THE NOTE: Manhattan Cheers, Bronx Jeers

The Politico has a report on Thompson's Tennessee finance chair Beth Harwell and how when she was chair of the state's Republican Party, the FEC slapped down a $30,000 fine for failure to correctly process donations (resulting in more than $335,000 in illegal contributions)

The New York Times' Michael Luo takes a look at Thompson's "harrumph," – "a tic that everyone from television producers fretting about their audio to members of the audience at his speeches have noticed since he declared his candidacy for the presidency back in early September."

Thompson said it was just "a bug" he picked up from his young children. "'When you got a four-year-old and a one-year-old at home, there's almost always something going around (harumph),' he said, drawing appreciative laughter from the audience. "It's on its way here right now, I think (harumph).'"

His second-place finish in the Values Voters straw poll last week has earned Mike Huckabee plenty of "Can he be the Republican sleeper candidate" headlines and analysis pieces. But so did his second-place finish in the Ames Straw Poll in August and that did not turn into any tangible advantage for Huckabee over the last two months.

The AP's Mike Glover looks at Huckabee's lack of cold hard cash and sees that as his greatest obstacle to vaulting into the top-tier or pulling off a surprise win in Iowa. Glover notes that Huckabee has only eight paid staffers in Iowa, which is about half the size of Romney's campaign, and he does not have the money for TV ads like Romney.

"Given the front-loaded election schedule, in which Iowa and New Hampshire will be followed by an explosion of primaries, many wonder if a candidate without a pile of money can afford to build the organizations needed to compete throughout the nation," Glover writes.

(And of course Huckabee cannot add his own personal wealth to that "pile of money" like Romney can.)

Gail Collins does not Heart Huckabee and thinks that the reason leaders on the right aren't embracing his candidacy is because they are holding out hope that one of the top-tier candidates will change, much like a woman trying to change a bad boyfriend. "They pace around muttering that maybe Fred Thompson will start acting more ... alive, or that Mitt Romney will stop being a Mormon."

An evangelical backer of Mitt Rommey gives Huckabee credit as the best orator in the Republican field but says that isn't what counts in a presidential race. "We're not electing a champion orator. It would be difficult to run a country if you cannot run a major league campaign," said Mark DeMoss, whose clients include clients include Franklin Graham, and Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship.

Does Joe Biden really think that Washington DC schools are failing because of the high minority population? In an interview with the Washington Post ed board, Biden explained why some schools outperform others:

"There's less than 1 percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than 4 or 5 percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you're dealing with."

His campaign quickly spun into damage control and said the Delaware Senator was not discussing race, but rather economic disadvantages that some kids face entering school.

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