Posted: January 3, 2008 7:35 PM
While Focusing on N.H., McCain Keeps an Eye on Iowa
Although he’s not a front-runner in Iowa and he’s already turned his focus to New Hampshire, Sen. John McCain, Ariz., is hoping that his recent surge in the national polls might give him a lift in Thursday’s caucuses. He was in Iowa on Wednesday to build support for a strong third-place finish, behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“I want to just say a few words to you and urge you to participate tomorrow evening, urge you to consider my candidacy,” McCain told supporters in Davenport, according to the Arizona Republic.
A Pew Research Center poll shows that McCain has taken the top spot in the national race from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The report finds that “growth in support for McCain is most notable among moderate and liberal Republicans, where he is up 10 points since September.”
McCain knows from experience that he is a stronger candidate in New Hampshire. In 2000 he finished fourth in Iowa but went on to win New Hampshire, defeating George Bush. And because he has spent far less money in Iowa than Huckabee or Romney, finishing third would not be considered a defeat, whereas for Huckabee and Romney finishing second would be a defeat.
“[McCain] could actually be the more interesting story today,” Amy Walter, contributing editor in chief of the Hotline, said Thursday on the NewsHour. “The talk right now is when you see the more recent polls is that he’s somewhere, he could come in third. This is a guy who was all but left for dead but a few weeks ago but yet got the endorsement of the Des Moines register. But the issue for John McCain has always been in Iowa the issue of immigration. …That reportedly was going to put him for dead in the state. Instead, he’s coming back and could come up a strong third.”
So on Thursday, as caucus results start coming in, McCain will be in New Hampshire, likely setting his sights on the chance of a first-place finish there.