THE NOTE: Opening Night for Thompson


With that added to new questions about her ties to Sandy Berger -- a "friend" now best known for swiping documents from the National Archives, though he has no formal role with the campaign -- now is a great time to climb aboard the "Middle Class Express." Next up: Clinton delivers an 11 am ET speech on "retirement security" today in Iowa (and we notice she didn't take any questions from voters yesterday).

Clinton "has toned down her message of 'change' over the last few days," The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut reports. "Instead, she is rolling across Iowa in a campaign bus with the [words] 'Middle Class' emblazoned across the side -- a not so subtle signal of her shift in emphasis."

Check out this bit of positioning: Clinton thinks NAFTA should be reevaluated and "adjusted," as she "distanced herself Monday from one of her husband's signature White House achievements," per USA Today's Susan Page. Clinton tells Page: "Part of leadership is continuing to evaluate what we currently do to figure out if we can do it better."

Clinton is advancing an economic agenda that includes expanded college scholarships, more 401(k)s, and ways for homeowners to avoid foreclosure. "Many of Mrs. Clinton's proposals are familiar, but they have been packaged into what she calls 'a new economic blueprint for a 21st century economy,' " Jackie Calmes reports in The Wall Street Journal. She also is ruling out a special tax to pay for the war, and is distancing herself from the proposal she floated last month for $5,000 "baby bonds." "Mrs. Clinton said her priorities for health care, deficit reduction and energy alternatives 'are really more pressing,' " Calmes writes.

Something is working for Clinton: The Boston Globe's Sasha Issenberg sees her doing something that was thought to be undoable: Shifting negative perceptions of her that had baked in over 15 years. "For at least a decade, the inflexibility of voter attitudes toward Clinton had come to be treated as an immutable law of American politics," he writes. "Yet over the summer, some voters appear to have changed their minds about the senator. On the key question asked by pollsters -- do you view her favorably or unfavorably? -- the numbers ticked in small but significant ways in Clinton's direction."

Obama, meanwhile, rolled out his energy plan yesterday -- complete with the requisite swipe at inaction during the Clinton years. "The energy speech was the latest effort by Mr. Obama to cast himself as a critic of how business has been conducted in Washington," The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny writes. "Though he did not mention his campaign rivals by name, Mr. Obama criticized those who opposed gradual increases in gasoline mileage standards for cars, which included Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York."

Obama is seeking "to spark a debate that he hopes will generate more light than heat: phase out the old-fashioned incandescent light bulb by 2014," ABC's David Wright reports. "The idea comes as part of Obama's comprehensive energy strategy unveiled today in New Hampshire. It's a dossier that would do Al Gore proud -- thick with proposals that he says would cut greenhouse emissions by the carbon load."

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