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Oh-eight (D): Hillary and first ladies

BIDEN: Yesterday, the Delaware senator issued this statement: "Yesterday's attempt by John McCain and Rudy Giuliani to defend the Bush-Cheney troop surge in Iraq totally misses the point -- and is misleading to the American people. Security in Iraq is better, thanks in no small measure to our troops. But there is no evidence -- none -- that the surge is succeeding in achieving its stated objective: to allow Iraqis to come together politically… There's only one possible path to a durable political settlement in Iraq and it's the one I proposed and that 74 other Senators endorsed: decentralize power and give Iraqis local control over their daily lives.

We bet there's nothing the Biden and Dodd campaigns hate more than stories that compare the two candidacies.

CLINTON: The New York Times examines Clinton's focus on wooing older women voters. "Many young women have been enthusiastic supporters, but Mrs. Clinton, of New York, has shown particular pride in the women in their 70s, 80s and 90s at her events. She spends extra time with them on the rope line and repeats their stories to audiences… In interviews with 20 women in their late 70s and 80s, most said they supported Mrs. Clinton based on qualities they saw in her -- intelligence, confidence and capability -- rather than her positions on issues. Many also said that her qualities would help her cope with challenges."

It's profile day at the Los Angeles Times, and its focus is on Clinton's years as first lady. From the subhead: "As first lady, the senator didn't win every battle. But she was known for showing up thoroughly, perhaps obsessively, prepared."

Speaking of first ladies, will New Hampshire First Lady Susan Lynch be to Clinton what former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack was to Kerry in 2004? The Concord Monitor writes that Susan Lynch endorsed Clinton, as her husband "reaffirmed his intention" to stay neutral. Mary Louise Hancock: "He's the state's peacemaker. So why make people unhappy over these choices?"

The Union Leader: The endorsement "was a win for the Clinton campaign, which already had signed another gubernatorial family" -- Billy Shaheen. (Speaking of first ladies, we hear Mari Culver, Iowa's current first lady, might endorse. But as with New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, don't expect Iowa Gov. Chet Culver to endorse.)

NBC/NJ's Memoli has more on Gov. Lynch not endorsing: Just as many folks I talked to were surprised that he's on the sidelines as expected it. And if there is one knock against the man despite his high approval ratings, it's that he is very risk averse and avoids making a tough call. So, then, no surprise he's playing it safe with other Dems (even if his wife endorsing gives a strong hint). It's also worth noting that the one candidate Lynch has most spoken publicly in favor of is a Republican -- John McCain. He turned up at a McCain event that was in his hometown, and praised him. And at a Veterans Day event, he said McCain was "a great American hero who made extraordinary sacrifices for all of us."

Clinton today rolls out her policy proposal on dealing with HIV/AIDS. "Clinton's two main rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards, have already released plans of their own. Taking Mrs. Clinton's into account, the three approaches are similar in terms of spending, goals and differences with President Bush's AIDS policy."

Attention conservative conspiracy theorists! The N.Y. Sun looks into that short stint Clinton spent in 1971 at an Oakland, Calif., law firm run by attorneys with ties to the Communist Party. "She never returned to work there. But she stayed in touch with one of the firm's partners and his wife, and they stayed in touch with her, until they died. The decades-long correspondence illustrates the complicated relationship between Mrs. Clinton and radical activists who were often frustrated by the failure of Mrs. Clinton and her husband to side with them."

Besides Bill Clinton in Iowa, soap opera star and children's advocate Victoria Rowell is in New Hampshire on behalf of Senator Hillary Clinton. She attends a lunch with NH children's advocacy leaders in Concord and participates in salon conversation in Bedford.

EDWARDS: Per the Concord Monitor, Edwards asked his audience to consider two questions: "Who can you trust to tell you what's wrong in Washington?" he said. "And who can you trust to fight like hell to make it right?"

CBN's David Brody has a Q&A with Edwards, which will air in full next week. A quick excerpt:
Brody: What about South Carolina, though, because you're not leading down there and that would be a place you think you could do pretty well.
Edwards: I won the South Carolina primary in 2004, and I was way behind in the polls at this stage in 2004. I think all that has to happen in South Carolina is voters there need to be reminded where I'm from -- that I was born there. That I understand the closing of plants, the loss of jobs, the rural economy. Those are all things that I grew up with, and I understand them in great and intimate detail because I have lived them, and I've seen what it's like with my own family.

OBAMA: The Des Moines Register assesses the impact of Oprah campaigning for Obama on December 8 in Iowa. Even though Clinton supporter and former Gov. Tom Vilsack dismissed her potential impact, the paper notes her show's popularity in the state and that she will at least draw an audience.

Oprah stumping for Obama is the top story in the Columbia State, which predicts thousands will show for Oprah events. But those quoted in the piece are unconvinced she will have a large impact.

But The New York Daily News makes the case for why Oprah matters: "Experts who believe celebrity has its limits in swaying voters aren't ready to discount it this time. As Obama looks to close the gap with front-runner Hillary Clinton in the final month before the first caucuses and primaries, the most powerful woman in politics is about to feel the pressure from the most powerful woman in media."

Responding to the quick attacks from the Clinton campaign on Obama's Hopefund PAC, Obama attorney Bob Bauer said, per the Chicago Sun-Times, "The law on this is quite clear and it has been clear for years: The contributions made by this committee are entirely lawful. Any suggestion to the contrary is not merely novel -- it is wrong." 
 
Another Jesse Jackson slight of Obama? In a weekly column in the Chicago Sun-Times, Jackson writes, "Yet the Democratic candidates -- with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans' Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign -- have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, La., not one candidate showed up."
 
RICHARDSON: The campaign today unveils a new TV ad in Iowa, which focuses on education.

Also today, per his campaign, Richardson will announce his agriculture agenda in a speech he will give in Council Bluffs, IA. According to excerpts of the speech, Richardson will say: "Our country requires a vision for rural America and the farm sector that will give American agriculture a new direction, one suited to a new era shaped by the global economy. This vision must include an appreciation of the growing demand for renewable energy sources, an urgent need for conservation, a market with true competition and support for family farmers, and an increased emphasis on health and safety. Fairness has been corrupted by campaign financing. President Bush signed away the family farm to big agribusiness. We can do better."

More: "We need a new direction for American agriculture. One that seizes the opportunities presented by renewable fuel possibilities, that makes conservation a real priority, and levels the playing field for family farmers and independent producers. I will begin by listening to the words of President Truman. It's time we put fairness back into our farm policy."

Making a pitch that editorial pages usually LOVE when it comes to endorsement time, Richardson promised yesterday that he'd provide a "new style at the White House" by offering a "positive, bipartisan" administration "closely linked with common people."

Richardson announced Indy car drivers Bobby Unser Sr. and Al Unser Sr. will tour the state this week to support his own presidential bid."