- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

NASHUA, N.H. — Sen. John Edwards is gaining support in the final days before the crucial New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, according to several polls.

One poll, released yesterday by the Boston Herald, shows Mr. Edwards actually beating Wesley Clark and closing in on Howard Dean. At 14 percent, Mr. Edwards has doubled his support in New Hampshire from a week ago. Mr. Dean has 23 percent, and Mr. Clark has 12 percent.

“No one is running better,” said Jessica Berenyi, 22, who came to hear Mr. Edwards speak yesterday at Fairground Junior High School. “There’s something going on here. People are really getting behind Edwards.”

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is cruising at 35 percent in the Herald survey of 524 likely New Hampshire primary voters, which was conducted Thursday through Saturday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

While campaigning in Merrimack, N.H., Mr. Kerry criticized Mr. Dean for what he called “flip-flops” on major issues and said the former Vermont governor favors higher taxes for middle-class voters.

“The Republicans will just kill us on this,” Mr. Kerry said, according to the Associated Press. “Between foreign policy and taxes, I think it is a serious problem.”

At a Nashua rally, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, praised Mr. Kerry’s record in the Vietnam War.

“I’m here because I believe he has a heart and soul that is built on strength, that is built on determination, that has steeliness,” Mr. Kennedy said, according to AP.

Mr. Dean, campaigning with his wife, Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean, at a rally with female supporters near Manchester yesterday morning, said the polls show he’s starting to gain support. “We’re going to work very hard, and we’re now within striking distance of winning,” he said.

He then went on to address “women’s issues,” including abortion, and criticized President Bush for signing the partial-birth-abortion ban last year. Mr. Dean said the photo of the signing ceremony — “all heavy-set white folks who were in their late 60s” — showed that the Republican Party is “mired in a time of no relationship to ordinary Americans.”

Mr. Dean, whose campaign has seemed to stumble since he said in December that the capture of Saddam Hussein hadn’t made the United States safer, said yesterday the Iraqi war has left much of Iraq worse off.

He said some Iraqis probably are happy that Saddam is out of power, but “a lot of them gave their lives, and their living standards are a lot worse now then they were before.”

In Manchester, Mr. Clark blamed Mr. Bush’s push for a national missile defense for the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The president “spent too much time worried about national missile defense and not enough time worried about the greatest threat to this country,” Mr. Clark, a retired Army general, told supporters, according to AP. “He was told when he came to office that al Qaeda was the greatest threat, and he didn’t pay attention.”

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who said his recent gain in the polls gave him “Joementum,” called his wife, Hadassah, his “secret weapon” and joked about pop singer Madonna’s support of Mr. Clark.

“One of the other candidates has Madonna. I have Hadassah,” the senator said, according to AP.

Although all polls show Mr. Edwards enjoying a belated bounce from his second-place finish in last week’s Iowa caucuses, some still show him near the back of the pack in New Hampshire. A Gallup poll released yesterday morning showed the North Carolina senator moving up but trailing Mr. Kerry, Mr. Dean, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Clark in New Hampshire.

At a rally here yesterday, an overflow crowd of 1,500 persons showed up to hear Mr. Edwards speak.

“I had the same feeling about Bill Clinton, and I had the same feeling about Jimmy Carter,” Nashua lawyer Bill Berry said in introducing Mr. Edwards.

Mr. Edwards gave his regular stump speech of upbeat populism that promises “college for everyone” and making “health care a birthright” for all Americans.

He also cannibalized Mr. Dean’s struggling campaign for one of its more popular themes when he vowed, “Together, you and I are going to change this country.”

As always, Mr. Edwards talked about “two different Americas,” with two different school systems and two different economies.

“There’s one for all those people who never have to worry about a thing — they’ve got power, they’ve got privilege, and they know that everything’s going to be just fine for them,” Mr. Edwards said. “Then there’s everybody else. They’re one problem from going off the cliff.”

Although he said he would allow most Americans to keep the tax cut enacted by Mr. Bush, he’d repeal the cuts for those making more than $200,000 annually. He also said he would raise the capital-gains tax to 45 percent, from 15 percent, for people earning more than $300,000 a year.

Mr. Edwards also pilloried his usual boogeymen, including pharmaceutical companies, Washington lobbyists and Mr. Bush.

He complained that elderly people and the poor hardly could afford their medications while drug companies earn enough profits to run TV commercials, which he said “are completely out of control.”

“You know who’s paying for those ads,” Mr. Edwards said to raucous applause. “You’re paying for those ads.”

Mr. Edwards promised to repair America’s reputation in the world, which he said has been ruined by Mr. Bush.

“You give me a shot at George Bush, and I’ll give you the White House,” he vowed.

After hearing Mr. Edwards speak, college senior Kevin Allen, 22, said, “It’s the same populist theme that [former Vice President Al] Gore ran on, with one exception: Edwards does it much better.”

Echoing many others in attendance at the Edwards rally, Mr. Allen said, “Edwards definitely has that Clinton charisma.”

Chris Rogers, a Nashua marketing representative, said he had supported Mr. Dean until the former front-runner’s shouting speech after the Iowa caucuses.

“I wouldn’t want him in the operating room, let alone the Oval Office,” Mr. Rogers said of Mr. Dean, a physician.

Mr. Edwards picked up an endorsement yesterday from former New Hampshire Sen. John Durkin, a Democrat who previously had endorsed Mr. Dean but withdrew his support after last week’s Iowa caucus. Mr. Durkin said Mr. Edwards is the candidate “who has the best chance of beating George Bush.”

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