SNEAK PEEK: A Prize Fight in Vegas


The Democratic presidential candidates' debate is still more than 48 hours away but that doesn't mean it's too early for the expectations games and maneuvering to begin.

In the two weeks since the last Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton has seen her rivals garner increased media attention with sharp rhetoric and pointed jabs at her candidacy and character. For Clinton, the debate is a chance to come out swinging against the "boys" standing with her on stage and try to reverse the perception that her campaign has hit a rough patch.

But Clinton, who in past debates has not focused her rhetoric on her rivals, may want to work on landing some direct punches of her own on Thursday. Because dodging and weaving isn't going to work if the last few days on the campaign trail are any indication of what's ahead in Las Vegas.

On Tuesday John Edwards once again would not come out and say he would support Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination, sticking to his statement that he expects to support the nominee and he expects to be the nominee, ABC News' Raelyn Johnson reports.

Chris Dodd jumped in the fray and blasted Edwards for his hemming and hawing on this question, which may be part of a strategy for Dodd to set himself apart from his rivals as the clock keeps on ticking until the first votes.

ABC News' Rick Klein and Raelyn Johnson report that Dodd, trailing badly in state and national polls, has grown increasingly critical of the other Democratic candidates in recent days. On Monday, his campaign released a statement sharply criticizing Clinton, D-N.Y., for saying she wants a "timeout" on new trade deals but still supporting a free-trade agreement with Peru. LINK

With the Democratic candidates heading to his home state Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended the relevance of the Nevada caucuses on a conference call with reporters. ABC News' Teddy Davis reports that Reid sought to rebut the notion that the early Nevada caucuses will only serve to enhance the influence of Iowa and New Hampshire by saying that candidate trips to Nevada and South Carolina are evidence that Nevada and South Carolina do matter.

Reid reiterated his view that it is unfair for Iowa and New Hampshire -- with their small populations and lack of diversity -- to pick the party's presidential nominee.

Barack Obama heads to Google Headquarters Wednesday for a town hall meeting.

On the campaign trail. . .


-- 10:30 am ET: Meets with voters, Council Bluffs, Ia.

-- 2:00 pm ET: Has media availability, Fargo, N.D.

-- 4:30 pm ET: Meets with voters, Rock Rapids, Ia.

-- 8:15 pm ET: Speaks to the Annual S.D. Law Enforcement Appreciation & Children's Charities Dinner, Sioux Falls, S.D.


-- 3:15 pm ET: Attends a lunch fundraiser, Upland, Calif.

-- 8:15 pm ET: Attends a dinner fundraiser, Riverside, Calif.

-- 10:30 pm ET: Attends an evening fundraiser, Upland, Calif. JOHN MCCAIN

-- In Arizona with no public events scheduled


-- 7:35 am ET: Meets with voters, North Stratford, N.H.

-- 8:00 am ET: Talks with students, Groveton, N.H.

-- 9:15 am ET: Meets with voters, Lancaster, N.H.

-- 10:00 am ET: Meets with voters, Whitefield, N.H.

-- 11:00 am ET: Has lunch with local reporters, Littleton, N.H.

-- 12:45 pm ET: Meets with voters, Woodsville, N.H.

As for the Democrats. . .


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