Iowa caucus victories behind them, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama vowed to stick with their winning principles Friday in an abbreviated dash to the finish in New Hampshire's presidential primary campaign, facing a different political alignment and, as Huckabee put it, "only a few days to close the sale."
Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain, GOP poll le-aders in New Hampshire, stood ready to try to douse Huckabee's "prairie fire" in a state that lacks the religious voting bloc of Iowa and has an ornery tradition of rejecting Iowa's Republican caucus winners.
"It will be a different race here," Romney said Friday. He attributed Huckabee's Iowa win largely to his background as a Southern Baptist preacher.
"Mike had a terrific base as a minister," the former Massachusetts governor told a news conference in Portsmouth, N.H. "He drew on that base, got a great deal of support from it. It was a wonderful strategy that he pursued effectively. I don't think that's the strategy that's going to work in every state."
'It's not broken, why fix it?'
Obama, the Illinois senator who punctured Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's front-runner status in his convincing Iowa win, rallied in Portsmouth and Concord. He playfully but pointedly addressed the Clinton campaign's earlier criticisms of him as an overambitious figure who wanted to be president ever since he started grade school.
"This feels good," he told a rally in an airport hanger in Portsmouth. "This feels just like I imagined when I was talking to my kindergarten teacher." The crowd laughed. Earlier, Obama said he saw no reason to revamp his campaign for the new realities of New Hampshire: "No, it's not broken, why fix it?"
Clinton hoped to become the family's newest "Comeback Kid" in a state that revived Bill Clinton's run for the Democratic nomination in 1992.
Struggling to regain her footing, Clinton promised a rally at the Nashua airport that she would answer as many questions as possible about her candidacy in the short run to the primary, and addressed several about her electability after her Iowa defeat.
"Anyone we nominate will be thrown into that blazing inferno of a general election," she said. "I've been through the fires, and it makes it far less likely they are going to be able to do to me what they intend to do to whomever we nominate." She was traveling through the state in a lavishly painted campaign bus bearing her latest slogan: "Big Challenges, Real Solutions - Time to Pick a President."
Huckabee, on the morning talk shows, pitched his tax plan to anti-tax New Hampshire Republicans, and asserted his campaign is about much more than the Christian conservatives who lifted him in Iowa. "What we're seeing is that this campaign is not just about people who have religious fervor," he said. "It's about people who love America, but want it to be better and believe that change is necessary and it's not going to happen from within Washington."
New Hampshire's primary is Tuesday, only five days after Iowa, in an unprecedented compression of the campaign calendar. McCain and Huckabee anticipated more attack ads against them.
"We're going to be certainly always holding the option of defending my record when people are misleading and distorting it," Huckabee said, in a veiled reference to Romney. "I think staying positive in Iowa, not doing the political dumpster-diving that some of the other candidates did, I believe it paid off."
McCain called Romney's attacks in Iowa "a little bit desperate. It didn't work in Iowa, I don't think it will work in New Hampshire." The Arizona senator's resurgent campaign raised him to the top of the polls against Romney in New Hampshire, with Huckabee lagging, in pre-Iowa surveys.
"We only have a few days to close the sale, but I think the momentum coming out of Iowa is going to be good for us," Huckabee said. "Then we're on to South Carolina and Florida where we're running first in the polls. We're going to have a great month." The candidates appeared on the network and cable morning talk shows.
Obama was neck and neck in New Hampshire polls with Clinton, who finished third in Iowa but has the money and organization to confront him.
Iowa's results tightened the Democratic field - Sens. Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd dropped out shortly after the outcome was clear Thursday night. John Edwards mounted an energetic, populist campaign only to see himself repeat his 2004 second place finish in Iowa. He vowed to continue, but he trails Obama and Clinton in polls and in money.
In Manchester, Edwards portrayed the Democratic race as one between him and Obama.
"I am the candidate who will fight with every fiber of my being, every single step of the way, for you, for your children and for your grandchildren," he said Friday to cheers from an audience that included more campaign workers than ordinary voters, and many non-New Hampshire residents.
On the Republican side, Huckabee enters New Hampshire with little money and little time to mount an adequate come-from-behind surge. And tradition pulls against him. George H. W. Bush in 1980, Bob Dole in 1988 and 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000 - all are Iowa caucus winners who lost their New Hampshire primaries.
Huckabee's Iowa victory served to keep the GOP contest wide open. He won by 9 percentage points and Romney now faces a reinvigorated McCain. Fred Thompson was looking beyond New Hampshire to South Carolina. And Rudy Giuliani, fading in New Hampshire, was counting on Florida and big state contests on Feb. 5.
In Iowa, Thompson held on to a third-place finish over by McCain by fewer than 300 votes, with 96 percent of GOP precincts reporting. McCain spent little time or money there, investing his early hopes in New Hampshire.
An unpredictable factor in New Hampshire could be Republican Ron Paul, an anti-war congressman with libertarian views whose legions of volunteers have fanned out across New Hampshire waving placards and knocking on doors in support of their dark horse candidate. Paul has raised a surprising amount of money, further complicating the political calculations in the state.
The politics of money
In their victory speeches Thursday night, Obama and Huckabee struck similar chords and distinguished themselves from their respective fields - portraying themselves as unifiers and change agents who didn't view the world in simply Republican and Democratic hues.
Money, a defining measure of candidate strength throughout 2007, turned out to be not so determinative in Iowa. Romney, a multimillionaire who pumped more than $17 million of his own money into the campaign by September, spent about $7 million on ads in Iowa to Huckabee's $1.4 million.
Likewise, Edwards remained in the mix with Obama and Clinton even though they broke all fundraising records last year. Obama spent $9 million in television ads in Iowa, Clinton spent $7 million and Edwards spent only $3 million.
Romney's and Clinton's inability to win was also a blow to much of the Democratic and Republican party establishment that had lined up behind both candidates.
But if money was only secondary in Iowa, it could still be a factor ahead. Romney could tap his wealth again to carry him through New Hampshire and Michigan thereafter. And with Obama and Clinton at the top, the Democratic contest appears to be dominated by two financial titans.