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Now Barack Better Brace for Barrage

A Commentary by Dick Morris

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton's stunning comeback victory in New Hampshire duplicates the feat of Bill Clinton who overcame the draft and Gennifer Flowers in the Granite State primary in 1992.

But Hillary did Bill one better. He placed second. She won. Those who counted Hillary out don't know her and don't know the Clintons.

The clear message of the New Hampshire primary is there is no front-runner, but it's a two-way race between the queen and the challenger that won't be decided by an early knockout (see Rasmussen Markets data).

But Hillary approaches the balance of the month in very good shape.

The Battle of Hillary, in a sense, is over.

The negative researchers and detectives who staff the Clinton campaign - we call them the secret police - now go into overdrive combing through the Illinois senator's life for any shred of poison to use.

What did he say (or what does a disgruntled student recall him saying) in each of his constitutional law classes? What causes did he work for as an organizer in Chicago? How did he vote on every issue that came before the Illinois legislature? What are the precise details of his financial life going back to the beginning?

Hillary has withstood the full force of Obama's momentum. Now we will see if Barack can stand the onslaught he is about to face.

A big question for Obama is whether John Edwards will stay in the race. With less than 20 percent of the New Hampshire vote, he is clearly splitting the anti-Clinton vote.

In recent days, he has gone out of his way to praise Obama. Could he be running for vice president again?

On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani has paid the price for his refusal to campaign actively in the early primaries. He now must contend with John McCain.

The voters of New Hampshire did America a favor by knocking Mitt Romney back and possibly out of the race.

The GOP race will boil down to McCain, Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, a tough choice for down-the-line conservatives, but a choice among candidates who are most electable in November.

Whether or not Huckabee can win is debatable. But McCain and Giuliani sure can depending on which Democrat they end up facing.

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