The presidential campaign roared into New Hampshire this morning with Vice President Gore looking to capitalize on a big win in the Democratic caucuses in Iowa last night and Texas Gov. George W. Bush now facing a two-front war in the Republican contest with Arizona Sen. John McCain on one side and conservative challengers Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes on the other.
Before beginning their march through the snowy streets of New Hampshire, the candidates and their surrogates fanned out across the morning television shows to try and frame last night's caucus results in the best possible light.
On CBS' "Early Show," Gore attributed his 63 percent to 35 percent victory over former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley to time spent in town meetings with voters.
"I learned the music of the campaign year from them," Gore said, "and once you catch the tune it sort of stays with you."
Gore, however, said he did not think his strong showing last night would necessarily translate into momentum in New Hampshire. "Iowa is significant in its own right. . . . But this first in the nation primary has to be fought on its own terms and I'm starting over from scratch right here as the last week of this campaign begins."
On NBC's "Today Show," Bush, who finished with 41 percent of the Iowa vote, discounted Forbes' solid 30 percent showing. "A strong second is not as good as strong first," Bush said, adding that he expects to defeat McCain and Forbes in New Hampshire as well as in subsequent contests. "I think I'm not only going to win in New Hampshire, I think I am going to win in every state I contest."
On ABC's "Good Morning America," McCain countered, saying he did not think the Iowa results would impact his bid to topple Bush on Tuesday.
"A lot of time in New Hampshire they don't pay a lot of attention to the Iowa caucuses. It was a low voter turnout. We are going to have a very big turnout here in New Hampshire."
McCain also contended that the different political landscape in New Hampshire, featuring fewer religious conservatives, would be more favorable to his candidacy. "You've got a very different kind of scenario including independents either voting for Democrats or Republicans. So you are going to see a much broader spread of the political spectrum."
McCain staffers once maintained that they could finish as high as third in Iowa without ever campaigning in the state. Campaign manager Rick Davis, however, said on CNN that McCain's weak fifth place finish would not slow the campaign down. "We didn't have low expectations in Iowa," he said, "we had no expectations in Iowa."
In a taped interview on CBS, Bradley acknowledged that stories about his health problems may have hurt him last night. "It did take up two or three days of [last] week. There's no question about that."
Bradley said he would not punch up his often low-key campaign style to counter an increasingly aggressive Gore. "I think you have to be who you are," he said, "I don't think you can remake yourself for politics."
The candidates are all over New Hampshire campaigning today but the next big test of the campaign takes place tomorrow night in Manchester with back-to-back debates. The Republicans, meet at 7 p.m. EST. The Democrats begin at 9 p.m. Both debates will air live on CNN.
One Republican candidate probably won't be at that debate, however. According to the Associated Press, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has decided to quit the Republican presidential race. Hatch, who will announce his decision on Wednesday, garnered less than 1 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses.