BEDFORD, New Hampshire (CNN) - Put Erin Flanagan in the John McCain column.
We visited with Flanagan before Christmas, when she told us she was torn between McCain and Barack Obama; supportive of their calls to work on a bipartisan basis if elected president but torn over which one has the right Iraq policy.
It is personal for Erin; her brother was killed in Iraq two years ago.
Flanagan first encountered Senator McCain when she asked him a question about the war at a debate several months ago. He followed up and she invited him to her Bedford home for dinner.
After our report in December about her conflict, the Obama campaign contacted Flanagan and she met with him in Manchester.
Flanagan told CNN in an email exchange Monday that she had settled on McCain over the weekend, convinced he was the best choice to be commander-in-chief.
CNN talked with McCain on Monday as he campaigned in Keene, and when asked about Erin’s decision, he said: “I’m very grateful. She called me and said she had a long process and she was supporting my candidacy and wanted to do everything she can to help us win. I was very honored.”
He recalled her question at the debate, which included a reference to how her brother’s death had devastated the family. “It was one of the toughest questions I’ve ever had,” McCain said. “And I’m grateful for her support.”
–CNN Chief National Correspondent John King
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - After a late-night flight from Iowa, Mitt Romney stepped off the airplane here Friday with a re-tooled stump speech in his back pocket, and hope that more than a year’s worth of organizing would help deliver him a much-needed victory in the Granite State.
Romney was bruised from a stunning loss in the Hawkeye State - territory where he invested heavily - and a strategy that was supposed to slingshot him through the early primary states on the way to winning the Republican presidential nomination. But a late surge by Mike Huckabee, a relatively unknown former Arkansas governor, prevented Romney from winning the Iowa caucuses.
In New Hampshire, he arguably faces a tougher foe: an established political figure with a maverick reputation whose campaign is rebounding at just about the right time – and John McCain happens to be the only candidate in the race who’s already won the Granite State’s presidential primary once before (in 2000).
Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, is now openly talking about change – a line that has been all but branded this cycle by Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. But Romney advisors argue that this message is not new for the former governor – it is a point he has been talking about since early spring.
“You are all catching up with us,” Ron Kaufman, one of Romney's senior advisers, said in an interview with CNN.
ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - A group of about a dozen anti-abortion protestors interrupted one of Barack Obama's New Hampshire rallies Monday night.
The group shouted in unison, "Abortion is abomination," forcing Obama to pause in the middle of his speech.
When the noise erupted, Obama first paused and looked up into the balcony where they were standing.
"Alright," Obama said, attempting to squelch the commotion. "Alright."
The rest of the crowd soon got angry with the protestors.
"No need to boo. We appreciate [their] point," Obama said, adding that he'd be happy to talk to them afterwards but that shouting "isn't going to solve anything."
The whole incident lasted about two minutes before they were escorted out by police.
Before leaving the room, one protestor yelled, "True change is ending abortion!" Change has been a major theme of Obama's campaign.
Once the audience calmed down again, Obama said, "Let me just say this, though... Some people got organized to do that. That's part of the American tradition we are proud of."
"That's hard, too, standing in the midst of people who don't agree with you," he added.
- CNN's Chris Welch
(CNN) - Tonight, Hillary Clinton made her final two-minute television appeal to New Hampshire voters during the 6 p.m. news, with a spot that stressed experience and promised real change. Full script after the jump.
CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) – On a bus ride from a pancake breakfast speech to shake hands at a bakery, Mike Huckabee told reporters that regardless of tomorrow night’s primary results here, he’s optimistic.
“I think if we¹re third or fourth we¹re still in the game because we¹ve got a great situation going on in South Carolina,” said Huckabee who is solidly in third place in New Hampshire polls. “We’re going to a place where we¹ve got a strong organization, good staffing, huge support and Florida¹s the same thing.”
When asked about Sunday night’s GOP debate, Huckabee lit into rival Mitt Romney and what he sees as a double standard. “He’ll say those aren’t negative attack ads, those are just record comparisons. But if anyone says anything about his record it’s a personal attack, they’re just attacking the person. Well you can’t have it both ways, either it’s a personal attack or a record reflection.” He also took Romney to task for several false claims he has made, including getting an endorsement from the NRA and marching with Martin Luther King Jr. in Detroit.
Huckabee wrapped up his culinary tour at a restaurant that named a burger after him – the “Huckaburger,” a beef patty topped with spinach and tomato on a whole-wheat bun. Predicted Huckabee, “Anyone who eats this will lose weight, vote for Mike Huckabee and live forever.”
- CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The outcome of the New Hampshire primary won't be clear until late Tuesday night, but the results in one tiny Granite State town will be known much sooner – just a few minutes after the stroke of midnight.
