Here comes the Campaign 2000 run for the White House, and don't blink or you might miss it because this one is going to be fast- furious and fast, reports CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Bob Schieffer.
Never have so many primaries been bunched so close to the beginning of a campaign year, and if the candidates already seem out of breath, the calendar tells you why.
The Iowa Caucuses come in just three weeks (Jan.24). Just a week later (Feb. 1), it's the New Hampshire primary. Then in rapid-fire order come South Carolina, (Feb. 19) Arizona and Michigan (Both Feb. 22).
And that's just the warm up for the big ones. March 7 brings mega-Tuesday, when 16 states from California to Ohio, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York hold their primaries. And a week later (March 14), six southern states including Florida and Texas hold theirs, followed by Illinois the next week.
Which means both parties will have chosen 70 per cent of their delegates by the third week in March.
Which is why a fast start is more important than ever and why the campaign has already turned nasty. Said Democrat Bill Bradley in an obvious reference to Vice President Al Gore: "Only those who have never left Washington have missed the lessons of the last decade."
The vice president then accused the cerebral Bradley of missing the boat on most everything: "The presidency is not an academic exercise. It's not a seminar where you get to entertain a single grand theory."
Republican George W. Bush is spending the next month in Iowa and New Hampshire and picks up the endorsement of dropout candidate Elizabeth Dole later this week. His rival, John McCain, who has the early lead in New Hampshire, is concentrating his effort there.
So they're off and running for what promises to be a real quicky and it raises a question: If the nomination is decided by mid-March what will they do until the nominating conventions, which don't come until late summer?
Trust me, they'll think of something.
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