The Note: Beyond Iraq


But some of the interests that should be McCain's natural constituency are hesitating to give to a candidate who has antagonized them in the past. "At a critical moment for him, his presidential campaign may be paying the price for a career of positions seemingly calculated to alienate constituencies that according to Washington custom should be prime sources of campaign cash," Kirkpatrick and Cooper write.

The Los Angeles Times' Dan Morain took a Sunday peek inside the fund-raising machine constructed by former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., and finds Democrats and Republicans, and "saints and sinners" both. "With campaign funds pouring in from such diverse corners of the donor world, an incongruous set of election-season numbers has emerged: Romney, with a mere 10 percent showing in recent polls, is far ahead of his GOP rivals in fund-raising," Morain writes, encapsulating why Romney is set to win a few more news cycles before the second quarter is up.

Also in the news:

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Shalaigh Murray reported yesterday on an anti-Mormon "whisper campaign" engineered by an Iowa-based staffer working for Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan. "Theologically, the only thing Christianity and the LDS church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith," read an e-mail circulated among Republican activists in Iowa. The Brownback camp quickly apologized, but here's betting this won't be the last story of this nature.

Also not going away, despite apologies from top Obama campaign officials: the "D-Punjab" memo. The piece of anti-Clinton opposition research is still getting wide discussion in Indian-American circles, and last night one of the organizers of South Asians for Barack Obama wrote on the group's blog that he was "shocked and dismayed" by the memo. "In addition to being offended by the clear anti-Indian sentiment in the memo, we were particularly disturbed because the memo flies in the face of what we respect most about Senator Obama -- his inclusive message and his ability to relate to people of all backgrounds," Hrishi Karthikeyan wrote.

More details today of the Obama-Tony Rezko relationship: "Obama has collected at least $168,308 from Rezko and his circle" over his 12 years in state and national politics -- nearly three times the sum his campaign has acknowledged, per the Chicago Sun-Times' tally.

Former governor Jim Gilmore, R-Va., a one-time hawk, now wants to start withdrawing troops from Iraq -- and his plan sounds a lot like the "strategic redeployment" option long supported by DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "I believe the only realistic alternative -- the least bad option, if you will -- is a limited deliberate drawdown of our military men and women and a redeployment of the forces remaining in the region to areas where they can more efficiently and effectively carry out a clearly defined mission," Gilmore writes in a Washington Post op-ed. The real question may be when, not if, other GOP presidential candidates follow.

A Mason-Dixon poll in South Carolina suggests that the first Southern state to cast primary ballots could "shake up the presidential race," McClatchy's Les Blumenthal writes. Obama is the clear leader among the Democrats, while soon-to-announce former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., claims the GOP's top spot.

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