THE NOTE: Between Rounds

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Richardson is taking on the front-runners directly: "You might be surprised to learn that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards would all leave tens of thousands of troops in Iraq," he says in a new 4 1/2 minute Web video. The video, write ABC's Teddy Davis and Sarah Amos, belies the notion that Richardson is "simply angling to be somebody else's running mate."

With a Senate vote on his partition plan coming today, Biden has an op-ed in The State outlining his plan. "Absent an occupation we cannot sustain, or a dictator we do not want, there is no way that Iraq can be governed from the center -- because there is no center," he writes. "While starting to leave Iraq is necessary, it is not enough. We also have to shape what we leave behind so that we have not traded a dictatorship for chaos." http://www.thestate.com/editorial-columns/v-print/story/182790.html

While Giuliani and Thompson, R-Tenn., showed they are capable of jumping on current events (and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is good at firing up the GOP base) only Romney, R-Mass., is putting money behind his condemnation of the Iranian president's visit.

Romney calls for indicting Ahmadinejad and says he is "leading the opposition" to his visit (which had already begun by the time his radio ad starting airing). The Washington Post's Michael Shear: "Forget about Fred Thompson's 'Law & Order' history. It's Mitt Romney's campaign ads that are ripped from the headlines."

Just about all of the '08ers had harsh words for Ahmadinejad (though none scores better than Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, whose "college fry" of a face-to-face denunciation earned him the New York Post headline, "U DA MAN!").

But see if you can follow Obama's line of reasoning: Columbia -- his alma mater -- had the right to invite Ahmadinejad, but he wouldn't have extended the invitation himself. He would, however, still be wiling to meet one-on-one with Ahmadinejad, ABC's Jonathan Greenberger reports. "Listening to the views, even of those who we violently disagree with, that sends a signal to the world that we are going to turn the page on the failed diplomacy that the Bush administration has practiced for so long," he writes.

If you have any doubt that the Clinton camp knows how to exploit something like this, just look at what they pulled off in their fight with a men's magazine. Politico's Ben Smith breaks the story of how Howard Wolfson and company got an unflattering profile of "Hillaryland" killed by GQ -- by threatening the magazine's access to planned "celebrity coverboy" Bill Clinton. "The campaign's transaction with GQ opens a curtain on the Clinton campaign's hard-nosed media strategy, which is far closer in its unromantic view of the press to the campaigns of George W. Bush than to that of Bill Clinton's free-wheeling 1992 campaign," Smith writes.

This reminds us of two things we already knew: 1. Hillary's press shop will rip out intestines to get its candidate elected. 2. Bill Clinton remains a bigger celebrity (and magazine seller) than his wife.

The Democrats get their chance at a current-events pile-on today (their very own Ahmadinejad moment?) with speeches before a labor federation in Chicago -- well-timed, coming a day after the first nationwide autoworkers strike in three decades.

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