- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004

CONCORD, N.H. — The big battle in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary today is for third place, because voters appear poised to give Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean a solid one-two showing.

Wesley Clark, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut are in a three-way statistical tie for third place in one of the latest polls for the nation’s first binding primary.

Each of the three is hoping a strong showing here gives them momentum going into the seven primaries and caucuses on Feb. 3. Polls close in most locations at 7 p.m., and the weather — a chilly but snow-free 10-degree day — is not expected to affect turnout.

“The polls are encouraging,” Mr. Lieberman said. “I’ve said I’m going to do better than expected here. My campaign is going to begin in New Hampshire, not end here.”

The Zogby-MSNBC-Reuters tracking poll found Mr. Clark with 13 percent support, Mr. Edwards with 12 percent support and Mr. Lieberman with 9 percent support among the 600 likely primary voters surveyed from Friday through Sunday. The poll, which had a 4.1 percent margin of error, found Mr. Kerry with 31 percent support and Mr. Dean shooting up to 28 percent.

The University of New Hampshire-Fox News three-day tracking poll released yesterday evening showed Mr. Edwards with 13 percent, Mr. Clark with 11 percent and Mr. Lieberman with 7 percent support among the 461 likely primary voters surveyed.

Mr. Kerry, with 36 percent support, led Mr. Dean, who had 25 percent support, in the poll, which had a 4.6 percent margin of error.

Mr. Kerry, speaking to several hundred voters in the gymnasium at Conant High School in Jaffrey, wasn’t taking any supporters for granted.

After delivering his standard speech, which focuses on President Bush while ignoring his rivals for the nomination, Mr. Kerry told those who were still undecided to ask him whatever they needed to know to make up their minds.

“Put me to the test,” Mr. Kerry said. “I want you to look in my heart, my character, and I want you to leave here ready to support me.”

Mr. Kerry last week won the Iowa caucuses, garnering 38 percent of the precinct delegates. That momentum propelled him into first place in the New Hampshire polls, and he is hoping a first-place showing here cements his front-runner status. No candidate since Democrat Edmund Muskie in 1972 has won both Iowa and New Hampshire and not won his party’s nomination.

Both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Dean are fairly well-known to New Hampshire voters — Mr. Kerry is serving his fourth term as senator from Massachusetts and Mr. Dean was governor of Vermont for 11 years.

Mr. Dean, campaigning in Nashua yesterday, said he still is anticipating that New Hampshire voters will give him a win.

“I’m not sure it’s a dead heat, but it’s close and it’s closing very fast,” he said.

After falling precipitously from his fire-breathing front-runner status, Mr. Dean has regained momentum in recent days.

In his speeches, he has replaced the spark he showed before his third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses with a more measured tone. After initially losing support, he finally seems to have evened out and actually is regaining some supporters, according to the Zogby poll.

In the week since his second-place showing in Iowa, Mr. Edwards only has gained supporters. He attributes it to his “be-nice” campaign style, in which he pledges not to attack other Democrats, and to his one-term tenure in the Senate, which he says makes him an outsider.

Mr. Edwards yesterday brought his “two Americas” pitch to Milford high School in Milford, N.H., about a 30-minute drive west of Manchester.

“We’ve got two governments in Washington — we’ve got one for the insiders, the lobbyists, who are there every day, and whatever’s left is there for you,” he told the audience of mostly high school students — most of them too young to vote.

Mr. Edwards’ standard stump speech didn’t capture much enthusiasm among the students, many of whom had tuned out halfway through the speech, paying more attention to the bustle of TV cameras and interviews.

The man Mr. Edwards hopes to overtake, Mr. Clark, made a whirlwind tour of all 10 counties in New Hampshire yesterday, pointing out differences between himself and the rest of the field.

“Unlike all the rest of the people in this race, I did grow up poor. I didn’t go to Yale. My parents couldn’t have afforded to send me there,” the West Point graduate and former Army general told voters in Keene.

Though he didn’t mention any opponent’s name, three of his fellow candidates — Mr. Kerry, Mr. Dean and Mr. Lieberman — did attend Yale, as did Mr. Bush.

Also on today’s ballot are Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, who hasn’t resonated with voters here, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has ceased campaigning here to focus on South Carolina’s Feb. 3 primary.

Both Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Clark skipped the Iowa caucuses, and New Hampshire is their first test of support.

For his part, Mr. Lieberman said he is counting on independents, who in New Hampshire can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary, to boost him. He specifically has targeted independents, including a recent direct-mail appeal to 70,000 such voters.

The University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey found that about half of the voters in today’s primary will be self-identified independents.

New Hampshire’s primary encourages a broader turnout than last week’s caucuses in Iowa — and therefore a different style of campaign.

In 2000, more than 150,000 Democrats and independents voted in the Democratic primary, in a state with a population of about 1.3 million. In Iowa, with a population of about 3 million, just 125,000 people took part in the caucuses.

Although both Iowa and New Hampshire voters were subjected to a flood of TV advertising, campaigns here put much more effort into yard signs and having volunteers stand on street corners with placards.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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