Dressed in a long black overcoat, looking a little like a wizened wizard from the snowy New Hampshire woods, Dennis Kucinich strides confidently into a chilly toolshed at Derek Owen's 200-acre organic farm. As he stops to survey the 30 or so locals who have come to hear him speak, he grins: These are his people.
There's Mr. Owen - his gray mutton-chop beard still flecked with snow - holding dirty yellow work gloves as he extends his greeting. His green cap, stuck with a feather, reads, "Farm Here to Eternity." Over there, in the corner, is Mark Lathrop, the burly proprietor of the Monadnock Hemporium, wearing a broad-brimmed leather cowboy hat. He's a fierce advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana. Opposite him, near the door, stands Elizabeth Obelenus, smiling. She's the tall office manager for the Northeast Organic Farming Association, the informal sponsor of the talk tonight, and she's most worried about the unknown dangers of genetically modified organisms.
They're all applauding. "Good job last night!" says one of an older couple near the pegboard on the wall. "You were our hero!" the other adds. As the diminutive Cleveland congressman shakes their hands and nods, he tells them he's been hearing the same all day. He'd created a bit of a buzz the night before after lashing out at Ted Koppel, the moderator of the debate in nearby Concord, and scolding him for focusing on polls and endorsements rather than important issues.
Like his nonconformist audience this evening, Mr. Kucinich is a candidate with quirks. A strict vegan, he would hardly be the type to throw a Crawford, Texas, barbecue. A skilled ventriloquist, he keeps a dummy in his office to entertain school kids who visit him on field trips. Twice divorced, he recently went on an early-morning blind date with a woman who had beaten out 79 others in a "Who Wants to Be a First Lady" contest, put on by the website PoliticsNH.com.
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