The primary elections for the United States presidency start next week. The state of New?
The primary elections for the United States presidency start next week. The state of New Hampshire votes on Tuesday (24 February); Massachusetts and Vermont a week later, on 2 March.
These primary elections, which are not held in every state are only part of the process of nominating the eventual party candidate for the presidential election. They chose the delegates which the state will send to the party conventions which make the actual nomination. But they are regarded as popularity polls: a barometer of the vote- getting capacities of the various candidates. If a candidate does badly in an important primary, he may withdraw from the contest, as Senator Edmund Muskie did in 1972. If a candidate does well, it helps to maintain the momentum of his campaign.
This year, the choice for Republican party voters at the primaries appears clear-cut: it is between President Gerald Ford and his only challenger at present, Mr. Ronald Reagan, the ex-Governor of California. The position in the Democratic party is much more confused. There are eight declared candidates still in the field, and at least two others waiting to see how events develop before making their intentions known.
Five of these Democratic hopefuls have been actively campaigning in New Hampshire, knowing that their prospects depend on their showing there and in the other early primaries.
Leading the field at the moment is Mr. Jimmy Carter, a 51-year-old farmer who was Governor of Georgia from 1970 to 1974. He is running well because of the support he has already gained from the party caucuses in Iowa and Oklahoma, two states which do not hold primaries. He describes himself as a conservative in money matters but a liberal on social issues, and is making much of the fact that he has no connections with existing government circles in Washington. His critics accuse him of saying one thing and meaning another; of supporting both sides in too many issues. But the other candidates see him as the man they particularly have to beat.
Mr. Fred Harris is 46, and a former Senator from Oklahoma. He is being helped in his campaign by his wife, Ladonna, who is part American-Indian, and an active worker herself for several liberal causes. Mr. Harris is a "populist", which means that he favours public ownership; he campaigns against privilege, and can be regarded as a candidate of the left. He is a forceful speaker. Film includes the following extract from one of his speeches:
Senator Birch Bayh (pronounced "Bye") from Indiana is another candidate from the left of the party. He is 48. He draws support from women, black voters, the young and organised labour. He lays particular emphasis on the need to do something to reduce unemployment.
Congressman Morris Udall is 53; a tall Arizonan who played professional basketball after leaving university. He is the younger brother of Mr. Stewart Udall, who was Secretary of the Interior under President Kennedy and President Johnson. He has been combining his campaigning in New Hampshire with work in Massachusetts, where he hopes to make a good showing, because he has the backing of some influential liberals in a state where more voters than usual are academics. These include Mr. Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosector whom President Nixon dismissed, and the economist and former Ambassador to India, Professor J.K. Galbraith.
The best known name among the five is probably that of Mr. Sargent Shriver. He is 60, the former head of the Peace Corps and a former Ambassador to France. He was Senator George McGovern's running mate as Democratic vice-presidential candidate in the 1972 election. His wife is a member of the Kennedy family, and he will have their support so long as Senator Edward Kennedy continues his refusal to enter the race.
Mr. Shriver's campaign for the women's vote has taken him into the supermarkets and the bingo halls of New Hampshire. This is how he started a speech to the bingo players:
After the three New England primaries of the next ten days, it may become clearer which of these candidates is still in the race with a chance of victory.