Bloomberg writes up GOP Gov. Mitt Romney's emergence as the alternative to McCain, noting how Romney has been courting conservatives, has avoided rookie mistakes, conveniently left the country before the Iraq Study Group report came out, and "aims to reconstitute [Bush's] coalition." He wants to attract "evangelical Christians with his support for a gay-marriage ban, and will try to lure economic conservatives with plans to overhaul health care and the tax system." He also seems to be trying to set up sharp contrasts with McCain on immigration reform -- he "stresses tough border enforcement over a new guest-worker plan" -- and possibly on taxes.
But a Boston-based gay newspaper has revived comments Romney "made during his 1994 Senate bid, in which he said the gay and lesbian community 'needs more support from the Republican Party,'" per the Boston Globe. In a 1994 interview with that paper, "Romney said it should be up to states to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage and he criticized Republican 'extremists' who imposed their positions on the party." (He also he personally opposed gay marriage.) Twelve years later, in a recent interview with the DC Examiner, Romney "accused McCain of being 'disingenuous' on same-sex marriage, because McCain says he's against [a constitutional ban of gay marriage] but believes states should decide the issue."
Last week, McCain "crashed" Romney's RGA conference. This week, McCain is "hitting" Romney "right on his home turf: not Massachusetts, but Utah," reports the Boston Herald. McCain is "snapping up endorsements from the governor and attorney general of Utah, the Romney family's home state," and home to the Mormon church.
The Washington Post says the perceived Clinton-Obama rivalry "is already the talk of the [Senate] chamber, an amusing sideshow for Democrats and Republicans -- at least the handful who aren't weighing their own White House bids... Senators say Obama's explosive rise has startled Clinton and her advisers, who are mulling how to react."
A new WNBC/Marist College poll found that while Clinton is the most popular presidential option among Democrats, a whopping 47% of all voters said they would "definitely not" vote for her in 2008. The same poll found Rudy Giuliani ahead in the GOP field. In a head-to-head match up, Giuliani bests Clinton, 49%-43%.
Sen. John Kerry (D) takes another beating in a new poll which asks voters how they react when they hear that Kerry is thinking of running for president again. The top reaction was that Kerry "already lost/had his chance," followed by those who said they "don't like him." Only about 4% said he was a good candidate, and the same percentage of people said he was "traitor" or "disloyal to military."
Sen. Chris Dodd (D) will kick off "Conversations with Kirkland," a series of talks between students and potential 2008 presidential candidates at Harvard, later this afternoon. Dodd will make brief opening remarks, but the majority of the event will be Q&A.
In his weekly National Journal column, NBC News political analyst Charlie Cook observes that the presidential field hasn't changed much from a year ago. "The question marks in the Republican race are former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich... For Democrats, the only significant remaining question is whether Obama runs."