Still reeling from Iowa, candidates make a frantic dash around New Hampshire before Tuesday’s primary. Hillary Clinton chokes up during a Monday coffee klatch, which has nothing to do with a Drudge Report flash floating a rumor that she’ll drop out. Both sides parse Sunday’s debates, and Bill Kristol comes out in support of Huckabee.
Minnesotan ex-journalist Eric Black Ink analyzes every New Hampshire primary since 1952 in which there was a “seriously contested nominating contest,” and puts the state in perspective, finding that “in 10 of the 19 cases, the New Hampshire winner went on to gain the nomination, but in only seven cases of the 19 was the New Hampshire victory a key turning point in the successful quest of a candidate for the nomination. So if you start out believing that winning New Hampshire is the key to the kingdom of presidential nominating contests, that should give you some pause.”
Kevin Drum, the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal, decries Iowa’s apparent influence on Granite State voters. “[A]pparently the flinty-eyed independents of New Hampshire aren’t quite as flinty-eyed as they’d like you to believe. After a solid year of town halls, coffee klatsches, and early morning doorbell ringing — because, you know, New Hampshirites take their electoral responsibilities so much more seriously than the rest of us — all it took was a few thousand Iowans to flip them from one side to the other in less than 24 hours. Feh.”
On the trail Monday, Hillary Clinton choked up at an event at a Portmouth coffee shop, Ben Smith reported at Politico. ABC News has the video. At the New Republic’s Stump, Noam Scheiber was touched. “Watching the public beating she’s taken over the last several days, I kept thinking I’d have a hard time not bawling in public if I were her. I’m not being snide here–I’m honestly impressed and amazed that she’s managed to stay so poised, but it’s also heartening to know that she’s a human who takes these things personally, because running for president should be very personal. Reports of tears were obviously pretty devastating to Ed Muskie in 1972, but we’ve come along way since then, and no one question’s Hillary’s toughness.”
Matt Drudge fans rumors that Hillary will soon concede, but bloggers are skeptical. “I wouldn’t count on it. She’s hurting, but Clinton Inc. is not surrendering. I saw her yesterday in Nashua; she was tired but she wasn’t in surrender mode,” writes Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review’s Corner. At Captain’s Quarters, conservative Ed Morrissey ganders that the Edwards campaign planted the item. “This makes sense coming from the Edwards campaign. They’ve mostly lived in Fantasyland throughout 2007, and what better way to start 2008 than by hoping all of his competition packs up and goes home?”
Dan at Riehl World View sees a different source: the Clinton campaign itself. “One cannot be re-born until you die. What better way to do it than to plant the story of your demise, eventually pinning it on the underhanded dealings of a presumably noble competitor’s campaign? Nothing like sucking the wind out of your competitions headline grabbing success with a staged funeral that doesn’t take place. I don’t buy it at all.”
While lauding Hillary’s detail-minded performance in the Granite State, liberal darling Ezra Klein finds that voters don’t necessarily appreciate her wonkiness. “If every voter in New Hampshire could ask Hillary their special snowflake of a question, she’d win the state. No matter what the query, she gives a long, detailed, comprehensive response. … As a wonk, I love this tendency to speak in policy. … But I also watched voters begin to trickle out after 45 minutes, even as Hillary continued to talk, to answer, to convince. It’s too much detail, too overwhelming, too disconnected from themes.”
Hillary did not test well in the Frank Luntz post-debate focus group on Fox News. “What’s the old line about second marriages: The Triumph of Hope over Experience? Well, that what we’re witnessing in this election,” declares Joe Klein at Time’s Swampland. “The sad thing, at least to me, is that Hillary Clinton has run the most substantive campaign of any of the Democrats and, if she goes down, it will be because of factors beyond her control. The ultimate conundrum: If she were not associated with that other Clinton presidency, she would seem a fresh and exciting possibility–the first woman President, and someone far better prepared than the guys to do the job.”
After Sunday’s debate, Greg at conservative PrestoPundit calls the debate—and the Republican nomination—for Romney: “It’s going to be Romney vs. Obama in the fall — and this is going to be one for the history books. The most significant moment of the night — almost Reaganesque in its power — was Romney’s proposal to cut taxes on investment income for middle income voters to zero. That’s right, zero. Nothing is more energizing than a government policy which actually empowers the individual, and nothing empowers individuals like the accumulation of capital property.”
Liberal Matthew Yglesias instead crowns Huckabee the debate’s winner. “Mike Huckabee is clearly the best politician out of this crew – everyone but him and Ron Paul looked tired, and Huckabee is really the only one who’s in touch with the mood of the country. His policy solutions are empty or crackpotty, but since his rivals don’t deign to engage with him that doesn’t come across during the debates.”
Meanwhile, New York’s Daily Intelligencer was underwhelmed by neocon Bill Kristol’s first column in the New York Times, in which he anoints Huckabee as the ideal Republican nominee. “Kristol’s main point seems to be ‘Did you know Mike Huckabee is actually a good candidate?’ (Answer: Yes, a little bird named Iowa told us.)”
Liberal Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Report finds Kristol’s support for Huckabee unexpected. “Given Kristol’s position as a member in good standing of the Elite Republican Establishment, this isn’t what he was expected to say about Huckabee. Not even close. … It suggests the Republican establishment freak-out, at a minimum, is subsiding, and the party is coming to grips with the former governor being a reasonable alternative to their preferred candidates.”
Read more about the New Hampshire primary.