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USA Today examines how Barack Obama's candidacy might impact African-American voters. "Black voters don't figure largely in the nomination race until early February 2008. The competition moves at that point to South Carolina and Alabama, two states in which nearly half of Democratic primary voters are black."

The New York Times, meanwhile, notes that Obama is only the latest politician promising to be the fresh face to change Washington. The problem is, those folks usually go on to lose. "Think John Anderson, Gary Hart, Ross Perot. How can Mr. Obama avoid a similar fate?"

The Manchester Union Leader reports that the New Hampshire Democratic Party "continues to talk with Hillary Clinton's camp about a date for the party's 100 Club dinner, at which she would be the featured speaker. Nothing's confirmed, but early March appears likely."

The Washington Post looks at the purpose of an exploratory committee. "The legal equivalent of sticking one toe in the campaign waters, an exploratory committee allows prospective candidates to begin raising money for a campaign while they are still deciding whether to take the plunge."

After helping elect Democrats across the country last fall, the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign says it wants to play an active role in the 2008 presidential race. Not only does the group want to reach out the Democratic candidates -- and even some Republicans -- it also wants them to reach out. "I'm looking forward to them courting us," president Joe Solmonese tells First Read. Among its concerns, of course, is the issue of gay marriage, as we could see another round of state ballot measures in 2008 to ban the practice. But Solmonese says his group is also concerned about more immediate federal priorities like workplace discrimination and expanding hate-crime laws to include crimes against gays. 

And turning to the down-ballot races, Roll Call says that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) "might be the most vulnerable incumbent this cycle, although no Republican so far has stepped up to take her on. "'Democrats win in Louisiana by about 5,000 votes and we lost 200,000 people; and most of the people were Democrats,' [a Democratic strategist said]. 'New Orleans is half the size it used to be.'"