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Raising the bar

"Raising the bar" Continued...

The congressman told WORLD that his long-time friendship with both Bill and Hillary Clinton played a large role in his endorsement of the senator for the presidency: "I would be an ungrateful jerk if I did otherwise."

But the Blue Dog Democrat with conservative positions on social and economic issues also said Clinton is the most qualified candidate, and believes she would pursue fiscal responsibility: "[Blue Dog Democrats] will tell her that if she wants to increase spending for some programs, that's fine, as long as you pay for it elsewhere." Berry says he would hold Clinton to that agreement: "If she won't do it, I'll go see her myself."

For now, Berry's focus is on South Carolina, where Clinton faces off with Obama in a Jan. 29 primary. The congressman will spend the next two days visiting radio stations and addressing small groups of Clinton supporters around the state.

As he bundles up against the 29-degree temperatures outside, Berry reveals why he's willing to trek to tiny bars with small crowds in freezing weather for Clinton: "I believe that the fate of the Republic hangs on the outcome of this election."

Web Extra: Who's out and who's staying in?

It didn't take long for the Iowa caucuses to claim their first victims: Hours after placing a distant fifth and sixth in the Democratic contest, Sens. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropped out of the race.

Biden had met unexpected success in recent days, drawing big crowds in Iowa and raking in bigger donations for his campaign coffer. But the eleventh-hour enthusiasm wasn't enough to boost the senator above fifth place in the Iowa caucuses.

"I'm not a super star," Biden told Reuters last month. "People say they like me, people tell me they think I'd be a good president but that they just don't think I can win."

No Republican presidential candidates dropped out of the race on Thursday night. (Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) bowed out late last month, endorsing Republican Mitt Romney.)

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) assured his fervent supporters last night that he would remain in the race, and the congressman has the campaign funds to do it: Paul's campaign raised more than $18 million in the final three months of last year. The 10-term congressman has garnered an avid Internet following with his opposition to the Iraq war and his emphasis on personal freedom.

Paul finished fifth in Iowa, edging out former New York mayor Rudy Giulaini. (The former mayor campaigned little in the state, saying he's instead focused on Feb. 5 when more than 20 states will hold primaries, and more than 1,000 delegates will be up for grabs.)

"I'm more encouraged than ever before," Paul told a crowd of about 150 people in downtown Des Moines last night. The crowd matched his enthusiasm, chanting: "Live free or die hard!" - Jamie Dean

Web Extra: Weary words

Grueling hours are a hallmark of presidential campaigns, and the run up to the Iowa caucuses was no exception. (Democrat John Edwards actually campaigned all night long two days before the Iowa contest.)

But as candidates' campaign schedules grew brutal - in Iowa and elsewhere - their speech grew muddled in some notable ways. Here's a recap of some of the weary words candidates uttered during the week leading up to the Iowa caucuses:

"We had 300 people outside, literally freezing to death."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in Iowa City, slightly overstating the weather's effects on supporters at a campaign event

"…our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan."
- Republican Mike Huckabee reacting to former Pakistani primer minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination one week before the Iowa caucuses. (Huckabee's campaign quickly released a statement of clarification: The candidate meant to extend "sympathies" not "apologies.")

And perhaps the biggest Iowa-based blunder of the week came from Republican Mitt Romney, who whole-heartedly told a crowd of supporters in Altoona, Iowa: "I won't remember Iowans."
(Romney's campaign also clarified his statement: The candidate meant to say, "I won't forget Iowans.")

Most presidential candidates said they would stay up late watching the Iowa results come in before gearing up for the New Hampshire primaries in five days. But another top-tier politician also known for some tongue-tied moments planned to get his shut-eye: White House press secretary Dana Perino said President Bush would watch some early evening results, but would find out the rest in the morning: "He likes to go to bed early." - Jamie Dean

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD.

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