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Inside Politics

Campaigns in high gear

By Liza Kaufman Hogan

Dean volunteers
Larissa Shimkaveg, 15, left, with her father, traveled from Florida to New Hampshire to volunteer for the Dean campaign.

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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
America Votes 2004
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New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Spirits were high at John Kerry's campaign headquarters over the weekend with polls showing the Massachusetts senator at the top of the pack.

With Tuesday's primary rapidly approaching, the focus at "Kamp Kerry" was on "visibility" efforts to put sign-wielding supporters in public locations and the phone bank, which Kerry used to his advantage in Iowa.

Rob Stenson, 55, is a Vietnam veteran spending 10-12 hours a day phoning other veterans on lists generated by campaign workers. Stenson says he has no idea how many of the estimated 100,000 New Hampshire veterans he has called, but it feels like about 40,000 in four days.

Accommodations for volunteers without resources or reservations are sparse. Campaign volunteer Nick Kimball, 22, who arrived in early January by bus, is staying with nine others in a three-bedroom, one-bath apartment provided by the campaign. Not so bad, he says, but more volunteers are on the way.

Fortunately the campaign provides meals, often doughnuts or pizza, or what Stenson calls the "primary diet." Shortly before a big campaign event, the volunteers explode in cheer -- another poll showing Kerry on top? Nope, dinner is served.

The view from Elm Street

Across the Merrimack River on Elm Street, daring campaign volunteers huddled in small groups to stay warm while on visibility duty.

Monica Embry and Claire Denon-Spalding, 16-year-olds from Chicago, Illinois, were standing in a biting, subzero wind merrily wagging Dennis Kucinich signs at cars.

Despite the competition for votes, volunteers say the atmosphere is cordial. Larissa Shimkaveg, a 15-year-old who traveled here from Florida with her father to work for Dean, worked next to the Kucinich volunteers one night. "They were nice. They gave us cocoa," she said.

Larissa, a self-declared charter member of "Frozen Floridians for Dean," is taking time from school to be here. "Ten years from now I won't remember if a relation is a function or not, but I'll remember this."

A mother's touch

A block down Elm Street at Lieberman headquarters, Sen. Joe Lieberman's 89-year-old mother, Marcia, is making calls to senior citizens on behalf of her son. She says the response is always warm when she identifies herself to voters. "It's going beautifully," she says.

Kerry headquarters
Dinner time for volunteers at Kerry headquarters on Saturday.

In the next room, Lieberman campaign director Craig Smith is grabbing dinner from an aluminum foil pan while volunteers assemble yard signs. "We're cautiously optimistic," he says on a day that showed a nudge in Lieberman's poll numbers. "We've got momentum and we feel good about that."

Volunteers for Sen. John Edwards, the Rev. Al Sharpton and retired Gen. Wesley Clark were not visible on Elm Street on Sunday night, but reports indicate their volunteers are just as charged up.

As Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera observed, "All campaigns are seeing their event size increase" as Tuesday draws near.

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