The Note: Playing Hardball

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Remember Jay Garrity, the former Romney aide accused of impersonating a state trooper and pulling over reporters under false pretenses? The Boston Herald's Casey Ross does, and reports that Garrity "created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues." This carefully worded statement from the Romney campaign: "No one on the Mitt Romney for President campaign is authorized to use a badge, nor has the campaign provided anyone with a badge."

With a New York Times/CBS poll showing Clinton facing skepticism among female voters -- not just Elizabeth Edwards -- the Times' Patrick Healy looks at the "delicate balance" Clinton faces when discussing the historic nature of her candidacy: "appealing to women's pride, while at the same time extending her candidacy beyond sex." He points out that whenever Clinton mentions that she'd be the nation's first female president, she quickly adds, "But I'm not running because I'm a woman; I'm running because I think I'm the best qualified person."

Giuliani stands beside some friendly firefighters today in South Carolina, notwithstanding the critical video released last week by the International Association of Fire Fighters. "Sentiment about Giuliani ran quite warm among the paid and volunteer firefighters circulating through an exhibition hall," Celeste Katz reports in the New York Daily News. "Most of those interviewed thought Giuliani did an admirable job on 9/11, and only a few had seen or heard of the video." Still, a small group of firefighter protesters will greet Giuliani at the door, Katz reports.

Also from Clinton's interview with ABC's Tapper, the senator concedes that a troop withdrawal could cause more violence and death in Iraq. "I regret deeply that there well may be continuing and perhaps even accelerating loss of life among Iraqis. But I see no alternative. And I don't believe it's right for us to put our troops into this sectarian civil war, put them at risk -- they're losing their lives, they're being injured -- when the Iraqis seem incapable of making the kind of hard decisions that only they can make." Asked about the impact on broader US interests in the Middle East, Clinton said, "I don't answer hypotheticals like that."

Time's Eric Pooley made the trip on former senator John Edwards', D-N.C., poverty tour and comes away impressed enough to not mention haircuts, hedge funds, or houses in the 1,300 words he filed -- no small achievement for the Edwards campaign. "Maybe Edwards succeeds in linking those problems to the concerns of the middle class and ignites his candidacy. And maybe he doesn't. Either way, he did some good this week," Pooley writes.

The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Cooper sees former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., "playing an outsized role in driving the terms of the party's debate -- generally to the left -- on everything from Iraq to health care." "On issue after issue, Mr. Edwards has been the first to stake out where the party's consensus message seems to end up," Cooper writes.

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