Not so long ago, John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich were buddy-buddy.
"Both of us believe in a lot of the same things," said Edwards in January of 2004, "and we like each other very much."
Edwards and Kucinich liked each other so much that they struck a deal on the eve of the 2004 Iowa caucuses. They agreed to send their supporters each others' way if one of them was not getting the votes needed to remain viable in an individual caucus gathering. LINK
After a hot mic caught Edwards on Thursday agreeing to collaborate with Hillary Clinton on how to improve future debates, let's just say that Kucinich is not so hot on the southern smoothie anymore. LINK
"Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our democracy as an imperial President," said Kucinich in a statement released by his campaign.
But while Edwards's stock is down with the one-time Boy Mayor of Cleveland, it's up with Clinton -- and we're not just talking about the semi-secret pact.
From taking a hard-line on Iraq to opposing a proposed trade agreement with South Korea to confirming that she would not take part in Fox-sponsored debates, there have been several instances in this campaign in which Clinton has followed her populist rival.
The latest example of Edwards influencing the behavior of his better-funded rival came Friday when the former first lady rolled out her plan for addressing what she called the "glaring inequity" that permits investment managers to take large amounts of their compensation in the form of performance fees, or so-called "carried interest," which is taxed at the 15 percent capital gains rate rather than at income tax rates which can be as high as 35 percent. LINK
Late Friday, Edwards told Radio Iowa: "I think everybody ought to be able to be heard, but I think we need to find ways to make it deeper and more serious." LINK
Now that Edwards is trying to pass of his semi-secret chat with Clinton as simply a desire for more substantive debates (rather than plainly stating that he thinks bottom-tier candidates distract from the plausible choice facing voters), Kucinich is doing his best to call the Edwards bluff.
He is sending Edwards a letter challenging him to "direct one-on-one debate on the most critical issues facing the American people: the war in Iraq; healthcare, trade and the environment."
The Ohio congressman has also done the same with Clinton. Copies of both letters were provided to ABC News by the Kucinich campaign.
On Saturday, Bill and Hillary Clinton come off the campaign trail to attend Lady Bird Johnson's funeral in Austin, Texas.
Out in Iowa, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Barack Obama and Clinton adviser Terry McAullife prepare volunteers in Iowa's first congressional district to participate in the 2008 caucuses. Biden starts the day speaking at 10:30 am ET, Edwards and McAullife speak during lunch at 1:15 pm ET and Obama closes the workshop at 4:30 pm ET.
As for the Republicans, John McCain holds a town hall meeting in Claremont, NH at 8:30 am ET.
On Friday, McCain said only "contracting a fatal disease" will cause him to drop out of the presidential race before the primaries begin. LINK
Sam Brownback enlists the help of Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terry Schiavo for his pro-life, whole-life tour West Des Moines, Pleasant Hill, Harlan, Denison, Ida Grove and Odebalt.
On the same day that second-quarter reports are due at the FEC, the Democratic '08ers speak to a group of trial lawyers in Chicago. Biden, Richardson, Edwards, Clinton, and Obama (who supported the Class Action Fairness Act) each speak for 20 minutes.
Be sure to read Josh Gerstein's curtain-raiser in the New York Sun: LINK
Before beginning his "Road to One America" tour through 12 cities, Edwards takes part in a 7:00 am ET town-hall meeting in New Orleans with ABC News' Diane Sawyer which will be broadcast on "Good Morning America."
POLITICAL ARTICLES ON ABCNEWS.COM:
ABC News' Rick Klein and Bret Hovell: "McCain Says He Won't Quit": LINK
ABC News' Jan Simmonds Reports: "Giuliani Raised $17.5 Million in Second-Quarter": LINK
ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Ad Hits Bush for Claim of 'Progress' on Iraq: LINK
POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM:
McCain Accuses Democratic '08ers of 'Defeatism': LINK
McCain Won't Quit: LINK
Bush Buzzes About 'Progress': LINK
Reid Ignores Question of Moral Obligation: LINK