Note To Candidates: You'd Better Deliver

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This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

I'm a sucker for presidential campaigns, especially the early stages. On any given day right now, if you live in New Hampshire or Iowa or South Carolina, you can literally go tug on the sleeve of someone running for president and tell them how you think things ought to be. It's retail politicking.

Candidates deliver a stump speech. They stay for a little Q and A, take a few pictures, and then it's off to the next stop. The lesson? If you want to become president of the United States, you have to earn that right, at least to begin with, one voter at a time. Iowans and South Carolinians become surrogates for the rest of us. And, man, do they take it seriously.

Go to a town meeting in New Hampshire and listen to some of the questions. They mean business. And look into the faces of the people in the crowds. It's almost as if they can see through you. They expect something from their presidential candidates and if you want their vote, you'd better deliver.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.