THE NOTE: Obama Blasts Clinton on Iraq, Iran


McCain unveils his healthcare plan today, "but unlike his rivals he will focus on controlling costs, rather than reducing the ranks of the uninsured," The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler reports. "His main message when he unveils the plan in Iowa will be that the rising number of people without insurance is a symptom of the larger problem of rising costs."

Here's another wrinkle from McCain: "He is also placing a much greater emphasis than any of his opponents on judging the performance of doctors," Marc Santora writes in The New York Times. "The campaign argues that this system would also increase competition, by virtue of giving the consumer a database that shows which doctors or programs are more successful."

Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., is touring South Carolina's "Corridor of Shame" today, but he won't be using that phrase. "I'll be focused on the whole concept of providing opportunity and hope to the communities that have been struggling, based on providing the same opportunities I've had to everyone," Edwards told The State's Aaron Gould Sheinin.

Salon's Mark Benjamin looks at the potential conflicts of interest among the wealthy folks who are donating to the Clinton Foundation -- and helping his wife's campaign. "Some contributors to Bill Clinton's foundation are also among Hillary Clinton's top fundraisers," Benjamin writes. "But it remains to be seen how the Clintons will manage the potential problem of perceived conflicts of interest, should Hillary Clinton become the next president."

Obama is reshuffling his ground staff and his top leadership, with an eye on the calendar, Lynn Sweet reports in the Chicago Sun-Times. Obama "is pushing to have organizations in place in the more than 20 states holding a primary or caucus vote on Feb. 5, a second wave after the crucial first January votes in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina," Sweet writes.

With Obama trying to break through against Clinton, the Boston Phoenix's Steven Stark sees a cure for him: get over yourself. "The Obama campaign's emphasis on a personal story (and it may have been exacerbated by the success of Obama's autobiography) has set his rhetoric hurtling in exactly the wrong direction," Stark writes. "Instead of showing voters where he'd lead them (as he did effectively in his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote), Obama continually tells them how and why he's the man to lead them. He mistakenly talks as if the election were mostly about him, not the country."

Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., is the latest second-tier candidate to get The New York Times treatment. Says Richardson: "I believe that Edwards's insurmountable lead [in Iowa] has eroded. We're the only candidate moving up, gradually and slowly moving up. We are exactly where we want to be, and my objective is to be one of the top three."

But the Times' Leslie Wayne sees Edwards wowing the crowd at a barbecue, while Richardson was "dripping with sweat": "Hardly any campaign signs heralded his arrival, no scrum of supporters followed him around, and he was easily distracted into chats with nonvoters, like a discussion about African politics with a group of visiting women resplendent in their colorful native dresses."

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