The Note: What if Hillary Clinton Said "Jose"

Speakers from the worlds of journalism, politics and food will include Joseph Lelyveld, Calvin Trillin, Hodding Carter, Lord Owen (the former British foreign secretary), Alice Waters, and John McCain. Then a reception will follow, at which great stories will be told.

A crowd as big as Johnny's love of good Thai food (and everything else wonderful in life) is expected, so arrive early if you plan to attend.

Robert Gates for SecDef:

The New York Daily News' McAuliff tees up the Gates hearings through the 2008 presidential lens. LINK

Brownback forms presidential "exploratory" committee:

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza has Matt Keelen, a Republican lobbyist not affiliated with any '08 candidate, saying that Sen. Brownback's campaign will be "compassionate conservatism on steroids" with a strong focus on poverty and moral issues. LINK

"Money is a major hurdle for Brownback, who has never raised or spent more than $2.5 million on a race." David Kensinger, Brownback's former chief of staff and an informal adviser to his presidential campaign, acknowledged that Brownback's fundraising ability remains an open question, but added: "If you can win Iowa, you are going to have all the money you need overnight."

In his story looking at Sen. Brownback getting in the presidential race, the Hill's Alexander Bolton has ACU's David Keene explaining why conservatives distrust McCain, FRC's Tom McClusky calling Romney's record on life "spotty," and ATR's Grover Norquist criticizing Huckabee for raising taxes by saying, "I would prefer a fat guy with a skinny budget."LINK

The Kansas City Star's Matt Stearns and David Goldstein, both total pros, report that Brownback's Senate chief of staff, Rob Wasinger, 34, has left to run the exploratory committee, which will be based in the Kansas City area. LINK

The Kansas City Star duo also Note that Brownback is calling for "a flat tax, term limits for judges and members of Congress, and 'compassionate yet practical programs to help the poor here and around the world.'"

With Sen. Brownback in the presidential race, social issues will come into focus reports the Los Angeles Times' Johanna Neuman. The president of the conservative Concerned Women for America tells the Los Angeles Times that Brownback is not just a politician trying to pander conservatives -- he's consistent about his point of view. LINK

Stu Rothenberg tells the Los Angeles Times: "Obviously there's a vacancy on the right, and he may well fit the niche. He's a longshot -- but you don't have any shot if you don't throw your hat in the ring."

The Associated Press' San Hananel reports that Sen. Brownback's 10-state tour will end with a night in Louisiana's Angola state penitentiary in an effort to draw attention to faith-based approaches to cutting the recidivism rate. LINK

In her story looking at Brownback's entrance into the race, USA Today's Jill Lawrence picks up on former Frist adviser Alex Vogel saying "the threshold for respectability" for Brownback and other long shots is $10 million by the end of March 2007. LINK

USA Today also picks up on FEC chairman Michael Toner predicting that the eventual nominees will raise $500 million apiece.

Sen. Obama works Sen. Clinton's turf:

Pat Healy of the New York Times reports that Sen. Obama (D-IL) met with billionaire philanthropist and heavy-hitting Democratic donor George Soros yesterday and used his Midtown Manhattan office space to meet with some other potential donors. LINK

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