- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 29, 2007

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Voters here are frustrated that they aren’t seeing much of the presidential candidates, despite an early Democratic primary aimed at making the state more politically prominent.

“Voters want to see candidates come out and press the flesh, visit them where they live, work and where they eat,” said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the state Democrats. “They really want as much attention as the folks in Iowa and New Hampshire are getting, and we’ll see if that happens.”

Mr. Salazar said the state’s Feb. 5 contest is wide open.

“Anything can happen in California,” he said. “We would like to be positioned as the state that takes our Democratic nominee over the top.”

So far, there has only been a slight uptick in campaign visits.

The Fresno City Council passed a resolution last week to invite candidates from both parties to participate in town-hall-style meetings. Council member Brian Calhoun said the hopefuls should not just be flying over central California to raise money in Hollywood or Silicon Valley.

Several candidates from each party have spoken to employees at Google’s Mountain View campus in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, garnered little press attention after an appearance in Silicon Valley earlier this month, and most of the voters who listened to his speech did not stay to greet him upon its conclusion.

Six Democratic candidates will be in Los Angeles on Aug. 9 for a Human Rights Campaign debate on homosexual rights.

Voters here trend liberal and are frustrated with Congress, saying Democratic leaders should already have forced a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. They also are fed up with talk of “political reality” preventing an end to the war.

In Southern California, the West Hollywood City Council voted earlier this month in favor of impeaching President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. And activists opened an official “impeachment center” in Los Angeles.

In the Bay Area, there is measurable support for long-shot candidate Democratic Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, an impeachment backer whose platform includes creating a Department of Peace.

When asked, most voters say the Democratic contest is largely a battle between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign rallied volunteers in Los Angeles and San Francisco yesterday, while a “Camp Obama” to train for voter-education projects was held in Burbank this weekend.

Supporters across the state hold voter-registration drives and organize “road trips” to neighboring Nevada to campaign for Mr. Obama in advance of that state’s early caucus.

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