Politics

It’s showtime on the campaign trail

After months of grand rhetoric, endless fundraising and heavy campaigning, the 2008 presidential race kicks into even higher gear this week at the start of a four-month sprint to the first votes.

A crowded pack of Republican candidates gains a new contender, former senator and Hollywood actor Fred Thompson, as a hard-charging Democratic field hunts for ways to bring down the front-runner, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

Hillary claims she’s the one for change

Seeking to dispel rivals’ claims that she can’t bring needed change to Washington, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton told supporters Sunday that her years in public life and willingness to seek common ground would produce real results as president.

“I know some people think you have to choose between change and experience. With me, you don’t have to choose,” she said at a rally here.

Clinton unveiled a new campaign speech in New Hampshire, as the Labor Day weekend signaled the start of a final four-month sprint before voting begins.

Edwards would require health exams

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday that his universal health care proposal would require that Americans go to the doctor for preventive care.

“It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care,” he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. “If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.”

Romney breaks laws on campaign trips

The motorcade of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney exceeded speed limits and went through stop lights Friday as local law officers escorted him, blue lights flashing, to campaign events in two South Carolina counties.

Traffic pulled over for Romney’s caravan as Saluda County Sheriff Jason Booth, a Romney supporter, led the candidate’s motor home and staff cars with his blue lights running from the Aiken County line through Saluda County to the Newberry city limits, according to an Associated Press reporter following the candidate.

Passion drives Ron Paul supporters

Passengers on a plane leaving New York could see three words in 4-foot block letters painted on an East Village rooftop terrace as they ascended: GOOGLE RON PAUL. The entreaty to search the Internet for news of the Republican congressman from rural Texas is one of the more visible signs of enthusiasm from a do-it-yourself base of Web fans. Their support doesn’t show up in public opinion polls, but it’s unmatched among presidential candidates in its passion.

Hillary will dump crooked fundraiser’s cash

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will give to charity the $23,000 in donations she has received from a fundraiser who is wanted in California for failing to appear for sentencing on a 1991 grand theft charge.

The decision came Wednesday as other Democrats began distancing themselves from Norman Hsu, whose legal encounters and links to other Democratic donors have drawn public scrutiny in the past two days.

Europeans like Hillary for President

More than four in 10 French and Germans would like to see Democratic candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton elected US president in 2008, a survey by a Canadian pollster showed on Wednesday.

The Angus Reid institute also found Clinton to be the preferred candidate of British, Italian and Canadian respondents to its poll, which asked them to choose between eight of the US politicians running for the nomination.

Clinton, Dodd win union endorsements

Democrat Chris Dodd has earned the backing of the International Association of Fire Fighters, a major coup for the presidential hopeful, while leading contender Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton secured the endorsement Tuesday of the United Transportation Union.

The Dodd endorsement is the more surprising of the two, with the Connecticut senator lagging behind better-known rivals Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards in the latest polls.

A circular firing squad

Before anyone gets excited about Democratic presidential prospects next year, a perusal of modern day political history should amply remind one of the fallacy of overconfidence about a party that is utterly without a compass most of the time, even when Republicans are carrying the burden of a war and an unpopular lame duck president.

Once again it seems appropriate to quote humorist Will Rogers’ still valid assessment: “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

For Democrats, winning is the thing

It was just another refueling stop on the long, long drive to the convention in Denver.

When six Democratic presidential contenders took their turn addressing an Iowa labor group here this month, every one of them walked away recharged by audience applause.

But there was attentive silence, too, when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York got to the bottom line in her closing remarks.

“I think we have to win this election,” she said, the inflection of her voice stressing the words.

She rattled off things her party’s faithful see in the balance — not only the war in Iraq, but health care, energy policy and economic issues.