Skip to main content

Candidates talk change on the campaign trail

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Clinton gets emotional on campaign trail
  • Obama has picked up a 9-point lead on Clinton in New Hampshire
  • McCain leads GOP candidates in New Hampshire
  • New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is tomorrow
  • Next Article in Politics »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) -- A narrowed field of White House hopefuls is fighting to show New Hampshire who can be the agent of change.

Sen. John McCain has forged ahead of the GOP pack in New Hampshire.

Candidates from both sides of the aisle are jumping on the campaign trail's latest buzzword, one day before the state holds its first-in-the-nation primary.

Democratic contender Barack Obama, who has opened up a 9-point lead over rival Sen. Hillary Clinton, told supporters the theme of his campaign has remained constant.

"We talked about change when we were up; we talked about change where we were down," the Illinois senator said at a rally in Claremont, New Hampshire, on Monday. "This change thing must be catching on."

Obama, who won last week's Iowa caucuses, led Clinton 39 percent to 30 percent in a CNN/WMUR poll conducted Saturday and Sunday, a sharp difference from a poll out Saturday that showed the Democratic front-runners tied at 33 percent.

The CNN/WMUR poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire, surveyed 599 Democrats and 492 Republicans likely to vote in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. It had a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Live in New Hampshire
Anderson Cooper follows the candidates as they do some last-minute stumping. Follow CNN's complete coverage through Tuesday night.
Tonight, 10 p.m. ET

Clinton holds a comfortable advantage in the area of experience, but 61 percent of likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire say what matters most is the ability to bring about change, according to the survey. Video Watch what's at stake in New Hampshire »

In the aftermath of a third-place finish in Iowa, Clinton's camp is sending thousands of e-mails to supporters saying her campaign is about action. Clinton has been focusing on her record while trying to downplay Obama's experience.

"I think it's time for people to say, 'Wait a minute. Let's get real here.' There is a big difference between talking and acting," Clinton told CNN on Sunday.

While campaigning Monday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton became visibly emotional after a friendly question from a voter. Video Watch Clinton become emotional on the campaign trail »

At the close of a Portsmouth campaign stop, Marianne Pernold-Young, 64, asked Clinton: "How do you do it? How do you keep up... and who does your hair?"

Clinton began noting that she had help with her hair on "special days," and that she drew criticism on the days she did not.

"You know, I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don't want to see us fall backwards," she said, her voice breaking a bit. The audience applauded.

"This is very personal for me, it's not just political, it's [that] I see what's happening, we have to reverse it," she said emotionally, adding that some "just put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, a distant third, has been trying to differentiate himself from the front-runners by pushing his plan for the middle class. He says while Obama promises change, he would be more effective at taking on special interests in Washington. Video Watch Edwards talk about his plans to create jobs »

"You can't just nice these people to death and bring them to the table. You have to actually be willing to battle them and fight them," he said Sunday in New Hampshire. "That is the difference between us."

Edwards is on a 36-hour, 15-stop tour. He told an audience in Nashua that he's showing the determination as a candidate that he would have as president.

Gov. Bill Richardson, polling fourth in the Granite State and harping on the same theme, has set his sights on the undecided voters.

"With Bill Richardson, you get change and you get experience. You have to have experience to change things. I have a record," he said Monday on CNN's "American Morning." Video Watch Richardson explain why he represents change »

On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain, insists he's the one with the gumption to deliver change.

"My friends, I am most proud of the change that I brought about in Iraq that saved Americans' lives," he said.

McCain, who finished in a tie for fourth in Iowa, leads the GOP pack in New Hampshire, according to the latest poll. McCain has more than doubled his numbers from where he was six months ago. He won New Hampshire in the 2000 primary.

McCain leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 32 percent to 26 percent, CNN's survey found. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, whose upset win in Iowa came after being outspent by millions of dollars by Romney, passed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to gain third place.

Romney, who won the Wyoming Republican caucuses on Saturday, has purchased two minutes of New Hampshire airtime Monday night to make his closing arguments.

"There's a tide of change sweeping New Hampshire and America," Romney says in the ad. "Everywhere I go people say Washington is broken. And they know that those who've spent their careers in Washington can't change Washington."

"It's long past time to bring real change to Washington," he says.

Romney on Monday questioned McCain's ability to do so. "Frankly, I don't think Sen. McCain -- despite his service and his length of experience -- that that's going to be able to stand up to the message that Barack Obama has brought forward," he said.

Others have put less emphasis on New Hampshire. Giuliani has largely skipped New Hampshire and is pinning his hopes on Florida and the Super Tuesday states.

Huckabee says he's not expecting a first-place finish in New Hampshire.

"If we come in anywhere in the third or fourth spot, we are going to be doing great," he said on CNN Monday. Video Watch Huckabee describe his hopes for New Hampshire »

Among other Republicans, anti-war Texas congressman and onetime Libertarian Party presidential nominee Ron Paul was in fifth place at 10 percent in the poll, with Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee both at 1 percent.

New Hampshire's independent voters, who make up about 40 percent of the state's electorate, could throw a surprise in tomorrow's primary.


A growing number of independents say they will vote for Paul, who was excluded from Sunday night's Republican forum on Fox, saying his campaign has done a "tremendous job." Video Watch Paul respond to recent attacks »

"How far we go in the campaign, we don't know," Paul told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Sunday. "The American people, and there's this large segment sending money to our campaign, that are determined that this revolutionary spirit will continue." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About New HampshireU.S. Presidential Election

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print