Local News

Sen. Edwards Stumps In N.H., Eyes Presidential Prize

Posted June 25, 2002 10:38 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina Sen. John Edwards continues to test his presidential potential. This weekend, he went to New Hampshire for the second time this year.

New Hampshire is a key state because it is the home of the nation's first presidential primary.

"You try to get yourself known nationally by making a showing in Iowa and New Hampshire," said Charlie Perkins, executive editor of the

Manchester Union Leader

, a paper known to make or break presidential hopefuls traveling through the Granite State. "I think he's doing the right things early on. He's not the only candidate doing that, but coming to New Hampshire, that's a way to get yourself known, and to show that you take the process seriously and that does matter in New Hampshire."

In this early stage, Edwards is trying to get that name recognition by showing up at house parties, trying to win over the New Hampshire Democratic party faithful, 100 or so votes at a time.

Officially, Edwards came to stump for New Hampshire Democrats, but he said he is thinking about running for president.

After just a brief meeting at some house parties in New Hampshire, Edwards left a strong impression with some Democrats.

"He's No. 1. I believe he's a very sincere man," Democratic party activist Gail Church said.

"Especially after hearing his speech and contingent upon a little more research, I would say I would be leaning towards Edwards," independent voter Sandi Hennequin said.

Most people Edwards met, like Donna Soucy, will not commit yet.

"I think if he decides to jump in, he would be a formidable candidate," Soucy said. "I haven't made a choice at this point."

Edwards said people do not have to have their minds made up this early.

"I think that's perfectly reasonable. I think that these are good people with good sense and good common sense, and they want to get to know people before they decide who they'd support for president," Edwards said.

"I think that he has earned himself respect, but I don't think he has moved himself up to the top of the ladder. It's too early for that and that shouldn't be his goal right now," Perkins said.

New Hampshire's presidential primary is still 20 months away, but political insiders said most candidates will make their plans official by early next year.