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« Population Shifts Toward GOP | Blog Home Page | AFSCME In On Dem Primaries »

Morning Thoughts: The Long Haul

Good Wednesday morning. if you're lucky, this is the last day of your work week. If you're coming into the office on Friday, you're probably an employee of Jon Corzine's, currently the least popular public official in America for making New Jersey government types come in the day after Thanksgiving. Here's what Washington is watching before it heads out for the long holiday:

-- Hillary Clinton has begun seriously going after Barack Obama. And even conservatives, like NRO's Jim Geraghty, are impressed with Clinton's latest shot, in which she questions whether Obama's experience overseas as a ten year old prepares him to lead the country in complex times. "I have traveled the world on behalf of our country -- first in the White House with my husband and now as a Senator," Clinton said. "Now voters will judge whether living in a foreign country at the age of ten prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face."

-- Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is backing her up: "There is no question she was the face of the administration in foreign affairs," he told MSNBC. Rightly or wrongly, the shots mark the most direct from the Clinton camp. Lesson: Watch out, rookie: It's time to play with the pros or go home. Given the increasingly sharp rhetoric Obama's been trying out on the trail, and his attempts to draw better contrasts, the rookie doesn't look like he's headed home any time soon. Once the back and forth spats really get going, how fast does the media quit watching Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani go after each other and focus solely on the Clinton-Obama free-for-all?

-- Obama launches a new advertisement in South Carolina today, according to NBC/NJ. The spot, which follows closely on the heels of John Edwards' first ad in the state, focuses on Obama's background as a community organizer and civil rights attorney, piggy-backing on radio ads the Chicagoan has been running in Palmetto country. Michelle Obama campaigned there yesterday as well.

-- Clinton engaging Obama. Obama and Edwards running television spots in South Carolina. Clinton's lead shrinking in New Hampshire, according to the latest CNN/WMUR poll (see RCP New Hampshire Average here). What's this all mean? Iowa's important, but all three leading candidates are preparing for a longer campaign. Don't let anyone tell you the race will be over after the Hawkeye State.

-- In news about the current administration, ex-White House flack Scott McClellan is blasting President Bush and Vice President Cheney over administration leaks about the name of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. In his new book, McClellan said he was given bad information and that Bush, Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Andy Card all had knowledge of the leak as McClellan unwittingly passed along the falsehoods to the press. White House spokesman Scott Stanzel issued a statement saying the president never misled his spokespeople, and he never would, according to CNN. Watch this one develop in the coming days, as Stanzel clearly omits the other four accused officials in the statement.

-- Speaking of disagreements among old allies, Bob Shrum ensured everyone knew that John Kerry didn't necessarily like or trust his 2004 running mate. But how did Edwards feel? Close aides tell the New York Times that the one-time Veep wannabe was frustrated with Kerry, even urging him not to go windsurfing during the Republican National Convention. Edwards, who embarked on a campaign to join the Kerry ticket, simply failed to deliver the attack lines the Kerry campaign wanted. Is that why Edwards' attacks on front-running Clinton began so early, contrary to 2004? And how much damage could Kerry do to his former junior partner, if he were to decide to take a stab at making a difference in the race?

-- As we mentioned yesterday, the FEC has issued new rules allowing corporations and unions to buy television time during election periods, but only if they do not expressly urge votes for or against specific candidates. Opponents say the move dramatically undercuts the spirit of campaign finance reform legislation. If the rule sticks, though, watch for millions -- perhaps hundreds of millions -- of dollars in last-minute ad spending hitting candidates on any issue conceivable.

-- Correction Of The Day: When writing on population changes and other fun facts included within the brand new Almanac of American Politics, this reporter foolishly referred to "bowling allies." As two astute readers, presumably with bowling averages higher than Politics Nation by a factor of five or more, point out, the phrase should be "bowling alleys." We regret the error, and highly encourage all readers to contact their members of Congress to encourage them to be as bold as Dennis Kucinich in including such vital information on their websites.

-- Happy Thanksgiving. Politics Nation will post occasionally over the next few days, so check in when you're not stuffed with turkey.