Three more candidates - New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and former Gov. Bill Richardson - formally launched their presidential campaigns last weekend, adding their names to an expanding list of candidates vying for the presidency in 2008. Two journalists discuss the rationale behind early announcements.
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JUDY WOODRUFF, NewsHour Special Correspondent:
The Iowa caucuses still are a year away, but a crowded field of presidential hopefuls has kicked off the campaign season earlier than ever before.
Just over the weekend, three more candidates have entered the fray, bringing the count of potential contenders to over 20. New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton grabbed the headlines on Saturday by announcing online that she was forming an exploratory campaign committee, the first step toward making an official run.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: I'm not just starting a campaign, though; I'm beginning a conversation with you, with America, because we all need to be part of the discussion if we're all going to be part of the solution.
Clinton's Internet statement mirrored the approach taken last week by Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: As I've spoken to many of you in my travels across the states these past months, as I've read your e-mails and read your letters, I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics.
By setting up exploratory committees, Obama, Clinton and other candidates are allowed to raise and spend money, often online, before officially announcing their candidacy.
And yesterday, another Democrat threw his hat in the ring: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He also did so via the Internet and said he planned a serious run.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), New Mexico: I'm taking this step because we have to repair the damage that's been done to our country over the last six years.
Former Democratic senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards also used a less traditional approach for his campaign announcement, but did so in person, appearing last month in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, which was devastated during Hurricane Katrina.
JOHN EDWARDS, Candidate for President: This campaign will be a grassroots, ground-up campaign, where we ask people to take action.
Along with Edwards, four other Democrats have moved past the exploratory phase to say they are definitely in the running: Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd; former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack; Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, making his second bid; and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel.
Another Democrat expected to enter the race is Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, while 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, 2004 candidate General Wesley Clark, and former Vice President Al Gore, the 2000 nominee, are all possibilities.
As for the Republican field, several candidates have formed exploratory committees: Arizona Republican John McCain, who failed to get his party's nomination in 2000; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts; and California Congressman Duncan Hunter.
Those who already have formally announced their candidacies include: former Virginia Governor James Gilmore; Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor and former secretary of health and human services in the Bush administration; and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, who announced his candidacy on Saturday in Topeka.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), Kansas: America is great because she's good. That goodness is not based in Washington or New York or even Topeka; it is based in the hearts of the American people.
Other potential Republican candidates still on the sidelines include: Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.