June 2nd, 2007
07:40 PM ET
12 years ago

Richardson: 'I need to break out'

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson addresses the New Hampshire state Democratic convention Saturday.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CNN) - New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson tells CNN that he needs to do better in tomorrow night's Democratic Presidential Debate in New Hampshire. But the Democratic White House hopeful says he feels the format of the debate will be to his benefit.

Richardson spoke to reporters today, saying "this is a more relaxed debate. I'm going to be more relaxed. It's a longer debate. It's a more free-wheeling debate, but it's important for me to do well, because I need to break out."

Richardson made his comments before tonight's Iowa Democratic State Party Dinner in Cedar Rapids. Richardson and fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd all flew out to Iowa Saturday afternoon to attend the dinner.

All three spoke this morning at the New Hampshire State Democratic Party Convention in Concord. The three will be joined tonight by Senator Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards.

Richardson is currently fourth in most national polls. He's at the top of the second tier of candidates, but trails front runners Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, and former senator John Edwards.

But Richardson thinks tomorrow night's debate can help him break out, saying "I'm moving up. My polls are gaining, but if I do well in this debate, I believe that I'll move into the first tier."

All eight Democratic candidates face off Sunday night on the campus of Saint Anselm College just outside Manchester, New Hampshire. CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader are sponsoring the debate, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

It's the first of two debates at the same site. The Republican Presidential Candidates face off at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday night. Each debate is two hours long and will include questions from New Hampshire voters in the audience.

- CNN'S Dana Bash and Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Bill Richardson • Iowa • New Hampshire
June 2nd, 2007
07:01 PM ET
12 years ago

All aboard!

The CNN Election Express on the campus of St. Anselm College

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - The CNN Election Express is back. But this isn't your father's CNN Election Express. If you've been watching CNN Saturday afternoon, you've seen the bus in the background, far behind CNN's Candy Crowley and Bill Schneider while they do their stand-ups from Saint Anselm College.

But as you approach the vehicle, you can tell it's not your ordinary bus. First off, there's a satellite dish on top of it. No longer is a television live truck needed to "go live" from the bus. The CNN Election Express can do it all by itself.

As you board the bus, it's like walking into the future. The bus is equipped with state of the art equipment, from the cameras to the computers. This bus is a working newsroom, television studio, and satellite feed center all in one.

I don't want to say much more, because technology is not my forte. But get ready to see the CNN Election Express along the campaign trail from coast to coast as CNN covers the race to the White House and the battle for Congress.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Election Express • New Hampshire
June 2nd, 2007
04:50 PM ET
12 years ago

The debate begins.... sort of

Workers put the final touches to the debate set Saturday.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - The debate is underway. The candidates are answering questions and the camera operators are recording all the action.

But, wait... it’s only Saturday.

Actually, it’s just a rehearsal and the candidates are just fill-ins played by local college students hired by CNN to help assist the production of the debate. The real debate involving the Democratic presidential candidates begins Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET.

The debate is being held in an arena on the campus of Saint Anselm College just outside of Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city. The stage sits atop of a hockey rink, so feel free to say that the candidates will be skating on thin ice.

But, seriously, final preparations are underway for Sunday’s debate. The final trimmings are being put on the stage, and the rehearsals will continue into the evening.

A couple of hundred yards away, CNN engineers and technicians are working on the lighting in the spin room. That’s the room - actually, a gymnasium - where the candidates go after debates to better explain to the working press what they just said minutes ago during the debate. And surrogates for the candidates also flood the spin room to tell how their candidates kicked butt during the debate. That of course, is spin.

Next door to the spin room, in another gymnasium, is the filing center. This is where more than 600 journalists from around the country and the world will watch the debate, and report on just what they saw. There are only a few of us working journalists here right now, but tomorrow night this room will be jammed packed. Right now engineers and technicians are milling about, setting up monitors and testing the audio systems.

Up on the quad at Saint Anselm College, the CNN reporter and sub anchor locations are up and running. And alongside the quad is the just arrived CNN Election Express. I’m off to board the bus, and I’ll have a full report in my next posting.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: New Hampshire
June 2nd, 2007
04:24 PM ET
12 years ago

Anti-war message brings New Hampshire Dems to their feet

CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) - A handful of Democratic presidential hopefuls took to the stage in Concord Saturday to woo the base at the state party convention.

My fellow Democrats, this war must end, this war must end, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden said, touching on an issue that routinely brought the roughly 800 party faithful to their feet.

