Flying into a small airport in New Hampshire's Lakes Region, Obama has attracted a crowd, as usual. Today, in tiny Laconia, it is only a couple hundred, but it is a Monday afternoon. And, because first impressions count and the Granite State's primary is the nation's first, crowds--regardless of their size--matter in make-or-break New Hampshire.
Bounding through the throng with a lanky ease, the junior senator from Illinois smiles broadly, kisses babies and basks in the praise of adoring strangers. "Everywhere we go we've been seeing these terrific crowds," he exults to the lunchtime onlookers, pushing his voice past the limitations of a mild head cold. "Twenty thousand people show up in Atlanta. Twenty thousand people in Austin, Texas. We had 15,000 in Oakland ...
"I'm not afraid to lose," he tells me. "When Michelle and I talked about this, our attitude was, it's only worth it if we get out of this whole on the other end; if we haven't given up who we are; if we're pushing the envelope a little."
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