CONCORD, New Hampshire — Senator Hillary Clinton arrived at the tiny Broken Ground elementary school in a massive bus, flanked by Secret Service and greeted by throngs of cameras (and very vocal supporters of Republican Representative Ron Paul).
It was the final stop of her marathon campaign to capture the New Hampshire primary, and she came here, to this polling precinct, to shake a few hands, meet some fairly bewildered third-graders and perhaps swing a few last-minute votes her way. And, somewhere in between all that, she gave exactly one interview: to MTV News, at the prompting of her daughter, Chelseaprompting of her daughter, Chelsea. The presidential candidate spoke of the importance of the day and just how high the stakes are for young voters.
"Every election is about the future, and what we are going to do is bring our country together, to ensure that the American dream is always there," she said. "That's especially for the next generation, for our young people and for our children.
"I have worked on behalf of young people for most of my life, trying to provide better health care and education opportunities and to do whatever I could to make sure that we never broke faith with what America's supposed to stand for," she continued. "The purpose of America is to make progress. I want to get back to that, and I want our young people ... being proud of America again. So, it's about the future."
When asked how she plans to reach young voters, the senator replied, "Well, we're gonna reach out and work for everybody!"
This final scramble is also important for her — after all, she's already trailing, according to exit polls taken in the tiny towns of Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, where the state primary officially got under way at midnight. (Her main opponent, Senator Barack Obama, won in both spots, earning seven and nine votes, respectively.)
But for the rest of the state, it's just beginning. Polls in most precincts opened bright and early Tuesday morning (January 8), kicking off the final sprint that won't end until 8 p.m., when those same polls close and it's all over but the shouting (and the spinning, of course).
And there were ample amounts of both on display this morning at Broken Ground, as volunteers for Clinton, Obama, Paul and Senator John McCain shouted, held huge signs (you can tell we're entering the homestretch because the signs just keep getting larger and more unwieldy) and talked about their hopes for Tuesday evening.
"Of course, it'd be amazing if Hillary wins, but second isn't the end of the world either," Julissa Giron, a 21-year-old student and Clinton volunteer, said. "I think that whatever happens tonight, it's going to be shocking.
"I think that young voters have played a huge role in all this, and I hope they realize what's at stake," she continued. "So far, they've been inspired by inspiration, not politics and policy. And hopefully they'll choose the candidate with the experience."
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said Monday that he expected a record voter turnout of about 500,000, a mark that would shatter the previous high of 396,000 in 2000. And from the look of things at Broken Ground, he may be right. Cars crammed into the school's tiny lot, parking in snow banks and under tall pine trees. Overflow spilled out into the street, and gruff state police shooed media onto the sidewalks as Clinton's bus arrived.
And after 30 minutes, she was off again, presumably for some much-needed rest. For her, there was nothing more to do than sit back and watch the results trickle in. And her supporters can only do the same. After weeks of sprinting, it's now time to play the waiting game.
"I got to New Hampshire on Friday, and I've been following Hillary for most of that time, at rallies, things like that, and so I'm hoping she's going to win," said Bahati Mwitula, a 16-year-old from Chicago, who attended the primary with the Mikva Challenge civic program. "I'm predicting she'll win here, then take the nomination and choose Obama as her running mate. I think."
Keep checking in MTV News for more coverage of the New Hampshire primary throughout the week, and don't miss a post-victory interview with Senator Hillary Clinton, as well as exclusive chats with former President Bill Clinton and John McCain's daughter Meghan.