From Chuck Todd and Mark Murray
*** The Tie That Binds Them: Perhaps it's only fitting that on the very day McCain officially kicks off his White House bid in New Hampshire, the Iraq supplemental makes its way to the House floor. As we (and others) have noted before, no other presidential candidate is more tied to Bush's Iraq war than McCain -- which is ironic, because he's often been the Un-Bush (whether it was during the 2000 campaign, with the Gang of 14, or in the debate over torture). George Allen was always supposed to be the Bush-like candidate, not McCain.
*** Look at the Numbers: But in the latest NBC/WSJ poll, McCain comes out on top (although within the margin of error) when GOP voters are asked which candidate would follow Bush's policies closely. McCain receives 63%, Giuliani 62%, Fred Thompson 39%, and Romney 37%. In the horserace, Giuliani leads McCain by 11 points (33%-22%), followed by Thompson at 17% and Romney at 12%; no other Republican gets more than 2%. On the feeling thermometer, 42% view McCain positively versus 22% who view him negatively -- which is virtually unchanged from March, but a drop from the 50%-13% split he held back in May 2004, before McCain began aligning himself so close to Bush.
*** Age vs. Experience: In the announcement speech, per excerpts, McCain will acknowledge his age but couch it as an asset -- noting that no one has more experience for the job. "I'm not the youngest candidate. But I am the most experienced," he will say. "I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it should not do. I know how Congress works, and how to make it work for the country and not just the re-election of its members. I know how the world works."
*** Want More? For more poll numbers -- including those on the debate over the war and the Democratic horserace -- tune into NBC's Nightly News or visit MSNBC.com at 6:30 pm ET.
*** Adding Fuel to the Fire: With Democrats and Republicans already at each others' throats over the Iraq supplemental, Giuliani says, per the Politico, that another 9/11 is more likely if the Democrats win in '08. "'But the question is,' he said, 'how long will it take and how many casualties will we have? If we are on defense [with a Democratic president], we will have more losses and it will go on longer.'" Also: "'America will safer with a Republican president.'" This kind of tactic worked for Republicans in 2004. Will it work in 2008?
*** Subpoena Time: Henry Waxman's House committee today will consider subpoenaing Condi Rice on the Niger/uranium matter. The State Department is resisting so far. After taking control of Congress Democrats, have been unable to build veto-proof majorities on some of the most contentious matters (like Iraq), but this is something they can definitely do now in the majority.
*** Let's Debate: Exactly one day before the Democratic presidential debate in Orangeburg, SC -- the first of the campaign season, which will be aired on MSNBC -- Biden will be there today to open up his Orangeburg regional headquarters.
*** On the Trail: On the final day of its convention, the National Jewish Democratic Council hears from Clinton and Richardson, while Romney does a meet-and-greet in Salem, NH.