THE NOTE: Rudy Set for Conservative Slam

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Among the Democrats, here's what you missed in the past 24 hours if you were busy trying to negotiate Joe Torre a new contract. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., says Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., acts like she won. Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., says Clinton can't win.

And Clinton's strategist says she already won ( hypothetically; against Giuliani; in 2000; in New York).

But before we get to that, Clinton is facing what looks likely to turn into another fundraising scandal. The Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas and Tom Hamburger found a wave of generous donations from some of the poorest residents of Chinese-American neighborhoods in New York City. "Dishwashers, waiters and others whose jobs and dilapidated home addresses seem to make them unpromising targets for political fundraisers are pouring $1,000 and $2,000 contributions into Clinton's campaign treasury," they write.

"Many of Clinton's Chinatown donors said they had contributed because leaders in neighborhood associations told them to. In some cases, donors said they felt pressure to give," Nicholas and Hamburger continue. Of 150 donors the newspaper identified as having sent checks after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community, "one-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records."

The Clinton camp is trying to get in front of the story -- but this is going to be tough to explain away in the wake of Norman Hsu. "In this instance, our own compliance process flagged a number of questionable donations and took the appropriate steps to be sure they were legally given," spokesman Howard Wolfson told the LA Times.

Edwards, boasting the endorsement of another SEIU local (in close-to-New Hampshire Massachusetts), today speaks in California to lay out his electability argument. "I think the most electable candidate is the one with the best ideas who can go to every corner of America and tell the truth about how badly Washington is broken," Edwards plans to say, per excerpts provided to The Note. "If we have a nominee offering a bold vision of real change who can make the case for that vision in every corner of America, we will Congressional races across America, in red states and blue states, on the coasts, in the South, the Southwest, the Northwest and the Midwest."

Clinton strategist Mark Penn was looking past the Democratic primary when he sat down with reporters for a Christian Science Monitor breakfast yesterday. Citing (and perhaps exaggerating) polling from the 2000 Senate campaign that never was to be, Penn said, "We have gone through a cycle with Giuliani," Politico's Ben Smith reports. Penn cited internal polling showing that as many as 24 percent of Republican women would support Clinton in a general election "because of the emotional element of having a woman nominee."

ABC polling director Gary Langer tosses some cold water on Penn's heated analysis. "In a head-to-head matchup against Rudy Giuliani in the latest ABC/Post poll, Clinton attracts 11 percent of Republican women -- and an almost identical number of Republican men," he writes. "No gender gap there, nor anything unusual."

Penn also pushed back on Obama's line about Clinton having declared "mission accomplished." "We are out there running an all-out primary campaign, make no question about it," he said. "We understand full well how quickly these things change."

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