For another politician with some familiarity with Hope, Ark., Thursday night's Democratic debate is shaping up as the rare forum where more pressure is on Clinton than her long list of lagging rivals. Clinton, D-N.Y., has suffered through perhaps her worst two weeks of the campaign -- a poor debate performance in Philadelphia, followed by a string of negative storylines: the gender card, planted questions, and mini-flare-ups including an angry waitress and angry Facebook users.
"The campaign has changed," Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle writes in a fund-raising e-mail. Writes the New York Sun's Russell Berman: "The pressure will be on Senator Clinton at the Democratic presidential debate tomorrow as she tries to bounce back from a weak performance last month that has cut into her lead in the polls."
The Times/CBS poll hammers home some truths to Clinton -- starting with a virtual three-way tie in Iowa. "Democratic voters in Iowa and new Hampshire -- the states that begin the presidential nominating battle -- say Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards are more likely than Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to say what they believe, rather than what they think voters want to hear," the Times' Nagourney writes."But they also view Mrs. Clinton as the best prepared and most electable Democrat in the field, the polls found."
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who unveils his "innovation agenda" Wednesday at the Googleplex, is taking his battle with Clinton to the realm of memos. "You live by inevitability and die by inevitability and there are growing signs in the last 10 days that Clinton's support in the early states, as well as nationally, is fairly thin and eroding," campaign manager David Plouffe writes.
Is this Obama readying a debate line? He's disclosing the amounts raised by his "bundlers," Lynn Sweet reports in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Initially, Obama's campaign revealed the names of people who raised at least $50,000 for him; now the campaign is disclosing the elite superbundlers -- those raising $100,000 and $200,000," Sweet writes. Key sentence: "Obama is disclosing more information than chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is willing to reveal about the amounts her top players are raising."
Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., is becoming the first Democrat to go on TV in South Carolina.
And Edwards is preparing a fresh debate attack around his gimmick to deny members of Congress healthcare if they don't make coverage universal within six months. "The ad captures the former senator's passion and underscores his message that the Washington political system is broken," The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz writes in an ad watch. "But Edwards is making a promise he can't keep."
The fact that the Clinton camp responded to the ad -- "Now he says he'll get it done by employing an unconstitutional tactic" -- gave the Edwards campaign an opening, per ABC's Jake Tapper. Spokesman Chris Kofinis: "Senator Clinton made it crystal clear where she stands: she defends health care for politicians while millions of Americans and their families go without care."