End Corporate Plutocracy" or "Occupy Hanover."

These students were joined by members of the community, giving up their weekends in order to sit in the rain and protest the conditions they find themselves trapped in. At times this group of protestors reached numbers close to 50, a sizable crowd for a small New Hampshire town. When asked for a comment, one protestor who wished to remain unnamed said, "We're sick of the government bickering and we're sick of big corporations being saved while we suffer from their greed." e

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