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More Oh-Eight (R)

Add Rudy Giuliani to the list of Republican presidential candidates speaking at the Conservative Political Action Committee's annual conference next week.  Also speaking: former Gov. Mitt Romney, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. Sam Brownback, along with Vice President Cheney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

And add Romney to the list of Republican contenders whose campaign playbook appears to have leaked to the press.  First a New York tabloid got hold of Giuliani's.  Now the Boston Globe has gotten its hands on a 77-slide PowerPoint presentation that "offers a revealing look at Romney's pursuit of the White House, outlining a plan for branding himself, framing his competitors, and allaying voter concerns about his record, his Mormon faith, and his shifts on key issues like abortion."  The document "is wide-ranging and analyzes in detail the strengths and weaknesses of Romney and his two main Republican rivals," McCain and Giuliani.  "The plan… charts a course for Romney to emerge as the nominee, but acknowledges that the 'electorate is not where it needs to be for us to succeed.'"  A Romney spokesman calls it "'a compilation of political conventional wisdom.'" 

More: "The plan… indicates that Romney will define himself in part by focusing on and highlighting enemies and adversaries, such common political targets as 'jihadism,' the 'Washington establishment,' and taxes, but also Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, 'European-style socialism,' and, specifically, France.  Even Massachusetts, where Romney has lived for almost 40 years, is listed as one of those 'bogeymen,' alongside liberalism and Hollywood values.  Indeed, a page titled 'Primal Code for Brand Romney' said that Romney should define himself as a foil to" Kennedy, Kerry and Dukakis.

A "leaked" memo by a Romney adviser also made the rounds yesterday, which argued that despite Romney being in third or fourth place in most GOP polls, he's in a better position right now than other governors from relatively small states -- Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, and Bill Clinton -- who went on to win their respective presidential nominations. 

But citing past Democratic performance might not be that revealing for Republicans, given that GOP primary voters in modern times have tended to favor the early frontrunner: Bush in 2000, Dole in 1996, Bush the elder in 1988, and Reagan in 1980.  The last Republican presidential candidate to come out of nowhere was Reagan in 1976, and he still lost.  That said, this current presidential contest is going to last so long that anything can happen.

The AP looks at how Romney is trying to reconcile his past statements and more recent actions, which the AP lists. 

The New York Post reports that Giuliani is attending weekly policy briefings with a team of experts who discuss everything from taxes to Iraq with him.  "Dubbed 'Simon University' by some in Giuliani's camp, the policy team is led by Bill Simon, an associate from Giuliani's Justice Department days and conservative businessman who ran for California governor in 2002."   Others in attendance include speechwriter John Avalon, Hoover Institution fellow Michael Boskin, and former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. 

During a speech in DC yesterday, Giuliani addressed his past as a Democrat and explained why he became a Republican.  Giuliani "offered one reason for his political conversion - taxes," notes the AP

USA Today takes its turn profiling Sen. John McCain as he (sometimes wearily) faces voters' frustrations on the campaign trail about the war he supports.  "In a turn that's nearly Shakespearean, McCain — Bush's chief rival for the Republican nomination in 2000 and a critic since then on everything from tax cuts to torture — finds his fate inextricably tied to the fortunes of his onetime adversary and the increasingly unpopular war he is prosecuting."  The McCain team continues to bill McCain's support for the war as evidence that he's not campaigning according to the polls. 

The Washington Times says McCain "is playing both sides against the middle as he supports sending more than 21,500 additional troops to Iraq while trying to distance himself from President Bush by labeling the war a 'train wreck.'" 

And Bloomberg says that after spending "20 years in the Senate challenging Republican Party orthodoxy," McCain "is having a hard time establishing himself as its champion." 

NBC political analyst Charlie Cook writes in his CongressDaily AM column, "Republicans know that if they run a status quo candidate, and the 2008 race is framed status quo versus change, they will lose.  For Republicans to have a chance, voters have to be given the choice of two variations of change.  That doesn't mean liberal or necessarily even moderate, but certainly someone who will be judged independently of President Bush."

Rep. Duncan Hunter might be in some trouble.  Per the Boston Globe, Hunter used money from his PAC to run a TV ad campaign after he announced he was thinking of running.  "Politicians considering presidential races often have used political action committees to pay for travel to early primary states and build support by contributing money to people running for state or local offices.  But once a candidate forms a presidential he or she is required to use campaign-committee accounts for all money spent running for office."