CLAREMONT, N.H. -- "You're looking at the only Democratic presidential candidate who was born in and raised in small towns in rural America."
And with that, John Edwards made the case to the voters in Claremont, N.H. why he is the best choice for the Democratic presidential nomination. (That, and, of course, as Edwards himself pointed out , "We've elected elected two Democrats president in the last... 40-plus years, and they both talk like this," referring to his Southern drawl.)
And it is, indeed, rural here in western New Hampshire. I asked a woman coming out of the event where exactly Claremont is located and she said it was 30 minutes south of Hanover and an hour north of Keene.
Rule number one of rural identification: If the closest cities are "Hanover" and "Keene," then you're probably in a rural area.
But the ride from Peterborough was evidence enough. For over an hour, guided by our trusty press van driver and Edwards press assistant Alex Reese, we twisted through snowy back roads, passing a fresh deer carcass at one point.
We were just a Hank Williams tape and a sketchy hitchhiker away from never seeing our friends and family ever again.
Highways? Not on this trip.
Cell phone service? Spotty at best.
Blackberries? You're kidding me, right?
As much as I kid, though, Claremont is a beautiful New England town, with snowcapped scenery and good folks who laugh when a disoriented out-of-town reporter working in his third state in as many days asks, "Where the heck am I anyway?"