STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
A comment by an Iowa caucus-goer last night reminds us that the presidential race has just begun. Steve Tice(ph) spoke with our colleague Sonari Glinton on the way out of one of last night's meetings.
STEVE TICE: You know, Iowa's not about picking the winner, it's about eliminating some of the guys that just shouldn't have run.
INSKEEP: And Iowa may well eliminate some candidates. Michele Bachmann, who finished sixth, reportedly has cancelled a trip, today, to South Carolina. And her campaign says she'll hold a press conference later this morning. We'll keep you up to date on that. Rick Perry says he's returning to his home state of Texas to consider his next moves after finishing fifth. But the others go on. Newt Gingrich stays in after a fourth place finish, declaring on to New Hampshire – which is where we go next. NPR's Brian Naylor is in the city of Manchester. Hi Brian, where are you?
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Hi Steve. I'm at the Red Arrow Diner. Kind of a famous political haunt in downtown Manchester, where the coffee mugs have a C-SPAN emblem on them. So you know that politics is always on the menu here. And I suppose people must be talking politics this morning.
You know, I mean, I think it's a little bit of the calm before the storm, before the candidates start arriving in this state on a big time basis. But one thing I did hear from some folks I spoke with, is where did this Rick Santorum come from? People are very surprised, he sort of appeared – came out of nowhere in Iowa, certainly. He's not spent a lot of time in New Hampshire and they're kind of scratching their heads, that this is something that nobody really saw coming.
INSKEEP: Now this is meaningful, because it's been assumed that Rick Santorum is not the kind of candidate who would necessarily do well in New Hampshire. But you're saying that people don't necessarily have a negative impression of him. He's a blank slate, they have an opportunity to learn about him here for the first time.
NAYLOR: That's exactly right. I don't think anybody really knows very much about him. Remember, he launched his bid for re-election four years ago, I believe, and so he's been out of the public eye for awhile. And people don't really have much of an idea of where he stands on issues. And I think they're kind of curious at this moment, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
INSKEEP: Brian Naylor, I want to ask about another candidate who did not compete in Iowa and has staked everything on New Hampshire. Based on your interviews there at the Red Arrow, or anywhere else that you'd been in recent days, how widely known is John Huntsman and how much interest is there in his candidacy?
NAYLOR: Well I think he has gotten some attention. You know, he had a town meeting last night while they were counting the votes in Iowa. He was here in New Hampshire, as if to say, you know, this is where I've placed all my chips. There's been some TV ads and some, you know, lawn signs, and so I think people do know him. And I think his brand of more moderate conservatism is a good fit for this state. But, saying that, I think this is really all about a race for second place in New Hampshire. I think Mitt Romney has it pretty well wrapped up. He's more or less the native son here, having been governor of Massachusetts. He has a summer home here. And so, he had a commanding lead in the polls and I'd be surprised if that changes much. It's really a question of who else might emerge from the pack to possibly challenge him down the road when we get to the more socially conservative states in the South.
INSKEEP: In just a couple of seconds: is this correct, that although Mitt Romney's coming to New Hampshire, he's also going to spend of couple days in South Carolina – which votes next – before coming back for the New Hampshire vote?
NAYLOR: That's right. That's what we've been hearing. And all of the candidates will be here this week and there's debate – or I believe all of the candidates will be here this weekend – this debate, Saturday night. But, you know, I think Romney is probably more concerned, right now, about showing up and doing well in South Carolina, and is, more of less, figuring he's got worries in New Hampshire.
INSKEEP: OK. NPR's Brian Naylor in Manchester, New Hampshire this morning. This is MORNING EDITION for NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.