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First thoughts

From Chuck Todd and Mark Murray
*** Game On: A House-Senate conference yesterday approved an Iraq supplemental that heads to the House floor on Wednesday and Senate floor on Thursday. The legislation calls for the "goal" of having all US combat troops leave Iraq by March 2008. Is that tough enough to win votes from House liberals? Bush, of course, is waiting to veto it, and he plans to fire his latest volley at the legislation this morning before heading to New York.

*** Let's Debate: Just before Thursday's Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, a new poll by NBC affiliate WIS-TV shows Clinton and Obama virtually tied (24%-23%), with Edwards (who won the state in 2004) in third at 16%. On the GOP side, meanwhile, a new Zogby poll has McCain leading Giuliani in South Carolina (22%-19%), with Fred Thompson in third and Romney in fourth.

*** Speaking of Polls: While Edwards ($400 haircuts, hedge fund) and Obama (Tony Rezko) have been the recipients of tough news articles lately, we've been seeing Clinton's national unfavorable ratings rise (to 52% in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll). Now a new Sienna College survey has Clinton's unfavorable rating rising in New York. And this is before the papers and TV networks begin to dig into her past. A thought: Over the years, the more political Clinton has looked, the weaker her poll ratings have been. It's been when she has risen above politics (or been a treated simply as a legislator or a First Lady), that her numbers begin to improve. Can she run a non-political presidential campaign? And if her need to excite Democratic primary voters is to get edgier with the left, won't that hurt her national numbers even more?

*** Stand By Your Man: Does anyone else see the similarities between Bush's decision to stick by Gonzales and how long he stuck by Rumsfeld? Rumsfeld had lost the confidence of key Republican lawmakers months before he eventually was let go. Is Bush using a similar timetable regarding Gonzales' future? (If so, will we see the president announce Gonzales' resignation come November 5, 2008?)

*** Chuck-Mentum? The conservative blogs are giddy about a poll showing that, should Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) receive a primary challenge if he decides to run for re-election, he could lose. Is this the situation that Joe Lieberman faced last year, but in reverse: unpopular in his own party, and possibly facing a challenge on the war -- from the right?

*** Base Crazy? Kucinich holds a news conference today to announce the introduction of articles of impeachment against Cheney, while Tom DeLay tells the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Reid and Pelosi "are getting very, very close to treason" for opposing the Iraq war. To paraphrase Rodney King, can't we all get along?

*** Another Cattle Call: The National Jewish Democratic Council hears from Dodd, Biden, Obama, and Kucinich. Edwards spoke to the group last night, while Clinton and Richardson go Wednesday.

*** On the Trail: Elsewhere, Giuliani campaigns in New Hampshire, and McCain keynotes the Co-operation Ireland 2007 Annual Dinner in New York. McCain also appears on the Daily Show.