Only two Republican candidates showed up at an AARP forum yesterday in Iowa, per ABC's Bret Hovell and Kevin Chupka. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, and former governor Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., took the stage "not as rivals, but as friends and colleagues, leaving behind the personal attacks and snappy one-liners." Said Huckabee: "I'd be happy to have Senator McCain as my Vice President."
Everyone's choice for No. 2 still wants to be No. 1 -- and he's got his last best chance to make that happen. That's why Huckabee is ABC's "Buzz Maker of the Week."
McCain, with a TV ad recalling that he was "tied up" during Woodstock, is set to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his capture with a fellow POW today in Iowa. McCain will be George Stephanopoulos' guest on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.
And sorry, fun as it is to speculate about choosing 2008's nominees in 2007, the calendar solidification in Iowa and Michigan makes the possibility of New Hampshire breaking the December barrier even more remote. "These developments, if they come to fruition, would make it less likely that we'd be forced to have our primary this December," Secretary of State William Gardner tells John DiStaso of the Union Leader. Most likely date: Tuesday, Jan. 8.
Also in the news:
Think you know how to throw a party? It was a $1.5 million haul for Sen. Clinton last night in celebrating the Big Six-Oh a day early, ABC's Kate Snow and Eloise Harper report. The Clinton were surrounded by "3,000 of their closest friends" -- or, at least, 3,000 people who wanted to give her campaign a present. Entertainment by Billy Crystal, the Wallflowers, and Elvis Costello, who capped the evening by leading the crowd in a round of "Happy Birthday, Mrs. President."
Per Newsday's Glenn Thrush, "Crystal made repeated references to Giuliani's baseball flip-flop, saying it was like Ann Coulter declaring she's kosher."
And Clinton weighed in on the case of the "Traitor"/"Redcoat"/"Yankee flipper": "I have been a fan -- and I remain a fan -- of the Yankees, no changes, no looking to curry favor with anybody else," said the woman who said she would "alternate sides" if the Yankees met the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
Here's another birthday gift for the former first lady: She may have solved her longstanding problems appealing to her own demographic.
"Recent polls show Clinton dramatically gaining ground with better-educated Democratic women, both nationally and in the key early state of New Hampshire," Ron Brownstein writes in National Journal. "Clinton remains very popular among downscale Democratic women, the Gallup results show, and her newfound strength among college-educated Democratic women is allowing her to cut into the core of Obama's coalition: well-educated Democrats."
And she's working on a backup plan, in case Iowa doesn't work the way she wants. "Quietly but systematically, Hillary Clinton is building a firewall in New Hampshire," E.J. Dionne writes for Real Clear Politics. "She can afford to lose the Iowa caucuses as long as she can win here. . . . Clinton's advantage reflects the difficulties Obama has had in turning the enthusiasm he created in the early days of his campaign into enduring support."