Rich Lowry is travelling with Wesley Clark and has this review of Clark’s New Hampshire trip:
The Clark crowd, as is typical these days, was big — 700 or so, standing room only in the school’s big atrium. Clark’s apparent New Hampshire momentum may just be a result of the Big Three other candidates’ — Dean, Gephardt, and Kerry’s — focus on Iowa, meaning there is less competition for New Hampshirites’ attention. Or the notoriously fickle New Hampshire voters may just be giving Clark a fleeting second look. But whatever it is, something is happening here, and it’s going to be magnified by reporters eager to tout the hot new thing now that Howard Dean seems so last news cycle.
By any measure, what Clark has managed has been impressive. He hasn’t quite gone from 0 to 60 as candidate, but at least from 0 to 45. He seems able to answer every kind of question credibly, and occasionally gets off fairly passionate applause lines. He doesn’t have the magic of John McCain here in 2000, but some lifetime politicians will never achieve the level of proficiency Clark has attained. He is already, arguably, a better campaigner than John Kerry.
I think Rich is right. The Press is eager to treat Dean as yesterday’s news. That will only slow him and most likely means that Dean has peaked too soon. But, as Rich points out:
Portions of Clark’s stump presentation won’t stand up to serious scrutiny, if he ever gets the kind of unforgiving attention now focused on Dean. That will only happen if he continues to move upward. It’s hard to believe that a man who the day before yesterday had no discernible political convictions would seriously challenge for the Democratic nomination. But then again, who would have thought an obscure Vermont governor would be the favorite for that nomination?