Candidates' strategies shift as states scramble to have the first vote and the last word in presidential nominations.
WASHINGTON — Campaigning for the 2008 presidential election started earlier than any year on record. And now it looks like voting could actually have already begun, as states continue to maneuver to be the earliest to hold nominating contests.
An election calender that had finally appeared settled was jolted Thursday when South Carolina Republican Chairman Katon Dawson announced that he would move up the Republican primary from early September to tomorrow afternoon.
Dawson's announcement triggered a provision in New Hampshire state law dictating that its primary must come at least seven days before any other. This means New Hampshire will now have to move its primary to no later than last Wednesday.
Mark McKinnon, an advisor to GOP presidential contender Sen. John McCain of Arizona, expressed concern about forcing voters to trudge to the polls in the past. "It may be recent," McKinnon said, "but the past is still the past."
"You don't even have a very good sense of what the issues were when you pick the nominee last week," he continued. "The news cycle spins so fast the average American can hardly remember what was important yesterday, much less last Wednesday."
Kevin Drum, of the liberal blog Political Animal, believes this decision may spell the end of the line for Barack Obama. "Last Wednesday was when Obama delivered that disastrous foreign policy speech about invading Pakistan," he said. "People may not remember it now, but everyone was talking about it last week."
The Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Ray Buckley, agreed with Drum's assessment during a press conference announcing the winner of last Wednesday's Democratic primary, Dennis Kucinich. "My chief of staff told me to go to this high school to give a speech," Kucinich said, "but when I got there, the auditorium was empty."
Ten minutes into his speech, Kucinich spotted an old voting booth in the corner. "So I did what I always do," he said. "I scribbled my name on the ballot and slipped it in the slot. As luck would have it, mine was the only write-in vote."
Republican officials in New Hampshire have called a press conference for earlier this afternoon. Although there has been no official announcement on who won the Republican contest, both Sam Brownback and Ron Paul canceled scheduled events and are rumored to be arriving in Concord yesterday.