The Note: The Courage To Create Change

"'That is the kind of innovation we need at the state level, and in Washington,' Mehlman said."

Pat Healy of the New York Times reports that newly-elected New York GOP Chairman Joe Mondello received a courtesy call from Sen. McCain (R-AZ) last week. LINK

2008: Democrats:

For the second time in as many days, the New York Post's Bishop tries to bait Sen. Clinton into the presidential race (or, at least, a public appearance) with Sen. Obama's flurry of public appearances of late. LINK

Key graph #1: "'She's been quiet and, you know, there's a question that we all hear is that she may not get in this if Barack Obama gets in,' Iowa Interim Democratic Party Chairman Rob Tully said."

Note, too, that unlike Sen. Obama, Sen. Clinton did not call New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan to congratulate her on the huge victories for Democrats in the Granite State this year.

Nedra Pickler of the AP reports that "states willing to hold back in the rush to move up presidential nominating contests" could receive extra delegates to the Democratic National Convention under a new plan being presented to party leaders aimed to avoid "front-loading" the primaries. LINK

Glen Johnson of the AP Notes Senator Kerry's desire to move past a botched joke and onward to 2008 and just how complicated that may prove to be. LINK

Johnson also mentions that Jerry Crawford, the chairman of Kerry's Iowa campaign in 2004, will be supporting Gov. Tom Vilsack this time around, but the Shaheens of New Hampshire may be open to a second Kerry bid.

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey Jacob Schlesinger reports that the inaugural cartoon on www.StopHerNow.com shows Sen. Clinton "slamming Howard Dean with an oversize mallet."

The Washington Wire also reports that Sen. Clinton and former President Clinton "top pollster Peter Hart's Washington state survey on most-desirable weekend family companions, trailed by the Bushes; Cheneys and Kerrys finish last."

The Wall Street Journal's Schlesinger also looks at how some Senate leaders, including incoming Energy Chairman Bingaman, back an Obama plan forcing government to raise corporate average fuel-economy standards for autos by one mile per gallon each year, unless regulators prove it isn't feasible. House Energy Chairman-to-be Dingell of Detroit blasts CAFÉ as outmoded, and instead backs incentives for flex-fuel cars.

The Las Vegas Sun's Lisa Mascaro reports that Howard Dean is targeting areas in rural Nevada as part of his "50 State Strategy" to turn Red states Blue. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, the Washington Post's Peter Baker and Thomas Ricks report. LINK

In a story that reports that the Bush Administration is deliberating whether to abandon reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents, the Washington Post's Robin Wright reports that U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that their reconciliation efforts may even have "backfired," alienating the Shiite majority and leaving the United States vulnerable to having no allies in Iraq. LINK

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