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Conservative N.H. Newspaper Takes Edwards' Presidential Run Seriously

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MANCHESTER, N.H. — People around the country are taking

Sen. John Edwards'

presidential campaign seriously. Some of the more serious comments are coming from conservatives in New Hampshire.

For decades, the

Manchester Union Leader

has influenced presidential campaigns as much as any paper in the country, not only for covering the campaigns but how the news is reported.

For 129 years, the newspaper has been known as one of the most conservative in the country. Its owner called the first George Bush "a liberal," made Democrat Ed Muskie cry and helped set the tone for George McGovern's landslide loss. Those who write for the

Manchester Union Leader

are quick to point out the quirkiness of the state's politics.

"[It's] a fiscally conservative state, but I would say it is not a northern Bible belt-sort of state," said John DiStaso, of the

Manchester Union Leader

. "It is not socially conservative. I've seen polls that indicate between 60 to 70 percent of the state, for instance, is pro-choice."

Some say Edwards could have a strong showing in New Hampshire.

"I wouldn't say he'll be winning New Hampshire, but if he gives a really, strong unexpected showing here, maybe knocks off Lieberman, I think that will be very good for him," said Andrew Cline, of the

Manchester Union Leader


Lieberman, a former Vice Presidential nominee, is one of three major regional players. The others, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, are currently considered local favorites, but DiStaso said Edwards has a chance.

"If he can finish ahead of anyone of them as an out-of-region candidate, then I think he can claim some sort of victory here," he said.

"He comes up here with his strong Southern accent and in this nine-person race, he's a pretty conservative Democrat," Cline said. "New Hampshire Democrats aren't like North Carolina democrats. They are quite liberal."

In North Carolina, Edwards' poll number are not exactly stellar. A recent poll by the

News & Observer

showed him trailing President Bush by 19 points.

"He's got a long way to go in terms of the polls and name recognition, but there is a long way to go," DiStaso said.


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