Features

Where they stand; what they have to do now

National | For all the quirkiness of its caucus system, Iowa never fails to play a major role in selecting the nation's president. With a string of crucial primaries right around the corner, here's a look at the candidates' post-Iowa prospects.

Issue: "Cuban conundrum," Feb. 5, 2000

GEORGE W. BUSH
Credit where credit is due: He managed to place first in a state where the national frontrunner almost always is defeated. (Ronald Reagan, the elder George Bush, and Bob Dole all were upset here.) Since exit polls show that Republican voters place a high premium on the Texas governor's electability, an outright loss in New Hampshire could dull the aura of invincibility and shift the momentum. Gov. Bush has referred to Michigan as his "firewall"-the state where he expects a big win will douse insurgent challengers' brushfire victories. If Gov. Bush continues to rack up the victories, that would give him huge momentum to combine with his huge warchest. JOHN McCAIN
Media pundits thought (hoped?) he might place third in Iowa, even though he didn't formally contest the caucuses. Instead, he managed to beat only Orrin Hatch, who is now out of the race. That shows the "McCain magic" isn't automatic: Only when he spends lots of time and money in a state does he attract supporters. The Arizona senator has done just that in New Hampshire, where he's gambled almost all his political capital. The Granite State is a must-win primary for him. Sen. McCain's poor showing in Iowa means he can no longer claim it's a two-man race between himself and Gov. Bush. Media attention, which clearly favors Sen. McCain, will not be as glowing. This will force Sen. McCain to spend even more to get his message out. ALAN KEYES
His 14 percent finish in Iowa defied all expectations, and all but sank Gary Bauer's slim chances. But the question is, how does that respectable showing translate elsewhere? New Hampshire is not exactly a stronghold of the religious right. But most conventional political calculations simply do not apply to Mr. Keyes, who is campaigning on the cheap. He can stay in the race a long, long time without ever winning. This poses the greatest threat to Mr. Forbes, who desperately wants to unite conservatives. STEVE FORBES
The jubilation at his post-caucus party was real: His second-place percentage was unexpectedly strong, and a big improvement over his numbers in the Iowa straw poll last summer. Aides on caucus night were openly predicting a "great bounce" headed into New Hampshire, where earlier polls had showed him as an also-ran. Thanks to low expectations, he has nowhere to go but up in the Granite State. But placing and showing won't get it done forever. Mr. Forbes needs to win something to continue to justify spending away his children's inheritance. GARY BAUER
When he finished ahead of Pat Buchanan in last summer's straw poll, Mr. Buchanan had to bow out of the GOP race. (Mr. Bauer's 9 percent in the caucuses is exactly what he garnered in the straw poll.) Now the roles are reversed, with protest voters giving the nod to Alan Keyes. Even Mr. Bauer's post-caucus spin fax admitted the campaign had "hoped to do better." An understatement, since Mr. Bauer is almost invisible in New Hampshire; his poor Iowa showing might make it hard for him to hang on much past South Carolina, where he should have a natural base of values conservatives. He needs to get out of the single digits-soon. ORRIN HATCH
Exited Iowa before the votes were even counted. Exited the race before votes in New Hampshire were even cast. AL GORE
His crushing win gives him overwhelming momentum heading into New Hampshire, where polls have indicated a closer race. His newly energized campaign will make the case that now is the time to unify the Democratic Party. But the vice president has already racked up a big tab with the left wing of his party, to help him bounce a liberal challenge from Bill Bradley. That will make it harder for him to run in the general election as a centrist. BILL BRADLEY
The clock is running out on the Hall of Fame basketball star. Mr. Bradley probably has to win New Hampshire outright. If he fails to do so, he'll face huge pressure to withdraw from the race rather than play the role of spoiler. Mr. Bradley's slick maneuvering wowed the media early on; he needs to shoot-and score.

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