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July 4 Holiday Brings Flurry of US Presidential Campaigning

The July 4th Independence Day holiday brought a flurry of presidential campaign activity and fundraising news. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone in Washington has the latest on the 2008 race for the White House.

The frontrunner for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, brought her campaign to the early contest state of Iowa where she got a little help from another well-known Democrat, her husband.

"She is, by a long stretch, the best qualified non-incumbent I have ever had a chance to vote for, for president, in my entire life," said former US President Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton remains popular with Democratic voters. But some political strategists say Hillary Clinton would be wise to limit her husband's campaign appearances so she is not overshadowed by his presence.

Clinton's main rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama, also campaigned in Iowa as did Republican presidential contender and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Romney has been spending a lot of money in the early primary states on radio and television advertisements like this one, hoping to boost his name recognition among Republican voters.

ROMNEY POLITICAL AD: "This is not the time for us to shrink from conservative principles. It is a time for us stand in strength for a strong military, a strong economy and strong families."

Many states, including large population states like California, New York, Florida and Illinois, have moved up their primary dates next year in hopes of having a bigger impact on the nominating process.

But Democratic political strategist Bob Shrum says there will still be a lot of pressure on the candidates in both parties to do well in the smaller, early contest states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

"History is that if you skip Iowa, you do not get nominated," he said. "Because those initial contests are going to determine who goes into that [so called] 'Tsumani Tuesday' at the top of voter's minds as they make their decisions."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the Republican presidential field, followed by former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain.

Thompson is expected to formally enter the Republican race soon and that prospect may be hurting McCain, who is lagging behind both in the polls and in fundraising.

McCain's campaign recently had to fire dozens of staffers in a cost-saving move, and some analysts believe the Arizona senator faces a real challenge in trying to keep his candidacy afloat until primary voting begins next January.

Former Republican presidential contender Pat Buchanan is a political analyst for the MSNBC cable news network.

"You do not like to write somebody off," he said. "But I think McCain is going to have a hard time making it in to the early caucuses, and I do not see how he can come back in Iowa, I do not see what brings him back."

Thompson's expected entry into the race could also account for Giuliani losing some steam in the polls as conservative Republicans consider their options for next year.

Amy Walter, editor of the Hotline political newsletter, was a recent guest on the C-SPAN public affairs TV network.

"The Republican base is so frustrated," she noted. "The lack of excitement on the Republican side for their [presidential] field is so apparent. What Republicans are looking for right now, especially conservatives, is someone who can bring them together, sort of be a uniter."

In addition to Thompson, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia is also considering a presidential bid and says he will decide by October.

Some Democrats continue to hope that former Vice President Al Gore will make another run for the White House next year.

Gore was asked about that Thursday on NBC's Today program.

"My family has been supportive of whatever I want to do in terms of politics, but I do not have any plans or intentions to be a candidate again," he said. "And really the main reason is that I am involved in a different kind of campaign."

Al Gore says he remains focused on the issue of global warming and on getting treatment for his son, Albert Gore III, 24. The younger Gore was arrested in California Wednesday on suspicion of illegally possessing marijuana and prescription drugs after police pulled him over for speeding.