Rush of Entries Gives ’08 Race Early Intensity

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Two years before the next president is inaugurated and a full year before the first vote is cast, the contest for the White House is off to a breathtakingly fast start, exposing an ever-growing field of candidates to longer, more intensive scrutiny and increasing the amount of money they need to remain viable.

On Sunday, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, held her first campaign event, highlighting her focus on health care a day after declaring her plans to run. Another Democrat, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, entered the fray, the eighth member of his party to do so. And the day was not terribly different in its pace of activity from many others in recent weeks....

While presidential campaigns have been getting gradually longer over the past few decades, the acceleration in the 2008 cycle is particularly pronounced. The first President Bush announced his candidacy for the 1988 Republican nomination in October 1987; the eventual Democratic nominee in that election, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts, had declared six months earlier.

Bill Clinton formally announced his candidacy for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination on Oct. 3, 1991, about three and a half months before the Iowa caucuses. George W. Bush announced his exploratory committee for the 2000 presidential race in March 1999 and began his campaign in June 1999.

By comparison, Mr. Edwards of North Carolina, the 2004 vice-presidential nominee, has traveled to Iowa 16 times since the beginning of last year, building his organization there in hopes of scoring an early triumph that carries him into the next contests.

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