The Note: Summer Slam

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Outside the combat ring, former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., unveiled his tax plan yesterday -- higher taxes on capital gains, hedge funds, and corporations, to pay for new tax cuts for middle- and lower-income families. "Edwards' proposal may be a crowd-pleaser for Democratic primary voters who object to Bush's big tax cuts," writes Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times. "But it may be a politically risky position for anyone heading into a general election contest against Republicans, who portray Democrats as incorrigible tax raisers."

The Clinton-Obama duel was a big enough story to get other candidates involved in the action. Former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., joined McCain, R-Ariz., on Clinton's side (here's guessing Obama's OK with thta): "It's absolutely extraordinary that someone could be so out of touch with the nature of our world. It's a bit like Chamberlain. It's more Chamberlain than it is Churchill," Romney said of Obama's position, per Dan Gearino of the Quad City Times (big week in that newsroom).

Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., joined Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., in advising their junior colleagues to sit down and shut up. "There is nothing new about this kind of politics, and it certainly doesn't demonstrate a readiness to lead the nation when our reputation around the world is in tatters," Dodd said in a statement. (The fight overshadowed Dodd's plan for universal healthcare -- and as the Dodd campaign pointed out yesterday, we're all still waiting for that Clinton plan.)

The kicker:

"I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman." -- Romney, saying he may not be part of the CNN/YouTube debate scheduled for Sept. 17 in Florida. Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., has also discovered a "scheduling conflict" (he has to raise money) after the Democrats endured the unconventional format, and only McCain and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, are confirmed for the forum.

"I'm sorry, who's this?" -- Obama, on a conference call with reporters held to tout his endorsement by Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H. The voice Obama didn't recognize belonged to Hodes.

Next up: The Republican presidential debate August 5 in Des Moines, to be broadcast as a special edition of ABC's "This Week." Submit your questions for the candidates here.

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