US presidential hopefuls have clashed ahead of primaries in New Hampshire, with the Republicans’ Mitt Romney and the Democrats’ Hillary Clinton subjected to heated attacks.
Ahead of the televised debate, Romney won the Republican caucus in Wyoming, a boost after his second position in Iowa.
Portraying himself as the “agent of change”, Romney defended himself from attacks from Mike Huckabee and John McCain, with several references to the “old faces” of Washington.
Opinions polls put McCain in the lead ahead of Tuesday’s primaries largely at the expense of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
He has seen his figures drop over the past month. Analysts say his campaigning style – big on PR appearances, short on face-to-face sessions – does not go down well in New Hampshire.
Stung by her third place in Iowa, Clinton has intensified her efforts and changed tack slightly, taking questions for two hours at a rally.
She claimed that Barack Obama has changed his poistion on a number of issues, something he hotly denied.
Obama also received a helping hand from fellow candidate John Edwards, the runner-up in Iowa, who said: “What I would say is this, any time you speak out powerfully for change the forces of status quo attack, that is exactly what happens.”
Political experts say the 2008 camapign is the most open race in more than 50 years, with no sitting president or vice president seeking their party’s nomination.