THE NOTE: Rudy Rises

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This language is more measured, but the impact is the same: Clinton "swiped the cash-on-hand lead from Illinois Sen. Barack Obama after out-raising him $22 million to $19 million in the three-month period ending Sept. 30," Brody Mullins and Mary Jacoby write in The Wall Street Journal. "That leaves Mrs. Clinton with $35 million in the bank for the primaries, about $3 million more than Mr. Obama."

When debt is factored in, "Clinton had a little less than $33 million at the end of September that can be used for the battle for the Democratic nomination, compared with almost $31 million for Obama," Bloomberg's Kristin Jensen and Jonathan D. Salant report. Both candidates are "flush with cash, each with about three times as much as leading Republicans," they write.

Clinton's FEC report shows that her campaign gave back $804,850 in contributions from 249 associates of Norman Hsu, as the "full extent of accused swindler Norman Hsu's political network was revealed for the first time," the Los Angeles Times' Tom Hamburger, Robin Fields and Chuck Neubauer write. "The donors came from 22 states and Washington, D.C., but Californians accounted for the largest amount refunded from the Hsu network, $308,000."

Overnight, Obama took a page from his Republican rivals and started raising money based on Hillary Clinton's strength. "Washington lobbyists and special interests rallied to help Hillary Clinton out-raise us for the first time," Obama writes in a fund-raising appeal sent to supporters early this morning (subject line: "The situation"). "If we want real change in this country, then we need to prove that together we are stronger than the lobbyist-driven money machine that has dominated Washington for too long. The situation here is simple. We are $2.1 million behind. We must close that gap right now."

Obama didn't mention Clinton on the stump yesterday -- for a change -- but his target was clear with this line, ABC's Sunlen Miller reports. "We've had enough of . . . triangulation and poll-driven politics," Obama said at a campaign stop in Wisconsin.

Sound familiar? "We cannot triangulate our way to real change," said . . . former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., in August in New Hampshire.

A month earlier, at the CNN/YouTube debate: "Do you believe that compromise, triangulation will bring about big change? I don't," Edwards said."

Edwards yesterday landed the backing of the SEIU chapter in Iowa and nine other states, while Obama countered by securing SEIU backing in Illinois and Indiana. Edwards' prize is far bigger: "Because the Iowa SEIU is choosing to back Edwards, SEIU councils from those other states [backing Edwards] will be allowed to organize get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of Edwards in the Iowa caucuses," per the Quad-City Times.

We get some finality (if not sanity) on the schedule front tonight, with the Iowa Republican Party set to approve a caucus date of Thursday, Jan. 3. But don't book your return ticket yet: The Democrats could still go with Saturday, Jan. 5. "The question is what will Iowa Democrats do and they're not giving many public signals," Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson writes on her blog. "It is 'tradition' for Republicans and Democrats in Iowa to hold their precinct Caucus meetings on the same date, but not a requirement."

Fund-raising morsels from yesterday's FEC reports:

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