The Note: Gradual Push-Me-Pullback

Ian Bishop of the New York Post Notes Sen. Clinton has been largely out of sight during the current Obama boomlet -- which includes tomorrow's appearance on The Tonight Show, the upcoming New Hampshire Democratic rally, and a keynote address for an anti-child poverty benefit in New York City on Monday. LINK

Abby Simons of the Des Moines Register covers former Senator John Edward's (D-NC) book tour stop in Des Moines where he answered questions in front of hundreds. One audience member commented, "he did pretty good. It's tough for anyone not to sell out. I think there's a lot of people who want to see John Edwards make it. We're hungry for something new." LINK

Frist bows out:

As always when someone doesn't run for president who was considering it, the question arises: why is Bill Frist not going for it?

Based on his exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers and ABC's own reporting with Republicans both close to Frist and familiar with presidential politics, he was not gung-ho about the time-consuming nature of running for the highest office in the land, especially the work required to raise the necessary money.

Add in that several sources say the public relations and political gaffes he made in the Senate were going to make it much tougher for him to reach the $20-30 million table stakes by next June. Some donors were put off by things such as his Terri Schiavo stance, but many more seemed concerned about electability. Without the majority leader's perch, Frist was going to be largely reliant on his Tennessee base to raise money, and that wasn't enough.

There are also, you will recall, twin SEC and DOJ investigations into his family health care business, which sources close to Frist do not believe will result in any tsuris (as we say in Tennessee) for him.

The New York Times' Kate Zernike writes that Frist's exit is "likely" to "clear more room for other candidates to run to the right," which The Note respectfully submits is made up analysis. The New York Times includes Sen. McCain's kind words about Frist from his statement yesterday. LINK

The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher, also making it up, writes that Frist's exit creates an opening on the party's right flank. LINK

"His departure, along with the election loss of Virginia Sen. George Allen, boosts Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but insiders say it still opens a large hole in the GOP field for a candidate more satisfying to the right and acceptable to the center," writes the New York Daily News' McAuliff, making up the same thing. LINK

Chuck Raasch of Gannett News Service on how Frist's exit may bolster John McCain because of the importance of reaching populist conservatives. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Joel Havemann concludes that Frist's exit means Romney, Brownback, Huckabee, and Gingrich are the strongest beneficiaries in the game to court social conservatives. LINK

Frist's decision to not run in 2008 could have a great impact of support for Gov. Romney with Christian conservatives if he chooses to run, but it may be too early to do "cartwheels" yet, reports Susan Miligan of the Boston Globe. LINK

Looking at Frist's effort to position himself as the champion for Christian conservatives and how that backfired, Bloomberg News has Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute saying, "there is no natural constituency for Bill Frist." LINK

The Memphis Commercial Appeals looks back on Frist's career: LINK

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