Clinton and McCain pull off upsets in NH
Clinton and McCain pull off upsets in NH
By DAVID ESPO and PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press
Writers 20 minutes ago
CONCORD, N.H. - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won New
Hampshire's Democratic primary Tuesday night in a
startling upset, defeating Sen. Barack Obama and
resurrecting her bid for the White House. Sen. John
McCain powered past his Republican rivals and back
into contention for the GOP nomination.
Clinton's victory capped a comeback from last week's
third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. It also
raised the possibility of a long battle for the party
nomination between the most viable black candidate in
history and the former first lady, who is seeking to
become the first woman to occupy the Oval Office.
"I am still fired up and ready to go," a defeated
Obama told cheering supporters, repeating the line
that forms a part of virtually every campaign
McCain's triumph scrambled the Republican race as
"We showed this country what a real comeback looks
like," the Arizona senator told The Associated Press
in an interview as he savored his triumph. "We're
going to move on to Michigan and South Carolina and
win the nomination."
Later, he told cheering supporters that together, "we
have taken a step, but only a first step toward
repairing the broken politics of the past and
restoring the trust of the American people in their
McCain rode a wave of support from independent voters
to defeat former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, a
showing that reprised the senator's victory in the
traditional first-in-the-nation primary in 2000.
It was a bitter blow for Romney, who spent millions of
dollars of his own money in hopes of winning the
kickoff Iowa caucuses and the first primary and
finished second in both. Even so, the
businessman-turned politician said he would meet
McCain next week in the Michigan primary, and he cast
himself as just what the country needed to fix
Washington. "I don't care who gets the credit,
Republican or Democrat. I've got no scores to settle,"
he told supporters.
After Iowa, Clinton and her aides seemed resigned to a
second straight setback. But polling place interviews
showed that female voters who deserted her last week
were solidly in her New Hampshire column.
She also was winning handily among registered
Democrats. Obama led her by an even larger margin
among independents, but he suffered from a falloff in
turnout among young voters compared with Iowa.
Word of Clinton's triumph set off a raucous
celebration among supporters at a hotel in Nashua
gathered there to celebrate a first-in-the-nation
primary every bit as surprising as the one 16 years
ago that allowed a young Bill Clinton to proclaim
himself "the comeback kid."
She had 39 percent of the vote in the Democratic
primary to 37 percent for Obama, who is seeking to
become the nation's first black president. Former Sen.
John Edwards of North Carolina trailed with 17
percent. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was fourth,
polling less than 5 percent of the vote.
Despite running a distant third to his better-funded
rivals, Edwards had no plans to step aside. He pointed
toward the South Carolina primary on Jan. 26, hoping
to prevail in the state where he was born and where
he claimed his only victory in the presidential
primaries four years ago.
Among Republicans, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee,
who won the leadoff Iowa GOP caucuses last week, was
running third in New Hampshire.
McCain was winning 37 percent of the Republican vote,
Romney had 32 and Huckabee 11. Former New York Mayor
Rudy Giuliani had 9 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul 8.
Clinton's triumph was unexpected and unpredicted.
Obama drew huge crowds as he swept into the state
after winning Iowa. Confident of victory, he stuck to
his pledge to deliver "change we can believe in,"
while the former first lady was forced to retool her
appeal to voters on the run. She lessened her emphasis
on experience, and sought instead to raise questions
about Obama's ability to bring about the change he
The grind took a toll on both of them.
Obama suffered from a sore throat, while Clinton's
voice quavered at one point when asked how she coped
with the rigors of the campaign. That unexpected
moment of emotion became the talk of the final 24
hours of a campaign that was unlike any other in
Clinton's performance came as a surprise even to her
own inner circle.
In the hours leading up to the poll closing, her
closest advisers had appeared to be bracing for a
second defeat at the hands of Obama.
Officials said her aides were considering whether to
effectively concede the next two contests caucuses
in Nevada on Jan. 19 and a South Carolina primary a
week later and instead try to regroup in time for a
22-state round of Democratic contests on Feb. 5.
These officials also said a campaign shake-up was in
the works, with longtime Clinton confidante Maggie
Williams poised to come aboard to help sharpen the
former first lady's message. Other personnel additions
are expected, according to these officials, who spoke
on condition of anonymity while discussing strategy.
Obama, who won the leadoff Iowa caucuses last week,
looked for an endorsement from the powerful Culinary
Workers union in Nevada in the days ahead. South
Carolina's Democratic electorate is heavily black and
likely to go for the most viable black presidential
candidate in history.
The Republican race turns next to Michigan, where
McCain and Romney already are advertising on
television, and where both men planned appearances on
Wednesday. Huckabee also was expected to campaign in
According to preliminary results of a survey of voters
as they left their polling places, more independents
cast ballots in the Democratic race than in the
Republican contest. They accounted for four of every
10 Democratic votes and about a third of Republican
ballots. The survey was conducted for The Associated
Press and the television networks.
Republicans were split roughly evenly in naming the
nation's top issues: the economy, Iraq, illegal
immigration and terrorism. Romney had a big lead among
those naming immigration, while McCain led on the
Half of Republicans said illegal immigrants should be
deported, and this group leaned toward Romney. Those
saying illegal immigrants should be allowed to apply
for citizenship leaned toward McCain, while the two
candidates split those saying those here illegally
should be allowed to stay as temporary workers.
Among Democrats, about one-third each named the
economy and Iraq as the top issues facing the country,
followed by health care. Voters naming the economy
were split about evenly between Obama and Clinton,
while Obama had an advantage among those naming the
other two issues. Clinton has made health care a
signature issue for years.
About one-third said if Bill Clinton were running,
they would have voted for him on Tuesday.
It was hard to tell who needed a Republican victory
more McCain or Romney. McCain was the long-ago
front-runner who survived a near-death political
experience when his fundraising dried up and his
support collapsed. He shed much of his staff and
regrouped. An unflinching supporter of the Iraq war,
he benefited when U.S. casualties declined in the wake
of a controversial building in U.S. troops. By the
final days of the New Hampshire race, he held a
celebration of sorts to mark his 100th town hall
meeting in the state he won eight years ago.
"It has all the earmarks of a landslide with the
Dixville Notch vote," an upbeat McCain quipped he
got four votes there to Romney's two and one for
Giuliani as his campaign bus headed to a polling
place in Nashua. The crowd of supporters was so big,
that voters complained and a poll worker pleaded with
McCain to leave. Seconds later, the bus pulled away.
David Espo reported from Washington. AP writers Liz
Sidoti, Nedra Pickler, Scott Lindlaw, Glen Johnson,
Beverley Wang, Charles Babington, Holly Ramer and
Clarke Canfield contributed to this report.