From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Carly Zakin
*** A Boon For The Democrats? New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg capped off a VERY busy political day yesterday by filing paperwork changing his voting status from Republican to unaffiliated. Why now? Bloomberg's move now means every national poll will begin including him in three-way match-ups, and that in and of itself forces the Beltway chattering class to begin assessing the "who does he hurt" between now and the end of the primary season. And it gives him an opportunity to begin actually exploring a run by traveling to states that don't touch oceans. Looking at voting patterns and the strength of both parties' bases, a true three-way race may help the Democrats more than the Republicans. Why? It's simple -- the South. The irony of a Bloomberg candidacy is that it could make the Democrats more competitive in the South because their 35% base vote in the South is made up of die-hard Democrats.
*** Short-Term Trouble for Rudy?
But that's for the long term. In the short term, the person hurt the most right now by a potential Bloomberg bid may be the guy most responsible for getting him elected mayor in the first place: Giuliani. Bloomberg's claims of successes in managing New York City are subtle jabs at Giuliani's two terms as mayor. Also, Bloomberg's interest means there will be more comparisons to Giuliani's days as mayor before 9/11, and that gets Giuliani off message a bit.
*** Un-Raveneling: Speaking of Rudy, we wondered if he was going to have a bad day yesterday after that Newsday piece (about his non-attendance on the Iraq Study Group) and the news of Bernie Kerik's disappointment about the distance between him and Giuliani ("I understand it, but inside it's killing me"). But we had no idea that in one day his campaign would lose top Iowa adviser Jim Nussle, who's heading over to OMB, and also South Carolina state chairman Thomas Ravenel, who was indicted for cocaine distribution. The good news for the campaign: It all happened in just one day.
*** More Boos?
Already this morning, Clinton took her turn addressing the liberal "Take Back America" conference. At last year's conference, she received boos for her views on Iraq -- and she got them again this morning. NBC's Carrie Dann reports that Clinton entered and exited the stage with applause. But when she launched into her Iraq bit, she was booed. She plugged the fact that she voted against the supplemental, but her line about how the troops have "done what they went to do" prompted a mix of boos and those trying to drown them out.
*** Other Speakers: As of this writing, Kucinich was set to follow Clinton at the "Take Back" confab. Also speaking today will be Speaker Nancy Pelosi (9:15am ET), DNC chair Howard Dean (1:30 pm), and Jesse Jackson. (Filmmaker Michael Moore was supposed to speak too, but NBC's Dann reports that his plane was delayed and thus he won't be addressing the group.) What's more, at 3:00 pm, the Politico and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg will announce the presidential straw poll results from the liberal attendees.
*** "Once, Twice, Three Times A …": Per NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, Bush today will issue the third veto of his presidency -- and second one on stem cells -- when he rejects the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which provides more federal financing for the science. Advisers say Bush will make remarks on his veto at 2:25 pm ET, but won't actually veto the legislation in public. Meanwhile, congressional Democrats will hold a press conference this afternoon following the president's veto announcement.
*** On The Trail: Brownback is back in Iowa, hitting six more towns; Giuliani speaks in Iowa, then raises money in New York City; McCain addresses the Florida Broadcasters in Palm Beach, then helps a county GOP committee raise money; Obama raises money in Ohio and Pittsburgh before heading back to DC; and Fred Thompson spends his final day across the pond in London.
*** And…: If you missed checking in with First Read during "Super Tuesday," you missed comprehensive coverage of the entire day in politics, from the AFSCME forum and the Take Back America conference to Fred Thompson's London appearance, Jim Nussle's new job, and so much more. Bottom line, bookmark First Read and check in often so you don't miss a thing.
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