Trump vs Jeb in New Hampshire on day before crucial primary

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All Eyes on the New Hampshire Primary

MANCHESTER, N.H., Feb 8 (Reuters) - White House hopefuls Donald Trump and Jeb Bush opened political hostilities on Monday as Republican and Democratic candidates stormed across New Hampshire in a final flurry of events before the state's crucial first-in-the-nation primary.

The stage was set for the vote on Tuesday, with New York billionaire Trump enjoying a big lead in opinion polls of the state's Republican voters and a host of rivals jockeying to emerge as his chief challenger for the Republican presidential nomination in the Nov. 8 election.

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In the race for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders from neighboring Vermont sought to hang on for a much-needed victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a week after a razor-thin loss to her in the Iowa caucuses.

Sanders told a crowd of about 500 people in Nashua that his call to eradicate income inequality and level the economic playing field for lower- and middle-class workers was resonating.

See what the campaign looks like on the ground in New Hampshire:

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New Hampshire ahead of primary vote
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Trump vs Jeb in New Hampshire on day before crucial primary
A supporter of democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cheers at a rally Manchester Community College February 8, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
A vendor holds up a t-shirt with a cartoon of Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, after Sanders spoke during a campaign event at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Just a week after turning 2008's loss in the Iowa caucuses into a 2016 win, Hillary Clinton could be headed for the opposite fate in New Hampshire, where polls show she now trails Sanders by double digits. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
RAYMOND, NH - FEBRUARY 08: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) arrives for a campaign stop at the Tuckaway Tavern and Butchery on February 8, 2016 in Raymond, New Hampshire. Cruz is campaigning in the lead up to the The New Hampshire primary, February 9. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
CONCORD, NH - FEBRUARY 08: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) takes a close look at the 'Cuban burger' made for him at the Barley House restaurant during a campaign stop February 8, 2016 in Concord, New Hampshire. After placing third in the Iowa caucuses, Rubio is hoping for a good showing on Tuesday when people in New Hampsire head to the polls in the 'First in the Nation' presidential primary. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A vendor reaches for a campaign button in the lobby of a campaign event for Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, not pictured, in Barrington, New Hampshire, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Republican presidential candidates, including recent debate no-show Donald Trump and Cruz, opened the final debate before New Hampshire voters go to the polls with a clash over who would be best commander-in-chief. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A protester wears a 'robot suit' made out of cardboard as US Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio (not in picture) arrives at a restaurant for a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, on February 8, 2016. US presidential candidates fanned out across snowy New Hampshire seeking to convert undecided voters with just hours to spare before Tuesday's crucial primary. / AFP / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEWMARKET, NH - FEBRUARY 08: Campaign posters are seen on the walls as volunteers call voters asking them to vote for Republican presidential canddiate Donald Trump while working at the Newmarket Trump campaign headquarters on February 8, 2016 in Newmarket, New Hampshire. Democratic and Republican Presidential are stumping for votes throughout New Hampshire leading up to the Presidential Primary on February 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 8: Republican Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina holds 'Coffee With Carly' at Blake's Restaurant February 8, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Candidates are in a last push for votes ahead of the first in the nation primary on February 9. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
HOLDERNESS, NH - FEBRUARY 7: Coleman Perkins, 2, runs around with a sign as he waits for republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to arrive and speak at a campaign rally at Plymouth State University in Holderness, NH on Sunday Feb. 07, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
An attendee displays campaign stickers for Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, during a restaurant meet and greet with Cruz at Pedraza's Mexican Restaurant in Keene, New Hampshire, U.S., on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Cruz, the winner of the first Republican presidential nominating contest this year, is looking past the second one as the race in New Hampshire favors mainstream appeal over conservative bona fides. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 07: A 'Join the New Hampshire Rebellion' sign is seen in advance of the New Hampshire First-In-The-Nation Primary on February 7, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Paul Marotta/WireImage)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 07: Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton picks up milkshakes at Puritan Ice Cream and Take Out on February 7, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. With less than one week to go before the New Hampshire primaries, Hillary Clinton continues to campaign throughout the state. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LONDONDERRY, NH - FEBRUARY 07: Baseball hats with Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) logos for sale outside a town hall meeting in the Londonderry High School cafeteria February 7, 2016 in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Hundreds of people came to the event to see Rubio just two days before voters go to the polls in the 'First in the Nation' presidential primary. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with attendees during a campaign stop, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, at Manchester Community College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A campaign sign for Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. is obstructed with covered in freshly fallen snow in East Derry, N.H., Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
DURHAM, NH - FEBRUARY 04: A supporter of Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), runs with a banner, near the site of the Democratic debate on February 4, 2016 in Durham, New Hampshire. Sanders and Clinton are campaigning in the lead up to the New Hampshire primary, February 9. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NH - FEBRUARY 04: Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) hold signs near the site of the Democratic debate on February 4, 2016 in Durham, New Hampshire. Sanders and Clinton are campaigning in the lead up to the New Hampshire primary on February 9. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
