The AP covers yesterday's MLK Day politicking -- with Joe Biden in South Carolina saying he would vote to keep the Confederate flag off of the statehouse's grounds, and Barack Obama in Chicago at a breakfast with Jesse Jackson, where "he didn't deliver what much of the crowd clearly wanted: a declaration that he will run for president."
At another MLK event in Harvey, IL, Obama received a chorus of "Amens" for his criticisms of the Bush' Administration's policies on Iraq and its post-Katrina reconstruction effort. Alluding to the funds being poured into the surge effort, Obama declared "there's no reason why they couldn't help rebuild Harvey just like they say they want to rebuild Baghdad." His voice becoming hoarse at times, he questioned why people displaced by Katrina are still struggling despite the "hooplah" about preventing poverty and racism that the president promoted after the hurricane.
The Chicago Tribune notes that Obama, speaking with reporters after his MLK address yesterday, "add[ed] a 'very' to the 'soon' in his assessment about when a presidential announcement will come." More: "Obama said that he is weighing issues such as his personal safety and loss of privacy but hinted that those matters would not affect his decision."
Roll Call writes about how Emily's List, the Democratic fundraising organization that helps pro-choice female candidates get elected to office, "is poised to endorse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as soon as the former first lady announces her 2008 presidential bid" -- the first time the group will have gotten involved in a presidential race. Yet: "While the group's level of participation in the Clinton campaign is an open question, some Democratic strategists already worry that the PAC's focus may shift to Clinton at the expense of Congressional candidates."
The Washington Post's EJ Dionne writes that if Mike Huckabee run for president -- and that's a big if -- he will have several strengths: He's conservative but also pragmatic; he's from the South; he's a governor; and he's not wedded to Bush's Iraq policies. Huckabee tells Dionne: "'The president's plan is one that sort of lays it all out there for him. If it works, then thank God, we may have a stable Iraq and we'll finally be able to start a complete turnover to them. If it doesn't, you know he's really put a lot of things at risk, including the lives of young Americans.'"
Sen. John McCain's exploratory committee says it will make a "major announcement" today pertaining to a new addition to its South Carolina team. Supporters Sen. Lindsey Graham and South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster will join McCain for a trio of press conferences to make the announcement, the first presser coming as of this writing. WashingtonPost.com is reporting that the announcement is that South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell is endorsing McCain.
Roll Call says that it will be a "difficult fight" for the GOP to hold onto Allard's Senate seat. "Rep. Mark Udall (D) has already declared his intention to run, is popular in the state and has an effective fundraising machine. Similarly, despite the state's often-conservative social leanings, Democrats have made major gains in Colorado over the past several years… The Republican field looks to be more unpredictable - and possibly both deep and contentious, although attention is beginning to focus on former Rep. Scott McInnis, who still has nearly $1 million in a federal campaign account."
Allard, the Washington Post adds, is the first senator to announce he will not seek reelection next year… Other Republicans mentioned as possible retirees in 2008 include Thad Cochran (Miss.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Pete V. Domenici (N.M.) and John W. Warner (Va.). Tim Johnson (S.D.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.) are considered the most likely Democrats to retire."
Meanwhile, new House GOP campaign committee chairman Tom Cole tells The Hill he's optimistic that Republicans can take back the House in 2008. "He repeats a pair of facts - that Republicans have their largest minority in the last half-century and that Democrats now hold 61 districts that President Bush carried twice."