For Clinton and McCain, a New Hampshire revival
Results in the Granite State mean frontrunners in both parties will continue to duke it out for the nomination.
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But his loss to Mr. Huckabee in Iowa Jan. 3 raised questions about his electability. As an establishment-backed Republican seeking to position himself as the race's true conservative, he was never a perfect fit for New Hampshire's social moderates.Skip to next paragraph
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Romney has lowered expectations in recent days, arguing that a second-place finish keeps him in the race. But if he falters Jan. 15 in Michigan, where he grew up and his father was governor, analysts say he will be hard-pressed to recover.
At a post-primary event in Bedford Tuesday night, Romney promised a long fight and sought to counter his rivals' popularity with new efforts to portray himself as an outsider. "[People] feel that Washington is broken," he told supporters. "You have to have somebody from outside Washington who has proven that he can get the job done."
Whether New Hampshire is McCain's one-hit wonder remains to be seen. He started last year as a national GOP frontrunner, then crashed in the summer: His campaign ran out of cash, he angered conservatives with his support of a Senate measure to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, and irked moderates with his endorsement of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. He finished fourth in Iowa.
McCain is a natural in New Hampshire, where independents make up some 44 percent of the electorate. An early spoiler for him here – his support for Bush's troop "surge" in Iraq – receded as waning violence pushed the war from the front pages.
New Hampshire voters saw McCain as no better able to bring change than Romney but gravitated toward the former POW as the more experienced and inspiring candidate, according to recent polls.
"My friends, you know, I'm past the age when I can claim the noun 'kid,' no matter what adjective precedes it," he said at a victory celebration in Nashua. "But tonight, we sure showed them what a comeback looks like."
Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister with a deep base of evangelical Christian support, won Iowa but was never much of a contender in New Hampshire, where rates of church attendance are among the country's lowest. His eyes now turn to South Carolina, a Bible Belt state where he leads in the polls despite recent advances by McCain.
Mr. Giuliani had campaigned only half-heartedly in Iowa and New Hampshire, hoping for a rout on Feb. 5, when New York, California, and 20 other states vote. But the strategy may backfire, some analysts say. He has missed out on the crush of media coverage heaped on winners in the early-voting states. And as terrorism and war fade from television screens, his appeal as New York's mayor after 9/11 loses some luster.
"All four of the leading Republicans candidates" – Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain, and Romney – "have some serious liabilities, but they each have some sort of angle where they could still pull it off," says David Kimball, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Congressman Paul, with his antiwar, small-government message, drew a fervent following in New Hampshire. Small armies of supporters hoisted signs and bellowed from the street corners. But a fifth-place finish here will place him under increasing pressure to quit.
Late into the race and slow on the campaign trail, Thompson has struggled to convince Republicans of his passion for the White House. The "Law & Order" actor with the southern drawl was never expected to wow northern New England. Finishing a distant third in Iowa and sixth in New Hampshire, he is now placing all his chips in South Carolina, a must-win state where he has fallen from first to fourth in polls as Huckabee and McCain have surged.