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Oh-eight (D): Clinton leads, but...

Clinton leads in a Newsweek poll from over the weekend, with 44% of Democrats to 24% for Obama and 12% for Edwards. "Clinton continues to lead among both male and female Democrats, but she attracts less support from independent voters than either Edwards … or Obama," the New York Daily News writes. "In a theoretical matchup against former senator and actor Fred Thompson, for example, Clinton gets 47% of the independent vote, while Edwards gets 57% and Obama gets 56%." 

BIDEN: The candidate received some "fix the gaffe" treatment from the local press. The Wilmington News-Journal looks at Biden's gaffe history, particularly with racially charged issues. It concludes: "Biden's supporters say the apparent gaffes are merely examples of his unscripted style, which they admire. Others say he should be more aware of how his words come across... Some of Biden's black friends see no harm in his comments and concede they may have said similar things. Biden may let his mouth run away with him, but his friends say his heart is consistently in the right place -- fiercely defending civil rights."

CLINTON: The fallout continues from the campaign's post-debate spin about whether it played -- or did not play -- the gender card as a defense for losing the debate. Maureen Dowd (probably predictably to Camp Clinton) was particularly rough on the front-runner. We're guessing most of our readers have already read the column, but here are some choice bites that attempts to take the criticism of the gender card strategy and fuses it with the criticism she also received at the debate for wanting to be calculating:

"She should certainly be allowed to play the gender card two ways, or even triangulate it… Sometimes when Hillary takes heat, she gets paranoid and controlling. But this time she took the heat by getting into the kitchen. After trying to have it both ways during the debate, she tried to have it both ways after the debate… She was always kind enough to let Bill hide behind her skirts when he got in trouble with women. Now she deserves to hide behind her own pantsuits when men cause her trouble… There is nowhere she won't go, so long as it gets her where she wants to be. That's the beauty of Hillary."

Don't miss this charge from well-known feminist activist Eleanor Smeal, who compared the debate to the Anita Hill hearing. Wow. Now Smeal is simply an endorser of Clinton, but that is taking the gender card strategy to a whole new stratosphere.

VIDEO: NBC's Political Director Chuck Todd with first read on presidential gender politics

Today's New York Times: "A critical question in this campaign -- how to run against a female presidential candidate, or as one -- has burst into the foreground in the aftermath of a Democratic debate last week at which Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was repeatedly challenged by her rivals and the event's questioners." And Geraldine Ferraro put things in stark terms: "'John Edwards, specifically, as well as the press, would never attack Barack Obama for two hours they way they attacked her,' said Geraldine A. Ferraro, the 1984 vice presidential candidate who supports Mrs. Clinton. 'It's O.K. in this country to be sexist,' Ms. Ferraro said."

Ferraro went on to say, "It's certainly not O.K. to be racist. I think if Barack Obama had been attacked for two hours -- well, I don't think Barack Obama would have been attacked for two hours." (Obama supporters would contend that he faced plenty of tough questions from the moderators and his rivals at the August ABC debate.)

Newsweek's Isikoff follows up on his reporting about what's available -- and what's not -- at the Clinton Presidential Library. "Clinton said during the debate that one chunk of records, from her days heading up her husband's health-care task force, had been released...  But National Archives documents obtained by NEWSWEEK and interviews with Archives officials indicate that the vast majority of the Clintons' health-care task-force records are still under lock and key in Little Rock -- and might stay that way for some time."

Tracking down the Clinton papers
Tracking down the Clinton papers

"In a letter last year responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative group Judicial Watch, Melissa Walker, supervisory archivist of the Clinton Presidential Library, wrote that archivists had identified 3,022,030 still-unreleased health-care documents, along with 2,884 e-mails and 1,021 photos covered by the group's request. Archives officials at the Clinton library have yet to process the Judicial Watch request or release the several million pages of task-force documents, including many key internal memos written by Mrs. Clinton and her advisers about how to restructure the health-care industry." By the way, Isikoff also reports that if something happens to Bill Clinton, Hillary -- along with Bruce Lindsey -- is the designee for releasing all of his White House papers.

NBC's Lisa Myers also reported on the Clinton library records Friday night.

DODD: NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli followed Dodd in New Hampshire over the weekend. Dodd "argued that voters should pay as much attention to a candidate's track record as they do to their plans for the future, and said that the nation needs a leader who has experience working across party lines." Asked by a member of the audience how he would do that when he takes office, Dodd said the best answer he could give "is what I've done." And he hinted at some disappointment that his resume is being overlooked in the campaign so far.

