From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** Albany Shocker: The Spitzer story is something that is simply shocking. But like the other recent sex scandals -- Vitter's and Craig's -- this one is likely to have very little national effect, unless Spitzer decides to stay in office. Assuming a fairly quick resignation, this will fade into being only a fascinating New York City/Albany story with a new star being born, Lt. Gov. David Paterson, who would become governor. The trouble only starts if Spitzer won't go, then he risks having prominent New Yorkers like Hillary Clinton being forced to call for his resignation and putting him in an even more precarious position. By the way, for those wondering, Spitzer is a superdelegate, as is Paterson. Both have endorsed Clinton. Should Spitzer resign, the number of superdelegates will simply be subtracted by one, since there's no provision in New York for a lieutenant governor to be replaced until the next election.
*** The Magnolia match up: Can Obama win yet another state and pick up some more momentum heading into Pennsylvania? Could he win by such a margin that he erases the net delegates Clinton gained from her victories last week? Or can Clinton pull off the upset in a state Obama is favored to win? We'll find out the answers to these questions in today's Mississippi primary, where 33 pledged delegates are at stake. Polls open at 8:00 am ET and close at 8:00 pm ET.
*** Turning Mississippi blue? Take a look at Alabama (Obama won it by 14 points), Georgia (by 35 points), Louisiana (by 21 points) and South Carolina (by 28 points), and you'll get an idea about Obama's likely margin of victory. Frankly, if Clinton keeps Obama under 15 points, she may have a moral victory. That said, it wouldn't be surprising if Obama won by 20-plus points considering the makeup of Mississippi's electorate. In fact, Mississippi is one of those rare Southern states that might be in play in the general election if Obama becomes the nominee. One Dem statistician tells First Read that there are three red states that could swing if African-American turnout was ever maximized (both in registration and in actual turnout): Georgia, Louisiana and, yes, Mississippi. So don't assume this is just one of those untouchable red states for the Dems when watching returns roll in tonight.
*** Veep chatter: The big Clinton-Obama story yesterday was Obama pushing back against the idea that he would be Clinton's vice president. Interestingly, Clinton supporter Ed Rendell seemed to backtrack a bit more than anyone else in the Clinton campaign when he admitted that he thinks Clinton would make a good veep for Obama. "It would be great and either way," he said, per NBC/NJ's Athena Jones. He added: "Whether it was Sen. Obama for the president and Sen. Clinton for vice president or vice versa. I think it would be great." While many analysts have picked up on this Clinton storyline as proof Clinton is trying to diminish Obama, don't assume this isn't ALSO an attempt by the Clintons to remind Obama that she should be considered for the veep slot if he's the nominee. It appears more likely every day that Clinton's Plan B is the VP slot, not Senate majority leader as so many others have speculated.
*** When surrogates attack: As Samantha Power's "monster" comment to the Scotsman taught us, sometimes a remark by an adviser/surrogate to a fairly untraditional media outlet can produce a political firestorm. Will this statement by Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro spark a similar controversy? "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," Ferraro told Torrance CA's Daily Breeze. "And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." The Clinton campaign quickly distanced itself from this comment, because this is a slippery slope argument that could be demeaning to both Clinton and Obama.
*** Obama playing offense: Yesterday, Obama resurrected the Somali garb story, accusing the Clinton campaign of leaking the photo that made its way to Drudge, NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan notes. Obama said, "… when in the midst of a campaign you decide to throw the kitchen sink at your opponent because you're behind and your campaign starts leaking photos of me when I'm traveling overseas, wearing, in native clothes of those folks to make people afraid." Obama was very matter of fact about this -- the first time he's been this way on a story that hasn't proven to be true.
*** The Rezko headache: Obama's name came up tangentially at the Rezko trial yesterday -- regarding nominations to an Illinois health planning board. At a minimum, Obama's name is being mentioned just enough that the trial is going to provide a blueprint for some reporters to write some negative stories about Obama.
*** On the trail: Clinton, in Pennsylvania, stumps in Harrisburg and Philadelphia before returning to DC later in the evening; McCain is in the potential battleground state of Missouri, campaigning in St. Louis; and Obama holds a town hall in Fairless Hills, PA.
Countdown to Pennsylvania: 42 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 238 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 315 days
Click here to sign up for First Read emails.
Text FIRST to 622639 to sign up for First Read alerts to your mobile phone.