The New Hampshire Primary
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GWEN IFILL: To understand the lively and unexpectedly volatile nature of the 2004 presidential campaign, one need look no further than the agonizingly undecided voters of New Hampshire.
PETER MATTSON: Clark we like very much. We know that Kerry is very strong. We also like Edwards very much, and of course Governor Dean. So there is actually four.
KATHRYN HILDRETH: I’m looking at Kerry, and I’m looking at Edwards and I’m looking at Dean. I’m not sure.
GWEN IFILL: Have you worn anybody’s button ever so far?
TERRENCE PARKER: I had originally Kerry, then I had a Dean button. I still have a Dean sticker on my door, and then I had a Clark sticker, so I’ve been around the bush.
GWEN IFILL: You’re the kind of voter that makes candidates crazy.
TERRENCE PARKER: I would think I would.
JOE GRANDMAISON: Normally in New Hampshire, you know, we really, we kind of begin with the premise that God put us on Earth to pick presidents.
GWEN IFILL: No one knows that better than these candidates. They have been focused, working through a final, frigid week, shaking every hand and bending every ear — to change minds … and get voters to the polls Tuesday.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Thank you very much. Hope you can come out next week and give us a hand.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: I’m not here just to count down the hours until Tuesday. I’m here to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush presidency. That is what this is about.
GWEN IFILL: John Kerry is working hard precisely because he’s been leading in the polls. And he knows his history. In New Hampshire, the polls are often wrong.
JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you, God bless, and on to South Carolina!
GWEN IFILL: In 2000, front-runner George W. Bush was upended by Sen. John McCain … Buchanan in 1996, Pat Buchanan surprised front-runner Bob Dole … and in 1984, it was Gary Hart, not eventual nominee Walter Mondale, who won New Hampshire.
Well, how is the air up in front-runner land?
SEN. JOHN KERRY: I don’t consider that. I truly don’t. I’m running as an underdog who came out of Iowa as an underdog. And I’m running for every vote that I can find until Tuesday night. This is a tough race. And I take nothing for granted. I’m going to reach out to every voter that I can, for every hour left until the polls close.
GWEN IFILL: Is it dangerous to be considered a front-runner?
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think it’s always. I don’t like it. I don’t like the term. I have too much respect for the voters. They make up their minds, and you gotta ask, you ask people for their vote, and you go out and give them a reason to vote for you.
SPOKESPERSON: The next president of the United States, Howard Dean.
GWEN IFILL: If John Kerry was soaring this week, Howard Dean spent most of his time attempting to regain footing lost after last week’s big Iowa upset.
Dean spent the better part of the week as the butt of comedians’ jokes for this Iowa victory night moment.
HOWARD DEAN: And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House. Yeah!
GWEN IFILL: By the time Dean arrived in New Hampshire, he was keeping his jacket on, and his voice down.
HOWARD DEAN: Those of you who came here intending to be lifted to your feet by a lot of red meat rhetoric, are going to be a little disappointed.
GWEN IFILL: And, he began to make fun of himself on the stump…
HOWARD DEAN: I just want you to know I am so excited to be here that I could just scream.
GWEN IFILL: …and at campaign rallies.
HOWARD DEAN: May I say we are going to win in South Carolina; we are going to win in Massachusetts, and after we get done doing that, we’ll win in New York. I could not resist. That does look more presidential, though, doesn’t it?
GWEN IFILL: But what caused the Dean slide was it the message, or the messenger?
Is it conceivable that people are suddenly more interested in changing presidents than changing America?
HOWARD DEAN: I think people really are interested in changing America. Let’s not forget what happened in this campaign. We became the front-runners after I was virtually unheard of, simply because we are willing to stand up for Democratic values when nobody else was. And then they have all gotten religion after looking at the polls, and now they’re all standing up for Democratic values. The question is: Are you really willing to try to change America by nominating an inside-the-beltway president?
GWEN IFILL: Dean insists the “Dean scream,” as it has come to be known, will have no long-term impact.
HOWARD DEAN: I was talking to my team in South Carolina, and I said, what kind of fallout — and they said nobody is talking about it. This is really an obsession from inside-the-beltway folks.
GWEN IFILL: Still, Dean campaigned this week with his rarely seen wife Judy, and the couple sat for a rare joint interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. And his campaign handed out 50,000 videotaped copies of the interview to New Hampshire voters this weekend.
GROUP CHANTING: Let’s go Joe; let’s go Joe!
GWEN IFILL: The late-deciding voters say they agree with most of these Democrats on health care, job creation and the war. Bobby Jones, interviewed at a John Edwards rally, was originally drawn to Howard Dean.
BOBBY JONES: I’m impressed by him, but I just don’t know right know if he can win, so I think the most important thing is to get someone who can win.
GWEN IFILL: Just behind Kerry and Dean, all counting on a better-than-expected finish, are Joe Lieberman, Wesley Clark and John Edwards.
Edwards, the first-term North Carolina senator, scored a surprise second place Iowa finish, which drew curious new crowds to see him in New Hampshire. He, too, casts himself as a Washington outsider.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: Do you believe we need real change in America and in Washington, do you? Do you believe we’re going to get that change from somebody who spent most of their life in politics or has been in Washington for decades?
