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Drs. Judy and Howard Dean, Martin Sheen Howard Dean (center) and his wife at a campaign rally with actor Martin Sheen
Gary Li photo

Report from New HampshireStudents on the primary trail
The Dean campaign: The final hours in New Hampshire

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About the New Hampshire project

During the coming week, the NewsCenter will feature coverage of the Jan. 27 New Hampshire presidential primary written by three Berkeley students working for the campaigns of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich.

The students are enrolled in UC Berkeley's Washington Program Office. Michael Goldstein, program director, says the New Hampshire primary provides students in the program with hands-on experience in politics, bridging the gap between what they learn in the classroom and the reality of hardball politics. Later, the students will write research papers on the presidential selection process, and present their findings at an April public forum.

– It's the night before Election Day, and I should be sleeping. I'll be waking up at 4 a.m. tomorrow to start work and am looking forward to the victory party at 7 p.m. Yes, you read that right: Victory Party. The energy level is beyond ecstatic here at the Howard Dean headquarters. The polls show Gov. Dean closing in on a first place finish, with his momentum building. Of course, there are at least five polls floating around, all with immensely varying information. But judging by the number of dedicated voters we've called in the past few days – people who will vote for Dr. Dean despite the expected sleet and snow – I have great hopes for tomorrow.

Gov. Dean has been in Manchester twice in the past two days, and I've attended both events. On Sunday, the theme was "Women for Dean." For that event, we were seated in the overflow room, which itself overflowed; over 150 disappointed people had to be turned away. Despite a live video feed to the overflow room, Gov. Dean and his wife, Dr. Judy Dean, came in to speak to us in person. He was serious for the most part, but cranked it up a bit at the end, as he ticked off a list of states.

In fact, reacting to the reaction from his election night speech in Iowa, he's been offering a bit of self-parody at the podium. Among the campaign crew here, the general consensus is that the media has overplayed the governor's rally call to his campaign workers, and that this has shifted the focus of the primary away from issues to trivial matters. The energy and negative press from Gov. Dean's Iowa speech actually has energized rather than discouraged his campaign staff. The Iowa speech displayed his determination, one of the characteristics that truly distinguishes him from the other candidates. Here in New Hampshire, we know the hard work the Iowa crew had put into the campaign there, experiencing it here ourselves, and for Dean to not put out every bit of energy that evening would have been a disappointment.

Today's town-hall meeting began with a surprise. Martin Sheen, America's "acting president," as he described himself, opened the meeting and introduced the Doctors Dean. Gov. Dean delivered a stellar speech, broaching a wide array of issues that flowed organically from one to the next. A question about how Dean would propose to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict eventually led to the issue of America's reliance on foreign oil, and the development of renewable energy. Gov. Dean said that renewable energy would provide economic benefits to the nation and also have an indirect effect on international radical groups, making it more difficult for them to find funding. I had never thought of the link between these two issues before, and was struck by Gov. Dean's synthesis and his breadth of knowledge across so many fields.

In the past week, as I've observed the Dean campaign, I've undergone a transformation. I came here as an admirer of Howard Dean but now am a true believer in Gov. Dean's views and outlook. I am absolutely yearning to hear Gov. Dean's speech at the election party tomorrow night. And if there's an "ewwow" at the end, you can bet the entire ballroom of people will be ewwow-ing right along with him.

– Gary Li, 11:30 p.m. Jan. 26

Gary K. Li was born and raised in San Francisco and graduated from San Francisco School of the Arts High School in instrumental music. Li studied classical music for 10 years. He is a third-year English and American Studies major at Berkeley, is enrolled in the Washington Program this semester, and will be interning in the office of Senator Hillary Clinton. Li, who is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, is a film and trivia buff and has an "insatiable love for the sport of reading." He says he is planning to get a graduate degree in English literature or law. Or maybe both.