THE NOTE: Obama Blasts Clinton on Iraq, Iran


On why she dropped her "baby bonds" proposal: "I have a million ideas. The country can't afford them all." (Some RNC operatives already like that theme.) And on her electability: "I am winning," said the candidate who does not read polls. "That's a good place to start."

Concerts aside, Clinton has spent the last few days talking -- horror of horrors! -- substance. "And you thought her husband was wonky," Time's Ana Marie Cox writes from Des Moines. "Hillary Clinton may not get angry on your behalf like John Edwards or inspire you like Barack Obama. But Iowans do not take their role in the electoral process lightly, and Clinton is counting on their level of seriousness to help her turn around the one state where she struggles to maintain the lead that has come so easily in the rest of the country."

Meanwhile, the latest GOP scuffle is the kind of ugly name-calling fight that all candidates say they hate (until they see a chance to pick one). It started when former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., said at Tuesday's debate that he would "sit down with your attorneys" to decide what's legal before launching an attack. This was an opening too wide for former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., to resist.

"The Giuliani campaign has branded Romney's response 'the lawyer's test' and is trying to use the response as a way to portray the former Massachusetts governor as unsure of himself and less than commanding on issues of terrorism, which Giuliani considers his strength," ABC's Jake Tapper reports. Said Giuliani surrogate Adm. Robert J. Natter: "In these momentous decisions, we need leadership, not litigation."

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board slaps Mitt down: "Egad. Call in the attorneys? Perhaps it is Mr. Romney's experience in business that taught him to want lawyers at his elbow, given that no CEO can survive without them these days."

Romney's response brought the debate back to the fiscal issues he's been hitting Giuliani on in recent days. "If there's somebody that wants to talk about suing and lawyering, the mayor gets first place," Romney said, referring to Giuliani's legal case against the line-item veto, per the AP's Liz Sidoti. (Sorry, governor, tell us again why the lawyers answer is a "phony issue," but this one isn't?)

But HE started it, right guys? The backdrop here is that both of these frontrunners have an interest in making this a two-man race, "ignoring their rivals as they assail each other over taxes, spending, and national security," The Boston Globe's Michael Levenson reports. He dusts off this Rudy quote, from a campaign stop on Romney's behalf in 2002: "This is a man with real leadership qualities, and that's what we need in government right now. We don't need just other politicians."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also wants a one-on-one with Giuliani. "John McCain waved goodbye to his mutual admiration society with Rudy Giuliani Wednesday, ripping the former mayor's fiscal record for the first time in the campaign," the New York Daily News' David Saltonstall reports. McCain is also citing Giuliani's opposition to the line-item veto: "I'm very disturbed at Mayor Giuliani's claim that he'll bring fiscal discipline."

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