"Dean has run a fantastic campaign by tapping into a very real anger that exists among many Democrats, including this one. I believe Dean when he says he wants to be the candidate for everybody, even guys with Confederate flags on the backs of their pickup trucks. Unfortunately, the reality is that Dean can only be the candidate for people with Darwin fishes on the backs of their Volvos and rainbow decals on the backs of their Jettas. He's not a bad guy, but if he's our standard bearer, Democrats are in deep poop." LINK
And, thus, the Nation's political eye turns to the head of the pass — one week from tonight, when Dean's 8 rivals face off against him in the Dust-up in Durham, the year's final debate — before a huge New Hampshire audience on mega-powerhouse WMUR, and a huge national audience on Nightline and C-SPAN.
There are four additional must-reads today.
--Kit Seelye in the New York Times on the Electoral College map and the Big 15. LINK
There's nothing quite like seeing Jim Mulhall pull out words like "destiny" a mere 48 days from the Iowa caucuses.
--The Wall Street Journal 's Jeanne Cummings smartly lays out the land of 5-plus-2-equals-7. We ask you to take our quiz to find out which influential Dem in the World of Outside Groups is not mentioned in this piece?
1) Ellen Malcolm 2) Steve Rosenthal 3) Mike Lux 4) John Podesta 5) Cecile Richards Winners receive our undying respect (we are all out of T-shirts, what with the holiday rush and all!) and affection. LINK
--The New York Times lead story — and others — on the suddenly gushing-like-a-geyser economy. LINK;
--The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Jaffe on the Army's decision to allow combat units returning from duty to temporarily fall below combat-readiness levels. Anyone got a copy of the 2000 debates handy?
President Bush signs an adoption bill, attends a Pittsburgh fundraiser, and takes a picture with NASCAR drivers today.
Gov. Dean campaigns and speaks about the economy today in Iowa.
Rep. Gephardt appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Sen. Kerry speaks to students in Boston today.
Gen. Clark campaigns in New Hampshire.
Sen. Edwards campaigns in Iowa.
Sen. Lieberman speaks about the economy and tax policy throughout New Hampshire.
Amb. Moseley Braun is in Rockford, Ill. this morning.
Rev. Al Sharpton continues to rehearse in New York for Saturday Night Live.
Rep. Kucinich is in New York City meeting with labor leaders.
The Dust-up in Durham:
Precisely one week from today, on Dec. 9 at 7 pm ET, ABC News and WMUR will host a debate in Durham, N.H., on the campus of the University of New Hampshire, with all nine Democratic presidential candidates.
As you know, the whole shootin' match will be seen that evening on an extended version of Nightline, shown live on WMUR and on C-SPAN.
Also: ABC News Radio will provide a specially formatted two-hour version of the debate, including post-debate analysis, to its 4,000 affiliates at 9 pm ET. ABC News Live, the 24/7 streaming video news network available at ABCNEWS.com, will carry the debate also.
And the C-SPAN pre- and post- bonus coverage is going to make those of you foolish enough not to come up for the debate feel ALMOST as if you are there.
Although some have mocked Walter Shapiro for publishing a book about this campaign before the voting starts, we say it's never too early for campaign history.