Rubio Draws Big N.H. Crowds, But Many in the Audience are Still Shopping Around

Feb 3, 2016

Richard Taylor and his wife Susan linger in the stands of a hockey rink in Bow at about 9 o'clock in the morning. Marco Rubio’s just finished a town hall. Like most of the people I come across at Rubio's campaign stops, Taylor says he’s weighing Rubio against another candidate—in most cases that’s Ted Cruz.

"For me I think if it was going to be today I think I’d walk in and pull the lever for Ted Cruz," he says. "But you know that could change."

And it’s Rubio’s success in Iowa that Taylor says brought him here today.

"I really think he’s starting to come on strong. So it’s starting to make me think twice about my original choice. Now am I gonna sway and at the last minute go to Marco’s camp? Probably not?"

But while most of the crowd’s sifted out by this point, Taylor and his wife—they’re still here. On a rainy Wednesday morning—they’re waiting to go shake Rubio’s hand.

Whether it’s that handshake or the chance to see him in the flesh, a lot of folks are showing up at Rubio events these days. For some, like Jeanne O’Hurley of Brentwood, it’s Rubio’s success in Iowa that's attracting them—nothing breeds success like success.

"Energized, totally energized," she says. "His numbers were even higher than I think even the press or even I anticipated."

O’Hurley says she’s really worried about immigration, for one—and she’s listening for what Rubio says about it. "And we just need to get it back where it belongs, we need to close to borders, there’s so much. It needs change. Big change," she says.

That big change, she says, could also come from Ted Cruz, whom she’s been leaning towards. But the rally in Exeter  is her first time seeing Rubio up close.

There are people like Bob Loree, whom I catch on his way into a Rubio rally, who taking this week to do some candidate shopping, keeping an open mind right up to Primary day.

"I was pretty much set with Donald Trump, I like Trump, but I’m trying to be open minded, let’s go see Marco Rubio. I’d even be open to seeing Bernie Sanders, I hear he’s local?"

And then, there’s a guy like Matt Harding, who walked out of Rubio’s rally with his wife last night, wearing a big smile on his face. "We’re totally decided, he says."

And, as for why Rubio’s his guy?                              

"I think the other candidates they tend to beat up on each other or focus on themselves too much. I think Rubio genuinely wants to see this country be a great country. That’s my feeling."

That’s his feeling, Harding says—and it’s a feeling he says he hopes will spread fast.