THE NOTE: A Kinder, Gentler Hillary

"Nearly two-thirds of Democrats and nearly half of all voters say Hillary Clinton's famously unsuccessful effort in the 1990s to provide health coverage for all Americans makes her better able now to deal with healthcare as president," Wallsten and Hook write. "And 42% of Democrats agreed it was the 'right thing' for Hillary Clinton to stick with her husband after his affair with a White House intern, compared with 5% who said it was the wrong choice."

Clinton is relying on her husband's old team every step of the way. Newsweek's Howard Fineman reports that she's set to receive the endorsement of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

"And so the Clinton Family Machine grinds on," Fineman writes. "Lord knows Hillary's campaign could still implode . . . but with each passing day the evidence mounts of just how methodical her campaign is, and just how much it is built on the legacy and contacts of her husband's career."

And her fund-raising advantage is in red states as well as blue -- sorry, former senator John Edwards, D-N.C. "Clinton expanded her donor pool during the summer into states that previously favored Obama -- like Iowa, Colorado and Connecticut -- to beat his third-quarter cash haul, $27.3 million to $20.6 million," Michael McAuliff writes for the New York Daily News. "Other early Obama states that flipped to Clinton in the latest quarter include Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina -- states many experts would consider tough for Clinton to win in a general election, but where party faithful are apparently now more willing to put their money on her."

As for Obama, he's pressuring Clinton on Iran to get at her over Iraq, and last night he celebrated an endorsement of a prominent former Clinton administration official who lives awfully close to New Hampshire.

At a massive rally last night on Boston Common, Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., "offered a forceful argument for Obama, casting the presidential election as one of historic proportions in which merely a change in party would be insufficient," Scott Helman reports in The Boston Globe. Said Patrick: "You see, this election is not just about who we want. It's about who we are."

Helman writes, "Last night's event underscored the potential value of Patrick's support. Before Patrick and Obama spoke, field workers on Obama's campaign were recruiting people from the crowd to canvass in New Hampshire, even as early as this weekend. And in a measure of Obama's organizational strength, his Boston-area supporters have been receiving text messages, e-mails, and personal phone calls over the past several days urging them to come to the rally."

But it was Obama's interaction with Patrick's predecessor -- or, at least, his predecessor's tangled tongue -- that drew the biggest headlines yesterday. Former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., unfurled a classic clunker in South Carolina: "Just look at what Osam . . . Barack Obama said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on, on radicals, Jihadists of all different types to come together in Iraq."

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