The Los Angeles Times, covering Clinton in Iowa, says her husband's White House legacy "led to her first stumble of the campaign" yesterday, "as she made a joke widely understood to be about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, then denied it had crossed her mind. Repeating a man's question for those who could not hear him..., Clinton said he wanted to know 'what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men'... When asked later at a news conference what was on her mind during the laughs, she said she was thinking she 'could do a pretty good job' in pursuing Osama bin Laden... Finally, asked whether the crowd was thinking of President Bill Clinton, she said no."
The New York Post: "Clinton's quip, made during a morning rally with about 500 Iowans, drew 31 seconds of straight laughter and applause that left little doubt among attendees that she'd made a joke at hubby Bill Clinton's expense… The flap over her quip overshadowed her slap at President Bush's war policy."
The Wall Street Journal on the point of her trip: "Getting enough people to know her as she'd like to be known -- rather than as the cold figure that even some admirers perceive -- is critical to her hopes of getting the party's nomination, let alone being elected the first female president."
The Des Moines Register says she "showcased a wry wit, an appetite for confrontation and a more approachable demeanor than one might expect from a person traveling in a 10-car motorcade, surrounded by Secret Service and 150 members of the media."
The New York Post also writes that Bill Clinton is weighing curtailing his paid speeches and his role in a California equity firm. "[B]oth income sources raise potential conflict-of-interest questions for his wife's candidacy."
The Democratic National Committee's winter meeting late this week looms as a major draw for the party that will feature most if not all of its presidential hopefuls. The schedule isn't set yet, but the candidates will speak on Friday and Saturday morning, with speaking slots to be determined by their schedules and a lottery. A DNC spokesperson tells First Read that all candidates will get to choose their own entrance and exit music!
A new Des Moines Register Poll shows lingering doubts among Iowans about former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), who probably has to win his home state to be considered a real player for the nomination.
Last Friday, we looked at how Bush made no mention of Hurricane Katrina or New Orleans in his State of the Union address. Today, Sen. Barack Obama takes part in a Homeland Security Committee field hearing on Hurricane Katrina and Rita recovery efforts in New Orleans. Per his prepared remarks, Obama will note that "we heard not one word - not one word - in the President's State of the Union address about New Orleans. And so I have one more set of questions to ask today: 'Are we willing to do whatever it takes? To stay as long as it takes? Are we in danger of forgetting about New Orleans?'" Edwards also was in the city last week and did an online chat from there.
The Washington Times looks at how deep-pocketed liberals are helping Obama keep fundraising pace with Clinton.
The New York Times front-pages how a discredited article (on Obama attending a madrassa as a child) in a publication that doesn't have the greatest reputation (Insight) created the first "feeding frenzy" of the race. It "illustrates how easily dubious and politically charged information can spread through the constant chatter of cable news commentary, talk radio programs and political Web sites. And at the start of a campaign with perhaps a dozen candidates hiring 'research directors' to examine one another, the Insight episode may be a sign of what is to come."
The State looks at how Democratic candidates seem to be making few inroads in South Carolina.