BROWNBACK: The Kansas senator uses the New York Times op-ed page to explain why he was one of three candidates to raise his hand during the first GOP debate to announce that he does not believe in evolution. "The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason… If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it."
GIULIANI: The New York Sun: "In a potential preview of next fall's presidential contest, Mr. Giuliani, who is seen as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, directly attacked the leading Democratic candidate, Mrs. Clinton, over a speech she gave Tuesday in New Hampshire bemoaning the return of 'robber barons' and promising to pursue 'shared prosperity' by increasing taxes on Americans making more than $200,000 a year. 'This would be an astounding, staggering tax increase,' Mr. Giuliani told reporters yesterday after a visit to a restaurant on the edge of California's Silicon Valley."
The New York Daily News notes that Giuliani will today pick up an endorsement from former Bill Clinton FBI director Louis Freeh, who has gone from a one-time Clinton advocate to a sharp critic.
MCCAIN: There was some World Bank fallout for McCain. The nomination of Bob Zoellick means McCain lost his chief policy adviser, Chris Cillizza of WashingtonPost.com notes.
ROMNEY: In Des Moines yesterday, the former Massachusetts governor came out swinging against the Democratic presidential front-runners' health plans, NBC's Lauren Appelbaum notes. "I've watched with interest these last few days, watching the Democrats come out with their plans on health care. They don't understand," Romney said. "The path of Europe is not the way to go. Socialized medicine, Hillary-care, Obama-care, they don't get it. The best way to make health care work is to make health care more like a market and with the dynamics of a public market. That's the way to go." (Given that the Democrats have tailored their health plans, in part, on what Romney did in Massachusetts, how do GOP critics view Romney-care?)
Time's Joe Klein was also following around Romney this week (in fact, on the same day as our own Matt Lauer). Concludes Klein: "But there isn't the slightest hint of courage or conviction in his stump act. It's a candidacy for the era before 2001, before things got serious. And his success or failure will be a reflection of how serious the electorate is in 2008."
F. THOMPSON: USA Today interviews the soon-to-be candidate. "His late start carries some problems but also 'certain advantages,' he says. 'Nobody has maxed out to me' in contributions, he notes, and using the Internet already 'has allowed me to be in the hunt, so to speak, without spending a dime.'" More: "Thompson argues that Republicans lost control of the House and Senate in November not because of the war but because of out-of-control spending and unrestrained partisanship. What's surprising — and encouraging for Republicans — is that Democrats didn't gain more ground, he says. 'It's been kind of a pox on both your houses,' he says. 'There's a disconnect out there between the people and Washington. … It seems lately whoever has power, whoever has control makes the same predictable mistakes.'"
By the way, not every GOP strategist believes Thompson is doing this the right way. GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio, who isn't working for any 2008 presidential candidate, tells the New York Times he was "surprised and a little sad" that Mr. Thompson had not declared himself a full-fledged candidate. "'Thompson will be competing against three guys who have been running flat out for months and working their tails off for well over a year,' Mr. Fabrizio said. 'If you're not going to get in this race and double-time on work, effort and commitment, how do you expect to win? You need to send signals that say, "I'm here and I'm going to win."'"
A Winthrop/ETV poll finds about 40% of South Carolina Republicans believe Thompson should officially enter the presidential race. And Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire also have high interest in the former senator.
The Washington Post has a little more detail on his schedule for the next month, which includes a "Tonight Show" appearance sometime in June.
NBC's Natalie Morales spoke yesterday with John Gill, special counsel in the district attorney's office in Knox County, TN, who happens to be Thompson's friend and former law school classmate. Morales asked if he believes Thompson will indeed run for president. "If I had to bet, I would bet that he would," Gill replied. "And I would bet that he'd announce very soon. He is very popular in Tennessee."
The Boston Globe puts a dollar figure on what the 100+ donors pledged to raise on the first day of the campaign, June 4 -- $46,000 each. That translates into approximately $4.6 million.
Also, all three GOP front-runners disputed analysis that said THEIR campaign was hurt most by Thompson's entry. Said McCain manager Terry Nelson: "'I don't think that it fundamentally changes the strategy of our campaign, which is to put forward John McCain as a candidate ready to lead from Day One.'"
Romney spokesperson Kevin Madden "discounted the notion that Mr. Thompson might peel away conservative and evangelical voters who Mr. Romney has been courting for months." Madden, noting Romney will be speaking in Tennessee on Saturday: 'The governor looks at these events as opportunities — it could be a Romney crowd by the end of the night,' Mr. Madden said."
And Giuliani adviser Tony Carbonetti "played down any concern in the Giuliani campaign that Mr. Thompson would run strongly among voters who are deeply concerned about national security and want a candidate who is socially conservative as well."
Here's what Romney said about Thompson in an interview on Iowa's version of Meet the Press -- Iowa Press. "'I'm probably not a good political pundit to know what is going to happen precisely,' Romney said during the taping of an Iowa Public Television show. 'I think he'll make the race more interesting. He's got good ideas and after all, he does put bad people in jail every week on "Law and Order."'"
The headline in McCain's hometown newspaper, the Arizona Republic: "One-Time Ally Is Set To Compete vs. McCain."
Will Thompson compete in the straw poll? More importantly, if he doesn't and Giuliani also punts, then does the straw poll matter?
Thompson's speech to the Virginia GOP on Saturday has the Washington Times speculation that ex-RNC Chair-turned Virginia GOP chair Ed Gillespie is climbing aboard the Thompson train.
And the Washington Post Style page looks at past actors-turned-politicians.