After a day off for Christmas celebrations, US presidential contenders hit the campaign trail full tilt yesterday, just days before voters in key states begin to narrow the field of White House hopefuls.
Top contenders could afford no more than a two-day holiday before resuming their fervent courtship of voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, whose early nominating contests give them an outsized role in choosing each party's candidate for the national vote in November.
Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, locked in an pitched battle for the Democratic nod, were to begin dueling tours of Iowa, which kicks off the party selection process on Jan. 3.
On Sunday, Obama picked up the endorsement the Sioux City Journal, an Iowa newspaper, which described him as a Democratic candidate "who best understands this critical moment in our nation's history."
The Des Moines Register, the main newspaper in the state, has endorsed Clinton among the Democratic candidates.
John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate now running third, elected to knock on doors in Nashua, New Hampshire, handing out donuts and chatting up voters, his campaign said. New Hampshire holds its bellwether primaries on Jan. 8.
Republican Senator John McCain was to hit the schools, civic clubs and coffee shops of Iowa in the days just after Christmas, while breakout Republican contender Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor, was scheduled for fundraising in Florida.
Huckabee has come from nowhere in the polls to take a lead in Iowa over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and even threaten Rudy Giuliani's status as national frontrunner for the Republicans.
The Giuliani campaign has taken the high-risk strategy of largely bypassing Iowa and New Hampshire to focus on Florida, which votes on Jan. 29, and then other big states such as California and New York on Feb. 5.
But with his national poll lead slipping, the former New York mayor was to join the rest of the field in Iowa after Christmas, promising to go full bore after a brief hospital stay last week for "flu-like symptoms."
The Iowa caucuses are coming earlier than ever in this year's compressed electoral calendar, followed by the New Hampshire primaries on Jan. 8 and other states through to "Super Duper Tuesday" in February.
The early contests tend to give states where they are held a disproportionate role in the selection process, and often bring surprises, sometimes knocking a perceived frontrunner off the field.
"Losing both New Hampshire and Iowa can destroy a candidacy. Winning both is almost a sure path to the nomination," Paul Finkelman, a professor at Albany Law School, wrote in an Internet commentary earlier this month.
The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will be formally nominated at their respective party conventions in late August and early September, but the nominee is generally known long before then.
This year's race appears wide-open at this stage, with candidates seen as frontrunners for months -- Clinton and Giuliani -- facing serious challenges in the countdown to the nominations stage.
It also has the potential of sweeping the first American woman to the White House, if Clinton wins, or the first African American, if Obama triumphs.
A poll published on Dec. 20 in USA Today found Clinton and Obama locked in a dead heat on 32 percent in New Hampshire. And in the Republican race for the state, Romney had seen his lead over McCain narrow to single digits.
But USA Today said the main finding of its latest poll in New Hampshire was uncertainty, with more than four of 10 voters in each party saying they may change their minds before the primary election, leaving the race wide open.
"That fluidity could magnify the impact of late-breaking news, last-minute gaffes and the Iowa caucuses that will open the presidential season five days earlier," it said.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and