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First thoughts

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Carly Zakin
*** Squeezed: Anyone else sense that the walls are closing in on President Bush? Venerable Republican Sen. Dick Lugar, as well as fellow GOPer George Voinovich, is now calling for a change of course in Iraq; John Warner is close, too, apparently. While the Senate immigration bill Bush supports cleared an important hurdle yesterday, its passage is still in doubt, and the debate over it will only continue to alienate a large portion of his base. And even Cheney -- with his claim of not belonging to the executive branch -- is creating additional headaches for the White House. Of course, these three things (Iraq, immigration, and Cheney) have dogged Bush for most of his second term, and he continues to persevere, albeit with lower and lower poll numbers. But is this time different? Will we begin to see loyal Bush backers break away from Bush, like Matthew Dowd did back in April? Is this not just the "turning point" week on Iraq, but also the denouement of the Bush presidency?

VIDEO: Sen. Richard Lugar talks to TODAY's Matt Lauer after breaking ranks with the president on the Iraq war.

*** Lights, Camera, Action! Fred Thompson travels to Columbia, SC to speak at a state GOP event there, and he holds a media avail afterwards. His first three big events since he first began flirting with a presidential bid -- in Orange County, CA, at the Virginia GOP, and on Leno -- didn't exactly set the rooms on fire. Even at yesterday's appearance in Nashville, one supporter told the New York Times that he wasn't floored by Thompson. "It was the same thing he's said everywhere else, nothing new." Will today be different?

*** I Want My MTV...:  A New York Times/CBS/MTV poll finds that Democrats appear to be sitting pretty with Americans ages 17-29. More than half of them said they'd vote for a Democrat in next year's presidential race, and they are more likely than the general population to support government-run health care and gay marriage. (Yet interestingly, they are more optimistic about the Iraq war.) But will young voters actually show up in 2008? This suggests they might: "Fifty-eight percent said they were paying attention to the campaign. By contrast, at this point in the 2004 presidential campaign, 35 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds said they were paying a lot or some attention to the campaign."

*** Ambushed: With Ann Coulter appearing on Hardball yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards called into the show to blast Coulter for personal attacks on her husband and family. As the end of the second quarter rapidly approaches, anyone want to bet we see a fundraising email from the Edwards camp that highlights yesterday's exchange -- which, by the way, got played on TODAY?

*** Meaty Foreign Policy Speech Day: Both Clinton and Hagel give speeches at the Center for a New American Security, a new DC-based nonpartisan research institute. Meanwhile, Richardson is also in DC, where he addresses the Center for National Policy. Per Richardson's camp, the speech will be on Iran and how to prevent the country from acquiring nuclear weapons.

*** On The Trail: Elsewhere, Edwards raises money in Houston; Giuliani is in Pittsburgh; McCain and Romney both fundraise in New York City; Paul continues his round of off-beat interviews -- this time with the radio show "Mancow in the Morning"; and Tommy Thompson is in Iowa.

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