WEARE, NH - FEBRUARY 4: A sign is seen for republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he meets potential supporters after speaking at a meet and greet event at Generals Sports Bar and Grill in Weare, NH on Thursday Feb. 04, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WEARE, NH - FEBRUARY 4: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, talks to the press before speaking to potential supporters at a meet and greet event at Generals Sports Bar and Grill in Weare, NH on Thursday Feb. 04, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Supporters and protesters gather outside as US Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders participate in the MSNBC Democratic Candidates Debate at the University of New Hampshire in Durham on February 4, 2016. Clinton and Sanders face off on February 4, in the first debate since their bruising Iowa clash that the former secretary of state won by a hair, as they gear for a battle royale in New Hampshire. / AFP / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - FEBRUARY 04: Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump signs a man's arm at the end of a rally at Great Bay Community College on February 4, 2016 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. New Hampshire's primary is next Tuesday, February 9, 2016. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - FEBRUARY 04: Attendees listen to Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speak at a rally at Great Bay Community College on February 4, 2016 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. New Hampshire's primary is next Tuesday, February 9, 2016. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - FEBRUARY 04: Empty chairs and balloons are seen at the end of a town hall meeting with Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at a Toyota dealership on February 4, 2016 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates are stumping for votes throughout New Hampshire leading up to the Presidential Primary on February 9th. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
EXETER, NH - FEBRUARY 04: People try to get a campaign poster as they are being given out during a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Exeter Town Hall on February 4, 2016 in Exeter, New Hampshire. Democratic and Republican Presidential are stumping for votes throughout New Hampshire leading up to the Presidential Primary on February 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A 'Feed Trees Burn Coal' decoration sits on the bumper of the 'Liberty Van' vehicle driven by Kentucky resident Lynda Farley, self-proclaimed 'Smokin' Granny,' not pictured, outside a campaign event for Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, at the Toyota of Portsmouth dealership in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Cruz's victory in the Iowa Republican caucuses emboldens other critics of federal biofuel mandates just as the U.S. Senate is poised to consider a measure that would gut the decade-old program. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A decoration in support of Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, sits on the bumper of the 'Liberty Van' vehicle driven by Kentucky resident Lynda Farley, self-proclaimed 'Smokin' Granny,' not pictured, outside a campaign event at the Toyota of Portsmouth dealership in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Cruz's victory in the Iowa Republican caucuses emboldens other critics of federal biofuel mandates just as the U.S. Senate is poised to consider a measure that would gut the decade-old program. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
EXETER, NH - FEBRUARY 04: People wait in line next to an office for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Cinton as they wait to listen to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speak during a campaign rally at the Exeter Town Hall on February 4, 2016 in Exeter, New Hampshire. Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates are stumping for votes throughout New Hampshire leading up to the Presidential Primary on February 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
EXETER, NH - FEBRUARY 04: People protest outside of a campaign event for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Exeter Town Hall on February 4, 2016 in Exeter, New Hampshire. Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates are stumping for votes throughout New Hampshire leading up to the Presidential Primary on February 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PORTSMOUTH, NH - FEBRUARY 04: People raise their hands to ask questions of Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio during a campaign town hall event at the Frank Jones Center February 4, 2016 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Rubio is hoping to gather momentum in New Hampshire after placing third in Monday's Iowa caucuses, finishing one percentage point behind Donald Trump and four points behind the leader, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A supporter shouts encouragement to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally at the Great Bay Community College, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
People gather ahead of a Democratic presidential debate between candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, at University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Alexander Welch, 6, of Hooksett, N.H., attends a town hall meeting for Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at West Running Brook Middle School in Derry, N.H., Thursday Feb. 4, 2016. Bush is Welch's favorite candidate, "I think he's cool." His second favorite candidate, however, is Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A Donald Trump supporter wears a button that reads "put another brick in the wall" at a rally for the Republican presidential candidate at the Great Bay Community College, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A young woman cheers while holding a sign as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop at the Rochester Opera House, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Rochester, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Ellen Salerno, of Concord, N.H., listens to Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during a campaign event at Generals Sports Bar and Grill, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Weare, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
A vendor sells campaign buttons for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, outside Exeter Town Hall in Exeter, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A member of Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich's production team changes a sign before Kasich's scheduled town hall campaign event, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Pelham, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
A supporter wears a "Make America Great Again" cap during a campaign stop for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Exeter Town Hall in Exeter, N.H., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Cory McSweeney, 23, of Middlesborough, Mass., left, and Thomas Harrahan, 20, of Weymouth, Mass., supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, pose in their homemade shirts while waiting for the doors to open for a Trump rally, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A group of men who wanted to bring attention to Palestinian rights arrive outside a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Great Bay Community College, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A young boy watches as Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a campaign event at a Toyota auto dealership Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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"I'm here today to ask your support, to join us in making that political revolution," he said.

