Romney talked a good deal about religion over the weekend -- but not in the Big Way. Marveling at the large leaves on a Manchester tree, he said: "Adam and Eve would not have looked as promiscuous if they had had leaves this big." Writes Tapper: "Adam and Eve looked promiscuous? . . . Is there something in the Book of Mormon that might explain this? (I ask that seriously and sincerely.)"
(What if Romney himself -- not his religion -- is what's weird? Is there a speech that can address that?)
Later in the day Saturday, Romney was clearly joking about Mormonism: "I love my wife and my five sons and their five wives. Wait a second. Let me clarify that: They each have one."
But ABC's Matt Stuart reports that Romney said that while he "liked the idea" of giving a "special speech" on his religion, he's being told not to. "The political advisers tell me, 'no, no, no, it's not a good idea. Draws too much attention to that issue alone.' But I sorta like the idea anyway, and will probably do it at some point."
Romney doesn't look like he needs to explain himself much in New Hampshire. "Mayor Giuliani's hold on the front-runner's perch in the Republican presidential nomination is eroding, with two new polls showing that Mitt Romney is opening up a widening lead in New Hampshire, site of the first primary," the New York Sun's Russell Berman writes.
Then there's the Fred fade. Former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., isn't even in the top five (!) in the new New Hampshire polls, and new Florida numbers have him dropping fast. "Fred Thompson is proving to be nowhere near the force many had expected when he entered the race in September," Adam C. Smith writes for the St. Petersburg Times. "The poll showed him in fifth place with 8 percent support, behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, with 9 percent, McCain with 12 percent, Mitt Romney with 19 percent and Giuliani with 36 percent in the state he declares a must-win."
He's getting more animated on the trail, but everyone has their limits. "If you're expecting somebody to leap off the stage and start singing show tunes, you're not going to get that," campaign adviser Rich Galen tells the Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan, mercifully.
Also in the news: Enjoy them while they last, since this could be the last Norman Hsu story you read that has anything interesting in it at all. A four-person (with two additional contributors) Wall Street Journal team dissects the rise and fall of Hillary Clinton's least-favorite "bundler." "Politics was a world where his schmoozing and fund-raising talents were powerful currency," the Journal reporters write. "He befriended Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats, decorating his SoHo loft with their photos. He displayed a saxophone autographed by former President Bill Clinton, bought for $26,000 at a Red Cross benefit. He sported a chocolate-brown leather bomber jacket with the presidential seal."
Clinton gets some more gender card advice: "In this case, pandering to female voters is a big mistake. The sisterhood is famously fickle. Besides, in order to win, Clinton must grow her vote," writes Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi. "Clinton should get out of that kitchen, ASAP. There aren't enough women in it to elect her president of the United States."