Obama, McCain Move to Own Iraq -- From Different Directions

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With the Romney camp denying involvement in the attack Website PhoneyFred.com, the members of Thompson campaign's rejiggered communications shop tried to earn their pay in one day. ABC's Jake Tapper reports that this statement was issued by communications director Todd Harris (and it deserves being quoted at length -- any guesses as to why they decided to go nuclear on this?): "An increasingly desperate Mitt Romney and his campaign are already hard at work to divide us, practicing the lowest kind of politics. Today's half-baked cover-up attempt by the Romney campaign does not even pass the laugh test. . . . This latest episode only serves to prove what many voters are already figuring out: Mitt Romney will do anything, say anything, smear any opponent and flip flop on any position in order to win."

Camp Romney took the high road: The anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "should be a day without political statements or attacks on opposing campaigns," said Romney campaign spokesman Kevin Madden. "We also disapprove of the site and have made it very clear that the site does not have an affiliation with our campaign."

Thompson, meanwhile, is turning down former governor Mike Huckabee's challenge of a one-on-one debate, per the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody. Todd Harris: "There are nine people running for the GOP nomination and an arbitrary pairing of just two of them does a disservice to the voters." (Would he reconsider if the those two are Thompson and Romney?)

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., told Charlie Rose that he's got to place in the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire to stay in the race -- and that he sees himself as the next John Kerry, with the International Association of Fire Fighters at his side (and the low poll numbers Kerry himself once had!). "John Kerry was at four percent in the polls on December 23, 2003," Dodd said, per ABC's Donna Hunter. "He was the nominee when people really focused in on it. So I'm very confident about where we are."

Dodd is also following the lead of Kerry's running mate, Edwards. He's introducing a measure to tie war funding to withdrawing troops by April 30, 2008, Ed Tibbetts reports in the Quad City Times.

In the search for a new attorney general, attention is focusing on former solicitor general Theodore Olson. "Reports of Mr. Olson's candidacy suggested that President Bush, in choosing the third attorney general of his presidency, might defy calls from Democrats and choose another Republican who is considered a staunch partisan to lead the Justice Department," write Philip Shenon and David Johnston of The New York Times.

But the president had not made up his mind as of yesterday, ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg reports. "Before we all anoint Ted Olson the nominee to be the next attorney general, it's worth remembering that only President Bush has that power," she writes. "Sources today emphasize that the situation in the White House is fluid, and it's too soon to rule out two other contenders: former federal Judge Michael Mukasey and former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson."

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