Charles Dharapak, Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire residents puff out their collective chests at having the first presidential primary, yet many were glad Wednesday to see the GOP candidates leave for their next contest in South Carolina.
Donna Gamache of Manchester said she's proud New Hampshire has the first primary, but tired of the computer-generated phone calls on behalf of candidates. The 51-year-old Gamache said she'll also be glad to talk about something besides the primary.
"It dominated every conversation and the news," she said. "It will be nice to talk about something else."
But Gamache, a Republican, said she hopes the candidates come back.
"I want New Hampshire to matter," she said.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won Tuesday's GOP primary. Texas congressman Ron Paul was second followed by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. President Barack Obama won the Democratic primary.
Paula Baldwin, of Northfield, said she found the computer calls annoying, especially when they came around dinner time, but she enjoys the excitement the primary brings to the state. She said she didn't vote when she lived in Massachusetts, but when she moved to New Hampshire, she felt her vote really mattered.
An undeclared voter, Baldwin, 55, voted for Obama four years ago, and for Ron Paul on Tuesday. She said if his candidacy doesn't survive, she'll vote for Obama in November.
Sharon Monroe of Concord said she is "definitely" glad the primary is over.
"Every day I'd get home to voice messages on my machine, often from the same candidates, and the front page of the paper's been full of it," Monroe said. "It's nice to get some other news eventually."
Monroe says she voted for Ron Paul, even though he left quite a few of those messages.
At least one eatery, Colby's Breakfast & Lunch in Portsmouth, had gotten tired of the candidates, putting up a sign in the entrance that read, "No Politicians, No Exceptions." Staff said candidate visits were disrupting meals for patrons at their small business.
Other restaurants welcomed the attention.
"I don't think we found it overwhelming by any means," said Vaughn Palmer, a kitchen manager at MaryAnn's Diner in Derry, a popular stop for candidates during the presidential primary season. "I enjoy it personally, and I think most of the people here do."
The diner was the scene of one lighthearted moment last year when Romney, during a photo shoot with some waitresses, pretended one of them tried to grab his behind. He said he was just teasing.
One popular campaign stop for Republicans in the past has been Riley's Gun Shop in Hooksett. But this primary season, few of the candidates stopped by.
Firearms issues related to civil rights "wasn't on the radar screen," shop owner Ralph Demicco said. He said this year's candidates are all "pretty much pro-second amendment liberty types."
"In a way, I'm glad, because firearms shouldn't be a lightning-rod issue," Demicco said. "On the other hand, it was kind of good for notoriety and good for the business."
Ellen Desmond, 21, of Concord said she was excited by the primary. An independent, she voted for Paul to give him a chance.
"I walked out of (the polls) proud to be an American," she said.
Not everyone is sorry the primary is over.
"There's a lot of energy and a chance to shape culture and the world," said Mark MacDonald of Bow. "The thought patterns of New Hampshire don't get shared enough. Our independent spirit and thinking tends to purify the presidential contest. It's not just a popularity contest."
"It puts responsibility on us to take responsibility for the country," MacDonald said.
Associated Press reporters Kathy McCormack and Lynne Tuohy contributed to this report from Concord.
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