USA Today tackles the question of whether Rudy Giuliani -- "the thrice-married New Yorker," who's "a supporter of abortion rights, gay rights and gun control" -- can win the GOP nomination. "Republicans tend to stick with front-runners. In each of the last nine presidential elections, the GOP contender who led the field the year before the election has won the nomination. Despite Giuliani's edge at the starting line, however, there is widespread skepticism among insiders... whether he'll be there at the finish."
The Los Angeles Times is the latest to examine Mitt Romney's recent reversals on abortion and gay rights. "For Romney, 59, the rightward shift on abortion and gay rights poses one of the main challenges of his candidacy: Can he convince social conservatives that he is one of their own and capture his party's nomination? Or will his late-in-life ideological swerve raise too many doubts about whether he shares their core principles?"
The AP notes that the year-end reports showed that McCain raised $1.7 million in 2006, while Giuliani took in $1.4 million. "McCain … had $472,000 on hand while Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, had about $1 million available."
The Los Angeles Times adds, however, that "they and the rest of the field probably lag far behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. The Democrat is believed to have amassed in excess of $14 million [in cash on hand], although her report had not become public as of late Wednesday."
In its examination of the year-end spending reports, the Washington Post notes McCain's big investment in downballot candidates.
And per the Manchester Union Leader, former New York Gov. George Pataki released key New Hampshire supporters at a Tuesday night dinner and told them to endorse another presidential candidate if they'd like. Some sources present at the meeting, the paper adds, didn't have the impression that Pataki is 100% out of the presidential race -- but another said the handwriting is definitely on the wall.