First in the Nation

In recent weeks, one Presidential hopeful or another could be found chatting and glad-handing residents, or hosting “town hall” question and answer sessions. All just down the road or across town or in the community next door.

Whether chatting with breakfast diners, glad-handing tavern patrons, hosting folksy “town hall” visitors or making their case at fundraising dinners, whichever candidate interests you was likely in the Granite State in recent days.

As we gear up for the first-in-the-nation Presidential primary Feb. 9, we hope you’ve had a chance to take a personal look at the candidates, check out the person behind the public relations hype, and hear for yourself whether your views match the promises of the men and women who want your vote.

The clock is ticking. Winning or losing in New Hampshire doesn’t have to seal the fate of any candidate, but it definitely plays a significant role in what will happen in other states in the months ahead. And most importantly, it factors into who will be on the ticket for the November election.

So in the few days remaining before the primary, ask some questions – not about smaller government, ending health care reform, cutting the deficit, defeating ISIS, or verbally attacking Obama. We deserve specifics.

How does a candidate’s religious views impact his or her decision making? How will a candidate propose to “fix” Social Security in laymen’s language – and do people really want such change

If you have the chance, don’t accept the answer of “I favor smaller government, I want to end health care reform, I want to cut the deficit, I want a strong foreign policy.” Platitudes and generalities mean nothing.

Anyone can say those things – and more often than not, the candidates do. Anyone can attack their presumed opponent or President Obama rather than express their own views.

Ask real questions. Demand specifics. If you don’t get real answers, keep asking. Recognize that failure to answer says something important as well.

And remember, a President doesn’t govern in a vacuum. A lot of those broad campaign promises depend on Congress, the Supreme Court and the rule of law.

By virtue of residence in New Hampshire, the significance of our vote resonates from one coast to the other, from the border with Canada to the border with Mexico. But only if we care enough to vote intelligently. And that means asking tough questions and making up our minds for ourselves.