Pun and (War) Games

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Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign has seen the Norman Hsu story linger long enough. Clinton, D-N.Y., is returning $850,000 in donations from 260 individuals recruited by Hsu. (But how many of them will pony up again anyway?) This is serious money -- the most ever returned by a candidate -- and the campaign will now conduct background checks on its top fund-raisers, per The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins. "Mrs. Clinton's move is a turn in what has become the first big setback for a campaign that until now had been an amazingly smooth juggernaut," Mullins writes.

The Clinton campaign appears to have looked into anti-Hsu allegations over the summer, but did not turn up anything that gave them pause, according to the Los Angeles Times' Robin Fields, Chuck Neubauer, and Dan Morain. "I can tell you with 100 [percent] certainty that Norman Hsu is NOT involved in a ponzi scheme," Samantha Wolf, who was a Clinton campaign finance director for the Western states, wrote in June in an e-mail obtained by the Times. "He is COMPLETELY legit." (Careful with the capitalization, now . . .)

And the Hsu story gets more bizarre, according to an account of his arrest on a train provided by a fellow passenger. Hsu was bare-chested and in the fetal position on the floor of a sleeper car when he was arrested last week, the passenger, Joanne Segale, tells the Journal's Kris Hudson. Conductors had to use a crowbar to pry open the door. "He was acting like he didn't understand them. They tried to get him up but he couldn't walk," Segale said.

Former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., is talking about Osama bin Laden again, and again sounding more like Howard Dean than, say, Rudy Giuliani. Yesterday, in South Carolina, Thompson delivered a legal lesson on why bin Laden can't be put to death immediately upon capture: "No, no, no, we've got due process to go through," Thompson said, per the AP's Jim Davenport. "I'm not suggesting those things happen simultaneously."

Is Thompson so rusty that he doesn't know the right answer -- forget the Arthur Branchian legalistic one -- when it comes to bin Laden? The American Spectator's Jennifer Rubin: "Do we have to Mirandize OBL? A jury of his peers? The mind reels. Something tells me no other candidate will agree with this one."

Thompson also said yesterday that he doesn't attend church regularly and won't speak out about his religion on the trail, per Bloomberg's Kim Chipman. It's "just the way I am not to talk about some of these things," Thompson said. (Remind anyone of John Kerry?) Chipman writes, "Thompson's remarks may not play well with religious voters who represent a sizable segment of the Republican Party and whose support he has been courting, portraying himself as a 'common sense conservative.' "

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., "joins the list of 2008 presidential hopefuls pursuing not only the top spot on the Democratic ticket but a top spot on the bestseller list," ABC's Donna Hunter reports. He has a new book out today, "Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice," telling the story of future senator Thomas Dodd's role as a lead prosecutor in the 1945 Nuremberg trials.

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