"Obama and Clinton are now tied with 33 percent of the vote each nationally, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll. The finding is a stunning change from mid-December, when Clinton held an 18-point advantage over Obama."
CLINTON: The New York Times writes, "Key campaign officials may be replaced. She may start calling herself the underdog. Donors would receive pleas that it is do-or-die time. And her political strategy could begin mirroring that of Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican rival, by focusing on populous states like California and New York whose primaries are Feb. 5. Everything is on the table inside Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign if she loses the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, her advisers say - including her style of campaigning, which shifted dramatically on Monday when Mrs. Clinton bared her thoughts about the race's impact on her personally, and her eyes welled with tears."
More: "Everything is on the table inside Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign if she loses the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, her advisers say - including her style of campaigning, which shifted dramatically on Monday when Mrs. Clinton bared her thoughts about the race's impact on her personally, and her eyes welled with tears." Staff mentioned: "If Mrs. Clinton loses badly on Tuesday, campaign officials say she may shake up her team and replace one or more of her senior aides, such as her campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle; her chief strategist, Mark Penn; her advertising adviser, Mandy Grunwald; and her communications director, Howard Wolfson."
Politico's Mike Allen reports, "The emerging strategy - assuming the results are as bad as Clinton aides now fear - will start with a concerted plea to voters, donors and the news media to hold off writing campaign obituaries until after the Feb. 5 primaries." Allen mentions Solis Doyle and Penn by name in the staff that could be fired list. More: "Senator Clinton recognizes that there will be calls for her to leave the race if Tuesday night turns into a blowout, according to the advisers."
The Wall Street Journal: "Already some Clinton associates have begun lobbying for her early exit if she loses the primary by a big margin, as polls suggest she could. Several Senate colleagues who have sat on the fence are now in talks with Obama advisers about endorsing the freshman Illinois senator over his more experienced colleague… And the Clinton campaign is considering effectively ceding South Carolina, which votes a week later. Her once-strong support in the state's large black population eroded and Sen. Obama opened a big lead in polls after Iowa's caucus results energized many blacks with the prospect that a man of their race stands a realistic chance of being nominated."
The New York Sun even looks at the possibility Obama could win the New York primary. "I am worried," Mayor Koch, who backs Mrs. Clinton, said. "The whole question is whether the country is caught up in an Obama fever. I still believe the best will prevail and she is the best." A state senator who is one of the few New York Democratic elected officials who supports Mr. Obama, Bill Perkins, said the calculus for New York delegates has changed. "Assuming all the polls bear out like they did in Iowa, then we are going to have a race," Mr. Perkins, who represents Harlem, said. (How is Clinton going to handle the first post-New Hampshire New York poll that shows it close? Imagine what the NYC tabs do with that?)
Terry McAuliffe spin, via the Brody File. "Asked about a story on The Drudge Report that she may pull out of the race if she loses New Hampshire, McAuliffe tells me: 'Preposterous! With $110 million? We raised a million dollars post Iowa that has come into the campaign headquarters… I talk to Hillary every day and I can tell you it isn't coming from me, it isn't coming form Hillary. I know it's not coming from Patti Solis Doyle, our campaign manager. So I don't know who it's coming from, but listen, you got a lot of bouncing balls going around people talking and trying to get different things in different campaigns. We're going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party."
The Clinton family took the stage together last night in Manchester to make her closing argument to New Hampshire voters. Bill and Chelsea stood aside as Hillary opened with the same sort of rallying call and response style seen in the closing days in Iowa, asking the audience if they were ready to do things like end the era of "cowboy diplomacy" and take on global warming, NBC/NJ's Athena Jones reports. Clinton said this election was serious because America had been taken off course. "We will together begin to set our country on the right track, but I know what it will take," she said.
"A woman!" shouted a man in audience, as the crowd roared.
The senator laughed. "There's an old saying: if you want something done, ask a busy woman to do it."
No, he says. He really didn't, NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli writes. During a town hall meeting yesterday afternoon, Bill Clinton was asked for some clarification on an issue that dogged him some years back: Did you or did you not inhale? The crowd, at least those who stayed despite the former president being over and hour and a half late, laughed at the query, as Clinton quickly responded.
"You know actually I didn't," he said. "But the press -- that was a classic example of the disparate press [coverage]." He referred to a book written by a British journalist as his evidence. But Clinton hinted that there was more to the story. "I thought it was funny that I didn't inhale. I didn't say that I didn't try," he said. "It was something I could not do, that didn't have anything to do with the way it was spun out to you. It was a joke."
