RYE, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Sen. Barack Obama touches down on a cold, windy, rainy day in here in this seaside town for two days of straight-from-the-hip politics. Tonight, he holds a town meeting. He then presents his case to the New Hampshire trial bar. Tomorrow morning, he rallies his troops at their campaign's first statewide canvass. Then he speaks at a commencement ceremony attended by thousands of students -- and their parents.
It's too early to say much about Obama's strength here. He certainly can win, and he seems a natural fit for a pre-exisitng coalition of Deaniacs, college students, professionals and suburnites. His New Hampshire staff exceeds three dozen; there are hundreds of volunteers working out of four statewide offices.
On Saturday, Obama will urge Democrats and independents to pressure Sen. John Sununu into changing his position on troop withdrawals. It's helpful in New Hamshire, obviously -- Sununu is vulnerable only because he supports President Bush here -- but there's a national element to this strategy as well. Wherever Obama goes, he'll pressure the Senate -- he did so in Iowa last week, earning the ire of Sen. Chuck Grassley, who then played right into Obama's hands by scolding the younger senator for his impatience.
This may be the germ of a nationwide movement to link the nomination of Obama with the Democrats' being able to expand their majorities in the Senate -- and with Republican Senators who might, this fall, change their minds and support troop withdrawals.
This is Obama's first trip to New Hampshire with Secret Service protection. It will be interesting to see whether that makes a difference somehow.