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Giuliani Tries to Keep Lead in New Hampshire


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

With Christmas just three days away, the presidential candidates are campaigning frenetically through Iowa and New Hampshire. They know voters will want to put politics aside, at least for the holidays. Iowans go to the caucuses, January 3rd, and New Hampshire holds its primary just five days later.

So if the candidates falter in Iowa, they're hoping to regroup quickly in the live-free-or-die state.

NPR's Audie Cornish is up New Hampshire.

Audie, today, you are at a Rudy Giuliani event. How did he look? He just spent a day in the hospital with flu-like symptoms.

AUDIE CORNISH: Well, he was certainly subdued. It was a very sort of calm and straightforward event, where he talked more about this new - fairly recently unveiled campaign theme, which is "Tested, Ready and Now." And he gave short speech. He really was all over the map in terms of taking questions from the audience and addressing a number of issues at once.

And he said afterwards that he's feeling good and that in the end what he suffered was just a headache, and that he's had all the requisite tests and understands people's concerns about having been a cancer survivor. But that now, he is fine.

SEABROOK: So "Tested, Ready and Now." Giuliani once had a solid national lead in the polls, but his numbers have been slipping, Audie. How is he doing up there in New Hampshire?

CORNISH: Well, one thing you have to remember on the Republican side is that governor Mitt Romney's a former governor of Massachusetts, a neighboring state. And so although Giuliani did appear in the top three and maybe in the beginning of the year, he's slowly slipping into second and third and especially with the focus that Senator John McCain has put on the state and really visiting the state quite a bit. And Giuliani has really spread his efforts all over the country, you know, as part of his national, sort of, strategy instead of focusing on those early states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

And so while Giuliani, it seems, really isn't doing much in Iowa these days, he's making some effort in New Hampshire, and that's really only maintaining his status, really, around the third place at this point.

SEABROOK: Audie, there's some fascinating new polls out today, numbers that seems to be really disparate depending on the poll. I think the CNN poll has Hillary Clinton with a big lead over Barack Obama in New Hampshire, whereas the Gallup-USA Today poll has them in dead even. What do you make of all that?

CORNISH: Well, first of all, in New Hampshire, you have nearly 44 percent of voters here who are registered undeclared. Sometimes, they're called independents. They can vote in either primary.

And one thing I've noticed at the campaign events this week is that voters are still very much open. I'm finding Democrats at Republican events. I'm finding independents all over, and the candidates are still putting quite a bit of time here. I mean, just when people started to say Edwards is focusing on Iowa, he made plenty of stops in New Hampshire and promised to be back after Christmas. So I think what you're seeing is really reflecting just sort of how wide open it still is, especially in New Hampshire.

SEABROOK: NPR's Audie Cornish in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Thanks very much, Audie.

CORNISH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Andrea Seabrook covers Capitol Hill as NPR's Congressional Correspondent.
Over two decades of journalism, Audie Cornish has become a recognized and trusted voice on the airwaves as co-host of NPR's flagship news program, All Things Considered.