Candidates Race To The Finish In N.H.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., poses with supporters at a rally in Nashua, N.H., Sunday, Jan. 6, 2008.
"We need some voters," Republican Mitt Romney declared Monday, the one sentiment that could be embraced by all the presidential contenders as they raced through a final day of campaigning before the New Hampshire primary.

GOP rival John McCain rolled through a seven-city bus tour, jokingly advising supporters to "vote early and often," while Barack Obama, the new Democratic front-runner told an overflow crowd, "You're the wave and I'm riding it."

Hillary Rodham Clinton, trying to revive her campaign, pledged, "Whatever happens tomorrow, we're going on." At one stop, she appeared to struggle with her emotions when asked how she copes with the grind of the campaign. But her words still had bite. "Some of us are ready and some of us are not," she said, her voice quavering.

It was "just about the most personal reaction we've ever seen from Hillary Clinton," said CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod, who is covering the Clinton campaign.

Clinton and Romney suffered defeats in last week's Iowa caucuses and are struggling to avoid a second major loss. McCain is surging on the Republican side, and polls show Obama leading for the Democratic primary here.

Residents of two minuscule towns stayed up late to be the first in the state to vote, giving Obama and McCain small early victories on Tuesday. In the village of Hart's Location, Democrat Obama received nine votes, Hillary Rodham Clinton received three and John Edwards received one. On the Republican side, McCain received six, Mike Huckabee received five, Ron Paul received four and Mitt Romney one.

In Dixville Notch, on the Republican side, McCain received four votes, Mitt Romney two and Rudy Giuliani one. On the Democratic side, Obama received seven votes, John Edwards two votes and Bill Richardson one vote.

While most New Hampshire residents have to wait until around daybreak to vote, state law allows towns with fewer than 100 people to open at midnight and to close as soon as all registered voters have cast ballots.

The latest CBS News opinion poll on the Democratic race shows that Obama has opened up a seven-point lead on Clinton among New Hampshire likely Democratic primary voters.

In the poll, Obama leads Clinton 35 percent to 28 percent with John Edwards getting 19 percent in the poll. The poll re-interviewed a group of voters that CBS News also surveyed in November. In that poll, Clinton led Obama 39 percent to 19 percent with Edwards getting just nine percent support. The polls had a margin of error of five percentage points. (Read more from the poll)

A new USA Today/Gallup poll showed Obama with a wider lead over Clinton, while the Republican race remained a statistical dead heat.

Obama had 41 percent, up from 32 percent in mid-December, in the USA Today/Gallup poll. Clinton was at 28 percent, down from 32 percent. Edwards had 19 percent, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson had 6 percent, and no other candidate had 3 percent.

On the Republican side in the USA Today/Gallup poll, McCain had 34 percent, up from 27 percent in mid-December, while Romney had 30 percent, down from 34 percent. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was third with 13 percent, while Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani were tied at 8 percent. No other candidate, including former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who conceded Sunday he was focusing on South Carolina rather than New Hampshire, was above 3 percent. Both USA Today/Gallup surveys had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, a small enough gap to consider the GOP race tied.

Fighting back, Clinton questioned the substance behind the Illinois senator's soaring rhetoric. She said Obama "is a very talented politician" but is not living up to his claim to be a new type of politician.

Asked on CBS News The Early Show whether the Iowa defeat indicated voters were disenchanted with her and wanted to move on, Clinton said, "I feel really good about this whole process, and you know, whatever happens tomorrow, we're going on."

Interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America," Clinton pointed out that Obama has portrayed himself as being outside the influence of special interests yet picked a New Hampshire lobbyist to co-chair his campaign in the state. She also accused him of changing positions on issues, even though he criticizes other candidates for the same thing.

"All of a sudden you start to ask yourself, Wait a minute. I mean, what is the substance here?" she said. "What, as famously was said years ago, where's the beef? You know, where is the reality?"

As for Obama, he had an enviable logistical problem. Hundreds of people couldn't get into his speech at the Lebanon Opera House, so he addressed them with a microphone from the steps.

