The Note's Sneak Peek

As Democrats prepare for Thursday's debate, it's easy to understand how Jack Germond and Jules Witcover must have felt when they penned "Wake Us When It's Over". LINK

How many times, after all, can you listen to Joe Biden warn that the next president will have "no margin for error"?

But the 25 days since the Democrats last debated have been eventful ones.

We've seen Richard Lugar split from the president on the war, Rahm Emanuel move to defund the "fourth branch," and the partial gutting of McCain-Feingold.

Before long, we will also have a Supreme Court decision as to whether schools can no longer consider a student's race in making school assignments. LINK

Beyond those developments, we've also seen new storylines emerge among the Democrats who hope to topple Hillary Clinton.

When we last saw Bill Richardson on stage, the rap on him was that he was trying out for vice president. But when he showed up at the "Take Back America" conference, he threw the sharpest elbows. He didn't just voice his opposition to residual forces in Iraq, he started going after Clinton, Obama, and even Edwards by name on the subject. Watch the video: LINK

When we last saw John Edwards on stage, he was all about courage and conviction. But since then, he has started to ask Democrats to start making a calculation: a calculation about whether he, who happens to be a white southern male, would be more electable than candidates Clinton and Obama. Watch the video of him touting his ability to go "anywhere in America" while talking to AFSCME: LINK

When we last saw Barack Obama on stage, he was all about a new kind of politics. But since then, his response to the D-Punjab flap has opened him up to the accusation that he is less about turning the page and more about pointing the finger. LINK


Thursday's 90-minute Democratic debate, which gets underway at 9:00 pm ET, is taking place at Howard University, an historically black university "reared against the eastern sky, proudly there on Hilltop high."

PBS' Tavis Smiley serves as moderator with questions also coming from NPR's Michel Martin, columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr., and USA Today's DeWayne Wickham.

Before the debate gets underway, Michelle Obama holds a 12:00 pm ET fundraiser for her husband's campaign at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill.

Biden holds a press conference on Capitol Hill with the Surviving Parents Coalition to highlight new legislation to crack down on child Internet predators.

As for the Republicans, Fred Thompson continues his political spadework on behalf of others in the early nominating states. Following his Wednesday trip to South Carolina, the former Tennessee senator raises money for the New Hampshire State Senate Republican PAC in Bedford, N.H.

Mitt Romney has a full schedule raising money for his presidential bid, including a 7:30 am ET fundraiser in Hartford, Conn., a 12:30 pm ET fundraiser in McLean, Va., and a 5:30 pm ET fundraiser in Upper Saint Claire, Pa.

With the end of the second quarter fast approaching, Romney is not the only Republican '08er out raising money: Rudy Giuliani and Sam Brownback do it in California while John McCain does it in Washington, D.C.

McCain foe Tom Tancredo takes his anti-illegal immigration campaign to Dallas Center, Iowa.

The first lady is in Lusaka, Zambia as part of her tour of Africa speaking to the President, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa and his wife, Maureen before visiting a school, a community centre and local ministries.

As for President Bush, he makes 8:35 am ET remarks at the announcement of the official nomination of Admiral Michael Mullen and General James Cartwright to be Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before an 11:15 am ET speach at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. He then makes his way to Kennebunkport, Maine.

As for the man who bested him in the 2000 popular vote, former Vice President Al Gore joins Live Earth founder Kevin Wall for a 12:45 ET press conference at the Hearst Tower in New York to unveil Live Earth's "action call" on climate change.

While Gore is busy in New York, the Democrat he backed in 2004 -- DNC Chairman Howard Dean -- attends a 10:30 am ET utility workers convention in Cincinnati followed by a 7:00 pm ET fundraiser in Cleveland.

And Women's Voices, Women Vote releases a research report titled, "The State of Unmarried America," on the rapidly growing number of unmarried female voters.