THE NOTE: A Kinder, Gentler Hillary

He's not the first politician to make that mistake, and he won't be the last. Obama said he didn't really care, but his campaign denounced the "fear-mongering" it claims is "at the heart" of Romney's campaign, ABC's Matt Stuart, Teddy Davis, and Sunlen Miller report. "Apparently, Mitt Romney can switch names just as casually as he switches positions, but what's wrongheaded is continuing a misguided war in Iraq that has left America less safe," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

"Mitt Romney might have still been a bit bleary-eyed on Tuesday morning," The New York Times' Michael Luo reports. "The comment set off some confusion among reporters, with at least one going online to search frantically for comments made by Mr. Obama, another Democratic presidential contender, about Iraq."

Romney's problems may be deeper than a slip of the tongue, The Washington Post's Dan Balz writes. "He has had many messages throughout the year -- competence, freshness, conservatism, a three-legged stool. Lately, because of the jumbled nature of the Republican race, he has been focused on persuading Republicans he is the true conservative," Balz writes. "But it is difficult to sum up exactly what his candidacy is based upon and exactly who he is. . . . So the issue raised about whether Romney wears well may be the critical question for the candidate and his advisers at this stage of the race."

Another whoops in Romney land: The endorsement of pastor Don Wilton, a former president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, was a "personal error," Wilton said yesterday, per the Baptist Press Website. "While I did give my consent to the local campaign to use my affirmation of the Governor's stance on family values in my capacity as an individual citizen, I made the mistake of not realizing the extent to which it would be used on a national basis."

Romney has a new ad up in South Carolina, this one featuring Business Man Mitt. "I come from the business world -- where turning around companies taught me how to manage budgets. That's what I did at the Olympics and as governor," Romney says in the ad. "As president, I'll audit Washington -- top to bottom -- and cut spending."

Elsewhere in the race, could former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., be stirring? He's talking substance on the trail, and he rolled out a get-tough immigration plan yesterday -- a topical topic with the Senate taking up the DREAM Act today.

Thompson at least one some much-needed active verbs. "Thompson sharpened the mood of the Republican presidential debate when he unveiled his anti-immigration policy in Collier County, Fla., yesterday, flashing a rare glint of steel at his closest rivals," Nicholas Wapshott writes for the New York Sun. "The former Tennessee senator's proposed measures to curtail illegal immigration exploited a perceived weakness in his main opponents by drawing attention to their more generous approach to an issue that excites the Republican base like no other."

"The former Tennessee senator's plan is meant to appease the conservative wing of the party, which lashed out earlier this year against legislation to steer illegal immigrants toward citizenship," Beth Reinhard and Alfonso Chardy write in the Miami Herald. This is Thompson using down-home phrases to actual effect: "My opponents would like to focus in on a minnow and avoid looking at the whale, and the whale is that some of them have supported sanctuary cities, and as far as I know, still do."

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