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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 12:11 GMT
Clinton aims for New Hampshire comeback
By Jamie Coomarasamy
BBC News, New Hampshire

Hillary Clinton campaigning in New Hampshire
The Clintons have deeper roots in New Hampshire than Iowa
New Hampshire could produce any number of new storylines in this already captivating US presidential campaign, but the Clinton campaign is hoping for a remake.

Call it "Comeback Kid 2" or - more accurately, perhaps - "Bride of the Comeback Kid", a repeat of Bill Clinton's 1992 rebound from a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses. His second place in New Hampshire earned him that self-penned "Comeback Kid" nickname, and set him en route to the Democratic Party's nomination.

But the circumstances are very different. Sixteen years ago, the clear winner in Iowa was the local senator, Tom Harkin. His participation created a lop-sided and unrepresentative result.

This time, victory went to Senator Barack Obama, who has raised as much money as Senator Hillary Clinton, has developed a nationwide organisation and - as the reaction to his Iowa victory has underlined - has outstripped her in excitement and momentum.

Young voters

Mrs Clinton has acknowledged where she went wrong and is trying to reach out to the younger voters, who largely supported her younger rival in Iowa. But have the few days between the contests been enough to change perceptions; to convince a party that seems in the mood for change, that she is the best agent to achieve it?

Obama supporter at a rally in New Hampshire
Barack Obama has garnered support among the young
New Hampshire, of course, isn't Iowa, a state that the Clinton campaign apparently considered bypassing at one point. The Clintons have deeper roots in the Granite State.

But those ties are being tested by Mr Obama's momentum and by a narrative which says that the New Hampshire primary could be decisive; that a second Obama victory could seal the deal.

It won't - the Clinton campaign has too much money and too much of a nationwide organisation. But, if the Illinois Senator were to gain a second, convincing win, the nervousness on display in the Clinton camp would surely intensify.

And what of John Edwards? Although the former North Carolina Senator beat Mrs Clinton into third place in Iowa, he had invested most of his money and effort in that state. His populist, anti-corporate message does not play as well in New Hampshire, so he is relying on the issue of electability.

In the post-Iowa Democratic debate, he linked himself to Mr Obama as a representative of change, but he's unlikely to finish higher than third.

McCain's up-and-down campaign

The Republicans have their own "comeback kid" - although you would hesitate to apply the term "kid" to the 71-year-old Arizona Senator John McCain. Comeback, though, is a word that fits his roller-coaster campaign perfectly.

John McCain has led a roller coaster campaign

He plunged from front-runner to also-ran over the summer, only to see his numbers rise in recent weeks, to the point where he now leads in the New Hampshire polls.

The 2000 New Hampshire primary, in which he defeated George W Bush by 18 points, was the high-water mark of the Vietnam war hero's political career. Another victory would cement his return to the status of serious contender for the Republican nomination.

As was the case in Iowa, the Republican who stands to lose the most in New Hampshire is Mitt Romney. A local - he was governor of neighbouring Massachusetts - he's been the long-time leader in the polls, until the candidate campaigning under the slogan "The Mac is back" had his recent electoral surge.

The Romney team insists that a defeat in New Hampshire wouldn't be the end of their well-funded campaign, but squandering a second lead in as many states would not look good.

The winner in Iowa, Mike Huckabee, seems unlikely to repeat his success. New Hampshire has far fewer of the Evangelical voters, who were instrumental to his earlier victory. Third place is probably the best he can hope for. But his impressive communication skills and inclusive message, touching on poverty and social justice, could see him broadening his appeal.

Independent Granite State

Rudy Giuliani
Giuliani is not seen as a serious contender in New Hampshire
And there is another factor, which could harm Mr McCain. New Hampshire has a large number of registered independents, who can vote in either party's primary. In 2000, many of them supported Mr McCain but, according to the polls, in 2008, most are likely to vote in the Democratic primary.

Of the other Republicans, rumours were swirling before Iowa that former Senator Fred Thompson would quit, if he had a poor showing.

He did enough to stay in what remains a very open race, and a good performance in New Hampshire could serve as a launch pad to the Southern primaries, where he is expected to fare better.

New Hampshire's independent streak - the state's motto is "Live free or die" - suggests that it could also be a good night for the wild card in the Republican pack: the anti-war, libertarian Congressman from Texas, Ron Paul. His unconventional message has not only gained him a big and youthful internet following, and some very impressive fund-raising figures, but 10% of the vote in Iowa.

And what of Rudy Giuliani? He's done more campaigning in New Hampshire than in Iowa, but he's not seen as a serious contender. The real test for him and his "late state strategy" will come towards the end of the month in Florida, but another single-digit finish would remove more of the sheen from a campaign, which has had a rocky few weeks.

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail

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