The Note: The Money Race

With the immigration bill facing a showdown moment this morning in the Senate, the Supreme Court poised to end its term with a bang today, and Democrats prepping for a PBS debate at 9 pm ET in Washington, the 2008 race is being dominated by Edwards vs. Coulter -- which is just what the Edwards campaign wants.

So, to cut through the blather that marks the final days of the second-quarter money race, we offer these (mostly) spin-proof truths about the dash for cash:

- Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., has raised his own expectations by squeezing every iota of sympathy -- at least the kind that can be turned into dollars -- out of Ann Coulter's not-quite attack. This will look either, A) inspired, or B) desperate, and the answer will depend on whether he tops $10-$12 million for the quarter (no matter how many times the campaign insists the real goal is $9 million, remember that he raised $14 million in the first quarter).

- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has this chance to show he has righted his campaign's course, or he may as well enjoy the dry heat of an Arizona summer; after today, he may not even have to worry about the immigration bill anymore. The Washington Post's Michael Shear reports that he's had to cancel fund-raisers to attend immigration votes -- what better symbol of his campaign woes?

- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., will both raise nutty amounts of cash this quarter -- we're talking A-Rod money here. But there will only be room in the headlines for the one who wins this arms race. And no matter how much the Clinton folks protest, if a first-term senator raises more than a former first lady, that will be a very, very big deal. (250,000 donors in six months? Wow.)

- Former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., can solidify front-runner's status with another record month. But unless that check he wrote this week was one really expensive head fake, that's not happening.

- And don't forget Rudy: Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., has had a horrible run of news and is slipping in key state polls. This is the first full quarter for him to show he has built a campaign infrastructure to match his name recognition. He can't like this headline from the New York Post: "Rudy Losing Steam."

Yesterday brought a new e-mail request for "Coulter Cash," and Edwards told ABC News that he's confronting Coulter to end the "name-calling and hate-mongering," Jake Tapper and Avery Miller report. As for whether it's legitimate to criticize the campaign for raising money based on the controversy they are stoking, Elizabeth Edwards had this to say today on ABC's "Good Morning America:" "If we had been responsible for her being on the air, or being on the air at the end of the fund-raising quarter, it might be."

The Obama campaign is making a final play at molding expectations, telling the AP's Nedra Pickler that they're closing in on 250,000 total donors -- including a staggering 140,000 who have written their first checks this quarter. Pickler writes that a campaign official tried to "tamp down expectations" by saying that the average donation size is down from quarter one. Yet even a significant drop-off still puts him in the $30-$35 million range -- well more than the $25.7 million he raised in the first three months of the year. Guess those $5 win-a-date-with-Obama donations do bring down the average, but still . . .

What say you, Senator Clinton? Her campaign is one of several that is "bumping into a very real problem: a lot of their most enthusiastic supporters have 'maxed out,' hitting the $4,600 limit that federal election law places on donors," reports The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Cooper. That means $4,600-a-plate galas are being replaced by $75-a-head dinners, and leaves the Clinton campaign saying they expect to match the $26 million she raised in the first quarter.

(Sprinkle salt liberally on that statement -- Politico's Ben Smith reminds us that campaigns love to lowball.)

As for immigration, at this hour, things aren't looking good in the Senate. "The Senate immigration bill was bleeding support from the left and right, leaving President Bush in danger of losing a closely fought vote this morning to end debate and move toward passage," reports the Journal's David Rogers. Said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., "This bill is toast."

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., chooses another mental image: "I think this clay pigeon is becoming a dead duck." How many lives can this duck possibly have?

Also in the news:

The Boston Globe's Romney series turns to his tenure running the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, the springboard for his entry into the governor's race later that year. The Globe reports that, despite vowing that he would not exploit the job for political gain or accept a severance package, he pocketed $476,000 on his way out the door and lobbied "for similarly large pacts for his 25 senior managers, 17 of whom contributed to his 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign or the state Republican Party soon after the Winter Games." His campaign says he donated his package to charity, but the ones he landed for his subordinates far exceeded the norm in other Olympic Games.

The series' latest installment also highlights the extent to which Romney's political future was always on his mind in Utah. He gave permission for promotional buttons bearing his square-jawed likeness, and seemed to amplify the extent of the Games' financial problems to make his rescue mission more dramatic. "While Romney's moves energized the committee, some people familiar with the budget insist his dire forecasts were overstated," the Globe's Bob Hohler reports.

Former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., isn't showing enough leg for some of his supporters' liking. Asked at a campaign-style stop in South Carolina "what do you believe in," and about his "underlying principles," he responded, "We can aspire to wonderful things," per The New York Times' Susan Saulny. Said one would-be supporter, "We drove an hour and a half to get here, and he didn't say anything new."

Bloomberg News' Kim Chapman and Julianna Goldman profile Thompson, focusing on his "bouts of what even some allies describe as a detachment that sometimes verges on laziness." They have him bowing out of a run for governor when confronted with the fact that he would have to fix the state's health-care system and balance the budget. And when former Senate majority leader (and Thompson supporter) Bill Frist, R-Tenn., asked himself whether Thompson has the "fire in the belly," here's what he said: "I believe he does, but we will only know as he gets on the campaign trail." Pay attention to the words that begin with B.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I-N.Y., stoked the speculation game anew yesterday after a speech on school reform. "I don't think I disagree with what any national party stands for, because I don't think that either national party stands for anything," he said, per USA Today's Martha T. Moore. That may make it tough to accept a vice-presidential slot, don't you think?

The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman looks at the fund-raising stakes for the well-populated second tier. "Some candidates may find that their poor showing in dollars will deprive them of the necessary political oxygen to keep their candidacies alive, as donors and journalists write them off," she writes.

The subpoenas are flying over warrantless wiretapping: Congressional Democrats are "elevating a long-simmering dispute between Congress and the White House over classified national-security information into a possible constitutional showdown," The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage reports.

The kicker:

"What I have outlined tonight . . . Tonight? This afternoon," Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., winding up a 3,325-word speech on foreign policy.

Now a Youtuber has a crush on Giuliani -- but we get it, not really, because she's actually making fun of him. Is it just us, or are these getting lamer with every iteration?