Iowa Winners Face New Challenges in NH

By: AP
By: AP

CONCORD, N.H. - Iowa caucus victories behind them, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama vowed to stick with their winning principles Friday in an abbreviated dash to the finish in New Hampshire's presidential primary campaign, despite facing a different political alignment and, as Huckabee put it, "only a few days to close the sale."

Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain, GOP poll leaders in New Hampshire, stood ready to try to douse Huckabee's "prairie fire" in a state that lacks the religious voting bloc of Iowa and has an ornery tradition of rejecting Iowa's Republican caucus winners. "It will be a different race here," Romney said Friday.

Obama, the Illinois senator who dashed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's front-runner status in his convincing Iowa win, was rallying in Portsmouth and Concord. Clinton was being joined in Nashua by her husband, hoping to become the family's newest "Comeback Kid" in a state that revived Bill Clinton's run for the Democratic nomination in 1992.

Obama said he saw no reason to revamp his campaign for new realities: "No, it's not broken, why fix it?"

Huckabee, on the morning talk shows, pitched his tax plan to anti-tax New Hampshire Republicans, and asserted his campaign is about much more than the Christian conservatives who lifted him in Iowa. "What we're seeing is that this campaign is not just about people who have religious fervor," he said. "It's about people who love America, but want it to be better and believe that change is necessary and it's not going to happen from within Washington."

New Hampshire's primary is Tuesday, only five days after Iowa, in an unprecedented compression of the campaign calendar. McCain and Huckabee anticipated more attack ads against them.

"We're going to be certainly always holding the option of defending my record when people are misleading and distorting it," Huckabee said, in a veiled reference to Romney. "I think staying positive in Iowa, not doing the political dumpster-diving that some of the other candidates did, I believe it paid off."

McCain called Romney's attacks in Iowa "a little bit desperate. It didn't work in Iowa, I don't think it will work in New Hampshire." The Arizona senator's resurgent campaign raised him to the top of the polls against Romney in New Hampshire, with Huckabee lagging, in pre-Iowa surveys.

"We only have a few days to close the sale, but I think the momentum coming out of Iowa is going to be good for us," Huckabee said. "Then we're on to South Carolina and Florida where we're running first in the polls. We're going to have a great month." The candidates appeared on the network and cable morning talk shows.

Obama was neck and neck in New Hampshire polls with Clinton, who finished third in Iowa but has the money and organization to confront him.

Iowa's results tightened the Democratic field — Sens. Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd dropped out shortly after the outcome was clear Thursday night. John Edwards mounted an energetic, populist campaign only to see himself repeat his 2004 second place finish in Iowa. He vowed to continue, but he trails Obama and Clinton in polls and in money.

In Manchester, Edwards portrayed the Democratic race as one between him and Obama.

"I am the candidate who will fight with every fiber of my being, every single step of the way, for you, for your children and for your grandchildren," he said Friday to cheers from an audience that included more campaign workers than ordinary voters, and many non-New Hampshire residents.

On the Republican side, Huckabee enters New Hampshire with little money and little time to mount an adequate come-from-behind surge. And tradition pulls against him. George H. W. Bush in 1980, Bob Dole in 1988 and 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000 — all are Iowa caucus winners who lost their New Hampshire primaries.

His Iowa victory served to keep the GOP contest wide open. Huckabee beat Romney by nearly 9 percentage points, a setback for the former Massachusetts governor who now faces a reinvigorated McCain. Fred Thompson was looking beyond New Hampshire to South Carolina. And Rudy Giuliani, fading in New Hampshire, was counting on Florida and big state contests on Feb. 5.

An unpredictable factor could be Republican Ron Paul, an anti-war congressman with libertarian views whose legions of volunteers have fanned out across New Hampshire waving placards and knocking on doors in support of their dark horse candidate. Paul has raised a surprising amount of money, further complicating the political calculations in the state.

In their victory speeches Thursday night, Obama and Huckabee struck similar chords and distinguished themselves from their respective fields — portraying themselves as unifiers and change agents who didn't view the world in simply Republican and Democratic hues.

"You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that's consumed Washington," Obama told his raucous supporters. "To end the political strategy that's been all about division, and instead make it about addition. To build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states. Because that's how we'll win in November, and that's how we'll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation."

Huckabee, sounding some of the same economic populist themes that Democrats had often heard from Edwards, said Americans were eager for change.

"But what they want is a change that starts with a challenge to those of us who were given this sacred trust of office so that we recognize that what our challenge is to bring this country back together, to make Americans, once again, more proud to be Americans than just to be Democrats or Republicans," he said. "To be more concerned about being going up instead of just going to the left or to the right."

Money, a defining measure of candidate strength throughout 2007, turned out to be not so determinative in Iowa. Romney, a multimillionaire who pumped more than $17 million of his own money into the campaign by September, spent about $7 million on ads in Iowa to Huckabee's $1.4 million.

Likewise, Edwards remained in the mix with Obama and Clinton even though they broke all fundraising records last year. Obama spent $9 million in television ads in Iowa, Clinton spent $7 million and Edwards spent only $3 million.

Romney's and Clinton's inability to win was also a blow to much of the Democratic and Republican party establishment that had lined up behind both candidates.

But if money was only secondary in Iowa, it could still be a factor ahead. Romney could tap his wealth again to carry him through New Hampshire and Michigan thereafter. And with Obama and Clinton at the top, the Democratic contest appears to be dominated by two financial titans.

As Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle said after the results were in: "Our campaign was built for a marathon and we have the resources to run a national race in the weeks ahead."

Polls of Iowa voters as they entered the caucuses found that Obama outpolled Clinton among women, and benefited from a surge in first-time caucus-goers and young voters in what was a record Democratic turnout. Similar enthusiasm in New Hampshire could again favor Obama.

Huckabee rode to victory on the strength of born-again or evangelical Christians, who comprised six in 10 Republican caucus-goers. But New Hampshire's Republican electorate is less overtly religious and more fiscally conservative. Even so, Huckabee has a penchant for retail politics and offers a message that is not singularly religious in tone.


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