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New Hampshire: Vote Free or Die

Friday, 6 Jan 2012 | 7:23 PM ET

The other day, I took a very pleasant one-hour drive north from Boston to New Hampshire to check out the CNBC New Hampshire Primary Headquarters. I pulled off I-93 and took local roads because I wanted to get lost in the New Hampshire countryside. I will admit the media only parachutes in and out of the big city but never takes a quiet drive to get a lay of the land. With some spare time, I wanted to see what the fuss was all about this time around.

I was last in New Hampshire during the 1996 election. I produced a live "Phil Donahue" show where I put together deliberate nonvoters, frustrated at the electoral process. On live national television, they took on equal members of Democrats and Republicans in a Quaker Meeting House in the New Hampshire countryside. This was 16 years ago and since then, things have changed. Our economy went from being unstoppable to being in trouble. And it appears New Hampshire has become a more divisive state in the interim. Perhaps, in a typical New Hampshire way, residents weren’t about to let things happen without their voice being heard. Today, on each lawn, there was sign after sign from all the campaigns.

I then drove a little further to an area of Manchester where you can see boarded-up factories. To think, at the height of American manufacturing, these factories were humming at full-speed. People were employed, they were fed, the roads were in good shape. Little by little, as technology outpaced manufacturing, the factories went to Asia … and well, you know the rest of it.

It made me think of how Larry Kudlow has been quite vocal about not liking Rick Santorum’s plan to remove corporate taxes for manufacturers. In Santorum’s plan, these large factories—had they continued until today—would be exempt from corporate taxes. It sounds like a good idea, but then, here is where I have to agree with Larry. Why pick just manufacturers? What constitutes a manufacturer? Clothing companies manufacture. But food companies manufacture sandwiches and frozen dinners. What about small businesses? If I am a homebuilder, am I a manufacturer? So much of this economy is built on small businesses and small corporations who get hit with high business taxes. Having owned my own business, I can attest that high taxes make it prohibitive to do any business.

Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary is a perfect venue for Granite Staters, living in the shadow of the carcasses of these factories, to make their voices heard nationwide. As I produce "The Kudlow Report" in 2012, a lot has happened since that 1996 show I produced. I just hope the residents don’t deliberately stay home.

Questions? Comments, send your emails to: lkudlow@kudlow.com

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  • Lawrence Kudlow is a CNBC senior contributor. Previously, Kudlow was anchor of CNBC's prime-time program "The Kudlow Report"