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Strategy Memo: Follow The Lawsuit

Good Thursday morning. Politics Nation is tanned, rested and ready for the sprint to the national conventions in Denver and St. Paul. But before we get to late August, here's what Washington is watching today:

-- The Senate will hold a brief pro forma session in order to prevent recess appointments from being made, while the House remains on Memorial Day recess. President Bush is in Salt Lake City on the heels of a fundraiser there for the RNC, one held with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Today he meets with the new president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, then flies to Kansas City for a fundraiser with Nick Jordan, a state senator taking on Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore. Vice President Cheney will address the New York State GOP's committee meeting tonight in the Big Apple.

-- All eyes on the Democratic side are turned toward a Washington hotel ballroom, where on Saturday the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet to take into consideration several scenarios by which delegates from Florida and Michigan might be seated. Lawyers working for the DNC, in a memo to committee members, float a plan by which 50% of the two delegations are seated, the New York Times writes this morning. That's a solution, but not the Clinton campaign's best option. One of Clinton's last real hopes at the nomination had been a big boost from the two states, and now that appears unlikely.

-- A lawsuit isn't going to work either, it appears. A federal judge based in Tampa ruled yesterday that the Democratic National Committee's primary practices were not discriminatory and that parties have every right to choose how their nominees are decided, the Washington Post notes. That ruling is consistent with previous Supreme Court decisions on both parties' First Amendment right of association. The suit, filed by Democratic political consultant Victor DiMaio, is the second of three suits brought against the DNC by a Floridian. The first suit was similarly dismissed. The clear message to Clintonites and anyone else feeling litigious: Success is a very long shot, at best.

-- Clinton's not completely finished, though. Without Florida and Michigan completely counting, her appeal to party super delegates has to be spot-on, and she's now dropped all pretenses that her goal is anything but victory in Denver. Clinton's campaign issued a letter to the nearly 200 remaining uncommitted super delegates arguing that, based on recent wins, she is the strongest candidate to take on John McCain in November, as the Boston Herald writes. Clinton's letter (viewable here) needs to be very persuasive; not only are there fewer super delegates left than delegates Clinton needs to get to the half-way mark, but she's going to need some to switch from Barack Obama back to her camp. Obama has 1,979 delegates, just 47 away from securing the nomination; Clinton is at 1,781, 245 away from grabbing the nod.

-- With Obama so close to the nomination and the final three contests set to be decided on Sunday and Tuesday, it's no wonder the Illinois Senator is growing more confident by the day. "Once we've got the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination, then I am the nominee. If we're short of that, then we'll have more work to do. But I think once we achieve that, we'll be the nominee," Obama told reporters on his plane last night, per the Wall Street Journal's Amy Chozick. Asked if the race will be over by June 3, when voters in Montana and South Dakota cast ballots, Obama gave a one-word response: "Yes." His June 4 plans? A fundraiser to benefit the beleaguered Democratic National Committee, the New York Observer reports. It won't be a victory party in Clinton's back yard, but a "reality check," one organizer notes.

-- So with Obama so close he can taste it, why would Clinton stick around? Two opposing views: One, she's right. Her general election argument, as Chris Cillizza writes, is spot on, as she runs better than Obama in the latest RCP Averages out of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. Oh, and even by losing, fighting it out, The Fix notes above, gives her the chance to make a comeback in four years. On the other hand, as the Washington Times' Donald Lambro writes, Clinton's hanging around might actually bolster her stature in Democratic circles. But wouldn't an Obama loss be blamed, rightly or wrongly, at least in part on the Clintons' refusal to quit? If so, that's a big damper on any 2012 plans.

-- Not to be completely left out, John McCain has proven effective in recent weeks at forcing Obama's campaign to respond. Now he's done it again, pointing out that Obama has not been back to Iraq in two years, and hasn't even chatted with David Petraeus about the situation on the ground. Earlier this week, talk was of a joint trip, though the Obama campaign dismissed that as a political stunt. But yesterday, Obama said he is considering a trip to Iraq, during an interview with the New York Times while visiting a school in Thorton, Colorado. Iraq would be "at the top of the list" for a stop on a foreign trip Obama would take, much like McCain took earlier this year, the candidate said. How hard with the Obama team have to work to make sure the visit doesn't look like a sham?

-- Fallout Of The Day: Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's book is reverberating around Washington, and some wonder, is it the first in a wave of disloyal ex-aides, or a one-of-a-kind event? So far, the only other negative book from within the administration came from Richard Clarke, who started at the White House under Clinton, and old Bush aides like Dan Bartlett, Karl Rove and others are rallying around the president. Any impact in November? The only fallout the book will have on the 2008 race is to give the Obama campaign another chance to attempt to tie McCain to the president, which they did in a statement yesterday.

-- Today On The Trail: McCain has a town hall meeting set for Greendale, Wisconsin. Clinton has rallies set for Huron and Watertown, South Dakota. Obama landed in Chicago last night and has no public events set for today.