MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) _ Focused on the pancake he'd just flipped into the air, Gary Bauer stepped back, back, back _ and flipped himself off the back of the stage.

Republicans Bauer and George W. Bush were the only two presidential candidates to show for the pancake-flipping event on Monday, the eve of the New Hampshire primary. Bush went first, and aced it.

``I had a 20-rotation flip with a one-handed catch,'' the front-runner later crowed.

Then came Bauer's turn. He warmed up with a few flips, then tossed his pancake in the air and moved back to catch it _ stepping off the back of the low stage and disappearing behind a blue curtain.

His griddle pan was bent, but Bauer came up smiling gamely.

Was there a metaphor here? Bush seeming to move effortlessly while Bauer struggles low in the polls? Bauer had his own interpretation.

``I'm a survivor,'' he declared after climbing back onstage, pancake in pan.

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Bill Bradley awoke Monday to a thick blanket of snow across the Granite State, and immediately set out to do something about it.

Outside his Concord hotel, the Democrat hopped into a pickup truck fitted with a snowblade and did a couple of passes around the parking lot.

Just down the road at Aubuchon Hardware, he selected a red snow shovel for $15.99 and pulled a $20 bill from his wallet to pay for it. ``Hope you can help me tomorrow,'' he said to clerk Ruthie Johnson.

Just outside the store's front door, Bradley shoveled a spot roughly 10 feet square. He paused to toss a shovel of snow at a photographer, and hurled a snowball at a reporter, missing.

``I'm going to vote,'' said Ms. Johnson. ``I like him.''

Does Bradley get her vote?

``I'm an American, I don't have to tell you,'' she said.

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Bush climbed aboard a red, white and blue innertube to whiz down a popular Amherst sledding hill, declaring it ``one of the most exhilarating moments of my political career.''

Bush, wearing a ski jacket and cowboy boots, hitched a ride with 13-year-old twins Lizzy and Laura Saggau of Merrimack on an innertube that spun around backwards as it slid.

Bush announced to the children at the bottom of the hill: ``We were able to accomplish something very few presidential candidates have ever been able to accomplish _ the all-but-impossible 180-degree pirouette in midflight turn.''

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Bush capped his pre-primary day with a stop at Leda Lanes in Nashua, which carries on the New England tradition of candlepin bowling. Unlike 10 regular pins, candlepins are tall and narrow and racks don't clear away the dead wood between balls.

As a Texan, Bush made a common beginner's mistake with his first roll of the palm-sized balls. By trying to muscle it down the lane, he ended up throwing a gutter shot.

He nearly had the same result on the second ball, but barely clipped the No. 10 pin, which netted him a score of one after two balls. Candlepinners get a third ball, but for Bush that made no difference. Again he rolled a gutter ball.

By the end of his third frame, Bush appeared to be getting the hang of the game. His first ball was a six, the second knocked down two pins and the third picked off one more, for nine within the frame.

Afterwards, he strolled up and down the nearby lanes, signing autographs and receiving unsolicited bowling tips.

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Steve Forbes, his wife Sabina and his two daughters stopped by the GOP candidate's Manchester headquarters to work the phone bank, calling voters to urge them to go to the polls.

``It was very positive,'' Forbes said, ``once people realized I was for real and that I wasn't trying to sell them sweepstakes.''

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Al Gore was up at dawn to greet employees in the freezing rain as they entered the Lockheed Sanders defense plant. Later, local Gore volunteer David Witham asked the candidate how he stayed so trim.

``This handshaking is good exercise,'' the vice president replied.

A New Hampshire radio interviewer also marveled at the candidate's physique. Gore credited daily exercise on a treadmill. ``I have found out, at the age of 51, you've got to use it or lose it.''

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On the way to a walking tour of Exeter, the Bush campaign suddenly shifted plans and decided to cancel the event, instead heading to Derry for lunch. Campaign officials said Bush skipped Exeter because a pro-marijuana group was demonstrating there.

Observers on the scene said Gore supporters and environmentalists were more prominent.

``We decided instead of publicizing Mr. Gore, we would try to connect with real New Hampshire voters,'' the campaign's chief spokeswoman, Karen Hughes, said later.

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GOP hopeful John McCain admits he is superstitious to the point of having lucky shoes, a lucky Hopi Indian feather, a lucky pin and a tradition of going to the movies with his wife on election days. And on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, after months of campaigning, he seemed to feel there wasn't a lot more he could try.

``I am a little nervous, but these guys'' _ he motioned to his aides _ ``have convinced me this isn't in my hands anymore,'' McCain said.

McCain said if he could do the New Hampshire campaign again, he wouldn't change anything, ``except for a few foot insertions into my mouth.''

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Also traveling with McCain on Monday were four of his seven children, who arrived _ some in flip-flops _ late Sunday in a chartered plane.

Meghan, 15, Jack, 13, Jimmy, 11, and Bridget, 8 got in a snowball fight outside the New Hampshire Statehouse where their father was speaking to crowd of about 200.

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EDITOR'S NOTE _ Laurie Kellman, Sandra Sobieraj, Mike Glover and Holly Ramer contributed to this report.