Few snowbanks near Saint Anselm College (searchwere free of candidate signs before Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate (search).

Hundreds of supporters of the remaining seven candidates rallied outside the auditorium, pounding drums and chanting for the television cameras, and waging a sign war with rival campaigns, calling in reinforcemnts for more signs when another campaign threatened a greater visual presense.

About 400 credentialed reporters covered the event.

Beside the candidate supporters, others took advantage of the event to promote their cause. Vermonters Rick Hubbard and Nat Goodhue held signs calling for campaign finance reform. The two are walking from Massachusetts to Concord carrying signs.

An animal rights group promoted their vegetable cartoon character for president. A group of students carried signs calling for Patriot's coach Bill Bellicheck to be elected president. A group concerned about global warming's affect on maple trees carried "save our syrup" signs.

Several people carrying signs reading "Fair Contracts at the Union Leader," tried to yell over the screeching candidate suporters. The Union Leader newspaper is one of the sponsors of the debate.

One lone Bush supporter, a Saint Anselm's sophomore, willingly engaged in screaming matches with passing classmates.

Emily Horgan, of Salem, Mass., tried unsuccessfully to persuade a liberal classmate that there was a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

Another student said she hadn't see so many people on campus since the Boston Red Sox won a game in the American League Championship.

Dennis Kucinich's supporters, with several drums and a trombone, were the loudest. They were rewarded with a brief appearance by the Ohio congressman about two hours before the event.