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Potential Candidates Travel To New Hampshire

NOEL KING, HOST:

All right. It has not even been 18 months since the last presidential election. But in the state of New Hampshire, where the first presidential primary will take place, it feels a little like 2020 already. Yesterday, a pair of potential future candidates for president were making the rounds, and NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea was there, too.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: It's 8:30 in the morning at Saint Anselm College in Manchester when the guest of honor is introduced.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Please join in giving a very warm welcome to the honorable Martin O'Malley.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: That's former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, the Democrat, whose 2016 bid for the White House went nowhere, speaking yesterday to the Politics and Eggs breakfast. O'Malley looked back on the last race.

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MARTIN O'MALLEY: I think for any of us who have had any experience in politics, the last election was a deeply humbling experience.

GONYEA: Since then, O'Malley says, he's traveled to 21 states, campaigning for Democrats in the process. He's making friends should he run again. Now to the other visitor to New Hampshire yesterday, Ohio Governor John Kasich. He was the last Republican standing against Candidate Trump in 2016. He's also become an outspoken critic of Trump on issues from immigration to Russia. Here's how Kasich was greeted by the moderator at an event last night.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Let's begin with the question that's on everyone's mind. Governor Kasich, are you running for president?

JOHN KASICH: I don't know what I'm going to do.

GONYEA: Kasich says he's using the platform he has to speak out. The audience at each event was full of political junkies way more excited about another election season than the average voter, even in New Hampshire. But Erin Egan, a college student who's new to all of this, summed it up. She says, to have an impact, you can't wait.

ERIN EGAN: I mean, politics never really ends. It's always an ongoing thing. So it might seem early, but it's really just all part of the everlasting process.

GONYEA: Or this from 53-year-old disabled Marine and Army National Guard veteran Andrew Dow. He says he won't make up his mind on a candidate until he's seen every one of them. He's an independent voter, and he starts doing his homework now.

ANDREW DOW: If you don't concern yourself too early, it could become too late really quick.

GONYEA: So it's never too early?

DOW: It's never too early, no. I love this. I love New Hampshire.

GONYEA: So greetings from New Hampshire, where the next presidential race is either not soon enough or sooner than you can bear. You pick. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Manchester.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRETEND'S "DREAM SHIVER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.