- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

DOVER, N.H. (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton stole New Hampshire’s spotlight Sunday as she greeted voters at two popular restaurants, but she did her best to share the stage.

“Be sure you send Jeanne back to Washington,” she responded after a greeting of “Please run, we need you,” from voter Barbara Willis.

Clinton was referring to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic incumbent facing a tight race from Republican challenger Scott Brown. Willis, who came from New Jersey to visit her son in hopes of seeing Clinton, was wishing for another Clinton presidential bid.

Clinton appeared at a rally in Nashua on behalf of Shaheen and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan before stopping at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester and the Farm Bar and Grille in Dover. It was her first visit to the state since 2008.

As the former secretary of state posed for photos, the voters she met were eager to talk about her future. But Clinton responded each time by urging voters to elect Democrats in 2014 first.

Campaigning across the country this fall, Clinton has made some off-schedule stops at coffee shops and restaurants, giving her the opportunity to talk to voters. Her recent trips to Illinois, Colorado and Iowa on behalf of Senate and gubernatorial candidates have included the retail stops.

During Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, some Democrats said her events often consisted of large rallies and did not include as many smaller gatherings in more intimate settings. New Hampshire’s politics has long been marked by giving voters the chance to have one-on-one exchanges with candidates.

“This is the biggest thing in my life to ever happen,” Sarah Tuniewicz said as Clinton walked through the Puritan. “I’m really here,” Clinton told Tuniewicz and her friend later, sensing their enthusiasm as she posed for a photo.

This was just the kind of excitement New Hampshire Democrats hoped to stoke with Clinton’s visit, as the party’s candidates in the state face tight races and a possible enthusiasm gap at the polls. At the rally, Shaheen and Hassan urged the audience to campaign non-stop through Tuesday.

“We want to remind Democrats and independents what’s at stake in this race,” Shaheen said after the Dover stop. “Having Hillary Clinton here gets people excited and reminds them it’s important to go vote.”

At the Puritan, Clinton chatted with co-owner Chris Pappas, a Democrat who serves on the state’s executive council. Pappas brought up the last time Clinton visited the restaurant, in 2008. “It was a good time then and it’s a good time now,” Clinton told him.

State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester gave Clinton a present in a white gift bag for her infant granddaughter, Charlotte.

“It’s a woman’s world!” yelled one patron as Clinton, Shaheen and Hassan posed for photos.

New Hampshire nurtured Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992 and Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire’s presidential primary in 2008 against Barack Obama.

“I love New Hampshire,” she told one patron. “I’ve been coming here since 1991 on a regular basis. I have lots of friends - I see familiar faces.”

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Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Nashua, N.H., contributed to this report.

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Follow Kathleen Ronayne on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kronayne

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