In Manchester yesterday, MSNBC.com's Tom Curry asked if Democrats are moving past the infatuation stage with Obama, and finds that some are. "He still has a lot more to prove to people here," said Dan McKenna, a newly elected state representative, after hearing Obama address the rapturous crowd. "The next time he comes here, people will be looking for more substance."
The huge crowd and media frenzy "tells me he's a rock star, but it's a long way to November," said Bill Shaheen, who chaired both Al Gore's New Hampshire primary campaign in 2000 and Sen. John Kerry's in 2004. Will Obama's momentum force Sen. Hillary Clinton to jump into the race soon? "I don't know if it's imminent, but she's got to make a move quick," Shaheen said. He also said he's been swapping phone messages with Clinton in recent days, but has not talked to her.
One of Shaheen's law partners, Lucy Karl, who was also on hand for Obama's speech, said, "My concern is that he's too green. I've thought a lot about the foreign policy stuff. If you look at who has been good ultimately on foreign policy -- very often it has been our governors, I liked Carter, I loved [Bill] Clinton." "I'm still not convinced Obama is going to play in Topeka," she said, putting it down in part to his name and his skin color. "I just don't know yet if he can win -- because he is so, so new." But with a nod to Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink, she added, "We do go with our guts with people. He's doing something to people's guts that most politicians aren't doing."
Karl and some of her friends are looking eagerly at Gore -- not yet a contender in this race -- as someone who they think has been proven right on Iraq and other issues. "Would I support a Gore-Obama ticket? Absolutely," she said.
"Obama's showing was stunning for an early candidate in New Hampshire nearly a year before the nation's leadoff presidential primary. Most candidates are still making appearances at house parties, sharing cake and coffee with local activists," says the Boston Globe.
The Washington Times says Obama could threaten Clinton's "early lead for the Democratic presidential nomination by challenging her vote for the Iraq war, opposition to a speedy troop withdrawal and support for free trade," per party strategists.
The Washington Post notes that Obama's "presidential planning has not quite caught up with the hype and speculation that now follows him wherever he goes. Nor does he appear to be as far along as Clinton or a number of other Democrats."
USA Today highlights the link between the surge in interest in Obama and the Clinton team's recent string of announcements about staffing. "For months, Clinton was the runaway leader of the field in national polls. As Obama surged, her normally tight-lipped aides started confirming a series of people in line to be campaign manager, communications director and the like in a Clinton presidential campaign."
Sen. Evan Bayh was also in New Hampshire this weekend to talk about why he's (probably) running for president.
Democratic party leaders "in some of the most heavily Democratic counties" in Iowa "say that they're prepared to wait to see what the field looks like before committing and that winning back the White House trumps home-state allegiance," reports the Des Moines Register. This could prove problematic for Gov. Tom Vilsack, who "has said he will win the caucuses. Anything less could mortally wound his candidacy."