THE NOTE: Will Rudy Sink the GOP?

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Between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, and Brett Favre breaking touchdown records while the Mets collapse and O.J. Simpson faces prison time (all while Hillary Clinton talks healthcare) -- are we the only ones having the sudden urge to break out the old brick of a car phone and hit a Hootie concert?

Back to the present, fund-raising numbers will begin to roll out today (and what does the fact that they weren't leaked yesterday say about the state of the Clinton-Obama grudge match?). This is shaping up as a big week for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who has got to be more worried about the polling numbers than the financial ones (notwithstanding some good news out of Iowa).

First, though, time to catch up with the restless Republicans. Gingrich's choice of policy workshops instead of a presidential run means there's no big mystery left about who's in and who's out for the GOP (and Newt's decision is itself something of a statement on how any Republican can expect to fare against any Democrat in 2008).

VIDEO: President Bush misspeaks while endorsing No Child Left Behind.
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The GOP ballot is still filled with question marks -- and the one next to former mayor Rudolph Giuliani's name is growing bigger by the day. This is Rudy's nightmare (and should be just as scary for everyone in a party that's in growing danger of coming apart at its seams): "A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination," Salon.com's Michael Scherer reports.

"Giuliani is beyond the pale," Richard Viguerie, a veteran conservative activist and author, told ABC's Jake Tapper after the meeting. "Maybe it's just time to never support another Republican establishment candidate, and support principled conservative candidates -- win or lose." This is about Giuliani, but it's also a measure of how former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., has failed to unite/excite/appease conservatives. "In his short time on the campaign trail, Thompson has demonstrated a moderate temperament and an independent streak belying hype that he would be the answer to [James] Dobson's prayers," Tapper writes.

Gingrich, R-Ga., opted to say out of this mess by choosing his "American Solutions" project over a presidential run. He's blaming it on a campaign-finance law (and -- sort of -- on a certain Republican presidential candidate) saying on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that it's McCain-Feingold's fault, since the statute "criminalizes politics" (you didn't think Newt would go quietly, did you?).

His decision to preserve his workshops is honorable and everything -- but does anyone think he'd choose to be a "citizen activist" if he thought he had a real chance of winning the presidency? Perhaps all that presidential talk was what many thought it was all along: a means of selling Gingrich himself. Or, if he's right and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is on a glide path toward becoming the next president, maybe it's that Gingrich would rather be Richard Nixon ('68) than Barry Goldwater ('64).

Gingrich had this to say about the GOP's chances: "The Republicans have got to get out from under Washington. . . . Trying to beat Senator Clinton personally is just insane."

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