And so it begins . . .
Faster than you can say "Hizzoner's Highlights," the General Election is upon us.
On a day in which we were supposed to be preparing for the Monday rollout of Hillary Clinton's health-care plan by curling up with a copy of The System, Rudy Giuliani launched a web ad attacking Clinton on Iraq.
The ad goes after Clinton for questioning the veracity of the U.S. commander who is trying to complete the war she voted to authorize in 2002.
View Giuliani's web-only ad: http://www.joinrudy2008.com/ LINK
"In 2002, Hillary Clinton voted to authorize military action in Iraq, because she believed it was the right thing to do," says the ad's narrator. "Just when our troops need all our support to finish the job, Hillary Clinton is turning her back on them."
Friday's ad was the latest effort on the part of the former New York mayor to look past his primary opponents and begin framing the general election against the Democratic presidential frontrunner.
Earlier in the week, Giuliani accused Clinton of spewing "political venom" on Iraq. LINK http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2007/09/giuliani-clinto.html
The Giuliani camp moved so swiftly this week that the mayor's critics had not fully disseminated their anti-Giuliani talking points.
This is the guy, after all, who quit the Iraq Study Group after failing to attend the group's meetings. LINK
This is also the guy who went on the "Today" show in 2004 and seemed to blame U.S. troops for the explosives that had gone missing in Iraq. LINK
It's also the guy who has still not made a trip to the war-torn country.
But is this really the start of the General Election?
Or will Giuliani's attack create an opportunity for Barack Obama to argue that Democrats shouldn't relive 2004 by nominating a candidate who has to defend a 2002 vote authorizing the use of force?
And on the Republican side, Newt Gingrich provided a stark reminder on Friday of how potent Mitt Romney's personal fortune makes him.
For the first time, Gingrich identified Romney's multi-million dollar fortune -- and his ability to write a check for $50-60 million -- as posing a significant hurdle to his ability to get into the 2008 presidential race. LINK
"If he can drown you, what's the point of going and trying," said Gingrich. "I mean, if the net result is he'll drown you, then it's pretty silly to go out and compete with him."
Once you get past Tom Harkin's steak fry on Sunday, the key thing to focus on is the Monday rollout of Clinton's health care plan.
Clinton will make her long-anticipated announcement at 11:30 am ET at the Broadlaws Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
A policy briefing for the press will follow at 1:00 pm ET.
On Tuesday, Clinton is planning a live interactive webcast about her new health-care policy at 9:00 pm ET.
Clinton's goal -- per Bloomberg News -- is to come off as bolder than Obama but more pragmatic than John Edwards. LINK
Clinton's health-care plan will be unveiled just in time for her to save face when she shows up at SEIU's '08er forum.
Monday's SEIU schedule: Biden 9:40 am ET Dodd 10:50 am ET Obama 1:40 pm ET Richardson 2:40 pm ET Clinton 4:10 pm ET Edwards 4:50 pm ET
POLITICAL STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM ABC News' Jonathan Karl: "Gates' 'Hope': 100,000 Troops in Iraq in Jan '09" LINK