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New Hampshire heats up as presidential contenders swarm in
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US Presidential candidate Barack Obama waves to supporters as he leaves an election rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, January 4, 2008. Obama, campaigning for the January 8 New Hampshire Primary, won the Iowa Caucus January 3. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)


As campaign volunteers disappear from the streets and candidates' posters come off the walls in Iowa, New Hampshire becomes the second heated battlefield in which the 2008 presidential contenders will further their leads or fight for survival in the January 8 primary.


The first bout in the Iowa caucuses on Thursday has left the following primaries and caucuses more uncertain, with Illinois Senator Barack Obama leading the Democrats with 38 percent and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee topping the Republican list with 34 percent.


New York Senator Hillary Clinton slipped to third place, losing only one percentage point to former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, but nine percent behind Obama.



Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton campaigns during a rally in Nashua, New Hampshire, January 4, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) 


Claiming to have her eyes on "a long run," the former First Lady flew to New Hampshire for an early morning rally on Friday, followed by five more speeches statewide over the next three days.


Former President Bill Clinton will also be seen at five events to boost support for his wife. The self-dubbed "Comeback Kid," who won New Hampshire after a defeat in Iowa in his 1992 campaign, still remains popular in the northeastern state.


In an attempt to solidify his at-least-second place, Edwards courted New Hampshire Democratic voters with his underdog background in an early morning rally to downplay his well-funded rivals, Obama and Clinton.


"I am not the candidate of money, I am not the candidate of glitz, I am not the candidate of glamour. Nor do I claim to be," he said.


Analysts said the joy brought by the surprising victory over Clinton in Iowa will be blown away if Edwards remains in third place in the New Hampshire primaries as the latest polls show. Apart from Obama's rise and Clinton's "comeback," he was also grounded by limited funds and other resources, which is a key factor determining how far he can still go.


Obama's triumph proved the viability of his "stand for change" and "one America" messages, which he brought to New Hampshire on Friday morning to increase turnout and mobilize the young voters that Obama's campaign counts on to repeat the sweep.


"I really think that the country is interested not just in change in the abstract but in the very specific kind of change which involves them getting involved, paying attention, holding their elected officials accountable," Obama told reporters during the flight to New Hampshire.


For the Republican camp, an all-sided game is just at curtain-up as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been the No. 1 in the national poll, joined the campaign in New Hampshire.


Driven by a "big-state" strategy, he largely skipped Iowa, ending in sixth place in its Republican caucuses, and is focusing on states including New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.


Arizona Senator John McCain, who also spent little time in Iowa, is confident in another shot after he won the New Hampshire primaries eight years ago. "We will win," he told reporters on Thursday night in the state. "I'm very confident we can."


Huckabee, who basked in the overwhelming support from evangelical Christians in Iowa caucuses, is facing challenges in New Hampshire where his background as a Baptist minister is not seen as such a selling point, leaving it open for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to overtake him.


"I think anybody's got to come in first or second in New Hampshire," the Romney, a Mormon, told NBC. "I'm hoping to get one of those two tickets out of New Hampshire."


According to a poll by Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby released on Friday, Clinton leads the New Hampshire primaries with 32 percent, followed by Obama with 26 percent and Edwards with 20 percent. Among Republicans, McCain takes the first place with 34 percent, four percentage points more than Romney. Huckabee was ranked third with 10 percent.


However, the poll was taken before the Iowa caucuses, leaving it open to change as New Hampshire voters reconsider their support.



US Democratic presidential candidate and former Senator John Edwards greets supporters at an Iowa caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, January 3, 2008. Edwards, fresh off a surprise second-place showing in Iowa, touted his underdog status on Friday as he sought to challenge his better-financed rivals in New Hampshire.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)


(Xinhua News Agency January 5, 2008)

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