John Kerry endorses Obama

John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, gave Barack Obama a timely endorsement Thursday, snubbing Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as his own vice presidential running mate.

Kerry came to South Carolina to embrace Obama, two weeks before the state’s primary and with Obama needing a boost after Clinton’s emotional victory over him in New Hampshire.

Richardson pulls the plug

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday after poor finishes in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He praised all of his Democratic rivals but endorsed no one. He encouraged voters to “take a long and thoughtful look” at all of them.

Richardson said that although his support at the polls lagged the front-runners, many of his leading rivals had moved closer to his positions on such issues as the war in Iraq and educating young Americans at home.

Bill Clinton’s primary colors

Former President Clinton has become a central player in his wife’s presidential campaign. Yet as Hillary Rodham Clinton seeks to build upon her New Hampshire comeback momentum, that role is evolving and coming under new scrutiny.

His recent sharp comments about chief rival Barack Obama, including accusing the Illinois senator of engaging in a “fairy tale” on Iraq, could alienate some Democratic voters. However his popularity among Democrats remains high, a blessing that could cut both ways.

Are we there yet?

The voters of New Hampshire and the caucus goers of Iowa have spoken and their verdict: Hillary is no longer inevitable. Obama is no longer anointed. And McCain is no longer dead.

Hillary Rodham Clinton rebounded in New Hampshire from a near-death experience, confounding the pollsters, pundits and over-caffeinated cable hosts by edging out the predicted winner, Barack Obama, 39 percent to 37 percent. John Edwards finished with a disappointing 17 percent.

New Hampshire’s primary role

The Iowa caucuses, followed now rapidly by New Hampshire and many other primaries, might have resulted in a leading presidential contender sewing up the nomination early. So far, that is not the case.

The Iowa victors, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama, have received intense nonstop coverage in the few days since the caucuses, but neither has vaulted into a commanding lead. The much-headlined “Obama surge” in attention and public enthusiasm did not prevent a New Hampshire victory by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A forgotten primary lesson

While everybody else is writing about the results of the New Hampshire primary, I can only follow my contrary nature and write about the forgotten man of American politics.

Because of a self-imposed Christmas truce, I have not written about him for several weeks. So much time has passed, I now find that I can barely remember his name. This strikes me as very good, although admittedly it could be a sign that my mind has closed down out of respect for my recent 60th birthday.

For Republicans, a muddled mess

It’s a different winner every day in the Republican presidential race.

Mike Huckabee took Iowa, John McCain won New Hampshire and Mitt Romney was second to both — but claimed victory in scarcely contested Wyoming.

Unpredictable from the outset, the most wide-open GOP nomination fight in half a century is becoming even more scrambled, a consequence of no natural successor to President Bush and a party searching for someone who appeals to economic, social and national security conservatives alike.

Women for Clinton; moderates for McCain

It was almost as if the candidates were running for president of two different countries. Exit polls showed that rather than reaffirming Iowa’s results from five days earlier, New Hampshire voters had their own thoughts about the contenders and the issues.

A short stint as a frontrunner

Barack Obama didn’t even have time to get used to being the front-runner before he was the underdog again.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s unanticipated victory Tuesday night in New Hampshire evened up the Democratic presidential campaign and turned it into a two-person race.

The two elections within five days was enough to give a candidate whiplash. But now the pace of voting slows a bit and gives the candidates time to fine tune their strategies for what promises to be the most intense and expensive race in history.

“We are in it for the long run,” Clinton said in her victory speech.

McCain & Clinton: The comeback duo

A lot of people who thought they knew something about the political process woke up with a hangover this morning — their minds muddled by the intoxication of arrogance and the failed belief that they — not the voters — decide elections.

They awoke with the knowledge that last night was not a dream but a nightmare come true — that two candidates won their respective parties’ primaries in New Hampshire the old fashioned way — by getting out the vote and ending the evening with a win that just about everyone said was impossible.

Republican John McCain made it look easy, easily defeating Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in an election the networks declared won minutes after the polls closed.

It took five more hours before anyone would dare claim the previously-thought impossible: Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton as the upset winner over Barack Obama, edging the predicted winner 39-37 percent.