To New Hampshire Republicans, the state motto "Live Free or Die" speaks directly to their own political philosophy. They see themselves as the conservative guardians of individual liberty, small government and low taxes.
On one recent night, Republicans in Dover, New Hampshire gathered at a restaurant to listen to one of the party's candidates for president.
Kerry Woullette, an elementary school teacher, says she is looking for a candidate with strong conservative credentials. "I am voting for national security. I am voting for conservative values. I am voting for truth in journalism. I am voting for discretionary spending. I am looking to keep my taxes stable and I don't want government coming into my home and regulating my life."
On this evening, former Tennessee Senator and Hollywood actor Fred Thompson is speaking. Once heralded as a possible Republican frontrunner, he entered the 2008 presidential race later then others. Thompson now trails the leading Republican candidates in the New Hampshire polls. "I'm going to stay here and have a big steak tonight," he said.
Fred Thompson touts what he says is a traditionally conservative voting record as a U.S. Senator. He calls himself a proponent of free market principles, a strong defense, and low taxes -- all issues that play well with New Hampshire Republicans. "I got to go to the United States Senate and develop a strong common sense conservative record. It's based on the value of the rule of law. It is based on market economies. It is based on free people."
Most polls of New Hampshire voters show former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the lead, followed by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Senator John McCain respectively. But you would not know that by this crowd's enthusiasm.
Roger Rivers owns a camera store in Dover. He says of Thompson, "I appreciate his opinions on the economy. I appreciate his opinions concerning national security. He seems like he will be extra effective at communicating his ideas. I definitely will vote for him."
Ann Burke, a retired schoolteacher, says Thompson would bridge the political divide in Washington and move the country forward. "He is honest. He is absolutely what this country needs right now to get us out of the bipartisan mess, the 'do-nothing' mess that we have in Washington. I think he is the man. Oh, you are going to be a great president," she says to Thompson.
Traditionally, New Hampshire is the second state to choose its presidential candidates in an election year –after Iowa. Since other states have moved their primaries earlier, New Hampshire is expected to vote on January 5th to retain its status as the second primary state.