Dixville Notch, an isolated village located in New Hampshire's northeast corner, will begin voting at the stroke of 12 a.m. Tuesday. The ballots won’t take long to tally: according to the Boston Globe, Dixville Notch has just 17 registered voters this year - three Republicans, two Democrats, and 12 independent voters.
The town, home to around 75 residents, has opened its polls shortly after midnight each election day since 1960, drawing national media attention for being the first place in this first-in-the-nation primary state to make its presidential preferences known. (Although since 1996, another small New Hampshire town - Hart's Location – reinstated its practice from the 1940's and also opened its polls at midnight.)
But the result in Dixville Notch is hardly a reliable bellwether for statewide results. The town’s Democrats picked Wesley Clark in 2004, Bill Bradley in 2000, and Bill Clinton in 1992. (John Kerry, Al Gore, and Paul Tsongas were the actual statewide winners those years.) On the Republican side, Dixville voters backed George Bush in 2000 (actual winner: John McCain) and Bob Dole in 1996 (actual winner: Bob Dole).
CNN's Tom Foreman and the Election Express are headed up to Dixville and will report the results soon as they are known.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Sen. Barack Obama has a nine-point lead over Sen. Hillary Clinton in the state, according to a CNN-WMUR poll out Monday.
Obama, the first-term senator from Illinois who won last week's Iowa caucuses, led the New York senator and former first lady 39 percent to 30 percent in a poll conducted Saturday through Sunday evening - a sharp change from a poll out Saturday that showed the Democratic front-runners tied at 33 percent.
Preliminary results from the poll released Sunday night. now showed Obama with a lead of 10 percentage points.
STRATHAM, New Hampshire (CNN) - Mitt Romney has been shifting his message to focus on change following the emergence of Barack Obama as the Democratic frontrunner.
Romney said Republicans need a nominee who can compete with Obama.
"I think Republican voters who, like myself, were virtually certain that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee have now begun to rethink Hillary Clinton may not be the nominee," Romney told reporters here.
He said Obama's message of change has "put Hillary Clinton on her heels" and that if the Illinois senator becomes the nominee, then Romney's rival Sen. John McCain will be the wrong standard-bearer for Republicans.
"Frankly, I don't think Senator McCain, despite his service and his length of experience that that's going to be able to stand up to the message that Barack Obama has brought forward," he said.
"We better think about somebody who can stand up with a message and go toe to toe with [Obama]," Romney said, adding that he can "post up against" Obama.
Romney senior adviser Ron Kaufman said Obama " demolished three senators in Iowa" and will "demolish" Clinton in New Hampshire, "so clearly having a senator against him is not a good idea."
- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) - Hillary Clinton became visibly emotional at a New Hampshire campaign event today after a friendly question from a voter.
At the close of a Portsmouth campaign stop, Marianne Pernold-Young, 64, asked Clinton: "How do you do it? How do you keep up... and who does your hair?"
Clinton began noting that she had help with her hair on "special days," and that she drew criticism on the days she did not. Then she added: "It's not easy, and I couldn't do it if I just didn't, you know, passionately believe it was the right thing to do.
"You know, I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don't want to see us fall backwards," she said, her voice breaking a bit. The audience applauded.
"This is very personal for me, it's not just political, it's [that] I see what's happening, we have to reverse it," she said emotionally, adding that some "just put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds.
"But some of us are right and some of us are wrong. Some of us ready and some of us are not. Some of us know what we will do on day one, and some of us really haven't thought that through enough...
"So as tired as I am - and I am. And as difficult as it is to try and keep up what I try to do on the road, like occasionally exercise and try to eat right - it's tough when the easiest food is pizza - I just believe so strongly in who we are as a nation. So I'm gonna do everything I can and make my case and you know the voters get to decide."
The New York senator is under pressure after some weekend surveys showed opponent Barack Obama with a sudden double-digit edge, with less than a day to go until the New Hampshire primary.
At a New Hampshire campaign event, presidential rival John Edwards told reporters he was unaware of Clinton's emotional reaction and would not respond to it, but added, according to CNN's Dugald McDonnell: "I think what we need in a commander in chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are a tough business, but being President of the United States is also a very tough business. And the President of the United States is faced with very, very difficult challenges every single day, difficult judgments every single day."
- CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson
Barack Obama told cheering supporters in New Hampshire today, "You're the wave and I'm riding it." Boy, is he ever. Polls now show him with a commanding lead over Hillary Clinton ahead of tomorrow's primary.
Whether or not Obama ends up riding this wave all the way to the White House, it seems he will accomplish something extraordinary, and that is to leave an indelible mark on the age-old dialogue about race relations in this country.
Obama is black, but experts believe his win in Iowa, which is almost all white and rural, shattered what many people think about black Americans in national politics.
Conservative commentator George Will suggested that the two big losers are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who Will says have an investment in the "traditional and... utterly exhausted narrative about race relations in the United States."
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