Presidential Contenders Push for Last-Minute Votes
ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.
The presidential candidates did everything they could to reach voters on Super Bowl Sunday today. They went on TV talk shows and held rallies right up until game time. Former Democratic contender Bill Richardson endorsed Hillary Clinton today. The New Mexico governor was the first Hispanic-American presidential candidate, and has had close ties to the Clintons since he held two cabinet level positions in the 1990s. In fact, Richardson is watching the game tonight with the former president.
Obama, meanwhile, told CBS's "Face the Nation" today that independence and Republicans would be more likely to vote for him in the general election than for Hillary Clinton.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Presidential Candidate): I don't think there's any doubt that the Republicans consider her a polarizing figure.
SEABROOK: Clinton told ABC's "This Week" that she would be a stronger candidate against Republican John McCain because she's been thoroughly scrutinized and battle tested.
Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): I've been taking the incoming fire from Republicans for about 16 years now and I'm still here because I have been vetted, I have been tested. There is not likely to be any new surprises.
SEABROOK: While the Democrats were auditioning to be his opponent, McCain was still working to secure his own party's nomination. Mitt Romney yesterday claimed a win in the little-noticed Maine party caucuses, where he got about half the participants, far more than any other candidate. Joining us now is NPR's Scott Horsley. He's traveling with John McCain in Connecticut. Scott, Connecticut is one of those winner-take-all states in the Northeast that had been Rudy Giuliani's stronghold.
SCOTT HORSLEY: That's right, Andrea, but I've just left a rally where John McCain appeared alongside Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democrat turned Independent. Lieberman, like McCain, has been a stalwart defender of the war in Iraq. McCain often calls him, my favorite Democrat. In fact, Senator McCain was asked if he would consider Lieberman as a possible running mate. He said if he secures the nomination on Tuesday, he'll start thinking about that, and he said that he would be honored to serve alongside Joe Lieberman in any capacity.
SEABROOK: McCain has just been in the South over the weekend in Georgia and elsewhere. What kind of issues does he emphasize when he's in some of these different parts of the country, Scott?
HORSLEY: Well, throughout the country, he has been reaching out to the most conservative factions of the Republican Party, but in particular, in the South. He stressed his record of opposing abortion, which is a strong record, although it's not something he talks a whole lot about, and he's been talking everywhere about his plans if he is elected president, to appoint strict constructionist judges.
SEABROOK: Scott, John McCain is heading back to Arizona for Super Tuesday night. Does he have plans made for after that? How confident is he feeling as a candidate at this point?
HORSLEY: John McCain has said he is guardedly optimistic about his chances on Tuesday, not to mathematically nail down the nomination but to establish such a commanding lead that the other candidates are effectively eliminated.
SEABROOK: NPR's Scott Horsley with the McCain campaign. Thanks, Scott.
HORSLEY: My pleasure, Andrea.
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Correction March 3, 2008
The on-air version of this story has been edited to correct an error: We incorrectly stated that Sen. Hillary Clinton had won the endorsement of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.