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."
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.
John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton tussled over accepting campaign contributions from powerful health care groups Monday at a forum on cancer that attracted four Democratic hopefuls.
Each candidate spoke separately at the Iowa event, with Edwards and Clinton focused on the ongoing debate among the party's top-tier rivals over accepting campaign donations from lobbyists.
Republican Fred Thompson sidestepped questions Monday about the departure of yet another high-level aide to his presidential campaign-in-waiting.
Linda Rozett, a longtime U.S. Chamber of Commerce official, is gone from the former Tennessee senator's committee to "test the waters" of a presidential bid after spending the last several weeks as communications director.
"I don't know what the story is," said Thompson, who was asked about the departure while campaigning at the Minnesota state fair. "I don't know what to say about it except that she's a wonderful lady."
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama often says he will be a candidate that will bring both parties together and Saturday he named a few of the Republicans he would reach out to if elected.
"There are some very capable Republicans who I have a great deal of respect for," Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The opportunities are there to create a more effective relationship between parties."
Among the Republicans he would seek help from are Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana, John Warner of Virginia and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Obama said.
All-but-declared GOP candidate Fred Thompson said Saturday he is in a sound position to make a run for the nomination even though others announced their candidacies months ago.
"We have done within a few months what other people have spent much longer periods of time doing," Thompson told reporters before delivering a keynote speech to the Midwest Republican Leadership Conference, which has drawn party activists from 12 states.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to her favorite family vacation spot Saturday to raise money for her presidential campaign at a celebrity-studded event where she took some pointed swipes at President Bush.
Clinton — accompanied by her husband and their daughter Chelsea — smiled broadly and swayed to the music as singer Carly Simon and her two children, Ben and Sally Taylor, sang "Devoted to You" for a Martha's Vineyard crowd of more than 2,000.
Presidential contender Mike Huckabee says his party took a beating in the 2006 election because too many of its candidates didn't act like Republicans.
"We didn't fight corruption like we should, we didn't curtail spending, we didn't resolve problems," the former Arkansas governor told reporters Friday before a speech to the Midwest Leadership Conference.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney touted his views on health care in a dinner speech Friday night, continuing a theme he had begun earlier in the day while campaigning in Florida.
Except for actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson, who was scheduled as the keynote speaker Saturday night, others in the crowded GOP field were skipping the event.
Democratic rivals criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday for her comment that a terror attack before the election would help the Republicans.
On Thursday, the New York senator told supporters in Concord that she could defeat any Republican nominee, in part because she already knows how her opponents will go after her and because she is good at handling the unexpected.
In Sunday's Democratic presidential candidate debate on ABC, the most interesting yet least-publicized exchange came in the form of the candidates' responses to a question on religion.
As wildly unpopular as President Bush now is, with approval ratings dipping into the high 20s, it should be obvious his most disastrous policy decisions were driven either by his zeal to appeal to the religious right or by his innate belief (and those of some of his advisers) that his policies were sanctioned by God.