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First thoughts

From Chuck Todd and Mark Murray
*** McCain's Big Week: After Imus and Virginia Tech overshadowed his recent Iraq and economic speeches, respectively, McCain tries once again to claim the center stage. Today, he's giving an address on energy and national security in DC, and on Wednesday he begins his four-day official announcement tour (through New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, and Arizona). According to excerpts of today's speech, McCain will renew his call to combat global warming (which might not please some conservatives), but he'll do it by advocating market-based solutions (which will).

*** The Teflon Man? When Romney was "evolving" from a moderate to conservative, every move he made was chronicled and ridiculed (by McCain's folks?) to the point where the flip-flop label stuck to him. Giuliani's conservative evolution of late has been just as stark on some recent issues (guns, immigration, and partial-birth abortion), but his foes haven't attacked him directly yet. Did Romney actually provide Rudy cover?

*** The Hits Keep on Coming? After his $400 haircut received plenty of scrutiny -- including a column by Maureen Dowd -- the Washington Post writes about Edwards' ties to the New York-based hedge fund Fortress Investment Group. Has the "Two Americas" line lost some of its luster?

*** The Hits Keep on Coming, Part II? Edwards isn't the only one who has been receiving some tough coverage. The Chicago Sun-Times digs some more into Obama's ties to Tony Rezko. Also check out the LA Times' look at the loopholes in Obama's refusal to take money from lobbyists.

*** Two for the Price of One: Clinton hits a fundraiser tonight that features a guest appearance by -- guess who -- husband Bill in New York. Speaking of, her comment that Bill would be some sort of roaming ambassador in her Administration gets fresh play (including a critical Wall Street Journal editorial), even though it's not necessarily new. Bill Clinton's poll numbers seem higher than they've been in years, but are Americans ready for a sort-of third term?

*** Just A Matter of Time? Specter said on Sunday that Alberto Gonzales' refusal (so far) to step down is "bad for the Justice Department."

*** If It's Monday, It's...: NBC's Tim Russert moderates a forum at Boston College on faith and public policy featuring Catholic oh-eighters Brownback and Dodd. Meanwhile, the first full-fledged debate -- which airs on MSNBC and is moderated by NBC's Brian Williams -- takes place Thursday night.

*** On the Trail: The Edwardses, in Chapel Hill, participate in the "Ed Schultz Show" National Town Hall hosted by WCHL 1360 AM; Obama, in Chicago, gives the foreign-policy speech that got canceled after Virginia Tech; Richardson fundraises in Los Angeles; and Romney has a couple of events in Florida. Also, Edwards speaks tonight to the National Jewish Democratic Council, which will hear from nearly all the Democratic presidential candidates from today through Wednesday.