Fishy Donors Haunt Hillary’s Run

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Edwards, D-N.C., is anxious not to be left out of this debate, and it's his wife (again) who's plunking him down in the middle of it. Per ABC's Eloise Harper and Raelyn Johnson, "Elizabeth Edwards has a very simple summary of Sen. Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan: 'John Edwards' health care plan as delivered by Hillary Clinton.' " In an interview with the AP, Mrs. Edwards said, "it's almost as if she hasn't been willing to have the courage independently to be a leader on these things." Almost.

Former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., found a comfortable way to issue his first real response to the Clinton plan -- straight to camera from his campaign bus.

But that won't help yesterday's sting: Prominent social conservative James Dobson has added him to his do-not-support list (alongside Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.). Per an e-mail obtained by the AP's Eric Gorski yesterday, Dobson writes: "He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!" (With e-mails like this -- you think he forwarded the Youtube video of the crazy Britney fan?)

Thompson yesterday took what appears to be a swipe at Romney: "My philosophy doesn't depend on my geography," he said during a fund-raising swing through Texas, reports Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News. He also had this (lawyerly) response about his lobbying work: "I don't know anybody I ever represented who didn't deserve that representation." Slater points out that the list includes "two Libyan airline-bombing suspects, an abortion-rights group and toppled Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide."

Also in the news:

Democrats fell four Senate votes short on what they conceded was probably their best shot to influence war policy -- Sen. Jim Webb's, D-Va., plan to force the administration to give soldiers more down time at home. So get ready for more paralysis -- and more politicking -- as the left pushes on with demands that the Democratic Congress rather clearly can't meet.

"With other war initiatives seemingly headed for the same fate, Senate Democrats, who only two weeks ago proclaimed September to be the month for shifting course in Iraq, conceded that they had little chance of success," write The New York Times' David M. Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse. "They said their strategy would now focus on portraying Republicans as opposing any change and on trying to chip away support for the White House as the war continued."

Those sorts of questions just might come up at President Bush's 10:45 am ET press conference.

Once more, in unison now: Iran is bad. Presidential candidates from both parties are piling on the news that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to visit Ground Zero. A sampling, since the statements are virtually interchangeable: "It is unacceptable" (Clinton). "Under no circumstances" (Giuliani). "Ahmadinejad's shockingly audacious request should be met with a vehement no." (Romney).

While fleshing out his foreign-policy credentials, Giuliani raised the prospect of NATO membership for Israel, according to The New York Times' Marc Santora. "The candidate said the United States would use every lever at its disposal, including a military strike, to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," Santora writes. "He said that such blunt talk was not a 'threat but a promise.' "

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