McCain's Gilford Town Hall meeting this morning was so packed that we couldn't get through the front door. Which explains our lousy photograph.
We estimate about 250+ voters turned out to hear the Senator speak before tonight's GOP debate. On a workday. At 9am.
To give a point of reference, Mitt Romney drew 150 people at a similar campaign style event in his NH (second home) hometown over the Memorial Day holiday. And we're not sure if Rudy is even doing events in NH without built-in audiences.
Also in the audience this morning was Dan Balz of the Washington Post, Mark Halperin of Time Magazine, Jon Martin of the Politico, Carl Cameron of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The AP, Campaigns and Elections, The New York Times and most of the NH Gang of 15.
Hey, you throw a campaign event the morning of a big debate and the Gang of 500 is going to show up. Which carries potential risks equal to the potential rewards.
If McCain's NH event had stunk, it would have been the story heading into the debate tonight.
But the Senator, and his NH staff (from Dennehy/Barnett/Crawford on down), came through once again. Big time.
And, even though the Senator is fielding immigration questions more often than he would probably like, there is no denying that New Hampshire still loves John McCain.
Which speaks well for McCain's chances in the first-in-the-nation primary.
And that's the story heading into tonight's debate.