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: I mean it gets to be a really simple thing; if you believe that you have other choices; that’s not me. I present you with a different choice.
GWEN IFILL: Edwards says he would like to do well in New Hampshire, but readily admits he is keeping his eye on another prize.
New Hampshire is important. It would be good for you to do well here, but South Carolina is critical.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: Critical.
GWEN IFILL: How do you focus on New Hampshire and still keep an eye on that main chance?
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: Well, because of you, when I’m up here, South Carolina voters are hearing me, and so, it’s important to always recognize you’re talking to the whole country, you’re not just talking to New Hampshire.
GWEN IFILL: Edwards’ positive message may have struck a chord here. The airwaves have been blanketed with last-minute political advertising. All of it gauzy, biographical and upbeat … none of it negative.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: I’m Wes Clark, and I approve this ad because deep down we are all patriots.
LIEBERMAN AD: Think about Joe Lieberman’s courage and conviction.
KERRY AD: For 35 years, John Kerry’s fought for the people.
EDWARDS AD: I believe in the politics of what’s possible.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: The truth is, the voters here in New Hampshire and everywhere in the country know when politicians are cynically attacking each other, they’re not hearing the voices of the American people, and not addressing their concerns. And it also feels like the same old, same old. You know, here we go again. Haven’t we been through this before? And for voters who want change, they’re looking for something different.
GWEN IFILL: Richard Killion, who conducts polls for New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce College, says independents, the same unaffiliated voters who helped John McCain four years ago, are the key to a Tuesday victory.
RICHARD KILLION: You have an electorate full of second lookers and 20 percent undecided voters. They are mainly independents. At the end of the day as more independents have dialed in, in this changing dynamic, those folks who have left Dean have gone to Kerry — not because they agree with him on the war but because all of a sudden in the last month of this campaign, “electability” has become the wedge issue in this race.
GWEN IFILL: Wesley Clark, along with Joe Lieberman, skipped Iowa to concentrate on New Hampshire.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: I believe our country needs leadership that looks out for the good of America as a whole, and is not captive to special interests. Leadership that looks for what’s good for the next generation, not just the next election cycle, leadership that looks for specific goals and is not afraid to be held accountable and leadership that will pull this country together. That’s a higher standard of leadership, and that’s why I’m running.
GWEN IFILL: Clark is counting on independent voters drawn to those qualities. Trouble is, so is everyone else.
You told the Democrats at the annual meeting in Nashua that you hadn’t been a Democrat for very long, something that they seemed to know. Do you think that will serve to be an advantage for you with independent voters on election day?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Yes I do. I think that when you look at the party; for us to win we have to bring a lot of people to this party. I am a new Democrat because when I was in the military I didn’t have a party. And I looked at both parties and this was my choice. I’ll bring a lot of people to this party and I think that’s what it’s gonna take to win.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: Hello. This looks like a dynamic group here.
GWEN IFILL: Lieberman is struggling for traction, even though he and wife Hadassah literally moved to New Hampshire for the final month of the campaign.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: I have said all along that I expected one of the two neighbors to New Hampshire, Kerry or Dean, to win here; that I am going to do better than expected. I am then going to go on South and West to win some primaries because I am the candidate who could actually defeat George W. Bush, strong on security, socially progressive — that is a unique combination.
GWEN IFILL: Surviving New Hampshire means the chance to compete for a far richer prize only a week away — 269 delegates up for grabs in seven states Feb. 3rd.
GWEN IFILL: If you fight for first place and don’t get it, where does that leave you?
HOWARD DEAN: It leaves me in South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico…
GWEN IFILL: Want to say that a little louder? Didn’t think so.
HOWARD DEAN: …and Delaware and North Dakota and Missouri and New York.
GWEN IFILL: So a third or fourth place finish wouldn’t slow you down?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Well, we’re not even looking at what place. This has been the first election I’ve ever been in. I’ve never run for elective office before. It’s been the thrill of a lifetime.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: I think it’ll unscramble pretty quickly; actually I think after Feb. 3rd, particularly, we’ll have a good sense of who the two or three people are who have the best chance of getting the nomination.
GWEN IFILL: How do you take this beyond New Hampshire and Iowa?
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Gwen, I’m just going one step at a time. I mean, we’ve … I really want to focus on the next hours here in New Hampshire. If the New Hampshire voters reward me with their votes and help me to carry this mission on, which I hope they will and I asked them to, I will go to each of those other states and I will campaign my heart out.
GWEN IFILL: But that’s next week, in what is turning into a long campaign.
For this final New Hampshire campaign weekend, the crowds were big and the ice was cold… SEN. JOHN KERRY: We are in the final hours of a race for the presidency of the United States. And while we are taking some time out here just to have some fun, this is a race to the finish. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and Tuesday evening. I hope everybody will go out of here with the energy and the commitment necessary to help us turn this country around, and reclaim our democracy, and do what’s right for the people of the country. Let’s have a good time, let’s go have a good time, thank you very much, thank you.
GWEN IFILL: An unfinished race and for these candidates, an unexpectedly tough one.