Polls showed his big New Hampshire lead tightening but still sizable. Clinton hoped to make the finish close in a feat much like her husband's, former President Bill Clinton, in 1992 when he declared himself "the 'Comeback Kid.'"

"For those of you who are still deciding, still shopping, I hope I can close the deal," Clinton said at Manchester Community College, campaigning with her raspy-voiced husband and daughter Chelsea.

Clinton was reported by Politico to be pondering a staff shakeup out of concern at the messaging of her campaign.

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"I have no idea what they're talking about or who they are talking to," Clinton, responding to the report, said on MSNBC. "We're going to take stock, but it's going to be the campaign that I've got. I'm very confident in the people that I have."

A snowstorm swept across the state but it did not slow down the last, tense full day of campaigning ahead of the primary.

Trump, still rankled that Bush hit him hard at a candidates' debate in Manchester on Saturday night, peppered his stump speeches with attacks on the former Florida governor at events in Salem and Londonderry.

"This stiff, Jeb Bush," Trump said. "He's a total stiff. ... If you had a company, you wouldn't even hire him. He's like a child, like a spoiled child."

SEE MORE: Megyn Kelly shares question she wanted to ask Donald Trump at debate he skipped

Bush fired off a tweet referring to Trump's comment last summer that Senator John McCain, the party's 2008 presidential nominee who spent 5-1/2 years in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, was not a hero because he got captured.

"@realDonaldTrump, you aren't just a loser, you are a liar and a whiner. John McCain is a hero. Over and out," Bush said.

SEE MORE: Rubio's stumble opens door to underdogs in final New Hampshire sprint

Senator Marco Rubio's shaky performance at Saturday's debate gave hope to his rivals that the Floridian's rise after a strong third-place finish in Iowa could be blunted.

Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are fighting to finish strongly enough in New Hampshire to justify staying in the race and taking their campaigns to South Carolina, which holds its primary on Feb. 20.

As the New Hampshire polls stand now, Trump would win and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who won Iowa; Rubio; Kasich; Bush; and Christie would end right behind him in a tight bunch. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina are also in the race.

Rubio wilted under an attack by Christie at the debate, repeating rehearsed lines from his stump speech in defending himself against criticism that he is not experienced enough to be president. The moment triggered commentary comparing Rubio to a robot, both in the news media and on social media.

Rubio's point was that even though he is a first-term senator, he should not be compared to Democratic President Barack Obama, who was a first-term senator when elected in 2008. He said at the debate that Obama has pushed the country in the wrong direction because of his political beliefs, not from inexperience.

"The core of this campaign is that statement, and I am going to continue to say it: Barack Obama is deliberately carrying out a strategy to change America: He wants to redefine this country," Rubio said on CBS's "This Morning."

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