THE NOTE: Obama in Spotlight at Democratic Debate

He may want to work on this answer: "You want the word marriage and I believe that the issue of marriage has become so entangled -- the word marriage has become so entangled with religion -- that it makes more sense for me as president, with that authority, to talk about the civil rights that are conferred" with civil unions. Come again?

Asked about his supposed new strategy, Obama said that the "politics of hope was not about holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya.' " And this (hardly sounding like a candidate who's locked and loaded): "This is not about me and her. It's about the American people."

To Camp Clinton, it's about "the politics of hope."

Expect former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., to continue to seek his own one-on-one with Clinton. "Democrat John Edwards is trying to turn the Democratic presidential race into a referendum on honesty and integrity, areas where polling has shown that voters are divided about Hillary Rodham Clinton," AP's Nedra Pickler writes. Says Edwards: "She continues to defend [the status quo]. And I don't think you can bring up the change this country needs if you defend a corrupt system that doesn't work."

The Democrats, at least, can agree to disagree with former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y. He shared his prediction yesterday that "Democrats are gonna change their mind about [Iraq] again," per ABC's Jan Simmonds.

And this line (just a little bit over the top, no, Mr. Mayor?): "It's not this happy, romantic-like world where we'll negotiate with this one, or we'll negotiate with that one and there will be no preconditions, and we'll invite [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad to the White House, we'll invite Osama [bin Laden] to the White House," Giuliani said. "Hillary and Obama are kind of debating whether to invite them to the inauguration or the inaugural ball."

Elsewhere in the campaign, the action was centered on New Hampshire, and some big Granite State endorsements. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., the dean of the state's congressional delegation and perhaps the biggest New Hampshire "get" of the GOP race, endorsed former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass.

After mistakenly calling Romney a Democrat (it's OK -- Romney has called himself worse), Gregg said, "if somebody had also said I'd endorse a former governor of Massachusetts for president of the United States, I'd say, well, I didn't think the Red Sox would win the World Series twice in my lifetime, either."

This is a lot of conservative to swallow: Per the Union Leader's John DiStaso, Romney said the endorsement "underscores that I'm a conservative who believes in conservative principles. Am I the most conservative on every issue? Absolutely not. But I'm a conservative who believes in all three pillars of conservatism -- social conservatism, economic conservatism and foreign policy conservatism."

Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., was endorsed yesterday by Mayor Steve Marchand of Portsmouth, N.H. "The endorsement is the most significant development in Richardson's New Hampshire campaign so far," The Boston Globe's James Pindell blogs. Somehow, some way, Richardson sticks around. . . .

Former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., was in New Hampshire, briefly, to file papers for the ballot. (The Wall Street Journal called it a "cameo," while the Union Leader has him "squandering" early excitement about his campaign by only visiting New Hampshire twice so far in his campaign.)

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