US Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said even he had some doubts about whether he could come back from the political wilderness he found himself in last summer. But come back he has – to the point where he is leading the race in New Hampshire ahead of today’s crucial primary.
Republican contender Mitt Romney is trailing in second place and could do with a better showing than in Iowa last week. Experts say a win would restore credibility in Romney’s campaign to clinch the nomination and he has bought plenty of TV airtime in an attempt to fulfill this aim.
Populist preacher Mike Huckabee is unlikely to capitalise on his strong showing in Iowa. In New Hampshire, social conservatives are not a significant voting force.
Latest research puts McCain on 32%, six points ahead of Romney on 26. Huckabee is on 14%, while former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was polling fourth on 11%.
Giuliani says he is not worried about his poor showing so far. The Republican national front-runner has not campaigned vigorously in the early stages of the primary season, preferring, he says, to focus on larger states later on.
And, while some analysts have criticised his strategy as a risky one, Giuliani believes he is the only one who can beat Democrat hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
The New Hampshire primary is the latest battleground in the state-by-state process of choosing Republican and Democrat candidates for November’s election to succeed President George W. Bush.