THE NOTE: Hillary Starts Playground Fight

There was interesting policy talk in broaching the issue of merit pay for teachers, in a careful way that "appears to have carefully threaded the needle on the contentious issue," ABC's Teddy Davis and Sunlen Miller write.

And there could be help on the way from a queen of talk. Is Oprah about to hit the trail for Obama? The Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet gets a payoff for staying close to the candidate on the rope line: "Obama made the disclosure while working a crowd at Central High School here, after delivering an education policy speech," Sweet writes.

"First she's coming to Iowa," Obama told Ralph Hoagland, a co-founder of what is now the CVS pharmacy chain. "But we'll talk about it. We'll get her up here."

Also in the news:

Giulani's consulting work comes under the microscope of Andrew Zajac and Evan Osnos of the Chicago Tribune.

They have new details of "a complex partnership with the family of a controversial Hong Kong billionaire who has ties to the regime of North Korea's Kim Jong Il and has been linked to international organized crime by the U.S. government."

They write, "Giuliani's participation as a security consultant in the Singapore gambling venture illustrates the challenge he faces while attempting to win the Republican presidential nomination with a law-and-order message while maintaining a far-flung, international business portfolio, an unknown portion of which remains in the shadows."

We'll see if full disclosure gets the same kind of traction it's getting on the Democratic side, but here's Giuliani's words: "I think you -- you meaning the press in general -- have been successful in discovering. I'd have to check if it's every client. But just about every single client of Giuliani Partners. You'll have to check with them." "Them," as in Giuliani Partners, will not say.

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan is returning to the public stage with a bang.

"Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative," Matt Apuzzo reports in his AP write-up. Excerpt (from the book that won't come out until April): "I had unknowingly passed along false information.

And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

But former Bush adviser David Kuo writes that we shouldn't jump to conclusions based on a brief excerpt of a book that probably isn't even finished yet.

"For Scott to break with Bush and his friends from Texas would be extraordinary. He is certainly capable of it. He is a man who values his integrity and his faith. If he felt that there were things to say 'for the sake of history' I have no doubt he'd say them no matter the cost," Kuo writes on his Belief.net blog.

"Will he? The first indicator will come this week. If he remains silent throughout the week then the White House may have reason to worry."

As Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., prepares to enjoy his turkey in Iowa, he's got another endorsement to roll out on Wednesday: State Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines. It's No. 14 among Iowa state legislators for Biden.

The new GQ is out, complete with the Bill Clinton cover story that apparently cost the world a really interesting Hillary Clinton story.

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