Thompson Tours Traditional Democratic Route in New Hampshire Visit

Though Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson is running as the heir to Ronald Reagan's brand of conservatism, he made the rounds of symbolic Democratic strongholds in New Hampshire on Sunday.

Thompson began his first visit to the Granite State as an official candidate Saturday evening with a single stop at a traditional GOP picnic at the Scammon farm in Stratham, then spent the night in the heavily Democratic seacoast city of Portsmouth.

Thompson had no public events Sunday morning. His first appearance was in the heavily Democratic 'Queen City' of Manchester, the most populated city in New Hampshire.

His first stop was at a diner called "Chez Vachon," one of the most identifiable haunts of the 1992 Clinton campaign. The restaurant is located on the intensely liberal French-Canadian "west side," where French accents are prevalent and labor union politics rule.

Chez Vachon occasionally features Republican candidates — Arizona Sen. John McCain swung by earlier this year — but the voters are devout Democrats.

Afterward, Thompson was to shake hands with football fans at a pair of sports bars in downtown Manchester before the New England Patriots game kicked off, then was wrapping his day in Nashua.

Nashua, the 'Gate City' along the Massachusetts border, is yet another heavily Democratic town and City Hall is an essential stop on the Democratic campaign trail.

It is the place where John F. Kennedy launched his successful presidential campaign more than 45 years ago. Every Democratic presidential candidate pays respects by visiting and noting the JFK statute in front of the building.

Thompson will make it the backdrop for the last event of this New Hampshire swing.

National campaign aides were not entirely aware that after the first event, Thompson was making an uninterrupted string of appearances at Democratic communities, business and symbolic locales.

When the Democratic symbolism was pointed out to them, aides eventually suggested that Thompson would be courting democrats and independents as well as Republican voters.

Reagan Republicanism, they joked, would be a bit more prominent when he arrives in South Carolina on Monday.