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 TIME on politics TIME CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and TIME

Polls indicate McCain gaining in New Hampshire; Bush holds firm in Iowa

November 4, 1999
Web posted at: 6:47 p.m. EST (2347 GMT)

Arizona Senator and Republican presidential upstart John McCain received a shot in the arm Thursday in the first primary state of New Hampshire, where a newly released poll indicates he is making significant gains against the GOP presidential front runner, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas.

The telephone poll of 250 respondents, conducted by WNDS-TV and Franklin Pierce College, counted 38 percent of likely Republican voters pulling for Bush, and 30 percent favoring McCain.

The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 6 percentage points, indicating a significant erosion in Bush's once solid lead. McCain has closed in on Bush rapidly in the course of the last several days. Late October polls showed him some 12 to 13 percentage points behind the Texas governor.

The same poll also found that former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley now enjoys a slight lead over Vice President Al Gore in the New Hampshire Democratic primary race.

New Hampshire's primary is scheduled for February 1.

The poll numbers weren't all stacked against Bush on Thursday. In Iowa, a telephone poll conducted by the University of Iowa Social Science Institute showed Bush with a "comfortable" 52 percent lead heading into January's state Republican caucuses, with Steve Forbes in second place at 13 percent.

McCain followed Forbes with a 6 percent approval rating -- but he has not set foot in the state to campaign.

For the Democrats, Gore emerged from the poll with a whopping 60 percent approval rating, with Bradley following at 18 percent.

The Iowa poll's estimated margin of error was 4.5 percentage points.

Gore spent the bulk of his Thursday in Washington, where after pushing congressional GOP leaders to move ahead with juvenile justice legislation and swearing in Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-Rhode Island, he paid a visit to the headquarters of the Teamsters trade union.

The vice president spent an hour behind closed doors with officials of the union, which did not endorse him as he had hoped at its national meeting last month.

A participant in the session said Gore promised union leaders he would keep tabs on the Mexican trucking industry, and that he was confident he would defeat Bush in next year's general election.

"We thought it was a very positive, substantive policy discussion on issues that are very important to working Americans," said Gore's presidential campaign press secretary, Chris Lehane, after the meeting.

Thursday in Iowa, a handful of Republican candidates -- chief among them front runner George W. Bush -- revealed they would participate in a televised debate on December 13.

Aides to Bush, Steve Forbes and conservative commentator Alan Keyes said the three would be in attendance. Aides to Gary Bauer said he was considering the offer, while it appeared that John McCain would skip the event -- though he plans a sweep through Iowa sometime in January.

Bush's acceptance of the debate invitation signals a change in strategy. Initially, the Texas governor had said he would not attend any debates until January, but pressure from his GOP counterparts seems to have led him to reconsider.

The December 13 event, conducted by Des Moines television station WHO, bumps up against an earlier announced debate organized by TV station WOI. Forbes and Keyes have thus far accepted invites to the earlier debate, which is scheduled for December 11.

The Iowa caucuses are set for January 24.

McCain again tried to shake off his newfound public reputation for a fiery temper Thursday, telling ABC Television's "Good Morning America" that while he has "gotten angry at people," his anger should not disqualify him from being president.

"Am I qualified to be president?" McCain said. "There is absolutely no doubt about it."

McCain has been dogged by representations of his temper since the newspaper the Arizona Republic, in an editorial, said the senator had a habit of overreacting in certain situations, and questioned his disposition in the face of the difficult decisions a president is often forced to make.

The senator, speaking from Exeter, New Hampshire, accused the paper of exercising a vendetta against him, a charge that Keven Ann Willey, the Republic's editorial page editor, described as ludicrous.

In New York, Democratic challenger Bill Bradley repeated pledges Thursday that he was in the race against Al Gore to win, and if he didn't, he would step away from the campaign process, quashing any talk of a future Gore-Bradley Democratic ticket.

Asked on CBS Television's "Early Show" if he would depart the race should be not win, Bradley responded, "That's right. But I'll win."

And in Cambridge, Massachusetts, actor Warren Beatty, who has openly flirted with the notion of entering the campaign as a self-described liberal Democrat, said Wednesday night that he hadn't lifted a finger to set any campaign machinery in motion.

"If I were running for president at this time," he said, "I would be well organized. I don't have a single campaign consultant. I don't have any staff. I don't have a nickel that I've raised, and I haven't spent a nickel."

Though Beatty would still not say definitively whether he was in or out of the 2000 race, he said he had attempted to draft a number of "other guys" to run, none of whom expressed interest.

"I don't know if I will run," Beatty said, adding, "interestingly, politically, you have a kind of tactical advantage when you don't know. Because other people know. They have plans. They have exploratory committees. ... So when you don't know you have flexibility."


ELECTION 2000

Smith rejoins GOP (11-1-99)

Bush slightly injured while jogging (11-1-99)

In one city election, it's a fluoride conspiracy (11-1-99)

Bradley credible and McCain not out yet, says Clinton (11-1-99)

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Democratic Presidential Primary

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Thursday, November 4, 1999

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