THE NOTE: Opening Night for Thompson

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While the national media swarms, Thompson is charming the pants off of local media outlets, right? Wrong, blogger Jennifer Rubin argues, as she sums up the ways he's been panned in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida. "While it is always convenient and indeed a crowd pleaser with conservatives to blame the national media, in this case the perception seems to extend to all corners of the press and across the political spectrum," Rubin writes. "As an actor, Thompson should know that the fault may lie not in the stars (or the Tribunes or the Posts) but in himself."

Time to wake up the liberal blogosphere. "Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency," Eric Lichtblau and Carl Hulse write in The New York Times. "Although willing to oppose the White House on the Iraq war, [Democrats] remain nervous that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on gathering intelligence."

For what it's worth (not a lot), former mayor Ed Koch, D-N.Y., doesn't like Obama's reason for not wearing a flag pin: "Does he now believe the United States response of waging war in Afghanistan after 9/11 was wrong? Does he believe the U.S. flag now belongs only to supporters of the war against Iraq, which war he opposed?" Koch writes in his weekly commentary, per the New York Daily News' Elizabeth Benjamin. But he still thinks Clinton will choose Obama as her running mate.

It looks like the four-state "pledge" is being taken seriously: It's not just the candidates but their spouses, too, who are shunning Florida. All are skipping this month's state Democratic convention, the Miami Herald's Beth Reinhard reports: "As far as the Democratic presidential campaigns are concerned, Florida has cooties."

Remember that 12-year-old boy Democrats used as their S-CHIP poster child, even getting him to deliver their weekly radio address two weekends ago? Conservative bloggers do, and that's created a firestorm surrounding Graeme Frost and his family, per ABC News. Yesterday, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., accused GOP leadership aides of "pushing falsehood" in an effort to distract from the political battle over S-CHIP.

Things couldn't get too much worse for the GOP -- could they? What if there's a recession, ask Bloomberg's Catherine Dodge and Matthew Benjamin. "Just a lingering slowdown would undercut one of the few topics Republican politicians can still boast about to voters -- an almost six-year economic expansion. That in turn might compound Republicans' electoral woes, turning a difficult election into a disastrous one."

The kicker:

"Who's the author of the cold case Emmett Till legislation? Who's the author of that? Who's the author? Who? Who is?" -- Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., in his very own heated exchange with a voter in Iowa. (The answer is Chris Dodd.)

"None of us wants to end up with a President Cheney." -- Elizabeth Edwards, explaining in New Hampshire why it wouldn't make sense to impeach President Bush. She added that impeaching Bush and Cheney would leave Condoleezza Rice or Michael Chertoff as president: "We'd end up like a dog chasing its tail."

I'll be live-blogging during tonight's Republican debate, starting at 4 pm ET. Watch it on CNBC and join the conversation here.

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