MANCHESTER — Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson left a trail of half-empty coffee cups, barely touched Diet Pepsi glasses and a throng of reporters behind on Sunday as he scurried to retail-style stops and an afternoon rally.
The former "Law & Order" actor and senator, on his first trip to New Hampshire as a declared candidate, jumped into the person-to-person campaigning voters demand — and that he has been late to begin. He stopped by Manchester bars and restaurants as voters watched football, drank beer and asked Thompson about immigration, the economy and politics. He even signed a magazine that featured Thompson on its cover with the headline, "Lazy Like a Fox."
"I'm going to lose more weight on this thing. I'll never get close enough to food to eat it," he joked with the throng of reporters and photographers.
It's the type of retail-style politics New Hampshire voters demand and thus far has been absent from the former prosecutor who entered the race only last week. Thompson faces tough odds in early voting states where his rivals have spent months building organizations. But at least based on Sunday's performance, Thompson is committed to playing catch-up.
"I'm going to put myself before the people and leave it to the hands of the people and the Lord," Thompson said in a Manchester sports bar. "That's all I can ask. ... If the American people think someone else will be a better president, I want them to do whatever they think will be best and I'll abide by that."
Thompson made his way through a Manchester restaurant, leaving behind half-finished orders before finally grabbing a hamburger as a take-out order. "I would always go for a burger, all things being equal," he told a waitress.
At his first public stop of the day, he left behind half a cup of coffee. "That's pretty good coffee. I hate to leave it," he bemoaned.
Thompson knows retail-style stops are necessary for any candidate trying to have a decent showing in early states. A day earlier, he visited a Republican women's chili dinner at the Scamman farm in Stratham, just after a rainstorm blew through. "If I can get out and have days like this and see people like this, you know, it makes no difference to me whether it's raining or not."