Manchester, NH (CNSNews.com) - The spinmeisters were out in full force Monday night, as representatives of virtually every campaign put their own unique stamp on the results of the Iowa caucuses, all for the benefit of New Hampshire voters.
With publisher Steve Forbes hitting the 30 percent mark in Iowa, Paul Young, a senior Forbes advisor in the Granite State said, "It's a great night for conservatives. We performed above all expectations and we're bringing that message to New Hampshire. Voters will now have a clear conservative choice. At 30 percent, we've clearly demonstrated that Steve Forbes is the conservative alternative."
With Forbes only 11 points behind Texas Gov. George W. Bush in Iowa, Young characterized the February 1 New Hampshire Republican primary as "a wide open race."
Addressing the tone of upcoming Forbes ads in the Granite State, Young responded, "You'll see Steve Forbes do whatever it takes to get his message across to New Hampshire voters."
As for Bush, campaign leaders expressed pleasure that the Texan exceeded the 40 percent mark in Iowa, and they downplayed Forbes's strong showing. "He has a very positive message that he'll be caring to the nation, " said U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, the chairman of the Bush campaign in New Hampshire.
"The electorate is very fluid," said New Hampshire Congressman and Bush supporter Charlie Bass. "After Iowa, we'll see a consolidation. McCain doesn't get anything out of Iowa, while Bush comes to New Hampshire with more than 40 percent of the vote there. That's a very strong showing."
Arizona Sen. John McCain had little to say about the Iowa results, other than to continue to insist he had no regrets, given his decision to skip Iowa and concentrate on New Hampshire and South Carolina. "I have no regrets whatsoever. We knew it was a high-risk decision, but we're running a high-risk campaign."
While his rivals spent the day in Iowa anxiously awaiting the caucus results, McCain spent his time in New Hampshire, holding his 100th, 101st and 102nd town meeting, more than any other GOP hopeful.
Longtime Granite State Republican activist and McCain supporter Bill Cahill said of the Iowa event, "We didn't compete there...we didn't participate in the straw poll. The strategy, to focus in New Hampshire, doesn't hurt him here. The decision was a dollar and cents issue."
Even without participating in Iowa, Cahill said of McCain's New Hampshire effort, "His poll numbers are holding and in some cases rising. Our goal is to win this state."
Cahill, citing McCain's pledge not to run negative ads, said, "We'll focus here on the qualities of leadership, honesty, character and foreign policy. Voters are looking for a leader."
On the Democratic side, no sooner was it clear that his would be a landslide victory, than Vice President Al Gore called Gov. Jeanne Shaheen at a local restaurant, the site of a victory party. "I can't wait to get there," he said. The message tonight is simple. We've just begun to fight"
"New Hampshire is a different sort of place," said Shaheen, the two-term governor. We need to get to everyone we can, in the next eight days."
Bill Shaheen, the governor's husband and Gore's New Hampshire campaign chairman, echoed his wife and insisted the results from Iowa must not result in complacency here. "New Hampshire is an entirely different state...We'll have a tough eight days...our strategy is simple. We'll work as hard as we possibly can...it's really a matter of retail politics."
Gore will return to Washington to attend Thursday's State of the Union Address, but other than that, Shaheen said Gore will remain in the Granite State for the entire week. His campaign has scheduled at least 45 stops during that period.
At Bradley headquarters, the mood was somber. While they expected to loose in Iowa, no one seemed to expect the size of Gore's victory.
In a statement, Bradley congratulated the vice president on his strong showing Monday night. "Tonight, I have a little more humility, but no less confidence that I can win and do the job," Bradley said.
"What I am trying to do takes time," Bradley said. "I'm trying to do politics in a different way - respect people, listen to them, give them something to vote for."
Noting recent polls, which show Gore's support in New Hampshire remains soft even among those who say they are likely to vote for him, Bradley spokesman Susan Caligari said, "We'll go after the soft voters. He's not going to sit back."
Asked if Bradley had made a mistake by not responding more aggressively to Gore's growing attacks, Caligari added, "You'll see a more vigorous response."
Caligari also denied Bradley's heart problems will be an issue in New Hampshire. Insisting former President George Bush had a similar condition, Caligari said, "Most voters won't consider it."
The candidates wasted little time lingering in Iowa. Gore, Bradley, Bush and Forbes arrived at Manchester Airport between 2:30 and 3 a.m. Tuesday, in time to catch a little sleep before returning to the campaign trail at dawn.