The top presidential candidates and their supporters campaigned from coast to coast Sunday, but one contender seemed atop everyone's mind: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney contrasted themselves, and each other, with Clinton as though she were the nominee. Her Democratic rival, Barack Obama, played along to a degree, saying Clinton is so polarizing that he is their party's better bet.
Rather than diverting the less-than-flattering attention, Clinton embraced it.
"I've been taking the incoming fire from Republicans for about 16 years now, and I'm still here, because I have been vetted, I have been tested," she said in a TV interview before campaigning in Missouri and Minnesota.
"There's unlikely to be any new surprises," Clinton added, implying the same cannot be said of Obama, who has been in the Senate three years.
With more than 20 states holding presidential contests Tuesday, Sunday was an intense day of campaigning and advertising, making it all the more remarkable that the New York senator managed to dominate so much of the talk and speculation.
"If we want a party that is indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton on an issue like illegal immigration," Romney said, "we're going to have John McCain as a nominee. That's the wrong way to go."
McCain, campaigning in Fairfield, Conn., said he has never sought special projects for his state, and added: "In her short time in the United States Senate, the senator from New York, Senator Clinton, got $500-million worth of pork barrel projects. My friends, that kind of thing is going to stop."
SUPPORT FOR OBAMA: The Illinois senator picked up the endorsements of Garrison Keillor, host of public radio's A Prairie Home Companion, and Maria Shriver, wife of Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Shriver is a prominent member of the Kennedy family, and her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, has endorsed Obama. Schwarzenegger is campaigning for McCain in California.
HUCKABEE TO GO ON: Republican Mike Huckabee hasn't won a contest in a month, but he said Sunday that he is sticking around for the long haul - well past Tuesday's coast-to-coast primaries and caucuses if need be. "I'll stay in until someone has 1,191 delegates," the former Arkansas governor said. He was referring to the number of convention delegates needed to win the party nod. "A year ago, nobody said I'd still be here. Look who's still on his feet."