It’s Primary Season in New Hampshire. Time to Go Skiing!

“I started doing it and then dozens and then hundreds of people signed up,” he said. In the last year, Mr. Van Ostern’s memos, distributed to a mailing list that has grown to 30,000 people, have become the quintessential Baedeker to New Hampshire presidential politics.

Many of the more picturesque hotels and ski resorts are in New Hampshire’s North Country, particularly in the White Mountains. Those in the shadow of the aptly named Presidential Range are especially lovely, including the Omni Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, where John Maynard Keynes and 44 finance ministers and economic leaders from the Allied nations met in 1944 and set up the International Monetary Fund.

The hotel, often a backdrop for campaign photos, sits in the shadow of both Mount Washington, the highest peak in the East, and the Bretton Woods ski resort, the largest in the state. North Conway, the site of Cranmore Mountain and within striking distance of the Black Mountain, Wildcat, Attitash and King Pine ski areas, has several inns and motels, including the fabled Eastern Slope Inn.

One of the classic campaign lodgings is the Bedford Village Inn, a favorite of George W. Bush during the 2000 New Hampshire Primary that he lost to Senator John McCain by 18 percentage points. It is about a half-hour from two smaller ski hills, Pats Peak and Tenney Mountain, and an hour and a half from Waterville Valley. Its great advantage: It is only a quarter-hour drive to downtown Manchester, site of many candidate events in the last days of the primary, when travel to the voter-scarce White Mountains eats up too much valuable campaign time, and only about eight minutes from St. Anselm College, where candidates often flock for a ready audience and smart questions from the students and faculty affiliated with its New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

For 81 years the climate observers atop Mount Washington have been evaluating each day’s weather on a sliding scale of 5 cents (impenetrable blizzard conditions and unforgiving cold) to 50 cents (brilliant sunshine and seasonably warm temperatures). These ratings still can be heard on WMWV radio (93.5 FM), another good source for campaign information. The day I headed to Black Mountain and then to two events was a 45-center. But truly, any day you can combine skiing and candidate viewing is worth that extra nickel.

David M. Shribman, for 16 years the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, teaches at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at Montreal’s McGill University.

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