That question was the last one Clinton took at the event in the western part of the state -- or at least it was supposed to be. After thanking the audience, Clinton began shaking hands and the music started blaring. But he quickly returned to the podium, saying someone had asked him something personally he wanted to answer publicly: What can be done to stop Barack Obama's momentum? "The answer is, there might not be enough time," Clinton replied. "New Hampshire made a decision, that I didn't agree with, to basically give up a lot of their independent judgment by going five days after Iowa, when there in a wash of all this publicity. We are just now getting to the real differences with some of these candidates."
Here's more from Bill from last night: "It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time--not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war. And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since.'"
Bill was then asked about Mark Penn's "where's the bounce" memo and 42 went off. "The bounce always occurs on the second day not the first day," Mr. Clinton said, conceding the mistake before turning the table on the questioner and the Obama camp. "What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the senator from Punjab? Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook. Scouring me-scathing criticism over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon."
"So you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want. It wasn't his best day. He was hurt. He felt badly we didn't do better in Iowa," Mr. Clinton explained during the forum. "But the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months is a little tough to take just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there."
And did Bill Clinton semi-endorse McCain? Per NBC's Bridget Nurre, he said: "Right now, depending on who they nominate, all of our guys could win. So I never said that we couldn't do that. But I just think that if it goes bad and if there's an emergency and if they nominate McCain, it'd be the hardest to beat. He has deep national security credentials and is a profoundly decent man, even though I disagree with him on a lot of things. I admire him, and I like him and Hillary really likes him. They're good friends."
EDWARDS: The Union Leader wraps up Edwards' 36-hour blitz across New Hampshire. "Edwards reiterated his promise to continue his campaign 'through the convention and to the White House' and refused to discuss the possibility that he might not win a primary."
In an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, which will air later today, Edwards said that what Obama has been saying is a "fantasy."
OBAMA: NBC News has learned that Nevada's all-important Culinary Workers Union will endorse Obama. And, per NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan, Obama will have a big rally in Las Vegas on Friday. The union held off until after the New Hampshire primary, but according to multiple sources, the union was going to endorse whoever won Iowa between Obama and Edwards.
Looking ahead to February 5? Tomorrow, Obama will host an organizational meeting and rally in Jersey City, NJ "to gather supporters and organize volunteers before statewide canvasses this weekend," the campaign says.
"Words matter," Obama told Clinton at Saturday's Democratic debate, in response to her accusation that he offered "false hope" based on rhetoric rather than substance. Yet NBC/NJ's Anburajan notes that the power of words, a great stump speech, and the ability to make light of one's enemies was evidenced throughout Obama's four days in New Hampshire following the Iowa caucuses. It caused large rallies to erupt in applause; it stirred crowds standing in the damp cold air listening to Obama's voice over a loudspeaker; and it caused a high school gymnasium packed to the brim at 11:30 pm last night to chant and clap, "Obama! Obama! Obama!" It was the perhaps the most enthusiastic crowd Obama has had since Iowa.
From Obama's interview yesterday with NBC's Brian Williams… On what he's for in addition to change: "Well, I've -- there's a -- a lot of things. I'm for having a responsible, thoughtful foreign policy that makes us safe but also increases our standing in the world, something that this administration has done very poorly. I'm for a balanced economy. I believe in the free market. I believe in free trade. But I also believe that -- we have an obligation to make sure that workers still have ladders of opportunity, that our tax code is not skewed towards the wealthiest among us, but it allows for shared prosperity… And I'm for investing in our children to make sure that that they have the same chances that somebody gave me."
On questions about his experience (or lack thereof): "That on the most difficult foreign policy issues that we have confronted over the last several years, since 9/11, my judgment has been sound. I anticipated the problems that we would have in Iraq and warned against them before we went into the war, at a time when I was running for the United States Senate. I had suggested very early on in this campaign and have been consistent in the view that we have to talk not just to our friends but also to our enemies… When it comes to Pakistan, back in August, I suggested we're on a dangerous course putting all our eggs in the Musharraf basket -- that we have to broaden democracy there and we have to put much more pressure on them to go after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan because militant Islam is starting to seep in and could cause -- cause us great danger." And: "So ultimately, the judgments that I have made during the course of this campaign and as a United States senator, I think, are reflective of the judgments that we need in the Oval Office."
After today, Obama has a new challenge. Notes the Wall Street Journal: "Democrats expect Sen. Obama to be forced to pass what one calls "the Oval Office Test," and will be pressed more to translate what 'change' means in policy specifics. The Obama campaign is considering some weighty speeches, perhaps on foreign policy and on stimulating the economy -- to give him more heft with an eye to the general election as well as the nomination battle."
RICHARDSON: On Richardson, one voter said, "He's very intelligent. I hope when he doesn't make it into the White House, someone uses him wisely." "The former energy secretary, who came in fourth in the Iowa caucuses, denied any vice presidential ambitions during a last-minute campaign jaunt that had him zigzagging between Manchester and the Seacoast."