WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton and John McCain emerged the front-runners after Tuesday's New Hampshire primaries, and now they're quickly to going find out if their status will last, as the campaigns head into a rollicking week in Michigan, South Carolina and Nevada.
Republicans will clash through the weekend and early next week, ahead of the Jan. 15 Michigan primary. Four days later, Republicans in South Carolina will hold a primary, and both Democrats and GOP voters in Nevada will caucus.
McCain, the Arizona senator, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are seen as vying for the win in Michigan, but former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee could appeal to the state's large Republican evangelical community, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul is thought to have strong grassroots support.
Romney finished second to McCain in New Hampshire after losing to Huckabee in Iowa on Jan. 3. For Romney, whose father was governor of Michigan for six years in the 1960s, another loss in a key state would be regarded as a major blow.
Romney says he's confident that won't happen. "We have some good people running for president, but none of the candidates know Michigan as well as I do," he told the Grand Rapids Press.
A BOOST FOR OBAMA
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama lost the New Hampshire primary to Clinton, but he won the week's endorsement derby.
On Thursday, he won the backing of 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry. Kerry, who'd considered his own White House bid this year but decided not to make the race, helped catapult Obama into national prominence when he gave the then-Senate candidate a prominent role in the 2004 Democratic convention. On Friday, Obama was endorsed by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano; the state is among more than 20 that are holding primaries on Feb. 5, Super Tuesday.
Obama also got some strong union support from the Service Employees International Union's Nevada chapter — and, more important, from Nevada's 60,000-member Culinary Workers union.
On election night in New Hampshire, Obama tried a new refrain in his speech — "Yes we can," which translated into Spanish is "Si, se puede." It's the rallying cry of the United Farm Workers but also has been adopted by the service workers union as well as the Latino labor movement.
In other words, Obama isn't just courting the union vote, he's also trying to undercut Clinton's popularity among Hispanics after the only Hispanic in the race, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson dropped out on Thursday.
MCCAIN ROLLS ON
McCain won Michigan's presidential primary eight years ago, and he's looking for another win on Tuesday.
Romney took aim at McCain during their Thursday debate, blasting him for suggesting that some American jobs are gone and will never return.
Not so, said Romney. "I'm going to fight for every single job, Michigan and South Carolina," he said.
McCain stuck to his view. "Sometimes you have to tell people things they don't want to hear," the senator said. "There are some jobs that aren't coming back to South Carolina."
HUCKABEE, PAUL AND EDWARDS KEEP FIGHTING
Don't forget about the folks who didn't finish first or second in New Hampshire.
Huckabee is battling hard in Michigan, where he hopes to win a chunk of the state's sizable Republican Christian community. As many as 40 percent of the state's GOP voters could be evangelical Christians.
He's also expected to benefit from a huge volunteer effort, led not only by Christian conservatives but also by supporters of tax reform plans. Paul also is attracting some support from the lower-taxes crowd.
Among Democrats, 2004 vice presidential nominee and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has been concentrating on his native South Carolina.
He's running an ad that features him standing in front of his boyhood home in Seneca, S.C., with his parents and talking about the local mill.
"I'm running for president because for 54 years of my life I have believed to my soul that the men and women who worked in that mill with my father were worth every bit as much as the man that owned that mill," Edwards says.
NO PLAY, NO PAY?
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is betting on the Jan. 29 Florida primary to ignite his presidential bid — but reports Friday said about 12 of his senior staffers aren't getting paid this month.
Campaign officials insist there's no reason to panic. "We have enough money, but we could always use more money. We want to make sure we have enough to win," campaign manager Mike DuHaime told the Associated Press.
NEXT WEEK: Michigan Republicans vote Tuesday, South Carolina Republicans vote Saturday, and Nevada Democrats and Republicans vote Saturday. While no one is likely to drop out when the week's over, chances are the political world will relegate anyone who finishes a distant second or beyond to also-ran status.
(Margaret Talev and Steven Thomma contributed to this report.)