Week in Review: McCain's Comeback

The New Hampshire primary brings a surprise win Democrat Hillary Clinton and a "comeback" victory for Republican John McCain. Also in the news, President Bush goes on a five-country tour of the Middle East.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

A surprising win in the New Hampshire primary this week for Senator Hillary Clinton and a comeback victory for Senator John McCain. President Bush goes on a five-country tour of the Middle East, seeking Arab support for Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr is here. Hello, Dan.

DAN SCHORR: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: And certainly, let's start with politics this week...

SCHORR: Of course, what else.

SIMON: ...in the primary of New Hampshire. Senator Clinton, her victory surprised some people. I won't even elaborate on what we might have said on this show a few times, leading up to the primary.

SCHORR: Mm-hmm.

SIMON: And of course, Republican Senator John McCain, seemingly revitalized after his campaign had been written off by a number of people, with his win there. Now looking ahead, the next contest is in Michigan, which is most important for the Republicans.

SCHORR: Right. Yes. Before we do go on to Michigan, just one word about New Hampshire.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

SCHORR: It is said that Hillary Clinton's chances improved because she was seen with a tear in her eye. I recall, 1972, Senator Edmund Muskie had a tear in his eye and was counted out - had been the frontrunner.

SIMON: He said snowflakes, if I'm not mistaken.

SCHORR: He said snowflakes. Other people said a tear. But I have come to the conclusion that men are not allowed to cry and women must.

(Soundbite of sobbing)

SCHORR: Okay.

SIMON: Go ahead, Dan.

SCHORR: All right. No. Having said that, I think, yes, it's onwards to Michigan, where the economic slowdown - what they - they won't let us see it for a recession - may have a certain impact.

Michigan is also terribly important to Mitt Romney simply because his father was a longtime governor of Michigan, and if he were to lose Michigan, that wouldn't look very good. One more point about the coming races - as we go on to Nevada, as we go on to South Carolina, I think we may begin to see more of the impact of minorities on the election. That is to say in Nevada, you have Hispanics; in South Carolina, you have African-Americans; and we may begin to see whether that makes a difference.

SIMON: What about the significance of the what's called Super Tuesday, February 5, which will include California and Florida?

SCHORR: Well, that's where you could (unintelligible) lots and lots of delegates.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

SCHORR: All these fights, so far, and in Iowa and in New Hampshire have been for minimal numbers of delegates. As you go on to your big states, you get the real issue of how many delegates can each pile up. So this is all really getting ready for the big contest.

SIMON: As the Democratic, maybe even Republican contest become a little more confusing from state to state to state, with no clear candidate established in dominance yet, does interest increase in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg making an independent move?

SCHORR: Bloomberg is a very interesting case. Bloomberg showed up with a group of people, 17 in total, in Norman, Oklahoma, last weekend, launching a big movement against partisanship and demanding bipartisanship. And the mayor apparently joined in that, and the people wondered why. Is this possibility that he might be running as independent or third-party candidate.

He says he's not running. Everybody around him says, yes, but he may run. It may well be that the whole purpose of Bloomberg is to scare the daylights of the candidates about what a third-party candidacy might do and make them give the pledge of bipartisanship with members of the other party added to the cabinet and so on.

So the answer to your question is I don't know if Bloomberg is really considering running. But it's certainly is something that people have their eye on.

SIMON: President Bush is traveling on the Middle East this week. He visited Israel and the West Bank. He met with President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert.

SCHORR: Separately.

SIMON: Separately, yes, although they've met, though, plenty of times, those two men. What does he hope to accomplish with this trip?

SCHORR: What he would certainly to accomplish before the end of his tenure, by the end of this year, is that he will get an agreement, and that will be two states - an Israeli, a Palestinian state. If there's any movement in that direction, it was not visible from what was going on. But he seems to enjoy it an awful lot. I mean he's walking in footsteps of Jesus Christ. He's been at the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, where he wore a yarmulke. And he gives every sign of enjoy, and he says he's coming back. He'll come back in May for Israel's 60th anniversary. And then he says maybe more times. I think he likes to travel.

SIMON: Maybe it's the hummus.

SCHORR: Maybe.

SIMON: Is he staking the administration to have him something to show for his time in office in the Middle East?

SCHORR: Yes. But, you know, Bill Clinton was in the similar situation that he came toward the end. He tried very hard to get some agreement between Israelis and the Palestinians. In the end, it failed, but people gave him, yes, for trying. And I guess, as far as President Bush is concerned, even if he doesn't succeed - and at the moment, it's hard to see how he can - well, they'll say, well, he spend his last year trying hard for peace, and that doesn't sound bad.

SIMON: What do you make of the conflicting accounts that the United States and Iran are giving about what happened last weekend, during an apparent confrontation of some kind between Iranian speedboats and U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.

SCHORR: Well, it's clear now that the United States and Iran are vying with each other to establish their influence over the whole Middle East. And so I can imagine that every once in a while, just to show they have a few speedboats, there's an American destroyer coming through the straits of Hormuz, which are fairly narrow anyway, but international waters. They come out with a few speedboats, they make some noise, and then everybody gets very excited. And Iran, at very low cost, shows that they can make trouble.

SIMON: Thanks very much, Dan Schorr.

SCHORR: Sure, Scott.

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