ON THE TRAIL: A look at what's happening out on the campaign trail from our NBC/National Journal campaign embeds.
Here's some news from the Clinton, Obama and Romney camps:
OBAMA: NBC/National Journal's Aswini Anburajan reports that late last night the Obama campaign canceled a town hall in Rock Hill, S.C., where 1,600 people had tickets because of a Senate Iraq vote today. He had planned to hold a private meeting with local Democratic party officials in a state where half of the Democratic voting populace is black. Obama spokesman Kevin Griffis said, "This is not something a campaign ever wants to do ... These [Iraq] votes sometimes are even more important than the campaign."
The Rock Hill event could have allowed Obama to clear the air on the issue of the Jena Six. He was criticized by Jesse Jackson, an Obama supporter, for not speaking out strongly enough about the case. Jackson later said he was misquoted. "Barack Obama has said more in support of the Jena Six than any of the other candidates in the race," said Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), an Obama supporter, who added that he was giving Jackson the benefit of the doubt on his Obama comments.
For its part, Team Obama sent out the following statement late in the day after the fracas (and note the reference to Jackson's son): "Outrage over an injustice like the Jena 6 isn't a matter of black and white. It's a matter of right and wrong. We should stand as one nation in opposition to this and any injustice. That's why I've previously spoken out and demanded fairness in the Jena 6 case. That's why I've fought against injustice as a civil rights attorney and public official, and why I'll continue to fight to heal the wounds of division in our nation as president. My statements on Jena 6 were carefully thought out with input and support from one of my National Campaign Chairmen, U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr."
*** Money match making: The Obama campaign has launched a new financial initiative with individual donors offering to match others' donations. "This isn't an anonymous donor program backed by big checks from Washington lobbyists or corporate fat cats," Campaign Manager David Plouffe writes in an email on the program. "This is a one-to-one, supporter-to-supporter effort. If you make a donation, you'll be matched up with a real person -- another supporter who has put their faith in you. And you'll be able to read a note from them and send a response."
*** Also check out this story about how socially conscious hip-hop artists have been evoking Barack Obama, or "B-Rock" as he was dubbed in Vibe Magazine, as a way to sell their message.
CLINTON: NBC/NJ's Athena Jones reports that as part of a major rollout of Clinton's plan to provide health insurance for everyone, her campaign sent out a statement in Spanish early Wednesday afternoon touting what her proposal would do for Hispanics, the racial or ethnic group it said was most likely to not have coverage. About one third of all Hispanics and nearly one quarter of Hispanic children don't have health insurance, the release said, citing Census Bureau data. "As a result of the American Health Choices Plan," the statement reads, "Latinos will be more likely to lead longer, healthier lives."
The campaign's director of Hispanic outreach for the Clinton campaign, Fabiola Rodríguez-Ciampoli, explained that the campaign plans to send out reports on how the proposal would affect other minority groups -- blacks and Asians specifically -- throughout the week.
*** A different kind of house party: While her husband, former Iowa Governor and National Campaign Chair Tom Vilsack, hosted a fundraiser dubbed "Hillary Live" in the Big Apple Wednesday night, Christie Vilsack held a much smaller event in Creston, Iowa (population 7,600). She spoke to a group of about 25, mostly older, committed and undecided local residents about how she came to know Clinton and why she was supporting her. "I think there's a place in heaven for women who support women," Vilsack said.
*** On Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" last night, host Jon Stewart poked fun at Clinton's recent fundraising flap, playing a clip from her Tuesday interview on "Today" in which she talked about being "taken aback" by the revelations about bundler Norman Hsu.
*** Clinton will be in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday for a fundraising event billed as "A Conversation with John Grisham and Hillary Clinton."
'The road to the White House runs through Florida, and the road to Florida runs through the Villages'
ROMNEY: NBC/NJ's Erin McPike reports from Jacksonville, Fla., that Romney is focused on fundraising with less than two weeks remaining until the end of Q3. But Wednesday night, he made an appearance at the Villages, a wealthy retirement community in the central part of the state, with his son, Josh. Beginning Thursday and continuing through Florida's planned primary on Jan. 29, the Romney sons will do some heavy campaigning in the Sunshine state, splitting up visits to all 67 counties.
*** Values and the Villages: Influential community members in the Villages, however – those who lead local Republican clubs within the area – suggested that the real fight for their support boiled down to Thompson and Romney. And as the Villages' Republican Club of Sumter County President Rich Cole advised, "The road to the White House runs through Florida, and the road to Florida runs through the Villages."
Romney bested Thompson's recent showing of approximately 1,000 at the Villages with an estimated turnout of 2,500, according to both Florida Communications Director Kristy Campbell and a sheriff working the event. But both campaigns fell victim to poor weather: Rain came in fits and starts at Romney's event, and Wednesday's attendees complained of unbearable heat from Thompson's last week.
Cole, who attended both, said before the rally began that he was torn between Thompson and Romney and didn't mind Giuliani. Even though he acknowledged that "Thompson was very impressive when he was here," because he is "obviously very poised and polished," he conceded that his expectations for Romney simply were higher because he had seen him speak before. "I don't know that Romney will invigorate people as well as Thompson will," he worried.
After Romney's speech, Cole said he thought Romney did a "nice job." "I think he's gotten stronger on his presentation on national security, which I think is really the key issue here," he said and added that he's now tilting more toward the former governor. "There's one thing he has that the other guys don't, and that is the claim to the moral high ground."
Getting voters to flock to him on the basis of family values and moral issues is part of Romney's plan, which included a brand new ad in Iowa and New Hampshire this week touting just that. There's also a new radio ad in the Hawkeye State out this week outlining Romney's opposition to gay marriage and support of a constitutional amendment that would ban it.
*** Third in the polls: Giuliani and Thompson lead the GOP field in the Florida with 24% and 23%, respectively, in both an Insider Advantage poll and a Mason Dixon poll out this week. Romney is third with 12% in the Insider Advantage poll and 13% in Mason-Dixon.