Romney's Divided Strategy

Article excerpt

MANCHESTER, N.H.

Desperate to save Mitt Romney's Republican presidential campaign in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, his advisers all wanted to attack Sen. John McCain but were divided about how to do it.

Coming out of its disappointing performance in the Iowa Caucuses, the Romney camp was united in the need to hit McCain hard for voting against President Bush's tax cuts. But the decision also to attack McCain's support for the liberal Bush immigration reform was opposed by a minority of Romney's advisers. These dissenters argued that Romney's hard line on immigration taken in Iowa did him no good there.

A footnote: The estimated 60 percent of New Hampshire "independents" who are Democrat-aligned voted for McCain in the 2000 Republican primary but are expected to be solid for Sen. Barack Obama in the Democrat primary this year. Nevertheless, McCain's strength with the remainder of the independents makes him the favorite against Romney on Tuesday.

Content with second place?

No sooner had Sen. Hillary Clinton slipped to a third-place finish in Iowa than her agents in Iowa were saying that their campaign would be content if she finished second in New Hampshire ahead of John Edwards and effectively drove him out of the race.

Those comments, in sharp contrast to Clinton's previous professions that her election as president was inevitable, constitute an attempt to lower expectations in New Hampshire. At the same time, Clinton has not abandoned hopes of defeating Obama in Tuesday's primary.

What Clinton cannot afford in New Hampshire, however, is another third-place finish behind Obama and Edwards.

Help for Hillary

Even before the bad news for Sen. Hillary Clinton was in from Iowa, two veteran Democrat political practitioners -- Chuck Campion and Joe Grandmaison -- were dispatched to New Hampshire to try to save her failing campaign. …