Salon's Scherer has an interesting piece about how quick Republicans are to assume Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. In fact, the GOP has done more to feed the inevitability factor about Clinton than anyone in the Democratic Party. "The Republican focus on Clinton may say more about the Republican Party than it does about her inevitability as the Democratic nominee. Though she polls better nationally than her Democratic rivals, she currently trails slightly in most Iowa caucus polls to John Edwards, and she has been surprisingly outstripped in fundraising by Barack Obama. But this has not stopped Republicans from referring regularly to the Democratic Party as a shell organization at the beck and command of the Clinton family, even if that's a flimsy caricature at best."
Look for the candidate to renew her feud with the Pentagon over an Iraq withdrawal plan. During an interview with Vice President Cheney on "Larry King Live," the veep "said the scathing missive to Clinton from Pentagon policy chief Eric Edelman was a 'good letter.' Last Friday, Gates said Edelman's letter had led the debate over redeployment 'astray' and that discussion of the issue was appropriate. Clinton likely will send Bush a letter of complaint, a source close to the senator said.
Clinton's Senate spokesman emailed this response yesterday to NBC: "… Senator Clinton asked a simple yet serious question regarding the contingency planning for the redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq. In response, she was politically attacked by Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman who impugned her patriotism and suggested that congressional oversight emboldens our enemies. To clarify the Under Secretary's remarks, Defense Secretary Robert Gates took a conciliatory tone and told Senator Clinton that he regretted that 'this important discussion went astray' and reaffirmed Congress's role in overseeing the administration. Earlier today, however, Vice President Dick Cheney said he agreed with Under Secretary Edelman, not Secretary Gates, and called the Under Secretary's political attack a 'good letter.' It seems the right hand doesn't know what the far-right hand is doing. Senator Clinton calls on President Bush to set the record straight."
DODD: The campaign issued a press release announcing Dodd's appearance tonight on O'Reilly, noting: 1) that it comes in advance of this weekend's YearlyKos convention; 2) that he will personally respond to O'Reilly's attacks on the liberal blog DailyKos; and 3) that in the process, he'll be the first presidential candidate to defend the liberal blogosphere.
While Clinton supporters are fond of calling Obama this year's Howard Dean, the New York Times notes that it may be Edwards who more closely resembles Dean. Adam Nagourney writes: "These days the Edwards campaign has taken on the appearance of Dean 2.0, and listening to Mr. Edwards is often akin to reading the postings on an angry blog." What's also revealing in the piece is more evidence that Mrs. Edwards was behind the decision to bring on Joe Trippi to take more control of the campaign. Per the AP, Edwards said yesterday that "the Bush administration's plan to sell $20 billion worth of weapons to friendly Arab states amounted to a foreign policy of convenience and he will take a tougher stance with Saudi Arabia if elected president."
OBAMA: Here are more excerpts from Obama's counterterrorism speech this morning: "The President would have us believe that every bomb in Baghdad is part of al Qaeda's war against us, not an Iraqi civil war. He elevates al Qaeda in Iraq – which didn't exist before our invasion – and overlooks the people who hit us on 9/11, who are training new recruits in Pakistan. He lumps together groups with very different goals: al Qaeda and Iran, Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents. He confuses our mission."
"When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland."
Prebutting his speech, the RNC this morning issued a press release with this headline: "Obama's Safety Dance: Obama to give speech on the war on terror; attempts to dance around his weak record on national security issues."
Despite the bad news for Obama in the new NBC/WSJ poll, a new poll by New Hampshire-based ARG has him on the move in the Granite State. Meanwhile, on the GOP side, ARG has Giuliani on the move, essentially tying Romney. (Note: Given ARG's history in New Hampshire, this is the one state where we regularly track ARG's numbers)
The Manchester Union Leader calls the poll "good news for Obama."
The New Mexico governor is running this new TV ad in Iowa: "I'm Bill Richardson … and on clean energy, a 30-second TV ad isn't enough time. But my Web site can show you why the Sierra Club called my plan 'much more aggressive.' In 12 years, I'd lower demand for oil by 50 percent. Raise mileage standards to 50 miles per gallon. And by 2040, reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent. I approved this message because it won't be easy, but we've relied on foreign oil and paid too much for gas long enough."