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Shields, Brooks Assess Primary Shuffle, Mukasey Hearings

Attorney-General nominee Michael Mukasey faced tough questions on torture in his confirmation hearings this week, and speculation grew over the potential for a December New Hampshire primary. Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks give their take on the week's political news.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. Ray Suarez is in charge.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    With me this week, Mark Shields, who joins us from New Hampshire, and New York Times columnist David Brooks, in his customary chair in Washington.

    Let me start with you, since you're on the road, Mark. Give us the latest on the primary calendar. What are they saying in New Hampshire about whether they can jump the New Year's Eve barrier and actually move into 2007?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    Well, there's a lot of people talking, but there's only one person who's really speaking, and he isn't saying a word, and that's the secretary of state, Billy Gardner, who has under law the sole discretion and power of setting that date. And it has to be, by law, seven days before any state with a similar contest.

    And that's what's in question right now. Iowa has moved to the — Iowa Republicans to the 3rd of January. Both parties, I think it's fair to say, would like to have it up here on the 8th of January. But Secretary Gardner is really questioning whether that's going to be enough of an interval under the law and whether he's going to move it to early December.

    And if he does so — the campaigns, Ray, as you can understand and the parties, are just absolutely perplexed, because the campaign decision is where you spend money, time, resources. And if you don't know when the election is, you don't know what to do.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Christmas in Concord. Aren't you looking forward to it?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Somebody said to me, "How about a negative commercial in the middle of Jimmy Stewart's 'It's a Wonderful Life' on Christmas Eve?" Is that going to be jarring?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    I was up there yesterday in New Hampshire. First of all, he's sort of a hero. He is defending New Hampshire. The people who are unhappy, though, are the restaurateurs and the hotel owners. They'd like it to go as long as possible, deep into January, because that way a lot of us are staying in the Holiday Inns in various parts of the state up there.

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