DETROIT -- On a steely cold Saturday morning, Debbie Dingell walks into a local UAW hall choked with people looking for answers. Tuesday's Michigan presidential primary -- one not recognized by the Democratic National Committee -- is only days away, and Democrats from the 13th Congressional District have assembled to ask what will happen when they walk into a polling booth where neither Barack Obama nor John Edwards is on the ballot.
NEW YORK Inside the Park Avenue office of 38-year-old lawyer and Democratic heavyweight Bal Das, there are none of the usual artifacts of vanity. No grip-and-grin photos of him smiling brightly with Bill or Hillary Clinton, with Harold Ford Jr. or Dick Durbinor Ted Kennedy. Nor are there any hints of a family life -- no drawings by his son, no portraits of him and his wife holding each other closely at sunset at the home they still keep in Paris.
Sarah Huckabee has known her father, Mike, as many things. When she was little, he was the man whose wallet she could dig into with any sentence that began "Daddy, I need . . . ." Later, he was the man whose ascent to the Arkansas governor's office ripped her away from her friends and familiar surroundings the summer before she entered high school. Now, as his national field director, she's known him as a Republican Party candidate for president and charismatic speaker. But, she says, she's never known him as "hip."
DES MOINES -- "The negatives feel good," says Ed Rollins, the onetime wunderkind of the Reagan White House and now, at 64, the national campaign chairman for upstart Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. "It's like being a boxer when you're young. To me, hitting somebody, knocking somebody down, is a great feeling. Firing out a negative ad just feels amazing."
On a snowy evening in December 1998, Sara M. Taylor, the daughter of a former pipe fitter at a John Deere plant in Iowa, came to a meeting at the Capital Hilton. Washington had grown dark and quiet, and the hotel restaurant was empty, save two people: Omaha financial guru Warren Buffett, and the man she was there to meet -- Karl Rove. Rove had just helped reelect George W. Bush as governor of Texas, and now Rove and Bush had begun the slow process of building a presidential run.
At 9 a.m. on the very edge of the dusty, desolate collection of adobe homes and Vietnamese restaurants that seem to form this city, David Iglesias begins his run through the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. This is not easy terrain. The footing is terribly uneven. The altitude can be unbearable. At certain times one can hear the grumbling of mountain lions and the feasting of coyotes.