THE NOTE: Hillary Set to Face Haymakers at Debate

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To recap: former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., wants to indict Ahmadinejad; former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., says he can envision military action against Iran; former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., is calling to halt World Bank funding to Iran; and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sang his policy to the tune of "Barbara Ann."

"The differences were in tone rather than policy," writes the Los Angeles Times' Scott Martelle. "The top Democratic candidates, who have urged a similarly hard line against Iran's evolution into a nuclear power, also condemned Ahmadinejad but with more muted rhetoric."

Obama, though, is again taking a slightly different tack on Ahmadinejad than his fellow candidates. A day after defending Columbia University's right to invite him to speak -- and saying he'd still be willing to meet one-on-one with him without preconditions -- he blasted the New York tabloids for making such a big deal out of his visit.

"The way to approach petty tyrants is not to inflate them," Obama declared. Per the Daily News' Michael Saul, "In the world according to Barack Obama, it's fine for the President to meet with 'petty tyrants,' but wicked wrong for the press to make a fuss when a despot comes to town." Cue Clinton press guru Howard Wolfson: "New York is the greatest newspaper town in the country."

It's Wolfson's communications shop that's drawing the quiet enmity of the press corps -- and the quiet envy of Clinton's rivals. "Clinton, D-N.Y., is running perhaps the most media-controlled -- and media-obsessed -- campaign in presidential history," per ABC News. "Her aides carefully screen access to the candidate, generally avoid news conferences on the campaign trail and have been known to throw around the Clintons' considerable weight to block negative stories and influence coverage of the candidate they're protecting and promoting." Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer -- in another sign of Clinton's enviable position: "She sees all downside in access."

Also in the news:

The House last night passed an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, though not by a veto-proof margin. But as the president prepares to veto his first-ever spending bill, "in rhetoric and media coverage the SCHIP debate has become a fight over whether the president cares about sick kids," ABC's Jake Tapper and Z. Byron Wolf report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pours it on thick in her message for the president: "Please don't give new meaning to the phrase 'suffer the little children.' "

Start rolling the ads. "Even Republican advocates in the House ruefully conceded that they will probably fall short of the 290 votes they will need next week to override the promised veto," The Washington Post's Christopher Lee and Jonathan Weisman report. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.: "It's about the priorities, and the president has told us his priorities." Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.: "The administration has come to this debate very late, and, as a result, they're asking us to take one for the team here."

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