Labor Day 2007 is now past and the intensity of the presidential campaign appeared to be ratcheting up a notch.
Not-quite candidate Fred Thompson will officially jump in the race later this week. Thompson plans a three-day campaign swing through Iowa to introduce himself to Republican Caucus-goers.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is back in Iowa this week. Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd are here, too. John Edwards just wrapped up four days of campaigning in Iowa.
"Caucus-goers in Iowa are very focused on the presidential election and they’ve also seen us — all of the candidates — over and over and over so they’re probably on the leading edge of the curve," Edwards said Sunday in Tipton. "But I think for a lot of America, this fall will be when they really start paying attention to what’s happening in the campaign."
Edwards met with about 200 people in Tipton on Sunday and took questions from the crowd. Five of the questioners were people Edwards had met at previous campaign stops.
"As Elizabeth likes to say, there are a lot of communities in Iowa where if I got stopped, I could give directions on where people need to go," Edwards said. "It also means though, of course, that people who are very active and engaged and interested in particular issues tend to come to a lot of events, so you tend to see some of the same people over and over."
All the Democratic candidates but Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel signed a pledge this past weekend to bypass campaigning in states which try to move their contests into January, forcing Iowa party officials to move the date of the Caucuses forward.
"The contest for the nomination and the presidency should be based on substance, real ideas and who can actually change the country…not on fundraising contests," Edwards said. "And what this means is every candidate now will have to come to Iowa…stand in front of an audience and answer their questions — in many cases hard, tough questions — because if you’re not ready to answer questions in Iowa, you’re not ready to be President of the United States."
Republican John McCain also defended the Iowa Caucuses this past weekend. In addition, McCain told reporters his party’s presidential nominee must have "clean hands" that aren’t tainted by bribery and extortion scandals that have led to the resignation and imprisonment of former members of congress.
"You know what happens is people have a tendency to lump it all together (saying) ‘They’re just a bunch of crooks,’" McCain said. "They sometimes don’t make those nuances (connecting) just one scandal after another."
McCain predicted more members of congress may be indicted in the coming months, as a former lobbyist is cooperating with federal agents who’re investigating corruption in congress.