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Obama Jumps Into the Lead In New Hampshire Race

Reuters
Monday, 7 Jan 2008 | 5:37 PM ET

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton battled to keep crucial New Hampshire from swinging to rising rival Barack Obama, but new polls showed him jumping into the lead.

Barack Obama
AP
Barack Obama

In the hotly contested Republican race, Arizona Sen. John McCainleaped ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romneyeven as Romney tried to raise doubts about McCain.

Republican candidates bickered over taxes and spending in a Fox News Channel debate on Sunday night, with Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa last week, accusing each other of raising taxes in their states. "Mike, you make up facts faster than you talk," Romney told Huckabee.

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Obama, an Illinois senator seeking to be the first black U.S. president, built on his victory in Iowa last week with a significant bounce in New Hampshire, which votes on Tuesday.

Obama Jumps Into NH Lead
New polls show presidential candidate Barack Obama taking the lead in New Hampshire, with CNBC's Hampton Pearson & John Harwood.

New Hampshire's primary is the next battleground in the state-by-state process of choosing Republican and Democratic candidates for November's election to replace President George W. Bush.

A USA Today/Gallup poll said Obama had opened up a 13-point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire, 41 percent to 28 percent, to 19 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

A WMUR/CNN tracking poll, taken over the weekend, showed Obama leading Clinton, 39 to 29 percent.

Earlier polls had shown the race to be a dead heat between Clinton and Obama.

A loss in New Hampshire would be a significant blow to Clinton in the New York senator's drive to become the first woman U.S. president.

Trying to salvage New Hampshire, the former first lady engaged in some of her heaviest attacks against Obama in the months-long campaign.

In Nashua, Clinton said that while Obama talks a lot about changing the United States, she believes she has actually carried out change. Change from the Bush administration is a leading theme in the presidential campaign.

"It is about how we bring about change by making sure we nominate and elect a doer and not a talker, that we begin to separate out rhetoric from reality," Clinton told a large, enthusiastic crowd in Nashua.

Accusing Obama and Edwards of not showing leadership on a litany of issues, she said, "That's not change," and the crowd joined in with her. "That's not change," they yelled.

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Video: New Hampshire, Your Money, Your Vote
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Obama, at a rally at a high school in Salem, fired back: "We don't need our leaders telling us what we can't do. We need our leaders to believe in what we can accomplish."

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
AP
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

The race was taking a negative turn on both sides in a state that is vital to efforts by Clinton and Romney to revitalize their campaigns after disappointing showings last Thursday in Iowa.

Obama received the endorsement of former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, who finished a close second to then Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 Democratic primary here.

McCain Ahead Of Romney

The USA Today/Gallup poll said McCain had taken the lead over Romney, 34 percent to 30 percent, with Huckabee in third at 13 percent.

A win for McCain in New Hampshire would be a remarkable turnaround for him after his campaign suffered money problems last summer and was all but given up for dead.

Romney, who would be the first Mormon president, needs to win or finish high in New Hampshire to maintain his credibility.

At a rally in Nashua, Romney said he doubted McCain would stand up well against Obama, who he said was succeeding against veteran Democratic senators in the presidential race.

"Are we going to do the same thing and put another long-serving U.S. senator up against him for him to talk about. Or are we going to put somebody -- I hope it's me -- somebody who has spent his lifetime not just in politics, not in Washington, but changing things?" Romney said.

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