Tensions were high at Ron Paul’s first campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, today, a day before the state votes in its first-in-the-nation Republican primary. At a breakfast visit to Moe Joe’s Family Restaurant, few actual primary voters were in attendance. Instead, the restaurant was packed with a group of a hundred high school students from Franklin, Massachusetts (hometown of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown), out-of-state activists from the nonpartisan Americans Elect, more than a hundred journalists, fringe candidate Vermin Supreme, and a convertible with two people in pig costumes promoting the website www.taxmeat.com.

It proved a combustible mix for a tiny space. Prior to Paul’s arrival, a teacher from the Massachusetts high school dressed down about four dozen journalists as if they’d been caught shooting spitballs or smoking in the bathroom. “You’re going to ruin it for all these kids,” he shouted.

Television cameras on tripods and reporters standing in front of his breakfasting students would spoil their view of the Texas congressman when he arrived, the teacher said. He threatened to pack the kids back on their two buses and leave if the reporters didn’t heed his plea.

They didn’t. When Paul arrived he was swarmed by a group of nearly 30 television cameras and photographers. After spending 15 minutes trying to push his way through the media hordes to greet Massachusetts residents who weren’t old enough to vote anyway, Paul gave up and fled back to his black Chevrolet Suburbans, accompanied by a phalanx of aides and burly security men.

In the parking lot he was met by Vermin Supreme, a perennial fringe candidate who is running on a platform of mandatory tooth-brushing and ponies for all. Supreme, wearing multiple neckties and a rubber boot on his head, taunted Paul. “Ron Paul is a monster,” he shouted into his megaphone.