Obama?

Sen. Allard's announcement that he does not intend to seek re-election has made the GOP's path to reclaiming the Senate majority in 2008 more difficult and opened up what will be one of the most closely watched Senate races of the cycle, reports The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny. LINK

Here's the Rocky Mountain News' Sprengelmeyer and Barge on the Allard-induced "free-for-all." LINK

A Denver Post editorial laments Allard's early announcement, positing that his influence in the Senate will only be diminished by his sudden transition into lame-duckhood. LINK

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

2008: House:

National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) chairman Tom Cole, who anticipates 2008 to be more of an "issue-based election," is optimistic that Republicans will take back the House, writes The Hill's Aaron Blake. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Nell Henderson look at efforts on the part of President Bush to shift the burden to Democrats on the deficit by espousing the goal of a balanced budget by 2012 while leaving it to Congress to make the painful choices to get there. LINK

The Democratic majority:

With lots of lobbyists returning to Congress to work for the new Democratic majority, the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum reports that the Hill's anti-revolving-door rules don't work in both directions. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

The San Francisco Chronicle ed board is none too pleased with the Schwarzenegger's support of Bush's decision to send additional troops to Iraq. LINK

Media:

Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin of the Washington Examiner report impersonator/comedian Rich Little has been tapped to headline the April 21 White House Correspondents Association annual dinner. LINK

Political potpourri:

The Boston Herald's Casey Ross writes that Howard Dean's appearance in Boston for Martin Luther King day festivities could be a sign that Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) is "already being eyed by power-brokers on the national political stage." LINK

The New York Post caught New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's lighthearted 2008 presidential endorsement of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) "if he chooses to run as a New Yorker." LINK

Other Tuesday schedule items:

Four of the biggest U.S. anti-tax organizations hold a "policy conference" on Capitol Hill today to warn Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson away from a deal with Democrats to overhaul Social Security that includes higher payroll contributions. Today's conference is organized by Mallory Factor's Free Enterprise Fund.

As the new chair of the subcommittee on immigration, border security and refugees, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) holds a hearing today to address the issue of Iraqi refugees. For security reasons, two of the Iraqi witnesses testifying at this hearing are using pseudonyms to protect their identity. Photographs and video of these witnesses will be prohibited.

The political week ahead:

On Wednesday, President Bush participates in a visit to National Institutes of Health Laboratories at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD at 10:35 am ET for some pre-SOTU policy test driving. Mr. Bush also participates in a roundtable discussion on advances in cancer prevention at 1:15 pm ET.

On Thursday, the Republican National Committee's winter meeting gets underway with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and outgoing RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman as headliners. Also, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) delivers a speech to The Jordan Company at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, NY.

On Saturday, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) is set to announce his intentions to seek the 2008 Republican nomination for president in Topeka, KS.

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