The Note: Make Room for Fred

Obama's lesson: Hope doesn't pay for healthcare -- taxes do. And the "white papers" Obama has derided are harder to sell than optimism. The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut and Perry Bacon Jr. write that Obama's plan "in many ways resembles the ideas of some of his challengers." They write: "The lack of new ideas in Obama's health plan in part reflects his approach. He has emphasized his freshness as a rationale for his candidacy, but that freshness has been much more about his tone and his rhetoric about hope and bipartisanship than his policy proposals."

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., meanwhile, uncorked some of her husband's old economic populism yesterday in New Hampshire. "I think a lot of people would like to go back six years and push the restart button on the 21st Century, and do it all over again the right way," Clinton said, as she vowed to "outlaw special favors to big business," the Union Leader's Tom Fahey writes.

One person who wouldn't mind turning back the clock is Al Gore, who was in Washington yesterday to promote his new book. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank plumbs the book's depths to find clues to Gore's political ambitions. Campaign treatise it's not, Milbank writes: "Imagine the Iowa hog farmer cracking open 'Assault on Reason,' and meeting Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, John Kenneth Galbraith, Walter Lippmann, Johannes Gutenberg, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Jefferson and Marshall McLuhan -- all before finishing the introduction."

Another almost-hint from Gore last night on MSNBC: "I really don't expect to be a candidate again. But here we are 500 days or so before the next election -- I don't see why everybody has to close the doors and say, OK, let's narrow the field and make your bets."

Gore also told ABC's Teddy Davis and A'Melody Lee that he would have joined Obama and Clinton in voting against the Iraq funding bill the Senate passed last week. Not a shocker for a man who was against the war from the start, but what does it say that he's answering questions like this at all?

More from the department of Republican turmoil: David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network reports on "a growing network of activists who are starting to take pro-active steps to shoot down a Giuliani nomination." They are threatening to support a third-party candidate if Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., wins the Republican nomination, and are circulating a flyer stating that nominating Giuliani would mean the Republican Party has "lost all purpose:" "It will be time to put the GOP out of its misery," flyer states.

Giuliani continues to take hits from all sides. Yesterday it was firefighters and families of 9/11 victims protesting outside two of his four birthday fund-raisers in New York, and they "did their best to disrupt the festivities by raising questions about Giuliani's decision-making," the Daily News' David Saltonstall reports. The latest sign of the new Rudy: "There isn't any part of me at all that resents it," Giuliani told reporters in Queens.

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