WASHINGTON – With 19 months before voters pick the new president, polls already are tightening and the candidates are trying to raise their name recognition and pick up votes anywhere they can.
St. Patrick's Day gave former New York City mayor and Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani a chance to return to the well-tread streets of the city again. Most national polls show him in the lead against the other GOP hopefuls. On the campaign trail, Giuliani refers to himself as impatient and obsessive but also as someone who is good at getting things done.
Arizona Sen. John McCain took his "Straight Talk Express" back to New Hampshire this weekend, leaving in the cold, winter air the question of whether he can repeat his 2000 primary win in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
McCain, who supports the Iraq war, didn't waver Saturday, saying voters should give the Bush administration's new military strategy in Iraq a chance to prove itself.
"Presidents don't lose wars; political parties don't lose wars — nations lose wars. Nations lose wars, and when nations lose wars, nations suffer the consequences to come. I beg my Democrat friends to sit down with us, see if there's some way we can have an agreement other than this continual fighting that goes on not only on the floor of the houses of Congress but also throughout the media and throughout America," McCain said.
Democrats, not surprisingly, hold a very different stance on the war, and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, campaigned in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, making an issue out of those, including his chief Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, who voted in 2002 to authorize the war in Iraq.
"I'm proud of the fact that I opposed this war from the start, that I stood up in 2002 and said this is a bad idea and that it is going to cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives and we don't have a strategy for getting out. I'm proud of that," Obama told a large crowd of about 10,000 people.
On Sunday, Obama was on his way to a fundraiser in Denver while Sen. Joe Biden continued the St. Patrick's Day festivities at a breakfast in Boston. Clinton was also back in New York, where she was to attend a fundraising dinner with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
On Saturday, the senator took her first campaign trip to Texas and used the stop in the Republican stronghold to take a few shots at the Lone Star state's former governor. She criticized President Bush for the way he has handled education, energy, trade agreements and health care.
FOX News' Julie Kirtz contributed to this report.