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While we were on holiday break, the outgoing chairman of the FEC told the Washington Times that "2008 will produce the first $1 billion presidential race and that the $500 million that each party's candidate will need to compete will severely limit the field of contenders." 

The Washington Times says three of the Senate Democrats eyeing the presidency -- Biden, Dodd, and Kerry -- will have soapboxes at their disposal in the form of committee chairmanships, and that their more junior colleagues Clinton and Obama also sit on key committees. 

The paper also says of incoming Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain that his "staff and outside advisers have been working in recent weeks to piece together a minority committee staff that can operate while he is on the campaign trial...  Former staffers say Mr. McCain's search team has used the word 'adult' to describe the kind of staff director they were seeking." 

Today marks the last day of the session for the Massachusetts legislature, meaning it's the last day that the legislature could vote on a same-sex marriage ban.  Absent their approval today, the measure, which would place a ban on the state's 2008 ballot, will die.  Outgoing Gov. Mitt Romney (R) asked state courts to order the legislature to vote, and also threatened to withhold a scheduled pay raise for lawmakers if they don't (a symbolic gesture given that incoming Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is certain to OK it).  The state Supreme Court recently said that lawmakers have a duty to vote on the measure. 

"Romney, who leaves office Thursday, was making calls yesterday to key lawmakers.  A vote to keep the petition alive would also give him a major political victory; he has used his opposition to same-sex marriage in his efforts to reach conservative voters as he readies for a run for the White House," reports the Boston Globe

Per the AP, Romney was set to file paperwork to form a presidential exploratory committee today, but decided to postpone it until tomorrow because of Ford's funeral. 

The Boston Herald notes that the "move to form the committee - which allows Romney to officially begin fund raising - comes as Romney continues to up his national profile with a dizzying string of stops in key battleground states.  He has also been distancing himself from the more liberal leanings of Giuliani and McCain by reaching out to right-wing media outlets in recent weeks." 

Rudy Giuliani's campaign appears to have lost a copy of its 140-page battle plan, which was obtained by the New York Daily News.  The plan maps "out the budgets, schedules and fund-raising plans that will underpin the former New York mayor's presidential campaign - as well as his aides' worries that personal and political baggage could scuttle his run."  It details "a massive fund-raising push to bring in at least $100 million this year, with a scramble for at least $25 million in the next three months alone...  The loss of the battle plan is a remarkable breach in the high-stakes game of presidential politics and a potentially disastrous blunder for Giuliani in the early stages of his campaign." 

In order to attract national attention to the Iowa caucuses, the Des Moines Register reports that tourism officials there are hoping to put together an entertainment program with "'A-list' rock stars, comedians and other Hollywood types for what they hope will be a nationally televised show to kick off the 2008 Iowa caucuses...  The bureau's film commission wants to put together the show for December 2007 or January 2008.  The aim is to spark nationwide appreciation and understanding of the presidential-nomination process."