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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

(Soundbite of parade)

BLOCK: On this Labor Day, a lot of the presidential candidates are marching, munching on fried chicken, waving flags, admiring babies. John Edwards started his Labor Day among union members in Pittsburgh, where he won the endorsements of the United Steel Workers and the United Mine Workers of America.

Mr. JOHN EDWARDS (Democrat, 2008 Presidential Candidate): I mean, these unions have a significant presence in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada. Now, they're going to play a huge role over who the next nominee is because in these states, organizing matters. And these unions understand very well what organizing, how to organize.

BLOCK: From Pittsburgh, Edwards flew on to Iowa. Hillary Clinton and John McCain were in that state as well. This morning, McCain was at the unveiling of a monument honoring veterans in the town of Neola.

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona): Care for Americans who fought to defend us should rank among the highest of national priorities. Care for you, my friends.

BLOCK: We're going to hear from our reporter in Iowa in a moment. But first, to New Hampshire. The Labor Day parade in Milford is a long-standing tradition.

(Soundbite of people chanting)

BLOCK: And every four years or so, presidential candidates join the floats, the marching bands and bagpipers. This year, there were shriners squeezed on tiny motorcycles, a bridge on wheels, and the Milford Mustang's youth football team.

(Soundbite of people cheering)

NPR's David Greene is along the parade route. And he joins us from the Milford Oval. David, you're right there in the center of town.

DAVID GREENE: Yeah. We're right in the center of town. It's really quite a scene here today. This parade draws quite an audience, a lot of people from town and some people from out of state.

BLOCK: And they tend to get their share of presidential candidates on that Labor Day parade. So who came this time?

GREENE: They sure do. Yeah - well, the Democrats are Chris Dodd and Barack Obama. And the only Republican here - and he made sure to mention that fact -was Mitt Romney. And, you know, it's a quintessential New England town with this, you know, just Americana, fantastic, little squares they call the Oval, with little restaurants, antique shops and American flags. As the veterans were presenting the colors, people put their, you know, their hands across their hearts, took their hats off. But at the same time, you'd expect that with all these politicians and all these media here, they'd be annoyed and felt like they were under siege. But they love it. This is New Hampshire. They love the politics, too. So it's - to them, it's the perfect combination.

BLOCK: And are the candidates marching? Are they riding? What are they doing?

GREENE: Well, they're doing an assortment of things. Mitt Romney went by. He was running up and down, shaking hands and taking a few pauses to wipe the sweat off his face. But he was on the ground. And Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, had decided to stay in their vehicles and do a ton of waving.

BLOCK: And how are they being received?

GREENE: Pretty well. It's funny, it's really - it almost feels like a nonpartisan event in some ways because people are cheering for everyone. You know, I spotted some little kids with buttons and stickers on from an array of candidates. And, you know, you stand in the parade and you see Mitt Romney go by; you see an anti-war sort of movement float go by, talking about how much the Iraq war is costing and how many teachers could be hired if the Iraq war stopped, and then Chris Dodd goes by. So it's a real array of people and views. And so far, no booing, nothing - none of that. Mostly just cheering for everybody and really in good spirits.

BLOCK: Well, how does the New Hampshire primaries seem to be shaping up so far?

GREENE: Well, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is still leading. And she was here the day before Labor Day, not today, but talking about how she brings the combination of both change and experience. And of course, Barack Obama has been talking a lot about change. And he responded to that when he was in New Hampshire today, talking about that the system in Washington just isn't working and he would bring change.

On the Republican side, there's a lot of waiting to see what happens when Fred Thompson gets into the race this week. You know, Mitt Romney has been leading here. He was asked by reporters today, you know, what about Fred Thompson? Is he coming in too late? And Romney stopped short of saying he's coming in too late. But he said, look, you know, there are a number of us who have been traveling the country, who've been working hard - people realize that. And that, of course, is going to be the question, whether Fred Thompson is coming in at a point where people will say, you know, these other guys have been working really hard. And we're just - there's not enough time to give you a look.

BLOCK: Of course, one other question, David, is when the New Hampshire primary will be and whether it might actually be in 2007 instead of 2008.

GREENE: Yeah. It feels like it could be tomorrow. I mean, people are joking about that they're really ramping up. And this is the kick-off usually to weeks and weeks of campaigning leading up to the primary. But the joke is whether people are going to be, you know, having their Christmas trees and Christmas turkeys and going to the polls.

BLOCK: Okay, David. Thanks very much.

GREENE: Thank you, Melissa.

BLOCK: That's NPR's David Greene at the Labor Day parade in Milford, New Hampshire.

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