The Note: Clean as a Whistle

CBN's David Brody has an unnamed "prominent Evangelical leader" saying: "Huckabee has potential. With his chief executive experience, if he can show the ability to raise money, he could quickly move ahead of Sam. He is very good in his presentation." LINK

"That Sam is Sam Brownback," writes Brody. "The Senator from Kansas wants to be the choice of religious conservatives but Huckabee will give him a run for his money. Either way, both Brownback and Huckabee are second tier candidates. That all could change if McCain and/or Romney implode. It's a long way to November 2008."

2008: Republicans: Pataki:

John DiStaso of the New Hampshire Union Leader was first out of the gate with the Pataki news yesterday and leads his always must-read Granite Status column with it. LINK

The AP: LINK

A Pataki aide tells The Note that the former New York governor has not ruled out a presidential run.

The Note's theory: he will hang around, Newt-style, and see if the field implodes, making a late entry possible. Or: he keeps giving issues speeches and earns a veep nod.

2008: Republicans: Hagel:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed poking fun at Sen. Hagel's recent line about selling shoes, Mark Lasswell writes, "Surely Sen. Hagel was not suggesting that selling shoes is physically safer than serving in the Senate. In the past two months alone, according to police reports, robbers have struck several shoe stores across the country."

Lasswell jabs lawmakers for the resolution they are preparing to pass: "It's not clear precisely what the point would be of a resolution opposing the troop increase, other than letting legislators flatter themselves with the notion that they have some influence over the president's war-making strategy."

2008: Democrats:

The New York Sun's Jill Gardiner curtain raises tonight's event in Times Square where Sens. Clinton and Edwards will be working for the support of AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group, and perhaps more importantly for financial support from AIPAC members. LINK

"Mrs. Clinton will deliver the keynote speech, while Mr. Edwards is expected to work the crowd at the cocktail reception before she speaks, making a face-to-face encounter unlikely, but not impossible," writes Gardiner.

Review the Bain documents!!!

Having spent most of 2006 trying to soften up Republican Senators up for reelection in 2008, Democratic research czar Mike Gehrke is heading back to the DNC. The effort Gehrke will be heading is informally titled "Democratic Victory 2008" and the initial focus of the project is to ramp up the Democrats' opposition research and keep the Republican presidential contenders on their toes as they hit the campaign trail.

"We're thrilled to have Mike returning to help with this effort -- he is a first class Democratic operative like none other," says DNC communications director Karen Finney.

The Associated Press reports that Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) is being courted for her endorsement in the Democratic nomination fight, and while she hasn't yet picked a favorite, she did mention that Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) had come a-wooing. LINK

Roll Call's Laura Whittington looks at the potential dilemma facing the female members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who are reportedly finding it difficult to choose between prospective presidential candidates, especially with Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in the race.

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