The Note: Sprinting a Marathon

WASHINGTON, Feb.5

President Bush says all the time that he is going to sprint to the finish of his presidency, but the weekend past -- and week future -- suggest that he will have to run hard to keep up with the men and woman who want his job.

(There is a 65% chance that that sentence will be The Note's lede 300 out of the next 306 days.)

As the Gang of 500 quibbles over their Palm steaks about which is politically most dead-- the war in Iraq, the Bush budget, or Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman -- all the must-read stories are about the hyper-speed race to take the oath in January, 2009. (Howie Kurtz captures the former perfectly: LINK)

To wit:

1. Bob Novak turns John McCain into Grover Norquist on taxes (which will make John Weaver happy), but says (correctly) that the media love for McCain has somewhat faded (which will make Weaver less so). LINK

2. The Boston Globe's Helman profiles Mitt Romney's bridge to the right, the incomparable and talented Peter Flaherty (Note to Helman: you aren't the only one courting the incomparable and talented Flaherty as a source!). LINK

3. Dick Morris and Eileen McGann predict a Giuliani-Huckabee face-off (sort of). LINK

4. In an important story laying out the infrastructure and metaphysical challenges for the Obama campaign, the Washington Post's Kornblut runs these seminal graphs of reporting, spin, and expectations setting:

"Rivals in the Democratic contest contend that [Obama] could raise as much as $40 million, potentially raking in $1 million in a single Hollywood fundraiser, and will all but fail an early test of his viability if he comes up with less than former North Carolina senator John Edwards before April. Edwards is expected to raise as much as $15 million in the first quarter, and Clinton is expected to raise as much as $30 million, though both of those campaigns, like Obama's, insist they could take in less." LINK

"'By all accounts, Obama is poised for a huge fundraising quarter,' said Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, predicting that Obama will raise $25 million or more. Wolfson played down the notion that Obama's campaign needs time to get up to speed."

5. Reflecting the reality that the Clinton and Obama camps take John Edwards as serious as a heart attack, the New York Times' John Broder front pages the new tough tone (and health care and Iraq policies) of thesonofamillworker. LINK

6. The New York Daily News' McAuliff on Senator Clinton's money tree. LINK

7. For the addicted, the latest Granite State poll numbers, courtesy of John DiStaso and the Union Leader, suggesting why Hillary Clinton is the woman to beat. LINK

8. Bloomberg's Kristin Jensen and Jonathan D. Salant on (yet another reason: ties to Big Business) that Clinton is the woman to beat. LINK

9. Sunday's Union Leader had Michael Cousineau on the battle for premium New Hampshire office space. LINK

10. Al Hunt's Bloombergian take on the race overall, with the safe prediction of predictable unpredictability, and another nod to HRC's poll position. LINK

In a move reminiscent of Hillary Clinton taking on the State of the Union with her announcement meta tour, John Edwards plans to release the outlines of his health care plan today in the face of the President's budget.

Edwards plans to release the proposal online and do interviews on request, but not do any brick-and-mortar unveiling.

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