GORHAM, N.H. – Bill Anderson went to a John Edwards (search) town hall meeting Saturday looking for some answers as the opening primary of the Democratic presidential nomination season approaches. He left only partly satisfied.
Greg and Heather Alanwick, on the other hand, were impressed with what they heard, and by the time they left, were leaning toward voting for the North Carolina senator.
That's about how it went for Edwards as he made a daylong tour of New Hampshire. He started with the Gorham meeting nestled in the White Mountains (search) of the north and was closing his day by bowling in Merrimack in the south.
Good-sized crowds greeted him, flowing outside the door into single-digit temperatures in Laconia. And he was impressing at least some of those who turned out on a bitterly cold, but sunny day.
"He's not somebody who's been in politics all his life," Greg Alanwick said after Edwards' speech in Gorham. "It might be time for new blood."
Anderson, a parts manager for a used car dealer in nearby Berlin, said he liked some of the populist talk that's a standard part of Edwards' speech.
"I think he's sincere on his wanting to reaffirm and build the middle class in this country," said Anderson, who lost his log trucking company when a paper mill in Berlin closed down and business dried up.
But he wanted to know more about Edwards' view on soldiers serving in Iraq. "I was still unsure as to how he feels about whether or not he'll support troops over there," Anderson said. "It impressed me during the television debate what Joe Lieberman (search) had to say about that."
Lieberman supported the war, voted for $87 billion the president asked for to finance the current deployment and said the country must unwaveringly support the troops.
There is plenty about Iraq in Edwards' stump speech, although nothing specific about soldiers. He continued to condemn what he described as "war profiteering" among companies winning contracts in Iraq at the same time they are making political contributions to President Bush's re-election campaign.
The only business he singled out by name is Vice President Dick Cheney's (search) former company, Halliburton (search). He later told reporters that the latest disclosures about Halliburton, which has fired two employees after allegations about $6.3 million in possible kickbacks, reinforced his belief that an investigation is needed.
"It's a serious issue," he said outside his campaign bus in Laconia. "It's why I've called for an independent commission."
Even as he was scouring for votes in New Hampshire, Edwards' campaign was preparing for the next round of voting on Feb. 3. He has been particularly focused on South Carolina.
He's beginning to set his sights on Missouri, as well, now that favorite son Rep. Dick Gephardt has dropped out of the race. Missouri represents the biggest prize — 74 national convention delegates — in the seven-state primary and caucus voting on Feb. 3.
Edwards hired former Gephardt staffer Julie Gibson to head his Missouri effort. Mike Kelley, also a former adviser to Gephardt, also is joining Edwards. And two Edwards' staffers who helped him to a surprise second-place finish in Iowa also have been shifted to St. Louis to prepare for the contests in early February.
"We are going to play in Missouri," Edwards spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said. "It's late, but it's late for everybody and this gives us a strong team to start with."