The hopefuls in the democratic race for president Monday made the most of the little time they have left before the Iowa caucuses kick off the campaign season next Monday.
Sen. John Kerry strode down the steps of the Iowa capitol building Monday morning alongside a woman who was about to hand him a political gift.
"I made up my mind to stand up for John Kerry in the Iowa caucus and I'm very proud of it," said Christie Vilsack, First Lady of Iowa.
The endorsement was interpreted by many as an implicit nod from her husband, Gov. Tom Vilsack, who is said to favor Kerry but who is unlikely to endorse anyone before the caucuses.
With just a week to go before one of the nation's most closely watched political contests, the democratic candidates embarked on a frenzied round of campaigning, crisscrossing Iowa in a blur of pancake breakfasts and town meetings.
"In our America, we'll have one school system where teachers can actually teach and students can actually learn," said John Edwards.
Cong. Dick Gephardt, who is currently battling Gov. Howard Dean for the lead in Iowa, has implied that the caucuses are make or break for him, but he left Iowa to raise money in New York and California. He'll return on Wednesday.
Retired General Wesley Clark and Sen. Joe Lieberman are skipping the caucuses so they can focus on the New Hampshire primary one week later.
Clark picked up an endorsement Monday in New Hampshire from leaders of a local Indian tribe.
"Native Americans are the first Americans," said Clark. "They are the foundation of America's diversity and America's greatness."
But before Iowa and before New Hampshire, the first primary is actually taking place in the nation's capital Tuesday. Only four of the nine democratic candidates are on the ballot and only one candidate was campaigning there Monday, the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The District of Columbia rearranged its primary to draw attention to its lack of voting rights in Congress.