THE NOTE: Between Rounds


Expect lots of talk about how wonderful unions are, and how evil big business can be. But the United Auto Workers strike "is unwelcome news for Democratic presidential candidates," the New York Sun's Nicholas Wapshott reports. "If the dispute is prolonged, they will have to choose definitively between supporting free trade or protectionism."

Now that there's general agreement that Clinton is the front-runner (couldn't we have gotten that out of the way six months ago?) what happens next? The Washington Post's Dan Balz and The New York Times' Adam Nagourney deliver twin doses of cold water to the Clinton campaign in their Web columns.

Balz delivers a brief history lesson. "The rush to anoint Clinton as an inevitable nominee overlooks the history of nomination battles," Balz writes. "The most likely [obstacle] is a defeat and that certainly appears most possible in Iowa. A Clinton loss in Iowa would instantly change perceptions of the Democratic race and bring new scrutiny to Clinton's candidacy that may be overlooked right now."

Nagourney delivers a brief reminder of Clinton's own history. "The truth is, there is no evidence that the Democratic primary voters have fallen head-over-heels for Mrs. Clinton," he writes. "Her hold on them is solid but certainly not unshakable. Any event that reminds Democratic voters of what remains of lingering concerns about her -- starting with her electability, given the sentiment of many Americans toward the Clintons -- could topple her from her front-runner perch."

In a reminder that nobody's leaving Clinton alone, along comes Elizabeth Edwards (again) to weigh in on the politics of the moment. Edwards suggested to the New York Daily News yesterday that the Clintons gave up on their healthcare plan "to stockpile political clout for other fights," Celeste Katz reports. Key quote from Mrs. Edwards: "They lost the fight in 1993, pulled it out because they wanted to use their political capital to get NAFTA passed as opposed to universal health care in '94."

And there's this hint that David Plouffe may be right when he says Obama's support is wider than the polls suggest. The Los Angeles Times' Scott Martelle gets the beat on Obama's door-knocking operation in Nevada, where he "is the only Democratic presidential campaign using this tactic, according to local observers." (Don't miss the Las Vegas resident who introduces one poor volunteer to his .44.)

Also in the news:

With the GOP field bowing out of the minority-issues debates, more condemnation is coming from inside the Republican Party. Former rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla. -- the last African-American to serve as a Republican in Congress -- tells ABC's Jake Tapper that his party's candidates are guilty of "stupid decisions." Watts says: "I think the best that Republicans could hope that African Americans might say is 'was it because of my skin color?' . . . Now, maybe it wasn't, but African-Americans do say, 'It crossed my mind.' "

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., reiterated his criticism of the no-shows on ABC's "Good Morning America." "I am puzzled by their decision," Gingrich said. "I can't speak for them. I think it's a mistake. I wish they would change their mind."

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