THE NOTE: Huckabee Rising in Iowa

New Hampshire independents haven't given up on the GOP just yet, Michael Kranish and James Pindell write in The Boston Globe (paging John McCain . . . ). "This year, with competitive races on both sides, independents had been expected to vote heavily in the Democratic primary, with 72 percent in a UNH poll as recently as June saying they would take a Democratic ballot. In the Globe poll, released Sunday, 55 percent said they would take a Democratic ballot."

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., adds to his list of Iowa endorsements on Wednesday, with state Rep. Mary A. Gaskill becoming lucky No. 13 for him. "He is sincere, authentic and I believe he is the best candidate the democrats have -- and that is why I am supporting him," Gaskill plans to say, per the Biden campaign.

President Bush on Tuesday called Congress "a teenager with a new credit card" in vetoing a health and education bill. But name-calling is nothing compared to the still-looming confrontation over defense spending, ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports. "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday that the Pentagon can take some of the half trillion in nonwar funding to cover any shortfalls while the Congress can hash things out with the White House. It could be a while."

The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan has an interesting look at the way regional politics are forcing candidates into tough spots on energy. "Energy policy, presidential candidates in both parties agree, is a critical national priority. But the regional special interests involved in energy use, production, and waste disposal have created political problems for the presidential contenders as they woo voters across the country."

Adam Smith and Michael Van Sickler of the St. Petersburg Times game-plan how Hillary could lose -- and it starts in Iowa. "If it happens, the beginning of the end will surely occur amid the snow-covered cornfields and silo-dotted town centers of Iowa," they write.

Among the spoils of victory -- you get to raise money for the party! Bloomberg's Laura Litvan secures a copy of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's oft-ignored "dues" list. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., a veteran of nearly an entire month in Congress, has to raise $104,000, as Democrats "are seeking to raise a record $154 million for the party from incumbent lawmakers -- more than four times the amount Republicans are trying to collect," Litvan writes.

The kicker:

"The truth is out there." -- John Podesta, on the Clinton library records of his correspondence about the "X-Files" and Area 51.

"If they needed my help, I'd be more than happy to help, as a fair-minded mediator." -- Giuliani, nominating himself as a potential fence-mender in the writers' strike.

Bookmark The Note at http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/TheNote/story?id=3105288&page=1

Interns for the ABC News Political Unit:

The ABC News Political Unit is now seeking three full-time spring interns in Washington, D.C.

The internship begins Monday, Dec. 31, and runs through Friday, May 25.

Not only do Political Unit interns attend political events and write for the politics page of ABCNews.com, they also help us by conducting research, maintaining contact lists, and building the next day's political schedule.

In order to apply, you must be either a graduate student or a college student who has completed his or her first year.

You also must be able to work eight hours per day, starting early, Monday through Friday.

Interns will be paid $8.50/hour.

If you write well, don't mind getting up early, and have some familiarity with web publishing, send a cover letter and resume to teddy.davis@abc.com as soon as possible, with the subject line: "INTERN" in all caps. Please indicate in your cover letter the dates of your availability.

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