The Candidates Turn Up the Heat At Summer's End

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 4, 2007

For all the candidates for the White House, Labor Day was an occasion for parades, rallies and other celebrations marking summer's last holiday. There were hot dogs and hamburgers and ice cream -- and among the contenders, a growing sense of urgency. One campaign manager noted the dwindling days, remarking, perhaps ominously, that the candidates were "turning the page on summer."

There are 119 days left in the year and, as jockeying among the states for position on the primary calendar continues, a few days after New Year's could bring the Iowa caucuses, the first stop in what is certain to be the most front-loaded presidential voting schedule in history. While Labor Day is traditionally viewed as the informal kickoff of the presidential campaign season, this year, it felt more like the midpoint in a marathon.

But from 33,000 feet up, there wasn't a cloud in the sky yesterday morning from Portsmouth, N.H., to Sioux City, Iowa. It was a perfect day for campaigning, and the candidates made the most of it.

Former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) were up early. Edwards jetted from Iowa to Pittsburgh, where he picked up a pair of important union endorsements. The ever-energetic Romney had three events scheduled in New Hampshire before noon and a busy afternoon as well.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was in Iowa, refusing to stray from his commitment to the war in Iraq, and without his famous Straight Talk Express bus or the crowds he was once accustomed to seeing.

The Democratic front-runners continued their long-distance debate on the question of which better represents the virtues of "change" and "experience," with Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) in New Hampshire and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) marking day two of her campaign tour with her husband with a pair of stops in Iowa.

The first voting may seem distant, but the campaigns know it isn't. It was 10 full months ago when the first candidate formally announced for president -- and it has been more than six months since that candidate formally quit the race. Everything seems accelerated in Campaign 2008, as the schedules of many of the candidates reflected yesterday.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company