BIDEN: Biden drew 250 to an event in Iowa, "in a scene more typical of the events of Democratic front-runners Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards." Richard Schiff, the West Wing's Toby Ziegler, introduced Biden and will campaign with him today.
CLINTON: The Washington Post: "After trying out various themes and rationales for her campaign, Hillary Clinton has settled in the final week before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary on the experience plank, arguing that she is the only one of the front-running Democratic candidates prepared to lead from the first day in office, a claim her rivals have challenged by questioning the value of her tenure as first lady. Clinton advisers noted privately this week that the experience argument was bolstered by the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the threat of wider unrest in that country. Clinton pressed the point during a stop in Eldridge, Iowa, telling reporters: "I'm not asking you to take me on faith. I'm not asking you to take a leap of faith."
At a town hall meeting tonight, Bill Clinton once again suggested that he opposed the war in Iraq, NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli notes. Talking about the state of the economy here, Clinton talked about the growing inequality between the top wage earners and the rest of Americans. As he often has, he then talked about how he was given tax breaks and not asked to sacrifice. "As soon as I got rich, this party that had been so mean to me thought I was peachy keen, and the president could not do enough for me," Clinton said. "He just kept throwing tax cuts at me and borrowing money to pay for it, while we had men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I was deprived of the opportunity to support them."
He continued: "One of the conflicts I supported; the other I didn't. But I supported those people." The comment was similar to one he made in Iowa in November, when he said, "I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning," and that he "still resent[s] that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers."
You can add the Concord Monitor to Clinton's endorsement list. Interestingly, the Monitor seems to echo the Des Moines Register nod of Clinton while also praising Obama. "Barack Obama, more than most, has the power to inspire. The positive tone of his campaign is not a gimmick. He is a serious candidate with sober ideas. For reasons symbolic and substantive, he would also be a nominee Democrats could feel proud to vote for."
"But Hillary Clinton's unique combination of smarts, experience and toughness makes her the best choice to win the November election and truly get things done."
EDWARDS: As the candidate continues to proudly tell Iowans that he has never taken contributions from Washington lobbyists, prominent Edwards supporter Scott Tyre makes Edwards look a little less sincere, NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller reports.
Tyre, the president of the Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists (wisconsinlobbyists.com) and owner of the Madison, WI lobbying shop Capitol Navigators (capitolnavigators.com), serves as a member of Edwards' national finance committee. He personally has given a total of $6,600 to Edwards in 2007 (and also donated to Rep. Ron Kind and the Wisconsin Democratic Party), according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Asked about Tyre following his announcement at the public library here, Edwards said, "Scott Tyre is a friend of mine and a support of mine, yes." He said he had "no idea" whether Tyre is a lobbyist and added that the campaign has "a system in place where every contribution that comes in is checked against a registry of Washington lobbyists."
Questioned further about how the campaign justifies taking contributions from a state lobbyist, Edwards spokesman Mark Kornblau said that state lobbyists don't wield the same influence that federal lobbyists do, and that if Edwards were running for governor, he wouldn't take contributions from lobbyists in that state. He pointed to the funding Sen. Barack Obama took from lobbyists in his 2004 Senate campaign as a bigger hypocrisy. "John Edwards again goes further than anyone in the race on ending the influence of federal lobbyists," Kornblau added in an e-mail, calling the news about Tyre "piddly nonsense."
Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz adds, "Either you lobby the federal government, or you don't. Either you are paid to influence legislation and the people who write it, or you aren't. The line is clear -- and only murky for rival campaigns or reporters who are trying to blur it."
The Des Moines Register adds that the Web site of Tyre's firm describes it as 'a full-service public affairs firm delivering the very best in lobbying and grassroots services at the state and federal levels.'"
OBAMA: The senator is defending his health-care plan from the AFSCME radio attacks with a robo-call to supporters.
The New Hampshire Union Leader profiles Obama. "The candidate is clearly in his element before a large crowd: He smoothly moves from topic to topic and during the question-and-answer sessions he is well prepared, even when an audience member awkwardly begins a question about racism in the United States and how he would deal with racism while still winning the general election."
RICHARDSON: Martin Sheen was supposed to campaign with today and tomorrow with Richardson in Iowa, but he had to cancel due to illness. "I am deeply sorry for not being able to join Governor Richardson in Iowa," Sheen said in a statement released by the campaign. "I believe with all of my heart that he is the candidate we must elect as the next President of the United States," Sheen said. "At this critical time in our nation's history, Bill Richardson is the one person with the experience and vision to rebuild our reputation and alliances abroad and improve the lives of all Americans here at home. I hope that the people of Iowa will forgive me for not being able to fulfill my commitment, and I urge them to caucus for Governor Richardson on January 3rd."