SCOTT SIMON, host:

And we're joined now by Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report.

Charlie, thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. CHARLIE COOK (Editor; Publisher, The Cook Political Report): Good morning.

SCOTT: Did the Iowa caucuses exert anymore influence on the New Hampshire primaries now that they're so much closer together this year?

Mr. COOK: Well, I think, particularly on the Democratic side, it will have an enormous influence. I mean, it's like a catapult. And in state like New Hampshire, where independents can vote any either primary, a win by a candidate like Barack Obama who does draw disproportionately well among independents, I think he's going to get a lot of momentum out of this.

SIMON: What about the other side, in Governor Huckabee? Or is - are there still a lot of factors in New Hampshire that make it very promising territory for the guy who used to be the governor next door?

Mr. COOK: Huckabee will have a lot more trouble, I think, in New Hampshire because it's a very secular state. It's a state that's a lot more moderate on social and cultural issues. And probably more suspicious to a former Baptist minister running that a lot of the Huckabee support seem to come out of fundamentalist churches, but also people that were very suspicious of a Mormon, of Mitt Romney. And that really was the backbone of the Huckabee support. But going into New Hampshire, it's going to really test Romney's next-door status.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. Senator McCain, speaking on Thursday night with specific reference, I guess, to Governor Huckabee's win in the caucuses, said this shows you the power of debates. That the debates really count for something. There are going to be a couple more debates in New Hampshire over the next couple of days. Do you think they're going to accomplish a lot?

Mr. COOK: Well, they can. I mean, obviously in the Republican side there is a vacuum. Republicans are desperately looking for a new Ronald Reagan, and they haven't found one yet. But it has allowed John McCain to come back. In some ways, he's almost more the next-door candidate than Mitt Romney in the sense that he has a stronger appeal among independents than Romney has. Even before the Huckabee victory in Iowa, some of the Romney strategists were actually more worried about McCain being their real rival for the nomination than Huckabee. And I suspect they may still fell that way.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. More scrutiny now for Barack Obama.

Mr. COOK: Yes. But I don't know that the scrutiny will start immediately. The news media loves a good story, a good narrative. And the story of Barack Obama, not just winning but winning pretty convincingly over Hillary Clinton and John Edwards who had been, you know, practically living in Iowa for five years, this is a real big story. And they're just going to savor this story for a few days first.

SIMON: Within hours of the result in Iowa, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd - two distinguished U.S. senators - dropped out of the race. Do you see any other candidates being on the line in New Hampshire?

Mr. COOK: Well, I think we're going to watch Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, to see whether he stays in after a very disappointing showing. The interesting thing to me is there was almost a direct relationship - the more experience you had, the worse you did. You know, veterans of Capitol Hill coming in, you know, are your fourth, fifth and sixth. Hillary Clinton with the next most experience, coming in third, and then Edwards and then Obama, who's, you know, only been in the Senate for three years. Experience just seemed to matter very, very little, if any. In fact, it almost worked against you in terms on running on the Democratic side.

SIMON: Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report, thanks so much.

Mr. COOK: Thank you, Scott.

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