The stage was set for the vote on Tuesday, with New York
billionaire Trump enjoying a big lead in opinion polls of the
state's Republican voters and a host of rivals jockeying to emerge
as his chief challenger for the Republican presidential nomination
in the Nov. 8 election.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders
from neighboring Vermont sought to hang on for a much-needed victory
over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a week after a
razor-thin loss to her in the Iowa caucuses.
Sanders told a crowd of about 500 people in Nashua that his call to
eradicate income inequality and level the economic playing field for
lower- and middle-class workers was resonating.
"I'm here today to ask your support, to join us in making that
political revolution," he said.
Polls showed his big New Hampshire lead tightening but still
sizable. Clinton hoped to make the finish close in a feat much like
her husband's, former President Bill Clinton, in 1992 when he
declared himself "the 'Comeback Kid.'"
“For those of you who are still deciding, still shopping, I hope I
can close the deal,” Clinton said at Manchester Community College,
campaigning with her raspy-voiced husband and daughter Chelsea.
Clinton was reported by Politico to be pondering a staff shakeup out
of concern at the messaging of her campaign.
“I have no idea what they’re talking about or who they are talking
to," Clinton, responding to the report, said on MSNBC. "We’re going
to take stock, but it’s going to be the campaign that I’ve got. I’m
very confident in the people that I have."
A snowstorm swept across the state but it did not slow down the
last, tense full day of campaigning ahead of the primary.
Trump, still rankled that Bush hit him hard at a candidates' debate
in Manchester on Saturday night, peppered his stump speeches with
attacks on the former Florida governor at events in Salem and
"This stiff, Jeb Bush," Trump said. "He's a total stiff. ... If you
had a company, you wouldn't even hire him. He's like a child, like a
Bush fired off a tweet referring to Trump's comment last summer that
Senator John McCain, the party's 2008 presidential nominee who spent
5-1/2 years in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, was not a
hero because he got captured.
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"@realDonaldTrump, you aren’t just a loser, you are a liar and a
whiner. John McCain is a hero. Over and out," Bush said.
Senator Marco Rubio's shaky performance at Saturday's debate gave
hope to his rivals that the Floridian's rise after a strong
third-place finish in Iowa could be blunted.
Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris
Christie are fighting to finish strongly enough in New Hampshire to
justify staying in the race and taking their campaigns to South
Carolina, which holds its primary on Feb. 20.
As the New Hampshire polls stand now, Trump would win and Senator
Ted Cruz of Texas, who won Iowa; Rubio; Kasich; Bush; and Christie
would end right behind him in a tight bunch. Retired neurosurgeon
Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina are also in the race.
Rubio wilted under an attack by Christie at the debate, repeating
rehearsed lines from his stump speech in defending himself against
criticism that he is not experienced enough to be president. The
moment triggered commentary comparing Rubio to a robot, both in the
news media and on social media.
Rubio's point was that even though he is a first-term senator, he
should not be compared to Democratic President Barack Obama, who was
a first-term senator when elected in 2008. He said at the debate
that Obama has pushed the country in the wrong direction because of
his political beliefs, not from inexperience.
“The core of this campaign is that statement, and I am going to
continue to say it: Barack Obama is deliberately carrying out a
strategy to change America: He wants to redefine this country,"
Rubio said on CBS's "This Morning."
(Additional reporting by John Whitesides and James Oliphant in New
Hampshire and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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