The Note: Follow My Lead, Oh, How I Need

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times Notes that Sen. Obama's call for a fixed deadline is a new position for the Senator. Sweet reports that as recently as his November 20 speech in Chicago, he was not suggesting an "overly rigid" timetable for complete withdrawal. LINK

Seton Hall Law Professor Mark Alexander told his students that he would be leaving his teaching gig in a few weeks to become the policy director for Sen. Obama's presidential campaign, per the "Inside Edge" blog on politicsnj.com. LINK

2008: Democrats: Edwards:

The Politico's Roger Simons assesses fomer Sen. Edwards' attempts to position himself as the "authenticity" candidate and his recent tough talk for his opponents, calling the non-binding Iraq resolutions as well as Sen. Obama's plan, "useless." LINK

2008: Democrats: Dodd:

David Lightman of the Hartford Courant reports on Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-CT) showing in recent polls. Dodd said, "I'm competing with the margin of error in most polls." LINK

Iowa:

"As he apparently readies for a re-election bid, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa raised $362,000 in the last three months of last year," according to FEC reports due today. LINK

The Des Moines Register's David Yepsen on Gov. Chet Culver's (D-IA) new budget. LINK

The Libby trial: Judith Miller's day on the stand:

ABC News' Jason Ryan and Pierre Thomas have all the details on Miller's testimony. LINK

USA Today's Willing reports that Judy Miller said Libby seemed "agitated, frustrated and angry" in their first meeting by what he called a "perverted war of leaks" by Wilson and others tied to the CIA, and that Libby "was concerned that the CIA was beginning to backpedal to try to distance itself from the unequivocal intelligence estimates it had provided before the war." LINK

The New York Times team of Lewis and Shane write that Miller "provided the testimony that was most damaging to Mr. Libby, he sat almost motionless in his chair about 20 feet away and stared at her." LINK

In the states:

Stepping into the debate over health care, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will call for expanded coverage of the state's 780,000 uninsured in his State of the State address today, reports the Washington Post's Lisa Rein. LINK

In California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's fellow Republicans are putting forward more "modest" plans than he had hoped for on universal healthcare coverage. The Los Angeles Times has the story. LINK

Casting and counting:

"A federal court trial is expected to end this week in a Justice Department lawsuit seeking an end to 'relentless voting-related discrimination' by black political leaders in a rural Mississippi county -- the first suit brought under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that accuses blacks of suppressing the rights of whites, reports the Washington Times' Jerry Seper. LINK

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