Occupy New Hampshire protesters dressed in black marched in a funeral procession at St. Anselm College just before the GOP candidates were scheduled to debate on campus.
Hundreds of the group's members used the massive media presence here to draw attention to their movement on a national stage. Occupy NH, which is affliliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, represents the 99 percent of Americans who feel their voices are no longer being heard in Washington and that the richest 1 percent of Americans and corporations have too much power.
On Saturday night, the funeral procession carried the symbolic body of the American Dream before the issues related to the economy, joblessness and federal tax reform were scheduled to be debated by the Republican Presidential candidates.
Bret Chamberlain of Durham manned a bull horn to lead his fellow protesters in chants like, "We are the 99 percent!" and "Banks got bailed out. We got sold out!"
Chamberlain said the group planned on demonstrating on campus until the debate ended around 11 p.m. He also said college officials informed them they could only stage their demonstration in one area of the campus or they would be subject to arrest.
Around 7:30 p.m., the protesters were joined by campaign supporters for Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich who tried to out shout the Occupy NH demonstrators in response to their accusations that the GOP candidates are part of the 1 percent of the richest Americans who have caused the economic divided.
Ron Paul supporters chanted, "Vote for Dr. No!" Romney supporters chanted, "Go Mitt go!" One Gingrich supporter tried to shout the protesters down by yelling, "Get a job! Get a job!" But the Occupy NH protesters quieted her pretty quickly.
Overall, the Occupy NH protesters and the supporters of the candidates co-existed peacefully. Scott Rutter, an Iraq War veteran who was with Veterans for Romney, said he respected their right to protest and freedom of speech even though he did not agree with them.
Romney supporter Valerie Earnshaw of Bedford said she emphasized with the Occupy NH protesters and understands why so many people are so disenfranchised with the economy. But she believes the best way to effect meaningful change is to support the right candidate.