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Campaign Notebook

After making 'adjustments,' McCain takes message to N.H.

Senator John McCain listened to a question yesterday during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H. McCain spent the day in New Hampshire in an effort to restart his campaign. Senator John McCain listened to a question yesterday during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H. McCain spent the day in New Hampshire in an effort to restart his campaign. (Jim Cole/Associated Press)

NASHUA -- Senator John McCain stood with his troops at a restaurant yesterday, telling them that his campaign was far from over, a message his most ardent supporters wanted to hear.

"I would like to just say that we're fine, we're fine," McCain said to about 30 members of his campaign's Nashua steering committee. "The fact is that we had to make some adjustments and now we are out doing the town hall meetings. We are going to continue what we did in 2000 and we are going to be fine."

The brief stop at a downtown restaurant and the walk along Main Street that followed were part of a day of campaigning in New Hampshire as he tries to restart a campaign that is running out of money and losing staff. Not helping matters was a poll released last week from the University of New Hampshire suggesting that the onetime top contender was in fourth place behind Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson for the Republican nomination in the Granite State.

Among those in the audience who believed the message was former state representative Paul LaFlamme of Nashua.

"The fact is that only about 1 in 100 people are actually paying attention, and when everyone else pays attention in the fall, they are going to see McCain as their candidate," LaFlamme said. (James W. Pindell)

Clintons to visit Vineyard
Hillary and Bill Clinton will visit Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket next month for a star-studded fund-raising swing on familiar turf. While they were in the White House in the 1990s, they vacationed many summers on the Vineyard, partying and golfing with celebrities.

At their home in Edgartown, former Viacom chief executive Frank Biondi and his wife, Carol, are hosting a bash with many big names and longtime Clinton friends expected in attendance. Among them are actors Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson, designer Kenneth Cole, Boston philanthropist Barbara Lee, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and veteran Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan.

Tickets for the Aug. 25 party will cost $2,300 for the whole affair, or $1,000 to attend the reception but skip the "town hall conversation."

Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, a former ambassador in the Clinton administration, and her husband, Smith Bagley, are hosting a similar evening Aug. 24 on Nantucket.

Sandwiched between is an event for the Vineyard masses, a $50-a-ticket fund-raiser at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs.

Other presidential candidates have also found fund-raising a convenient excuse to visit the Cape and Islands this summer. Barack Obama will visit Cape Cod for a fund-raiser in mid-August, and Republican Fred Thompson, who is expected to enter the race, was picking up donations over the weekend in North Chatham. (Marcella Bombardieri)

Feinstein endorses Clinton
WASHINGTON -- Senator Dianne Feinstein's endorsement of Hillary Clinton didn't go exactly as planned yesterday as the two dealt with questions about another Clinton backer, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, and his marital infidelity.

In a conference call with reporters, Feinstein, who became San Francisco's first female mayor in 1978, praised Clinton for her potential to become the country's first female president.

"Today women are serving at every level of government," Feinstein said. "One great barrier remains and Hillary Clinton is the woman to shatter that barrier."

Clinton thanked Feinstein, calling her "a friend, an adviser, and a mentor."

Feinstein, California's senior senator and a centrist Democrat, is one of the state's most powerful and popular politicians. Her backing adds to growing support for Clinton in California, which recently moved its primary up to Feb. 5. Clinton has the endorsement of Villaraigosa, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, and others.

A reporter asked Clinton whether she was concerned about the recent scandal surrounding Villaraigosa. The mayor is divorcing his wife and was recently forced to admit to having a relationship with a television reporter. The reporter speaking to Clinton yesterday also asked whether the senator had spoken with Villaraigosa.

Feinstein angrily interjected.

"I'm surprised at you for that question. My goodness, Hillary is running for president of the United States -- she doesn't need to get into this," Feinstein snapped.

"I echo my friend Dianne's comments, but let me say that I have spoken with the mayor," Clinton said. "I also am well aware that he is the mayor of our second-largest city, and I think that his work on behalf of many of the issues that I care about is very significant, so I will continue to welcome his support." (AP)

Brownback hits Iowa trail
URBANDALE, Iowa -- Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback courted influential evangelical leaders in Iowa yesterday, hoping their support could help his long-shot bid for the nomination.

Brownback's meeting with 15 to 20 evangelical pastors occurred as the Kansas senator plans his strategy for the Aug. 11 straw poll in Ames.

"It's typical in an election that people hold back and want to get a good feel for the candidate," Brownback said. "Now we're getting within eyeshot of Aug. 11, and they're breaking and a lot of them are breaking our way."

Although Rudy Giuliani and John McCain will skip the straw poll, the event will have an impact on the rest of the field and the fortunes of the lesser-known candidates such as Brownback. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is expected to finish first in the poll.

Brownback spoke with reporters after meeting privately with the evangelical pastors, some of whom said his staunchly conservative message resonates with their congregations. (AP)

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