|Download For $1.99: - New Hampshire Democratic Primary Debates - February 16, 1992- Gordon Skene Sound Collection|
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New Hampshire and an election year; one of the few times during the year that all eyes are trained on one place at one time; St. Anselm College in Manchester. In 1992 the field was crowded, as it is in every election year. This one offered interesting possibilities, a few relatively unknown names, and a hazy outcome (since George Bush was riding the crest of a popularity wave due to Desert Storm).
Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, a Southerner with experience governing a more conservative state, positioned himself as a centrist New Democrat. He prepared for a run in 1992 amidst a crowded field seeking to beat the incumbent President George H. W. Bush. In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, Bush seemed unbeatable, but an economic recession—which ultimately proved to be small by historical standards—spurred the Democrats on. Tom Harkin won his native Iowa without much surprise. Clinton, meanwhile, was still a relatively unknown national candidate before the primary season when a woman named Gennifer Flowers appeared in the press to reveal allegations of an affair. Clinton sought damage control by appearing on 60 Minutes with his wife, Hillary Clinton, for an interview with Steve Kroft. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts won the primary in neighboring New Hampshire but Clinton’s second-place finish – strengthened by Clinton’s speech labeling himself “The Comeback Kid” – re-energized his campaign. Clinton swept nearly all of the Southern Super Tuesday primaries, making him the solid front runner. Jerry Brown, however, began to run a surprising insurgent campaign, particularly through use of a 1-800 number to receive grassroots funding. Brown “seemed to be the most left-wing and right-wing man in the field. [He] called for term limits, a flat tax, and the abolition of the Department of Education.” Brown scored surprising wins in Connecticut and Colorado and seemed poised to overtake Clinton.
As a reminder of debates-past, here is the New Hampshire Primary Debate, as it aired on CNN and NPR on February 16, 1992