Tulsi Gabbard moves to New Hampshire as candidate places bets on state's primary

The Hawaii native has moved to the state as she pushes for a strong showing.

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A two-day snowstorm wasn't enough to scare off Hawaii-native Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from New Hampshire. In fact, she's moved to the state.

While other candidates are focusing on Iowa, Gabbard is placing her bets on New Hampshire. Gabbard is one poll short of the four needed to qualify for the December debate stage; two of the qualifying polls were from New Hampshire.

At 5%, Gabbard was tied for fifth place in the Oct. 29 CNN/University of New Hampshire poll of likely primary voters in the state. However, nationally, she received just 2% support, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Nov. 3.

"We had a town hall in Rochester and then in Gilford right before the storm hit and people said, 'You must be getting out of town.' It was like, 'Nope, we’re here for the duration,'" Gabbard told Manchester ABC affiliate WMUR.

During this week's storm, Gabbard posted pictures showing her doing yoga in her newly rented New Hampshire home as 2 feet of snow piled up outside.

She said she isn’t giving up on the other early voting states, saying she will be in South Carolina "in a couple of weeks. But we look forward to spending a lot of time [in New Hampshire]."

Snow isn’t a foreign entity to Gabbard, despite growing up in Hawaii. She has spent several years on the mainland in Washington -- both as a congresswoman and a congressional staffer for the late Sen. Daniel Akaka -- and just this week braved the 20-degree weather marching in a holiday parade in Laconia, New Hampshire.

She did joke that Christmas this year will be a little different; "I grew up in Hawaii where Christmas was you know 80 degrees and a day at the beach. And so being here for the winter, you know, the first snow of the year is always fun."

Gabbard will likely spend the holiday season campaigning. New Hampshire is a unique state where 78% of likely primary voters said they are still trying to decide what candidate to support, or are leaning toward someone, but have not yet definitely decided on a candidate, according to the CNN/UNH poll.

Marty Prichard, an undecided voter in the state, said he's looking for a candidate who brings "youth, new ideas and new concepts."

"We're at a point in this country where things are very partisan within party lines," Prichard told ABC News after an event featuring South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Prichard said he’s looking for a candidate who can bridge that divide and only two candidates fit that bill: Buttgieg and Gabbard.

At a crowded town hall at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire, in October, Gabbard acknowledged she had an uphill battle getting her name out there to voters. While 5% is enough to get her into debates, she remains well behind the favorites, even specifically in New Hampshire. Sen. Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont, led in the October CNN/UNH poll with 21%, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, from bordering Massachusetts, at 18%, former Vice President Joe Biden at 15%, Buttigieg at 10% and both Andrew Yang and Sen. Amy Klobuchar also at 5%.

"I don't have the same kind of high level of name recognition as somebody like Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, or others," she admitted.

In an attempt to fix the problem she has blanketed the state with billboards over the past year and said she’s received a good return on investment.

"We have folks coming to our town hall meetings, saying, 'Hey, I saw this yard sign,' or 'I saw this billboard and I thought, 'Huh I wonder who that is? And then I forgot about it. Then I saw another one, and another one, and another one and another one,'” Gabbard relayed.

While Gabbard is doubling down on New Hampshire, she's not the only one. Yang opened a campaign office in Manchester on Tuesday, marking his 75th event in the state. Buttigieg is beginning his 14th trip to the state on Thursday.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately characterized Gabbard's move to New Hampshire. Gabbard will be spending a significant portion of time in the state through the first-in-the-nation primary, while keeping Hawaii as her official state of residence.