The Note: Death watch

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Politico's Elizabeth Wilner links McCain with the other notable repeat candidate of 2008 -- former senator John Edwards, D-N.C. -- to argue that second times just aren't charmed. "Their claims to top-tier status ring hollow now that a second round of disappointing fundraising reports have forced them to retool their operations and switch out top staff -- including a major purge by McCain on Tuesday," Wilner writes. "Political handicappers are carving out a second tier just for them."

The White House briefing room is back -- and the president and first lady were on hand for the ribbon-cutting this morning. "It's going to make your life better and it's going to make the life of future presidents better also," President Bush said, hopefully. AP's Jennifer Loven is not impressed: "the briefing room backdrop, intended to be a high-tech wonder appropriate for a modern, 24-hour TV world, was widely panned. Its layered frosted-glass panels and two 45-inch flat-screen monitors, flanked by fake white columns and featuring rotating decals depending on the speaker, were derided for lending a gaudy, game-show aura to the most visible face of the White House."

And a story worth tracking that could -- of course -- make everything above look silly: ABC's Brian Ross reports that US intelligence "suggests a small al Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be here." The White House has scheduled "an urgent multi-agency meeting for Thursday afternoon to deal with the new threat," Ross reports. The concern about a possible attack is as high as it's been in some time," he said today on "Good Morning America." Michael Chertoff's gut feelings aside, would any other issue really matter if there's another attack?

The kicker:

"I think [Bob] Livingston's stepping down makes a very powerful argument that [Bill] Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess." -- David Vitter, in 1998, after taking over Livingston's House seat when he resigned after conceding an extramarital attack.

"He seems to be one of the nicest men and most honorable men I've ever met." -- Jeanette Maier, the "Canal Street Madam," on Vitter, whom she claims was a client in the mid-1990s.

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