The Democratic presidential contenders made their differences clear and got their main messages across in the final days before the New Hampshire primary, judging by voters' comments as they left the polls Tuesday.

Many voters were undecided until the last minute as they considered the candidates' characters, experience, and positions on health care, the economy and the war in Iraq.

One of them was Ray Nolin, 54, a lifelong Democrat from Berlin, in the frigid North Country. He voted for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search), a decorated Vietnam veteran who played up his understanding of foreign affairs and political experience.

"I think he's been through a lot and he has the most knowledge about the whole system," said Nolin, who also considered voting for retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark (search).

Robert Withrow, 81, of Concord, the state capital, voted for Kerry, although he also liked North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (search). Kerry is the best candidate to restore America's reputation with the international community, he said.

"He has the foreign policy initiative. He's always been involved in world affairs," Withrow said.

John and Kimberly Barrett, after voting for Edwards in Manchester, the state's largest city, said they liked his argument that there are essentially "two Americas" — one for the wealthy and privileged and the other for working people.

Kimberly Barrett also like that Edwards, who grew up working-class and became a very successful trial lawyer before winning his Senate seat in 1998, "didn't live his whole life as a politician."

Kieran Fallon, 46, a Democrat from Salem, a Massachusetts border town, voted for Edwards because of his positive message.

"Tone is important. I get tired of the negative things," he said, noting that Kerry and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) were arguing over campaign tactics.

Michael Werner, in Manchester, said he voted for former Vermont governor and physician Dean because "health care should be for everybody. Every criminal gets health care, but other people with two jobs can't get it."

Gene White, of Swanzey, near the Vermont border, liked Dean's spontaneity and was unfazed by his rambunctious concession speech in Iowa last week.

"Every time I saw it, I started to get comfortable with it. I appreciate his passion," White told The Sentinel.

But Joanne Clark of Laconia, in the central Lake District, changed her support from Dean to Clark after the same speech.

The speech "was kind of scary. I think you should use your brain," not your heart, she said.

In Salem, independent Marjorie Aronis, 41, voted for Bush in the 2000 general election, but voted Tuesday for Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (search). In New Hampshire, unaffiliated voters can cast their ballots in either primary.

"Out of all the Democrats, he seems the most moderate," she said. "All the others are out too far to the left."

Lieberman has argued he alone can beat Bush by appealing to independents and disaffected Republicans. He also has cited his consistent support for the war in Iraq as evidence of his integrity.

Aronis said Lieberman's strong record on national security and the war was important to her.

"He is going against his party in a lot of that," she said. "He is willing to take stands."

Paula Graves, 57, of Salem hasn't voted for years, but registered as a Democrat on Tuesday so she could vote for Clark, who has touted his high-level military experience and working class roots.

"I think Clark's got the experience," Graves said. "I think he's got what it takes just because of the way the world is right now."

In Manchester, Barbara Dufresne also voted for Clark.

"I think he has a lot of respect for average people," she said.