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Candidates make pitches as minutes tick down in NH

Associated Press Published: November 5, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Sarah Ayres was feeling a bit nervous Monday morning as she drove down a deserted dirt road in Enfield, unsure if she would find the house she was supposed to visit. Canvassing for President Barack Obama on the campaign's final day, she turned onto a long driveway, got out of her car, and was met by a friendly, white goat.

"There were no people home, but the goat was there, so I don't know if I should count that as a contact," she joked. "I think he seemed undecided."

That encounter aside, votes — not goats — were the focus as candidates and their supporters knocked on doors and made phone calls they hoped would make the difference Tuesday in the state's tight races for president, governor and Congress,

"This year, perhaps more than ever before, the eyes of the world and the nation are on New Hampshire, and once again, our four electoral votes could determine the outcome of the presidential election," Gov. John Lynch said Sunday, introducing President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton at a rally in Concord.

The outdoor event was bookended by Republican Mitt Romney, who had a rally in Portsmouth on Saturday and was returning Monday night for an appearance with singer Kid Rock in Manchester. For Romney volunteer Scott Giesecke, Monday marked the culmination of months of sign waving, door knocking and phone banking. He spent Sunday going door-to-door and was in the campaign headquarters in Bedford by 9 a.m. Monday to make more calls. By 10, the place was crowded with other volunteers.

Some of the folks he spoke to Sunday said they have unplugged their phones to avoid the constant calls from both candidates and outside groups.

"They've just been hammered," said Giesecke, 44, of Manchester. Most of the voters he spoke to Monday said they were backing Romney, though some didn't stay on the line long enough to question.

"You have the occasional hang up with people who are just frustrated at this point," he said. "But you can't take it personally."

A WMUR-TV Granite State Poll released Sunday night showed Obama slightly ahead of Romney in New Hampshire. In the gubernatorial race — where Lynch's retirement is leaving an open seat for the first time in a decade — the poll showed Democrat Maggie Hassan leading Republican Ovide Lamontagne, with 12 percent undecided.

Democrat Ann McLane Kuster had a slight lead over Republican Rep. Charles Bass in the 2nd Congressional District, while Republican Rep. Frank Guinta and Democrat Carol Shea-Porter were tied in the 1st District. Both races are rematches of 2010.

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