Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the storied New Hampshire presidential primary. Although the modern spectacle dates to 1952, the law first establishing the contest took effect in 1916. Interested in celebrating? Here are 16 famous spots where primary history was made:
Long a spot for visiting politicians, its key moment came in 1975, when Jimmy Carter came calling. “Jimmy Who?” asked proprietor Lloyd Robie, and — for better or worse — the phrase stuck.
In 1968, George Romney launched his presidential campaign here, only to drop out after saying he had been “brainwashed” into favoring the Vietnam War. Four decades later, his son, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and his family necessitated the arrival of Secret Service guards to the Big Lake.
Now known as Nashua High School South, it is the site of the 1980 debate among Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and others in the GOP field. In a tussle over the rules of the debate, Reagan famously declared, “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!” Days later, he trounced Bush and the others.
This is where John F. Kennedy started his 1960 presidential campaign. “The US today is the great defender of freedom. If we fail, that cause fails all over the world. If we succeed, the cause of freedom succeeds,” he said. Today, a bust of JFK marks the spot.
Generations of would-be presidents have filed their official paperwork here. Equally famous is one who did not: Mario Cuomo, who decided against a 1992 run in the final hours of the filing period, even as a crowd had gathered in Concord.
Slogan: “Where politicians meet the real people.” Both President Bushes flipped pancakes at Lindy’s. Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama stopped in, too.
In the first-in-the-nation state, Dixville voters for decades voted first — at a minute past midnight on Election Day. The resort is shuttered — but new owners are hoping to reopen in time for the 2016 vote.
In 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton won the New Hampshire primary but Barack Obama won the nomination after a looooong primary season. When it was all over, the two met in Unity to declare unity in the race against the GOP.
Formerly the home of the Union Leader newspaper. This is where Ed Muskie held an emotional press conference in 1972. Did he cry? Or were those melting snowflakes on his face? Either way, the scene and ensuing media coverage were credited with destroying his candidacy.
This was the site of a quintessential speech by Eugene McCarthy in 1968. He accused Lyndon Johnson of “five years of proven failure” and, regarding the Vietnam War, said: “We have not been told the truth.” LBJ won the primary, but McCarthy’s strong showing helped persuade the president ultimately to bow out.
This is the city where, in 1984, Gary Hart entered an ax-throwing contest at a lumberjack field day. His second throw — the one caught by TV cameras — hit the bull’s eye. The video clip played on television in the days leading up to the primary. On Election Day, Hart trounced Walter Mondale.
This is the spot where Republican John McCain began his 2000 campaign and ended his 2008 New Hampshire race. Holding scores of town hall meetings made him a favorite of local voters. In 2000, he trounced George W. Bush; in 2008, New Hampshire gave him another victory.
It was torn down this year to make room for a shopping center. For years it was the unofficial headquarters of the primary and home to the out-of-state press corps. Eventually, visitors will find a Whole Foods market in its place. (Before the Wayfarer, the press holed up at the New Hampshire Highway Hotel in Concord — eventually replaced by an LL Bean outlet strip mall.)
This is where two young Republicans from Boston set up shop in 1964, aiming to draft Henry Cabot Lodge into the presidential race. New Hampshire voters were game: Lodge, the ambassador to South Vietnam, won the primary — never stepping foot in the state. The vote underscored GOP disenchantment with the party’s eventual nominee, Barry Goldwater.
This is the spot where Bill Clinton, after surviving scandals about avoiding the draft and infidelity to his wife, celebrated election night. Even before the final votes were tallied, he declared himself “The Comeback Kid.” (Clinton actually came in second to Paul Tsongas, but no matter — he was back from the political dead, and not for the last time in his career.)
This is the site where Hillary Rodham Clinton was moved to tears just before the 2008 primary. Some credit the incident with helping her gain voters’ support and, days later, she beat Barack Obama.