Forbes Running Strong in NH

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - While his rivals John McCain and George W Bush jockey for the lead in the New Hampshire GOP presidential primary, Steve Forbes is holding on to third place and should be considered a strong contender, one political analyst told

"I think it's still a three-man race," said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science at Mary Washington College.

Farnsworth said that not only does the millionaire publisher Forbes have enough money to continue running indefinitely, he has picked up some key endorsements, including the conservative Manchester Union Leader newspaper. "Their endorsement is very significant in Republican politics," said Farnsworth.

Forbes has also picked up the endorsement of Free Congress Foundation president Paul Weyrich, who said that Forbes' strong pro-life position has made him a "champion" of conservative voters. He too pointed out that Forbes' personal wealth and deep campaign war chest make him a candidate to watch.

"He's got the organization and the reserves to go the distance," said Weyrich.

According to federal election records Forbes has raised more than $20 million compared to McCain's $10 million. Both candidates' campaign coffers are dwarfed by Bush's almost $60 million election fund.

Although the latest polls in New Hampshire have Forbes with 10 percent trailing McCain at 37 percent and Bush at 30 percent, he leads the rest of the pack, which consists of Alan Keyes with five percent and Orrin Hatch and Gary Bauer at one percent each.

"It's a classic three-man race," Forbes' spokesman Keith Appell told

However, frontrunners McCain and Bush only have eyes for the winner's circle.

"We're starting to see the numbers increase," said McCain spokesman Howard Opinsky. "We're confident that as more people have an opportunity to hear about John McCain, the more they like him," he told

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan told that his candidate is focusing on the issues and is not preoccupied with who is leading the race in the polls. The outcome is not a foregone conclusion, he said.

"Gov. Bush is taking nothing for granted," said McClellan.