Granite Staters have to wonder whether the first-in-the-nation primary is as relevant now as it used to be. I must tell you, people of New Hampshire -- you need to act now, before you lose this special privilege. From the perspective of a candidate, it is clear to me that the continued relevance of a small state primary based on retail politics is in jeopardy.
Over the past several months, I have spent more time in New Hampshire than any other campaign. But for all that personalized attention, traveling to local GOP committees, holding town halls and meeting with editorial boards, I am still overshadowed by candidates with fewer qualifications to be president. The only conclusion I can draw is that New Hampshire politics is less relevant than getting on a nationally televised debate sponsored by one of the big TV networks.
It is not a large conceptual leap to imagine a time when states such as Florida, which has already tried to usurp New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation tradition, can eventually make the case to the Republican National Committee that retail politics in a small state of 1.3 million people is a quaint, but antiquated tradition.
I've encountered Republicans who say they will hold their noses and vote for Romney or Gingrich, many of them. It's a sad situation when a former governor of New Mexico abandons New Hampshire completely, and a four-term congressman and governor can't get an invitation to a national debate that takes place in New Hampshire. Oh, we've been told by WBIN and WMUR and others that they don't have any say in the matter, despite their names receiving top billing. It's the national networks that pull all the strings. It's always someone else's fault.
New Hampshire, if you don't begin to take your special privilege seriously, more and more candidates will bypass your state altogether.
And don't be surprised when the decision to go after big media leads to the expansion of big government. They go hand in hand. You still have the power to stop this, to send a message to Washington and to the country that limited government and retail politics still matter.