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First thoughts

From Chuck Todd and Mark Murray
*** Sampson Speaks: Beyond his prepared remarks, how heavily will Gonzales' former chief of staff fall on his sword? Some expect a full hari-kari, others think he might nick a White House aide or two before fully protecting his old boss. Meanwhile, did Pat Leahy save Gonzales' job by promising his investigation would go on regardless who the attorney general is? Rove still has Luskin on retainer, right?

*** The Replacements: If you're betting Gonzales' days are numbered, you might want to revisit that list of possible replacements for Gonzales: Michael Chertoff, former deputy AG Larry Thompson, Frances Townsend, Ted Olsen, John Danforth, and even Fred Thompson. By the way, if Bush decides to appoint a Democrat as a face-saving move, who comes to mind? (We'll let your mind wander but there's one fascinating idea swimming in our heads).

*** Iraq Showdown: Are congressional Democratic leaders preparing to back down slightly and pull some of the pork from the Iraq spending bill? Anyone else studying the Clinton-Gingrich showdown in '95?

*** In Da Club: Romney tonight kicks off the Club for Growth's conference in Florida. See who's attending (Brownback, Gilmore, Gingrich, Giuliani), and who's not (Huckabee, McCain). Unfortunately, it's closed to the press.   

*** More Oh-Eight: Did we see Giuliani yesterday back a flat tax -- an idea he rejected in '96? And why did McCain single out Obama on Iraq yesterday? Is he trying to pick a pre-March 31st media fight?

*** Speaking of: There are just two days until the March 31st fundraising deadline.