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Morning Thoughts: Big Monday

Good Monday morning. Anyone think the Trojans still deserve the number one spot? Not AP, at least. On the agenda today:

-- Senators are back at work on the Defense Authorization bill today.

-- The House meets today for decidedly lighter lifting, including four postal facility naming bills and resolutions recognizing the Wings Over Houston Airshow and the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Minnesota National Guard.

-- But today is really all about October 1st, the beginning of the fourth fundraising quarter, and more importantly, the end of the previous one. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was first out of the gate, announcing $5.2 million raised, while Sen. Barack Obama's campaign said last night it had received 500,000 donations from 350,000 people. The biggest news: Former Senator Fred Thompson will report raising more than $8 million, according to ABC News. Is that enough to sate the pundits?

-- Other fundraising hints and murmurs: John Edwards will report about $7 million, according to a senior adviser. Senator John McCain, meanwhile, says fundraising is improving, though he offers no details. Mitt Romney said himself he raised about $10 million and gave another $6 to $7 million of his own money. Karen Tumulty, of Time Magazine, says Romney opponents fear he will simply write himself a massive check shortly after the end to the 4th quarter, a check which opponents wouldn't know about until late February, when the contest will be all but decided. More fundraising news coming as the day rolls on.

-- The first Monday in October is significant for another reason: Today marks the opening of this year's session of the Supreme Court. The court will kick off with a hearing on a controversial "top-two" primary system in Washington State, which, both Democrats and Republicans argue, violates their First Amendment right of association by letting voters who aren't members of their party choose nominees. Other big cases include the rights of Guantanamo detainees to have a day in court, the question of lethal injection as a cruel and unusual punishment and whether a state can require photo identification at a polling place. Chicago Tribune runs down the list of five big cases to watch.

-- The primary calendar is no clearer this morning, but at least candidates know when to file to be on the New Hampshire ballot. National Journal's Mike Memoli reports Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the enigma wrapped within a conundrum who controls the primary date, has set filing for October 15 through November 2. That window is two weeks earlier than it was four years ago, though Gardner says that doesn't say anything about when he will call the primary.

-- Big trouble for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: Several top Christian conservatives backed a resolution this weekend to explore the option of a third-party candidate if a pro-choice candidate (read: Giuliani) wins the GOP nomination. Those voting included Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and Virginia Republican National Committeeman Morton Blackwell, as well as conservative icon Richard Viguerie. These stalwarts of the Christian conservative movement can make considerable amounts of trouble for Giuliani if he wins the nomination, but of course they hope to head that possibility off if they can. It is also telling that the meeting leaked to so many reporters, including Jonathan Martin, the New York Times, ABC News and others.

-- Funny enough, October rolls around and Larry Craig is still a member of the United States Senate. Now even the Winston-Salem Journal is getting in on the act, criticizing the Senator for trying to get his guilty plea overturned. Craig has said he will stay in the Senate until the matter is decided by a Minnesota judge.

-- Departure Of The Day: Bob Novak spent the weekend reporting that RNC Chairman Mel Martinez, who took over in mid-January, has told friends he will leave the post once a GOP nominee is apparent. During his brief stay, the Senator and former Bush cabinet official took heat for his immigration stance and has been criticized for a lack of visibility, though some blame that on the glut of presidential contenders.

-- Today On The Trail: Sen. Joe Biden is in Rock Hill and Columbia, South Carolina, while Hillary Clinton holds a big party in Oakland, then talks about her urban agenda. On the GOP side, Mitt Romney is in St. Louis, Fred Thompson makes four stops in Iowa, hitting Newton, Marshalltown, Iowa Falls and Cedar Falls, and Rudy Giuliani holds campaign events in New Jersey, then stops at Geno's Steaks in Philadelphia. The guys at Pat's are going to be irritated.