"You guys caught us a little by surprise," he said. "You're the wave and I'm riding it."

Obama is drawing "by far" the largest crowds of any candidate in New Hampshire, CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer notes.

Earlier, in Claremont, the long days seemed to be taking a bit of a toll on him - he flipped one of his signature campaign lines during a rally, saying, "The time for come has change."

He also saw a doctor Sunday about losing his voice. The advice, Obama wryly told the audience in Claremont was "shut up."

Edwards, meanwhile, mounted an all-night bus tour of the state, with early morning stops planned for Berlin, Littleton and Claremont, with 10 more events throughout the day and evening. "While everyone else goes to bed tonight," he told a Nashua audience, "I'm going to be out working."

Romney scheduled six events, an end-of-the-day rally and a two-minute television ad, while McCain pushed into what he called "The Mac Is Back" bus tour, flanked by dozens of friends and relatives who turned out for the final New Hampshire push. Optimism mixed with nostalgia as the Arizona senator sought a repeat of his surprise win here during his first White House run eight years ago.

The tight race between McCain and Romney added emphasis to the need to persuade undecided voters and encourage hard-core supporters to turn out Tuesday.

"Tomorrow is the day when we will tell the world that New Hampshire again has chosen the next president of the United States," McCain told a couple of hundred sign-toting supporters.

With his wife, Cindy, and two of their daughters behind him, McCain's tone was a bit wistful at a chilly morning rally on the steps of the Nashua city hall. "There's a lot of nostalgia associated with this morning. We've had a great time," he told said. "My friends, it has been an uplifting and wonderful experience."

If enough independent voters back Obama instead of McCain in New Hampshire, that could be enough to give Romney a much-needed win. Romney aides are hoping for a surge in favor of Obama, which could deny McCain the independent votes that helped him win the state's primary eight years ago.

About 45 percent of the state's 828,000 registered voters were unaffiliated with either party as of Oct. 31, the most recent data available, according to the New Hampshire secretary of state's office.

Iowa's GOP winner, Mike Huckabee, said he wasn't counting on winning a top spot in New Hampshire's primary Tuesday. "If we come in anywhere in the third and fourth slot, we're going to do great. I'd like to do better than that, but you have people who have had a lot more money spent here," he told CNN.

Romney's first stop was the entrance of BAE Systems North America, where he found reporters and camera crews far outnumbered arriving workers. The former Massachusetts governor largely ignored the crowd, instead talking with Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., about the prior evening's debate.

That prompted Romney to plead, "We need some voters."

Romney planned to air a two-minute television ad Monday evening, portraying Washington as in need of a president with the business and government background and experience that he has.

"It's long past time to bring real change to Washington," he says in the ad. "That's never going to happen if all we do is send the same people back to Washington to sit in different chairs."

The line echoes Obama's appeal to voters: "The real gamble in this election is to do the same things, with the same folks, playing the same games over and over and over again and somehow expect a different result."

While the Iowa results influenced the demeanor of the candidates in a campaign shortened to five days by this year's compacted election calendar, New Hampshire residents have a history of keeping their own counsel in their first-in-the-nation primary.

"Undeclareds" make up the majority of registered voters in the state, and those independents are free to vote in either primary on Tuesday. Romney aides hoped for a surge in favor of Obama, denying McCain the independent votes that catapulted him past Bush in 2000.

Huckabee - and free pancakes - lured more than 400 people to tiny Mason, N.H., Monday morning to hear his populist economic message. The crowd had to be divided into two seatings to hear Huckabee and his campaign sidekick, actor Chuck Norris.

"The reason our campaign is getting lots of folks just like you out there with energy and enthusiasm is because there's a great need in this country to elect someone who reminds them of the guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off," he said. "That's why our campaign is getting deep roots even in New Hampshire where folks said 'Huckabee will never draw a crowd.' Well, a few people came out here today."

He encouraged voters to bring their friends and neighbors to the polls with them. But, he added, only if they supported him.

"If they're not going to vote for me ... let the air out of his tires. Shovel your snow into his driveway," he said. "Don't let this person do damage to this country while you're trying to do a good thing."