Nightly News   |  January 08, 2012

NH voters not easily won over

Nearly half of the state’s registered voters are independent, underscored by the state’s famed motto: Live Free or Die. Ahead of Tuesday’s primary, candidates have their work cut out for them as they try to win support among voters who say they are still undecided. NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> new hampshire is well known for its fiercely guarded independence, perhaps best illustrated by the state motto , live free or die . voters there, many of them, proudly independent, work as hard getting to know the candidates as the kennecandidates work to earn their support. ron mott spent some time with them.

>> reporter: former state lawmaker frank tupper grabbed his coffee, pen and paper for the debate and watched with a critical eye.

>> fact checked.

>> reporter: not expecting to be swayed by much of anything he heard and he wasn't.

>> they all seem to be cookie cutter to me.

>> reporter: an obama supporter four years ago, he's like nearly half of the registered voter , he's an independent and still undecided about tuesday's election.

>> let's be honest with ourselves.

>> he has a lot of gall coming up here and being in a debate when he hasn't even campaigned here.

>> reporter: this line from jon huntsman earned his sparse praise.

>> i will always put my country first and i think that's important.

>> before party, i like it.

>> reporter: largely dissatisfied with the current gop field and disappointed with the president's record, he says he's left wanting.

>> i'm looking for somebody who would be a leader, who would be able to call upon this country, because we're in some real dire straits right now.

>> reporter: he and other voters here say there is a disconnect between campaign rhetoric and reality, especially in a down economy.

>> i don't know that any one of them can say there will be jobs for these young people . they can say it. will it happen?

>> it is easy to run for president. hard to be president.

>> my oldest daughter, people say what are you going to do when you graduate, she said, be unemployed and that's the way she feels.

>> reporter: it could be difficult for any of the candidates to be president without catering more to independent voters like tupper and his friends.

>> this state is divided because of attitudes like that.

>> reporter: and pointed to exchanges like the one between mitt romney and huntsman over huntsman's work with the obama administration as a turnoff.

>> this is america and we're struggling. it requires everybody, no matter what political party you are. i'm tired of obstructionists. i'm just tired of that.

>> reporter: unlike the voters we met with today, nine in ten say they have settled on a candidate here in new hampshire.