MANCHESTER, N.H. -- On January 4th at about 9 a.m., Rick Perry’s New Hampshire campaign staff was given orders to clear out their desks and shut down his state offices here. This was it – the Perry campaign was over. Whatever token effort he had intended to make in the nation's first primary would no longer be necessary.
The order was not unexpected. The night before, Perry had finished a disappointing fifth place in the Iowa precinct caucuses, despite his large financial expenditure in the state. Perry announced that he was cancelling events in South Carolina and instead heading back to Texas to reconsider whether to continue his campaign.
Perry’s staff here at his Manchester headquarters dutifully removed personal items from their workspaces. Tech support arrived to dismantle electronics and computer equipment.
And then, at 11:14 that morning, Perry announced via Twitter that he was in fact heading to South Carolina. His staff here was told to report to work the following morning but then given no further information. Perry’s campaign in New Hampshire – where, admittedly, he never expected to make a strong showing – has been in limbo ever since.
Not a single volunteer was present at his reassembled Manchester headquarters on Saturday, three days before the state’s first-in-the nation primary. Even before Iowa, Perry’s New Hampshire staff was alerted that Perry would not be campaigning in New Hampshire.
Down the street at Romney’s Manchester headquarters, 500 volunteers arrived before 9 a.m. on Saturday, as did hundreds of others at his regional drop points. Most set out to knock on doors as part of a 72-hour New Hampshire get-out-the vote drive. By 11 a.m. at least 100 others had made more than 2,000 phone calls, reminding Romney supporters to vote on Tuesday.
By contrast, Perry’s eight-person paid staff had precious little to do that day. Sources told The Examiner that the campaign, realizing it lacks the grassroots support to justify a traditional 72-hour push, is instead simply arming its remaining New Hampshire volunteers with Perry literature to distribute at the polls on Tuesday. A recent Suffolk University Poll of 500 “very likely” voters found only seven respondents who back Perry – roughly 1 percent. (Five respondents in the same poll said they plan to vote for the much-ignored former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.)
Perry's Manchester campaign office may be his only visible presence in the state, but one could easily miss it when driving past. It is marked by five or six small Perry yard signs, taped to the inside of its tinted glass windows, on the side of the office building facing away from the road.