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Oh-eight (D): Whither John Kerry?

The Politico's Elizabeth Wilner asks a good question in her latest column: Why isn't anyone talking about whom John Kerry -- the party's nominee in '04 -- might endorse? "[T]he lack of an audible clamor for an endorsement by Kerry is more than a bit deceiving, as is the perception that he's still wandering around in that wilderness to which all losing Democratic nominees are cast. The two top candidates who aren't married to Elizabeth Edwards are quietly seeking his advice and support. An associate suggests that Kerry may hold off on endorsing until closer to the primaries, but when he does make his choice, that candidate will get access to a 3-million-name e-mail list, possibly the largest in the party."

BIDEN: We've been very complimentary of the grind-it-out campaign Biden's been running in Iowa, but his claims yesterday that if he finishes a "close fourth" in Iowa will be enough to keep going seems to ring a tad hallow. Remember, there's no "zinc" medal at the Olympics.

CLINTON: Here's a fascinating endorsement for Clinton. Former ABC News veteran Carole Simpson surprised the campaign last night when she showed up in New Hampshire to endorse her, according to NBC/NJ's Athena Jones. "For 40 years I've been a journalist, and I have covered our national leaders from Lyndon Johnson to President George W. Bush," said Simpson, who was there with her class. "I endorse you for president of the United States. It's very freeing now that I'm not a journalist, that I'm able to speak my own mind and free expression, but I just wanted you to know that I had a dream that before I died I would see a woman as president of the United States. I think you are the woman and I think this is the time."

"That means a lot to me, Carole," Clinton said. "Thank you very much."

Veterans of the 1992 Clinton campaign will recall that Simpson was the moderator of the now-infamous town hall debate between Bill Clinton-Bush-Perot, in which Bush was criticized for looking at his watch. During that debate, Simpson was particularly tough on Bush to the chagrin of the Bush campaign and other Republicans.

EDWARDS: Edwards has been vocal over the past couple weeks in criticizing Clinton's yes vote on a Senate resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. But yesterday while campaigning in Iowa, per NBC's Andy Merten, he also went after her campaign strategy -- in an attempt to remind Iowans that they still have a choice. Speaking of an article in Sunday's New York Times examining the political repercussions of Clinton's vote, Edwards cited "campaign advisers" who said she is moving from a primary election strategy to a general election strategy.
 
"Did we miss something?  Did we already have the Iowa caucuses?" Edwards said to audience laughter. "I mean, have we had the New Hampshire Primary? Have we decided who the Democratic nominee is going to be?"

Edwards was incredulous, the Des Moines Register adds. "'Have we decided who the nominee's going to be? Have you decided?' he said. 'Instead of having primary mode or general-election mode, how about we have telling-the-truth mode? How about if we actually say what we believe?'"

GORE: Here's something that will make the ex-vice president smile: On the day he won the Nobel, the DraftGore '08 site saw its traffic increase to such a level that it topped Clinton's official Web site by a 2-1 margin.

OBAMA: With every passing day, Obama seems to get more comfortable contrasting himself with Clinton. In Tipton, Iowa, yesterday, he was asked by an older female supporter why she should vote for him and not a serious woman candidate for POTUS. Obama was able to both compliment Clinton -- and paint her as being timid and divisive at the same time. NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan notes Obama began by complimenting Clinton, calling her capable, smart, tough, and someone who cares about advancing the values of the Democratic Party. But he said that the qualities she has are "not what's needed right now."

He went on to characterize the style of politics that Clinton practices as both divisive and timid, a style of politics that is content to win by a "fifty plus one" majority and leads based on public opinion polls rather than firm stances. "You can't pass universal health care with that. You can't have a bold energy policy with that. If every move you're making is based on a static politics where you are looking backwards and this is what the polls tell me, this how much room we have to maneuver, this is how I don't open myself to too much criticism from the Republicans. If that's your strategy and your approach, then you can tinker around the edges, and you'll be a vast improvement over George Bush," he said.

"But you are not going to deliver on the major challenges, and you are not going to set a broad vision for the country, and you are not going to set us in a new direction. And I think that's what's needed, and I think that's what I can accomplish," he added. Obama acknowledged that voting for him involved "a little more risk," because Clinton was a safer choice for most Democrats, but he also characterized that vote as a return to the Clinton White House in which few legislative hallmarks actually took place. "There is a known commodity, been around a long time, Bill's there, we kinda know what we're going to get. But that's exactly the problem -- we know what we're going to get. We're not going to get significant change."

As if on cue with Obama's new tougher-on-Clinton rhetoric, the Washington Post front-pages an analysis story under the header: "Does Obama's Message Match the Moment?" "As Obama positions himself for the stretch run for the Democratic presidential nomination, his call for a 'new kind of politics' faces a broad test in his own party, and not just of whether it makes any criticism of his chief rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), seem hypocritical. As the pointed questions he received here suggest, it may be that his summons to 'turn the page' past the country's red-blue polarization is not what many Democrats want to hear after seven years of mounting anger at Bush and the Republican-dominated government."

RICHARDSON: The Chicago Tribune profiles Richardson, calling him the "Born Negotiator." It highlights his background and says he's learned to "see issues from both sides" since he grew up in two worlds -- as an American and a son of Mexican immigrants.