"My great concern about what's happening in Iraq is that as a result of this failed policy we are less secure we are less safe and we are more isolated, we are more vulnerable today," said Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. "We want our troops out."

Biden and Dodd were among five presidential hopefuls to address the convention. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Senator John Edwards did not attend and instead sent surrogates.

The presence of the so-called "first tier" candidates, however, was widely felt with a blizzard of signage, supporters and staff buzzing around the sweltering middle school complex where the convention was held.

Noting the absence of the frontrunners, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said he was was dedicated grassroots campaigning that was going to win New Hampshire.

"I am here, grass roots, door-to-door, house-to-house," Richardson said. "I want your support."

Richardson, Dodd and Biden were scheduled to leave New Hampshire this afternoon to attend a Democratic Party dinner in Iowa this evening. They, along with Clinton and Edwards, will be back in time for Sunday night's CNN/WMUR/Union Leader debate.

- CNN Senior Political Producer Sasha Johnson

Filed under: Bill Richardson • Chris Dodd • Joe Biden • New Hampshire
June 2nd, 2007
04:17 PM ET
12 years ago

Richardson responds to terror plot, eyes Tier 1

John F. Kennedy International Airport, seen in a file photo, was the target of a terrorist plot, law enforcement officials said.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - White House hopeful Bill Richardson called for "enhanced" security at U.S. airports, ports, and subways, in response to news of an alleged New York terror plot Saturday. The New Mexico governor learned of the conspiracy and charges while campaigning in Manchester.

The Justice Department has charged four men with conspiring to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport by planting explosives to blow up fuel supply tanks, pipelines and buildings.

As the Democratic presidential contender visited restaurants and barber shops along Manchester's Union Street, Richardson told CNN’s Mike Roselli, “I commend the administration and Homeland Security for making this arrest, we gotta be vigilant. We do have Al Qaeda that is trying to hurt our country, we should stop them in every way. I'm glad that the security procedures are working... but we've gotta have enhanced homeland security at our airports, our ports, our subways.

"We have got to be prepared because there is a threat," he added.

Richardson also told CNN that Sunday is “an important debate for me to do well,” adding the format might better fit his style.


June 2nd, 2007
04:04 PM ET
12 years ago

Chris Dodd is hot

Dodd focuses on energy in latest ad.

CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) - Democratic presidential hopeful Chris Dodd was hot this morning. And it’s not just because of the unusually warm weather here in New Hamsphire.

A fired-up Dodd spoke at the New Hampshire State Democratic Party Convention in Concord. The Senator from Connecticut got the crowd going with his proposals on getting U.S. troops out of Iraq and his energy plan to combat global warming. What also made Dodd hot was the temperature. It was in the mid 80’s outside and around 100 degrees inside the gymnasium where the convention was taking place.

The Democratic presidential candidate is spending more and more time discussing his energy proposals, and they are focus of a new ad. His campaign is now airing its third commercial. The ads have been playing in Iowa and New Hampshire. Dodd national press secretary Christy Setzer tells CNN to expect more ads in the near future.

Meeting with reporters right after his speech, the Senate Banking Chairman said he enjoys the kind of close contact with voters that you get here in New Hampshire. Dodd said New Hampshire voters demand clear answers to the issues and he touted what he called his bold proposals.

After speaking in Concord, Dodd is off to Iowa to talk tonight at a Democratic party dinner. Sunday night, Dodd and his seven Democratic presidential rivals face off at Saint Anselm College just outside of Manchester, New Hampshire in a debate sponsored by CNN, WMUR, and the New Hampshire Union Leader. That’s at 7 pm ET on CNN.

The Republican presidential candidates do battle at the same location on Tuesday night at 7 pm ET.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

June 2nd, 2007
03:55 PM ET
12 years ago

'Sign Wars': The Democrats strike back

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CNN) - At 10 a.m. on the dot Saturday, Iowa Democratic Political Director Norm Sterzenbach blew his whistle, and scores of young campaign aides pushed through the doors of a Cedar Rapids ballroom carrying placards bearing their '08 candidates names.

They were here doing battle in the “sign wars” – an Iowa tradition where campaigns try to show their candidate’s strength and support by plastering signs up and down the walls of a big event.

That event is the Iowa Democrats “Hall of Fame” dinner – the first time Democratic presidential candidates will share the stage and appeal to some 1,000 activists in this first in the nation caucus state.

The dinner, sponsored by the Iowa Democratic Party, is officially a fundraiser to help finance the state’s January caucuses, but it is also a chance for leaders who put on those caucuses to size up the candidates.

Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Joe Biden all considered attendance so important they are coming in for just a few hours between two big events in New Hampshire – that state’s convention and Sunday’s CNN sponsored debate.

Senator Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards will also speak.

But Senator Barack Obama will be a no-show. He has what his campaign calls a “scheduling conflict” – 4 fundraisers in Northern California.

One Iowa Democratic campaign official called it “disappointing” that he chose not to come to what influential state party activists consider a critically important event, especially since its been on the schedule since January 30 – two weeks before Obama announced his candidacy for president.

Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor noted the Illinois Democrat has made nine trips to Iowa, including last week’s visit where he unveiled his health care plan.

Senator Edwards has the most to gain – and lose - in Iowa. In 2004 he came in second, and most Democratic strategists think he has to win this time around in order to stay in the race. Edwards has held a narrow lead in most polls, and has spent considerable time in the state.

Senator Clinton suffered a recent embarrassment here when an internal campaign memo became public, which suggested she skip the Iowa caucuses – where the frontrunner risks losing to Edwards.

Clinton has since returned for a series of town halls, and pledged her commitment to the Hawkeye state.

–CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash

June 2nd, 2007
12:24 PM ET
12 years ago

Richardson goes one-on-one with voters

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson reached out to New Hampshire voters Saturday morning at a house party in Manchester. The Democratic Presidential hopeful talked to approximately 25 voters in the front yard of a house in a residential section of New Hampshire's largest city.

Richardson arrived in the Granite State a few hours earlier, after his flight was delayed, but the lack of sleep did not slow him down. Richardson joked with the crowd about his weight, which he says he's losing, and about his entertaining new television ads. But the New Mexico governor was also serious, describing his plans to get American troops out of Iraq and his energy proposals to combat global warming.

While some of the frontrunners in both parties have reduced the numbers of house parties and other intimate events with voters, and increased the number of larger rallies and town halls, Richardson communications director Pahl Shipley tells CNN that they’ll keep doing these type of small gatherings, where voters get virtually one-on-one access with the candidates.


June 2nd, 2007
11:57 AM ET
12 years ago

Biden looking for debate bounce


MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s campaign says they are looking for a strong performance from the Delaware senator in this Sunday’s Democratic Presidential Debate to help boost fundraising efforts.

Biden communications director Larry Rasky tells CNN that he was quite pleased with Biden’s performance during the first Democratic debate in South Carolina in April. And he says he expects his candidate to pick it up a notch on Sunday.

Biden and his seven Democratic presidential rivals face off at Saint Anselm College just outside of Manchester, New Hampshire in a debate sponsored by CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Rasky says a good night by Biden during the debate could help when it comes to collecting campaign contributions. Biden raised just over four million dollars $2.1 million in the first quarter of this year, placing far behind the Democratic frontrunners. But Rasky says regardless of how much cash the campaign pulls in during the second quarter, Biden is in the race for the long haul. Rasky estimates that Biden needs to raise some $20 million over all to be able to campaign effectively through the Iowa caucuses.

CNN caught up with Rasky at a house party for Joe Biden that was missing one thing - the candidate. The party was hosted by New Hampshire State Senator Lou D’Allesandro at his home in Manchester. As Biden supporters were waiting for their candidate to arrive, the campaign announced that bad weather had delayed the Senator’s flight from Delaware and that Biden not be able to attend. But Granite State Democrats got a chance to see White House hopeful Saturday when he spoke at the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention in Concord.

Biden is now headed back to Iowa to appear with four of his rivals at a Democratic Party dinner in Cedar Rapids. For Biden, it’s a quick return to Iowa, where he just spent six straight days campaigning. The Biden campaign says that the candidate and Senate Foreign Relations chairman will spend some 50 to 60 percent of his campaign time in Iowa between now and the January caucuses.

One place you haven’t seen Biden is on television during the commercial breaks. Among the second tier of candidates, Biden is the only one not to put up campaign commercials. Both Senator Chris Dodd and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson have run ads in the crucial early primary states. But Rasky says expect to see commercials by the Biden campaign by August or September.

Regardless of campaign commercials, everyone will get good chance to see the Delaware senator Sunday night during the debate here in New Hampshire. Live CNN coverage of the debate begins at 7pm ET and CNN's pre-game coverage kicks off two hours earlier. CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader host a GOP presidential debate two nights later, at 7pm ET Tuesday.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser