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Economy a factor for primary voters

New Hampshire’s doing better after a rough ride post-9/11 but there is a lingering anxiety about the economy and health care costs.  NBC's Tom Brokaw reports.

New Hampshire’s doing better after a rough ride post-9/11, but there is a lingering anxiety about the economy and health care costs.

Welcome to National Embroidery — hit hard after 9/11, but now sales are up for Diane Fauteux. Still, she worries — and she thinks John Kerry has the answer.  “Hopefully they will be able to do something about the rising cost of health insurance,” Fauteux said.

Mike Quinlan runs the software company Transparent Language: “It’s really an extraordinary time for us; we’re building great stuff.”

But the last four years have been a roller coaster for Quinlan. He was worried about survival. “Yes, I think a lot of people were certain we wouldn’t survive,” Quinlan added.

When NBC News last met Quinlan, in 2000, his company was growing at warp speed. But then, Quinlan says, “the bubble burst.”

New Hampshire once boasted more high-tech workers per capita than any other state.  Eighteen percent of those jobs are now gone.

At the Page Belting Co., Mark Cohen says he doesn’t like the war in Iraq, but military orders have helped his bottom line: “9/11 happened and then, a lot of orders and contracts we had with knife manufacturers increased dramatically.”  But Cohen worries about rising health care costs, and so John Edwards has caught his eye.

So New Hampshire’s recovering economy is a mixed blessing, politically.

Quinlan’s doing language software, and one of the most stunning things after 9/11 was the director of the FBI asking if anybody out there speaks Arabic — bad times for America, good time for Transparent Language. “Yes, this is not only something the government needs but now something that everybody understands the government needs,” said Quinlan.

Mike Quinlan, an old Kennedy Democrat, thinks the new Democrats don’t take terrorism seriously enough, so he’s going for Bush in the fall.

Mark Cohen, at the leather factory, and Diane Fauteux, in the sewing shop, will stay with the Democrats if they can deliver on health insurance. “Each year the health insurance premium increases 20 to 25 per cent and made us wonder if we could continue to pay that,” said Fauteux.

In November, Democrats will be back in New Hampshire, traditionally a Republican state, hoping worries about jobs and health care will carry them through.