Campaigns Putting the Labor
Back in Labor Day
As America's working masses tuck into their potato salad this Labor Day weekend, they can try to seek some consolation in the passing of summer with this thought: at least they're not running for president.
Monday will mark the official start of a presidential primary stretch run the likes of which we've never seen, with more debates, tougher fundraising competition and, most importantly, more states than ever before set to vote in January and early February, forcing candidates into a nonstop charge through late summer, fall and winter.
For Republicans, after some weekend campaigning for most they'll be back at it for good on Wednesday with a debate in New Hampshire. The Democrats don't have another bona fide debate until the end of September, also in New Hampshire, though many are attending a Spanish-English forum hosted by Univision in Coral Gables, Fla. a week from Sunday. The end of September brings the third quarter campaign finance filing deadline, forcing candidates to set aside fundraising time. Meanwhile, as busy as they've been on the trail since early this year, they must pack in far more retail campaigning to reach all the voters who've been wearily telling them that they're not going to start paying any attention until the leaves start turning.
Time was, candidates could prepare for the post-Labor Day rush with a relatively leisurely summer. But with the primaries looming earlier than ever, it was harder to shush the inner workaholic this year. There were more debates and mandatory forums than ever before. This week, several candidates made the trek to New Orleans to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Looking down the barrel of this starting gun, several candidates opted to recharge this week, even if it meant ceding the field to the competition for a few days. Passing up even a token Labor Day barbeque in Iowa or New Hampshire, Rudy Giuliani doesn't have any events until Tuesday. Barack Obama is resting with his family until Monday.
But most others have opted for a running start. John McCain is at home in Arizona the rest of this week, but busy with fundraising and official meetings, with only Saturday off. Then it's on to Iowa Sunday and Monday. Spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan laughed aloud when asked if the 71-year-old McCain is dreading the rush that awaited. "Dread? This is when the Senator's at his best, on the road, speaking to voters one on one. Once we start this weekend going it's going to be nonstop," she said.
Bill Richardson is fundraising in Texas tomorrow, and campaigning in New Hampshire this weekend. "There's no rest for us," said spokeswoman Katie Roberts. "He's made a commitment to work harder than everyone and he's going to stick to it." Chris Dodd is also hard at work, trying to make the most of his surprise endorsement from the International Association of Fire Fighters with a three-day victory tour starting yesterday in New Hampshire. After visiting South Carolina today, John Edwards gets Friday off and is then raising money Saturday and visiting Iowa the rest of the weekend.
Left aside in all this late-summer maneuvering, of course, is one Fred D. Thompson, who is adopting a throwback approach that perhaps his campaign hopes will complement his folksy appeal. He's actually waiting until after Labor Day to announce.
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