Clear Lake, Iowa Fourth of July virtually everywhere is about fireworks, flags, firetrucks and floats. In Iowa Wednesday, people eyeing the White House also were in the mix.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton walked hand in hand with her husband, Bill, in a sunny, postcard-perfect holiday parade in this north-central lakeside town.
Iowa is among the earliest presidential delegate-selection states, and some 10,000 people were expected here. Many White House aspirants already have crossed these highways, visited farms and broken bread in the coffee shops, in the earliest-ever jockeying for the parties' presidential nominations.
Veterans led Wednesday's parade, which included a float featuring a woman dressed as a gold Statue of Liberty. Sen. Clinton followed closely, causing a long wait between floats. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also marched - farther back.
In Waterloo, Iowa, Sen. Clinton took President Bush to task, saying he has run the nation into debt, forcing it to borrow from other countries and from social programs to fund the war in Iraq.
Sen. Barack Obama, who also was campaigning in Iowa, said he likes and respects former President Clinton but thinks the American people want fresh ideas in the current race for the White House.
"What we're more interested in is in looking forward, not looking backward," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think the American people feel the same way. They are looking for a way to break out of the harsh partisanship and the old arguments and solve problems."
Republican presidential candidate John McCain forsook the campaign trail here, going instead to Iraq where he congratulated new citizens in Baghdad and spoke of the hardships endured fighting in an unpopular war. McCain, who has backed the war, has watched his presidential campaign suffer as public support for the conflict has waned.
"You know that you who have endured the dangers and deprivations of war so that the worst thing would not befall us, so that America might be secure in our freedom," McCain said. "As you know, the war in which you have fought has divided the American people. But it has divided no American in their admiration for you. We all honor you."
At the parade here, Romney supporters were dressed mostly in white and carrying banners and signs. They shouted "Let's Go Mitt" as they marched in front of a posh tour bus with the candidates' name splashed across the sides.
Romney, wearing a white polo shirt and khakis, was joined by one of his sons on the parade route. His son Josh is traveling to every county in the state. He stopped and waved and said hello with people lining the miles-long parade route.