THE NOTE: Huckabee Rising in Iowa

Five spin-proof truths that stand 50 days before Iowa:

1. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton left her inevitability in Philadelphia, but the Democratic race is still hers to lose (though she's no longer ignoring her rivals -- that's a start).

2. Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani's campaign really does think it's rewriting the rulebook (but isn't as sure it will fly as Mike DuHaime suggests).


3. Immigration is the hot-button issue that's most likely to drive Republican voters. Eliot Spitzer's decision to back down on his driver's license proposal from the GOP -- and they can thank San Francisco while they're at it).

4. Congressional Democrats can still make life miserable for Democratic candidates between now and January.

5. The social conservative vote is split -- almost certainly irrevocably -- among Republican candidates (and the Grass is always greener).

Just when it looked like former governor Mike Huckabee, R-Ark. -- passed over again in the endorsement game -- wasn't getting his share of the conservative vote, he finally gets an early-state poll that places him on the map. He is officially on the move in Iowa -- and he'll get a wave of free publicity off of the new poll to brag about it.

In Iowa, former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., holds just a 27-21 lead over Huckabee, despite the fact that Romney "has built a big network of supporters and invested heavily in advertisements," Adam Nagourney writes in The New York Times.

Giuliani, R-N.Y., is running third in Iowa -- at 15 percent -- and he's tied with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for a lagging second place in New Hampshire; it's Romney 34, McCain and Giuliani 16.

And Rudy is finally breaking his TV ad silence -- and the candidate who doesn't need to win the early states is going up in New Hampshire (which remains, by our calculations, an early state).

The ad "dramatically presents him as the man who tamed a crime-ridden and unmanageable city in spite of typical human foibles," Jim Rutenberg writes in The New York Times. "The commercial is starkly reminiscent of the famous advertisement for Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign, 'Morning in America,' similarly using an image of a flag being raised into a blue sky and inspirational music."

But a lawsuit brings another slice at the story that will not go away for Giuliani. "Publisher Judith Regan, fired last year from News Corp.'s HarperCollins unit, claims her dismissal was part of a 'deliberate smear campaign' aimed at protecting presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani," Bloomberg's Patricia Hurtado reports. She's claiming to have Bernie Kerik information that would damage Giuliani's candidacy. According to the complaint filed Tuesday, "The smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.'s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani's presidential ambitions."

It looks like Romney's feeling the pressure -- and the candidate who's running the most traditional campaign is using a dependable issue (and including Huckabee on his regular list of Those to Attack).

"Romney contended that Huckabee fought for tuition breaks for children of illegal immigrants in his state, while Giuliani provided tuition breaks at the City University for illegal immigrants," AP's Liz Sidoti reports. "He said Clinton, too, backs such breaks."

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