THE NOTE: Fred's Fumbles

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On the Democratic side, Clinton in pressing her advantage -- and taking on President Bush in the wake of his veto of the children's health insurance bill. "Hillary stood up for universal health care when almost no one else would, and kept standing 'til six million kids had coverage," her new ad states. "So now that almost every candidate's standing up for healthcare for all, which one do you think will never back down?"

Per the AP's Jim Kuhnhenn, the ad also offers "an implicit contrast with Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani," who has come under fire from firefighters and other 9/11 groups. The voice-over says, "She stood by ground zero workers who sacrificed their health after so many sacrificed their lives, and kept standing 'til this administration took action."

Fresh off her endorsement by the American Federation of Teachers (doesn't everyone want to be with a winner?), Clinton this morning is giving a speech calling for additional stem-cell research, and attacking the Bush administration's political manipulation of scientific data. "For six and half years under this president, it's been open season on open inquiry," she plans to say, per her campaign. "And by ignoring or manipulating science, the Bush administration is putting our future at risk and letting our economic competitors get an edge in the global economy."

A new AP-Ipsos poll shows Clinton ahead of Obama 35-18 -- nowhere near the 33 point advantage shown in the ABC/Post poll. The Obama camp offers up some triumphant sarcasm. "A shockwave was sent through Washington late today as the AP released a poll showing that Obama halved Clinton's lead in national polling in just one day," the Obama camp says in a deadly serious press release (we swear this is as real as the Thompson memo above is fake) obtained exclusively by The Note.

" 'We were confident that once the American people saw that Obama did in fact out-raise Senator Clinton by more than $12 million dollars over the course of this year, that we would indeed come roaring back in the incredibly meaningful national polls,' said Obama strategist David Axelrod. 'As we continue to fine-tune our attempts to get on the front page of Roll Call and out of the Des Moines Register, we are pleased to see that our efforts have already begun coming to fruition.' Besides leading in primary dollars raised, Axelrod later mentioned as an aside that Obama also was leading in Iowa, has the largest grassroots operation in the history of presidential politics and, by the way, national polls are still meaningless."

And just how important is Iowa? Here are Obama's words, per ABC's Sunlen Miller: "I keep trying to explain to [people] the only poll I am concerned about right now is Iowa, because Iowans make that first decision. . . . If we end up winning Iowa we will win the rest of the sates and I'll be the nominee, and I think the next Democratic nominee is going to be the next president."

But the latest wave of good news for Clinton has been very good. It's a "restoration," if not a "coronation," Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post. Some Clinton snippets: "Back in the 1990s." "Start working with the world again." "We're all in this together again." "Get back to working together." Milbank writes, "These phrases -- each of them uttered yesterday by Clinton -- might seem rather backward-looking for a candidate billing herself as an agent of 'change.' But it must be working for her."

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