THE NOTE: A Kinder, Gentler Hillary

Thompson appears to be deemphasizing New Hampshire, at least according to a former aide who defected to Sen. John McCain's campaign yesterday. "I didn't want to be the token chairman of a token campaign," Dan Hughes, who joined McCain's campaign yesterday as a statewide vice chair, told ABC's Bret Hovell.

McCain, R-Ariz., is gunning for Thompson (apologies for that verb). He filed for his crucial primary yesterday -- in New Hampshire -- he toured a gun factory, the Concord Monitor's Margot Sanger-Katz reports. "During a talk with more than 100 of the company's employees, the Republican presidential candidate promised to 'bring Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell and shoot him with one of your products.' The line got a big round of applause," Sanger-Katz writes. McCain added a caveat that wouldn't slip by the plugged-in ear: "But only after he receives justice," he said

It's former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., in firm control of the GOP race, according to the Bloomberg/LA Times poll. He's 32-15 over Thompson, with McCain, Romney, and former governor Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., rounding out the top five. "The former New York mayor leads among his party's moderates, conservatives, most income groups and both men and women," Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla and Ed Chen write. "Among self-described Christian conservative voters, who make up almost 30 percent of Republicans, he runs about even with Thompson and well ahead of the other contenders."

Also in the news:

As California burns, President Bush will preside over a teleconference on his administrations response today, and is headed to the region tomorrow.

"For a presidency still haunted by memories of Hurricane Katrina, the forceful round-the-clock response was a political no-brainer -- the 'anti-Katrina,' in the words of Peter Wehner, a former domestic policy adviser to Mr. Bush," Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports in The New York Times. "Beyond demonstrating that the White House has learned its lesson, the rapid response shows how Mr. Bush, late in his presidency, is relying on his executive powers -- veto threats, presidential orders and his bully pulpit -- to keep himself in the news and convey an image of being in charge."

Maria Shriver's discussion with the candidates' wives had some telling and personal moments, ABC's Jennifer Parker reports. Jeri Thompson: "I'm afraid of embarrassing Fred. I would be terrified of hurting him." Elizabeth Edwards: "Anytime you say anything . . . it gets exploded into a bigger story." Cindy McCain: "Since 2000, I think I'm more comfortable in my skin, politically and other ways, I've learned to say no." Michelle Obama: "You always worry about your life getting sucked out from under you." And Ann Romney: "I weigh in all the time. . . 'Don't work him so hard! Look at the schedule, you're killing the man!' "

The Washington Post's Matthew Mosk tracks down some of Obama's youngest supporters, including a 2-year-old whose 13-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister maxed out with $2,300 each to the Obama campaign. "Altogether, according to newly released campaign finance reports, the extended family of Williams, a wealthy Chicago, financier, handed over nearly a dozen checks in March for the maximum allowed under federal law to Obama," Mosk writes.

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