Candidates Prepare For Long Struggle

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama speaks at a rally in Jersey City, N.J., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) AP

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama dug in Wednesday for a prolonged struggle over the Democratic presidential nomination, a woman and a black man in a campaign unlike any other.

John McCain claimed the role of resident underdog in the Republican race, despite his big win in the New Hampshire primary.

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"Maybe I have liberated us to actually let women be human beings in public," said Clinton, the former first lady, reflecting on a memorable moment of emotion the day before she gained her own New Hampshire victory.

In an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, Clinton also emphasized that she is prepared to bring change to Washington.

"I've been saying for many months if you're ready for change, I'm ready to lead, because I think it does go hand in hand," Clinton told Couric. "If people really want change - and I agree we've got to after this administration, and the problems we see in the world - then let's be sure we're electing someone who is not just talking about change but has a history of acting to make change." (Read a transcript of the interview.)

Obama saw the New Hampshire results differently. "We have to make sure that we take it to them just like they take it to us," he said. Despite his defeat, he pocketed the support of two key Nevada unions in advance of that state's Jan. 19 caucuses, and predicted a win in the South Carolina primary a week later.

In other news, the AP reported that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson would drop out of the Democratic race on Thursday.

After a grueling, months-long slog through Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton and Obama face a brief lull in the calendar, but collide in four weeks time in primaries and caucuses in 22 states in the equivalent of a nationwide primary. (Read CBSNews.com's analysis of the Democratic race.)

"Anyone who thinks they know how voters are going to respond at this point are probably misleading themselves," Obama said Wednesday. "And I think voters are not going to let any candidate take anything for granted. They want to lift the hood, kick the tires. They want us to earn it."

Obama also rival suggested his politics of hope is about to get a harder edge.

"We have to make sure that we take it to them just like they take it to us," he said, responding not just to his Democratic rival's New Hampshire primary win but to attacks on him by her husband, former President Clinton.

Bill Clinton complained in New Hampshire that Obama was getting a free pass from the scrutiny turned on Hillary Clinton and likened the Illinois senator's campaign to a "fairy tale."

Obama shot back Wednesday that "the real fairy tale is, I think, Bill Clinton suggesting somehow that we've been just taking a cakewalk here."

"I come from Chicago politics," Obama said. "We're accustomed to rough and tumble. I don't expect this to be a cakewalk."

McCain made simultaneous appeals to independents and Republicans alike as he campaigned in Michigan for a victory that could drive former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney from the race. "The Republican establishment has never embraced me in my entire life. But I think we just proved that we can get the support of enough to win an election," he told a rally in Grand Rapids. He added he would try and remind evangelical voters "that my social conservative record has been consistent and unchanging." (Read CBSNews.com's analysis of the GOP race.)

Speaking to several hundred boisterous supporters at the Grand Rapids airport, McCain noted the state's job losses and pronounced federal programs to help displaced workers a failure. "None of them work," he said. "I will develop programs that work."

Romney withdrew television advertising in South Carolina and Florida, two states with primaries later this month, despite telling supporters the race was just getting started. "We feel the best strategy is to focus our paid messaging in Michigan," said his spokesman, Kevin Madden. (Read more on Romney's strategy.)

In Boston, Romney sought to assure his top financial backers that he can win in Michigan and beyond, after disappointing second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Romney was born in Michigan and his father was governor.

"It's just getting started," he told hundreds of supporters gathered at a convention center for a follow-up to his campaign's "National Call Day" a year ago. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that Romney raised $5 million at the fundraiser today.

The former Massachusetts governor's sole victory to date was in last weekend's scarcely contested Wyoming caucuses. The candidate trying to become the nation's first Mormon president leads in the early competition for national convention delegates, but that is cold comfort for a man who spent millions of his own money in a failed attempt to sweep the early contests and establish himself as the man to beat in the race for the Republican nomination.
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