Meeting with the Portsmouth Herald editorial board, Dodd not only took on Clinton for her complaints of being ganged up on for a non-definitive answer to whether she would support giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses -- but also for the manner in which John Edwards and Barack Obama had released statements prior to the debate attacking Clinton for what she was going to say.

Dodd won one conditional endorsement from another candidate: Biden. "By the way, I'm for him," Biden said. "If I can't make it, I'm for him."

EDWARDS: The New York Times previews Edwards' speech in Iowa today. "'Senator Clinton is voting like a hawk in Washington, while talking like a dove in Iowa and New Hampshire,' Mr. Edwards plans to say, according to excerpts of a speech provided by his campaign. 'We only need one mode from our president: tell-the-truth mode all the time.'"

Edwards will also say, according to excerpts the campaign gave First Read: "With less than 60 days to the caucus, Senator Clinton has still not given specific answers to specific questions. How many troops will she withdraw, and when will she withdraw them? All she's said is that she will meet with her generals within two months of taking office.  That's not a plan. That's not even a real promise.  It's the promise of a planning meeting."
 
"What's more, Senator Clinton wants to keep combat troops in Iraq to perform combat missions in Iraq.  She will extend the war.  I will end the war.   Only in Washington would anybody believe that you can end the war and continue combat. On a matter as serious as Iraq, we need honesty and real answers-not more double-talk."

GORE: Gore was on TODAY this morning, and on Obama saying he'd like Gore to serve in his administration, Gore responded: "I haven't talked to any of the candidates. I have no plans to be a candidate myself, and I certainly have no plans to go into government service in any other position."

OBAMA: In case you missed, guess who was live from New York on Saturday night?

Also, do note Clinton was supposed to do SNL in September: "Lorne Michaels, the creator and producer of 'Saturday Night Live,' was not available for comment, but a spokesman said the show was 'always an equal opportunity offender.' He added that Mrs. Clinton had been booked for the season premiere on Sept. 29, at her request, but had to pull out. She is expected to appear in the future, he said. Her campaign also had no comment about that."

NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan reports that Obama fine-tuned his argument about why him and not Clinton over the weekend. He stressed his respect for Clinton and commonalities, but he also directly questioned the way she practices politics. "She's also a skilled politician," Obama said, "and she's run what Washington would call a 'textbook' campaign. But the problem is the textbook itself. It's a textbook that's all about winning elections, but says nothing about how to bring the country together to solve problems. As we saw in the debate last week, it encourages vague, calculated answers to suit the politics of the moment instead of clear, consistent principles about how you would lead America. It teaches you that you can promise progress for everyday people while striking a bargain with the very special interests who crowd them out."

Obama did a Q&A with Newsweek. And here are two interesting excerpts:
Q: Is she entitled to any credit for her years as First Lady as she argues her case to be president?
OBAMA: On those areas where there is a record of her having done work, she certainly deserves credit for it. What she can't do is have it both ways. She can't embrace every success of Bill Clinton's presidency and distance herself from every failure of Bill Clinton's presidency.

Q: What are the major failures of the Bill Clinton presidency?
OBAMA: Issues like health care. She wants to take credit for having tried but there were a lot of big mistakes in preventing us from getting health care back in 1993… What was she involved with? Where did she participate? Where did she not participate in decision making? And that's one of the reasons why these papers that are currently in the presidential library could be helpful in sorting that out.

Speaking of the Clinton library records, however, the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet notes that Obama hasn't released his papers from his days in the Illinois state Senate, nor does he release all of his meetings as a US senator.

RICHARDSON: We've been in the column of "Richardson's running for Senate" for some time, mainly because of two things: 1) it's the buzz among some key Richardson supporters; 2) New Mexico Congressman Tom Udall had indicated he wasn't running, and Udall and Richardson are very close. Well, now Udall is back to pondering a Senate bid. He probably wouldn't be doing this if he were convinced Richardson was still thinking about running.

On energy, Richardson said, "I would have [renewable energy entrepreneurs] get access to government financial loans at a very, very generous rate. I would have them get tax incentives to hire people, to purchase technology and equipment." 
 
"Richardson has tapped into a pipeline of campaign cash from those who lobby government in his home state," the AP writes. "Critics say the contributions raise questions about whether Richardson has used his leverage as governor to help fund his presidential aspirations, and whether his presidential campaign has become another avenue for state lobbyists to curry favor."