The Note: Brutal Honesty

"Nineteen months to the presidential election," writes the Washington Post's David Montgomery, "and already the campaign has an A-Rod!" LINK

In his paint-by-numbers Style section profile of Obama's "on-point message man," Montgomery has David Axelrod saying of Obama: "'. . . I'd say 80 percent of what he did on that platform on Saturday was in that initial draft,' which Obama had e-mailed to Axelrod at about 4 a.m. Thursday."

"'I want to take this opportunity on this historic day to urge the Legislature to immediately send me a bill to move our state's primary from March 18, 2008, to Feb. 5, 2008,'" wrote Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a statement per the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn, who Notes the not unNoticed benefit it may provide to Sen. Obama's bid. LINK

Following Maureen Dowd's lead and under a "Can Obama Quit?" headline in the Lifestyles section of the Raleigh News & Observer, Joe Miller writes of the concern some have for Sen. Obama in his quest to quit smoking. With cigarette smoking being linked to psychological stress, Miller writes that that is "bad news for Obama, who will experience a level of stress few people can imagine as his life is placed under a microscope during the 11 months leading to the first caucuses and primaries, not to mention what would happen if he were the party's nominee in the November 2008 election." LINK

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times takes on the oft-cited experience factor in the Obama campaign (and looks to the Senator's wife, Michelle, as a good weapon to keep in his arsenal). LINK

In her column for The Hill, Lynn Sweet writes this morning that Obama could be jeopardizing his relationship with Sen. Reid (D-NV) for his skipping of the AFSCME forum scheduled to be held in Carson City, NV next week. LINK

Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson asks in disbelief: "Is Obama guilty of insufficient blackness?" LINK

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

New York Times columnist David Brooks argues that Hillary Clinton does not owe an apology for her Iraq war vote because she was saying in public what Colin Powell was saying in private. LINK

"When you look back at Clinton's thinking, you don't see a classic war supporter. You see a person who was trying to seek balance between opposing arguments. You also see a person who deferred to the office of the presidency. You see a person who, as president, would be fox to Bush's hedgehog: who would see problems in their complexities rather than in their essentials; who would elevate procedural concerns over philosophical ones; who would postpone decision points for as long as possible; and who would make distinctions few heed."

In her "Good Morning America" wrap of the President's comments about Iran in the press conference, ABC News' Martha Raddatz included Hillary Clinton's Senate floor sound from yesterday. "No action can or should be taken without explicit congressional authorization," warned Clinton.

"Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign reached a deal to pay a key South Carolina black leader's consulting firm more than $200,000 just days before he agreed to endorse her run for president," the New York Post's Maggie Haberman reports. LINK

South Carolina state Sen. Darrell Jackson "had also been in talks with Sen. Barack Obama's campaign about endorsing him and entering into a consulting contract for more than $5,000, sources said - raising questions about whether Jackson's endorsement was bought by a higher bidder," Haberman writes.

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