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« Even GOP Turnout High In DC | Blog Home Page | McCain's Bad Timing »

Morning Thoughts: Roll On, Potomac

Good Wednesday morning. The candidates have abandoned Washington, Maryland and Virginia, and now we really know what Iowa voters feel like. Despite feeling lonely and abandoned, here's what Washington is watching today:

-- The Senate finished an at times contentious debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act yesterday, and this morning the upper body takes up the conference report on the Intelligence Authorization Act. The House takes up funding for NOAA and a bill on public housing, and the President signs the House version of the economic stimulus bill.

-- Barack Obama last night won sweeping victories in the three Potomac Primary states, making it eight contests in a row his campaign has won. The victories were not small, either: In Virginia, where Hillary Clinton was thought to have at least a chance of competing, Obama won what networks characterized as a "significant" win. Maryland, despite an extra 90 minutes of voting, wasn't close either, and despite a lack of polls and exit polls, the nets could have called Washington before voting even started; he won the District by a 3-1 margin.

-- John McCain had another night filled with more stress that he needed. It took networks half an hour to call Virginia, though Maryland was an easier win over former Governor Mike Huckabee. In the Commonwealth, Huckabee came from thirty or so points down to trail by just ten in late polls; he ended up losing by nine. The McCain campaign released a statement pointing out that it is now mathematically impossible for Huckabee to clinch the nomination, though with somewhere near 800 delegates, about three-quarters of the number required to secure the nomination, McCain isn't there yet either. Still, Huckabee is in Little Rock this morning, and his path down the campaign trail might be coming to an end.

-- A hugely important side note: Maryland Congressmen Al Wynn, a Democrat, and Wayne Gilchrest, a Republican, each lost their seats last night to challengers who positioned themselves farther to the left and right, respectively, than the incumbents. The margins were not small, either: State Senator Andy Harris, who spent more than $1 million on the race, beat Gilchrest by twelve points, while foundation executive Donna Edwards took out Wynn by a whopping 25 points. Both Harris and Edwards argued against the Washington status quo, and in both districts voters chose against incumbents. A number of Congressional incumbents facing re-election in November are taking note this morning.

-- Over the past week, Clinton and Obama have turned their fire on John McCain, who they assume will be the Republican nominee. During his victory party last night in Alexandria, McCain returned the favor, though only to Obama. "To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude," he said. In case we hadn't gotten the message, he eschewed subtlety as he closed: "My friends, I promise you, I am fired up and ready to go." Those lines came minutes after Obama criticized McCain's Straight Talk Express for having "lost its wheels," as Jonathan Martin notices. The general election campaign has already begun, and if McCain's prediction of the Democratic winner is accurate at all, Clinton might just want to pack her bags now.

-- Speaking of packing one's bags, as we passed along last night, Clinton deputy campaign manager Mike Henry tendered his resignation on Monday, Chris Cillizza noted, making way for new campaign manager Maggie Williams to bring in their own team. Henry had been brought on board by Patti Solis Doyle, who left the campaign over the weekend. Meanwhile, The Atlantic's Josh Green, who has long been hot on the Hillaryland trail, offers a look at how Solis Doyle met her end with the campaign.

-- On Capitol Hill, more bags are packed. NRCC communications director Jessica Boulanger has left the committee, Politico's Patrick O'Connor writes. Boulanger, a former top communications guru for Rep. Roy Blunt, stepped down from her position, sources say, because of her perceived proximity to leadership, with whom NRCC chair Tom Cole has clashed repeatedly. Boulanger has a good reputation on Capitol Hill, and added to the committee's recent reporting scandal, a terrible national landscape and fundraising that has struggled, and failed, to keep up with Democrats', it seems like another sign of doom for House Republicans.

-- Pandora's Box Of The Day: Marc Ambinder points out that the Department of Homeland Security has yet to authorize the Secret Service to issue a detail to McCain, something that usually happens once a nominee is apparent. McCain, though, has always been reluctant around security, and prefers to be out on his own. Secret Service won't allow that once he's heir apparent, and Ambinder wants to know, given that Obama's code name is Renegade and Clinton's is Evergreen, what should McCain's Secret Service name be? Commenters take their shots. Our favorites: "Metamucil," the obvious "Maverick" (though some said "Iceman" or "Goose"), and the guy who suggested, for some reason, "Bret."

-- Today On The Trail: Obama gives what his camp is billing as a major economic address in Janesville and has town hall meetings set for Waukesha and Racine, Wisconsin. Clinton kicks off her South Texas campaign in McAllen, then rallies in Robstown and San Antonio. McCain meets the press and addresses House Republicans this afternoon before hitting a fundraiser in D.C., while Huckabee rallies in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Ron Paul, meanwhile, addresses students at Georgetown University in Washington.