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Looking To N.H.: Rubio's Broad Support, Sanders' Familiarity


The caucuses were here last night. And now the presidential campaign is shifting to a very different place, New Hampshire, although it might not look all that different to my colleague Asma Khalid, who is at a coffee shop in Manchester, N.H. I am at a coffee shop here in downtown Des Moines. Asma, good morning.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Good morning, David. And I should say I definitely had my morning coffee here. But I'm actually at a diner today in New Hampshire.

GREENE: Oh, OK, important distinction to make. Well, Asma, is that the kind of place where candidates show up all the time?

KHALID: It definitely is. It's called the Red Arrow Diner. It's a 24-hour joint here in Manchester, N.H. And, you know, there's photos of various celebrities who have come through here, but also pictures of politicians. There's a picture of President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton. And I even talked to a waitress who told me that she served Donald Trump just last month.

GREENE: OK, I want to hear more about what it's like to serve Donald Trump at some point. We should get more to the politics. You know, the country's just been focused on Iowa leading up to last night. A few of the candidates though - I'm thinking of Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich - I mean, they have already been campaigning in New Hampshire ahead of the primary. And, you know, it seems like New Hampshire is much more of an establishment state, some people call it that. What exactly does that mean?

KHALID: So it's the state, you know, where you think of some of the more traditional establishment Republicans who have done really well here. So think John McCain or think Mitt Romney. And part of it's because of the demographics of New Hampshire. I mean, this is a state that is sort of wealthier, more educated than the country at large. And it's also a state that is overwhelmingly secular. You know, throughout the Iowa caucuses, I feel like we heard so much around evangelical voters. New Hampshire's one of the least religious states in the entire country. And so that's certainly also - you know, filters into the Republican electorate.

GREENE: So Asma, well, you know, leaving Iowa, it's Marco Rubio who seems to have a chance to really carry this establishment flag on to New Hampshire. I mean, are people talking about Rubio, and does he have the chance to really make that what his campaign is about?

KHALID: People are definitely talking about Marco Rubio. But I think what's really interesting is you mention him having an edge perhaps amongst the establishment candidates. I think Marco Rubio's support is maybe a little even broader than that. I was speaking with some folks here at the diner this morning, and I met Norm Savoy. He's a 52-year-old cab driver, and he told me he's torn between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

NORM SAVOY: He's younger and he's kind of what we need a little bit, but he's also conservative and a little about his life coming out of Cuba has been kind of interesting.

KHALID: We often hear Marco Rubio's name mentioned when we hear the other establishment candidates' names mentioned - so, you know, Gov. Bush or Gov. Christie. For this gentleman, you know, he's torn not between, say, one of the more traditional establishment candidates and Marco Rubio. He's torn between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and that kind of speaks to the broad base of support that Marco Rubio potentially has.

GREENE: Let me ask you one question about the Democratic side if I can, Asma.


GREENE: You know, New Hampshire's an older state than most. And what might that mean for Bernie Sanders? He did so well in getting these huge young crowds to come out here in Iowa. Could he have more trouble getting those numbers of young voters to support him in that state?

KHALID: You know, that's a really good question, David. I mean, New Hampshire is a substantially older state. You know, I've been at campaign events where that's even come up in questions to candidates. But that being said, Bernie Sanders hails from neighboring Vermont. He is a familiar name and a familiar face in this state. So yeah, you know, he might not have as many young voters to rely on here in New Hampshire, but he seems to be very well known here in the state. And, you know, I think by and large, it's expected to be a really tough competition here in New Hampshire between both of the Democrats.

GREENE: All right, we've been speaking to NPR's Asma Khalid. She's at the Red Arrow Diner, a 24-hour diner in Manchester, N.H. Asma, thanks a lot.

KHALID: My pleasure, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.