CONCORD, N.H.—From breakfast to dinner, politics was on the menu Monday as New Hampshire candidates made their last attempts to win support through retail politicking, rallies, radio interviews -- and food.
Crepes with brown sugar and maple syrup were served up at a diner in Berlin, where Democrat Ann McLane Kuster began her 17-hour day in the 2nd Congressional District. Democratic Gov. John Lynch's supporters had sandwiches, chips and cookies at his lunchtime rally in Concord, and most Republican candidates for major offices were ending their day at a spaghetti dinner in Nashua.
Republican Charlie Bass, hoping to reclaim the 2nd District House seat he lost in 2006, said he was hearing two main messages from voters as he toured a business, factory and restaurant and walked up and down Nashua's Main Street: "It sure will be nice when this is over" and "We've got to get you in there."
"It's so different from 2006 when people would say to me, 'You're a nice guy, but I'm just not voting for a Republican this year.' This year it's exactly the opposite. They don't even want to look at my literature. They say, 'You're a Republican, don't worry about it, you've got my vote,'" Bass said.
He spoke to a Rotary club late Monday morning and planned to squeeze in a town hall meeting by telephone after the spaghetti dinner.
After leaving Berlin, Kuster visited the New Hampshire Veteran's Home, where her father-in-law spent his final years, and planned to attend rallies at Plymouth State University, Keene State College and Dartmouth College.
She said her most meaningful conversation came in Berlin, where she spoke to two veterans, a young man who recently served in Iraq and his father-in-law, who has been trying to get benefits from his service in Korea.
"They felt very strongly that they wanted an advocate who understood the particular challenges they face, both coming home from Iraq and as aging vets needing services," she said.
Kuster and Bass are competing for the seat held by Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes, who is running for U.S. Senate. Hodes made college students a focus during his final push, speaking with faculty and students at the University of New Hampshire.
The students -- many of them first-time voters -- told him they were concerned about climate change, marriage equality, affordable education and job creation, Hodes said. And in a year when Republicans have the anti-incumbent wind at their backs, one faculty member told Hodes, "I hope reason prevails."
Hodes faces Republican Kelly Ayotte, a former attorney general who took her "Stop the Spending Express" bus tour to Portsmouth, Dover, Wolfeboro and Center Harbor on Monday.
In the 1st Congressional District, Republican Frank Guinta and incumbent Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter made back-to-back appearances on WTSN radio before going their own way to campaign.
Guinta, the former mayor of Manchester, said he was hearing from lots of voters "ready to throw people out of office and start with a fresh group" focused on jobs, the economy and spending. Over the weekend, he spoke by phone to several undecided voters, including one who worried that his employer would drop his health care coverage.
Shea-Porter, meanwhile, said she has been hearing from voters questioning her opponent's campaign finances. Republicans first raised questions during the primary about how Guinta was able to loan his campaign $355,000, and Shea-Porter has picked up where they left off. Guinta has said he earned the money in the private sector before he was elected governor in 2005.
"This is a matter of integrity," said Shea-Porter, who campaigned Monday in her hometown of Rochester and Manchester.
In Salem, a roomful of elderly women halted their exercise routine and flocked to the doorway when Republican gubernatorial candidate John Stephen visited a senior citizens center Monday morning.
"When the song stopped, and they saw me through the window, they were all excited and wanted to run out and shake my hand," said Stephen, who hopes to deny Lynch an unprecedented fourth term.
Stephen, the former health and human services commissioner, said one 84-year-old woman told him, "You've got to win this election. It's all about my granddaughter. We need to change what we're doing."
Lynch planned to end his day by greeting diners at the Puritan Back Room restaurant in Manchester. Earlier, he and his wife rallied about 100 people snacking on finger food at the Concord City Hall auditorium before heading to Portsmouth.
Dr. Susan Lynch urged the crowd to spend the remaining hours of the campaign doing what she was doing: Send e-mails to friends, tweets on Twitter and messages on Facebook.
"People died for our right to vote. It's always about turnout," she said.
"We need your help," the governor added. "It's going to be close."
Associated Press writer Norma Love contributed to this report.