Sneak Peek: Gay Rights in the Spotlight

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In just a few hours, the '08 Democratic presidential candidates – minus the feisty Joe Biden and Chris Dodd -- will have the opportunity to show their commitment and enthusiasm for gay rights in a forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign.

The event will be televised at 9:00 pm ET on the gay television network Logo and the Logo website. The candidates will not appear on stage together at the same time.

ABC News' Rick Klein reports that the Democratic presidential candidates have begun to aggressively court gay and lesbian voters, with unprecedented outreach to match a major shift in policy positions among the major 2008 hopefuls.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told Klein that Democrats are going further than they ever have in the past in talking about their support for gay rights -- and not just at forums organized by leaders of the gay and lesbian community.

"They're more enthusiastically embracing a broader set of positions," Solmonese said. "They're more willing to proactively talk about them, too. They've all been very forthcoming about where they are on the issues. They have been proud to talk about it."

Only Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel say they favor gay marriage, but all the Democrats have expressed their support for civil unions. Each has called for the end of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Keep your eyes and ears open for this developing story: Hillary Clinton was asked in an interview in April 2006 about reports that the White House was considering a military strike (or a nuclear strike) to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. Clinton reportedly said, "I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table."

Her campaign said her comments were different from what Barack Obama said last week about nuclear weapons because it was responding to a specific report, not a broad hypothetical.

Chris Dodd was quick with a statement: "I was disappointed to learn that Mrs. Clinton, like Mr. Obama, would make such an unwise categorical statement about military options.  If nothing else, these kinds of careless statements expose the difference in the candidates' depth of experience and understanding when it comes to the complex world of foreign policy and military affairs."

Over to you Obama and Bill Burton….

As for Friday. . .

In advance of this weekend's Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll, Mitt Romney hosts two "Ask Mitt Anything" breakfasts in the Hawkeye State in Ogden and Nevada before heading to the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. He'll have a photo opportunity with hog farmers at 1:20 pm ET, deliver remarks at the Des Moines Register's "Old Fashioned Political Soapbox" at 3:25 pm ET and rally with supporters at Romney campaign headquarters at 7:00 pm ET.

Rudy Giuliani, who is skipping the straw poll, glad-hands in Colorado Springs, Colo. at 12:45 pm ET.

John McCain also avoids the crowds and grease (mmm…hand dipped corn dogs and cheese curds) in Iowa by heading to New Hampshire to meet with business leaders in Portsmouth at 9:00 am ET before attending a meeting at a real estate office in Rochester at 2:00 pm ET and hosting a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro at 6:30 pm.

Sam Brownback visits the Field of Dreams at 11:45 am ET in Dyersville, IA, holds a 7:00 pm ET get-out-the vote rally at his headquarters in West Des Moines and another in Ames after that.

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