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Strategy Memo: Back To The Front

Good Thursday morning. It's only cute because it's Washington, but NRCC spokesman Ken Spain proposed to Emily Kryder, a spokeswoman for California Democrat Lois Capps, atop the Capitol Dome yesterday. Sorry ladies, Emily said yes. Welcome, new bipartisan power couple. Here's what else Washington is watching this morning:

-- The Senate today will vote on an emergency war funding supplemental using the House version as the initial vehicle. The White House has signaled its unwillingness to sign the House version, so expect the final product to look significantly different than the one their colleagues in the lower chamber provided them. President Bush is at Fort Bragg, North Carolina today to participate in a memorial ceremony, while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads to California to show off environmentally-friendly initiatives to new British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

-- If you're ever not getting enough media attention, John McCain has come up with an easy way to solve the problem: Just let word leak that you're having a few potential vice presidential candidates over to your house to chat, for what you insist is a "social" occasion. Word leaked late yesterday to the New York Times and the Associated Press that McCain will host Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Florida Governor Charlie Crist and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, as well as about twenty others, at his ranch in Sedona, Arizona. Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, McCain's body men, will be there as well.

-- All three governors have been mentioned as top candidates for the number two job, and while McCain has kept the selection process closed to all but a very small number of people, the fact that he's so publicly having people over must mean the process is stepping toward a new, faster phase. What perfect timing, as well. With Democratic candidates engaged in some sort of death spiral, McCain can heighten his own profile, which has suffered from lack of media attention, using the media attention to hop back to the front page. But wouldn't it be interesting if this first round was simply a feint: each potential veep heading to Sedona tomorrow has a very good reason not to be on the ticket. Jindal has been in office only since December. Crist, too, has headed his state for only a year and a half. And Romney and McCain were never close. Don't be surprised, in short, if none of these three wind up on McCain's ticket.

-- On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is just trying to keep her campaign alive. The New York Senator headed to Boca Raton, Florida yesterday to argue that not seating delegates elected by voters in the Sunshine State's January 29 primary is akin to the civil rights movement, the suffragist movement and even the fight for voting rights in Zimbabwe, as CBS's Fernando Suarez writes. The campaign is planning stops in Michigan, as well as an online petition and will heap on as much symbolism as possible in the run-up to the May 31 Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting here in Washington. It's no accident, Politico's Ken Vogel writes, that yesterday's stops were in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties. Fortuitous, as well: HBO's new movie "Recount" is coming out soon.

-- The new, sharper tone focused on Florida and Michigan delegates is the only hope Clinton has of continuing her campaign past June 3, and even then it is unlikely to work. RBC members meeting in Washington will hear two proposals that would seat delegates from both states while punishing them in different ways. In neither case will the fundamental math of the race change, and it's unlikely that Clinton will net more than a handful of delegates. But to advance her argument to super delegates that she actually won the popular vote, and that she's the only candidate capable of beating McCain in November, it's the case she needs to make stick.

-- Wait, did we really just write "campaign past June 3"? You bet. Clinton told AP reporter Brendan Farrington that she will support Florida and Michigan if they continue to press their case to the convention in late August, if that's what they decide to do. The situation with the rogue states might not take place until after Montana and South Dakota cast their ballots in two weeks, leaving party elders to consider the what if scenario of a divided convention fighting over delegate seating on national television.

-- In Barack Obama's campaign, despite being an inch from locking up the nomination, it has to feel like some days he just can't win. While McCain and Clinton don't wear flag pins, it's Obama who is picked on for being somehow unpatriotic. While McCain is associated with a pastor who has made inflammatory comments, it is Obama's association that, many believe, could sink his campaign. Enter the grandfather. A World War II veteran, Obama's grandfather will serve as the jumping-off point for an effort to rebrand the grandson as the ultimate American success story when Obama visits his grave in a Hawaii military cemetary, as Time's Jay Newton-Small reports.

-- Marginalization Of The Day: For only the second time in his presidency, President Bush saw his veto overridden by the House last night, which voted by a wide 316-108 margin to make the $300 billion farm bill law, the Los Angeles Times writes today. The Senate is expected to follow suit, and it's not likely to be the last time Democrats and a growing number of Republicans express their dissatisfaction with a presidential veto. But, thanks to a clerical error, the House may have to try again: One non-controversial 34-page section of the bill was left out of the text sent back to the White House. Still, the big defeat for the White House signals another effort some national Republicans are making to back away from the Bush Administration.

-- Today On The Trail: Clinton is back in Washington today, where General David Petraeus is beginning confirmation hearings for a position atop U.S. Central Command and Lieutenant General Ray Odierno will be grilled in preparation to take over for Petraeus in Iraq. Clinton, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, will be among the senators able to question both men. Obama is in the second day of his Florida swing, with a town hall meeting set for West Palm Beach. And McCain holds events in Union City and Stockton, California, after his interview with Ellen DeGeneres, taped yesterday, airs this morning.