THE NOTE: Oprah, Bill Face Off

"As celebrity endorsements go, Winfrey's planned weekend fly-around to Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire on Dec. 8 and 9 with Obama and his wife, Michelle, is as big as it gets," Oprah fan Michael Saul writes in the New York Daily News.

"Her power is almost unprecedented. Her show, now in its third decade, has helped shape the national debate on a huge range of issues and, with a few well-placed words, changed the buying habits of millions and put once-obscure books on the best-seller list."

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., sees Oprah as a potential game-changer.

"My guess is that Senator Obama's going to win Iowa, and that he is going to win it by a surprising margin," Gingrich said Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." As for Oprah, he said: "There are millions of people who trust her judgment. I think it's a significant asset to him -- and, he's not married to her."

Until Obama gets his dose of celebrity, it's Obama playing something of a Clinton role. A week after Clinton mocked him for citing his childhood years abroad as foreign-policy experience, he's surrounding himself with the pieces of the Democratic foreign-policy establishment he can muster: Tony Lake, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Richard Danzig, John Hutson -- all in Portsmouth, N.H., Tuesday morning. Anyone up for a new approach to foreign policy?

And Clinton is fleshing out her resume from back when she was "the face" of her husband's administration abroad. Her new detail: "I was deeply involved in the Irish peace process," Clinton said on Monday, per ABC's Kate Snow and Susan Kriskey.

"And I know it's frustrating. It took years before the Catholics and the Protestants before Sinn Fein and you know, the DUP would even talk to each other."

Back at the hand-to-hand combat of the campaign . . . perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, but say this about the two New Yorkers who may or may not be on a collision course for November 2008: When they decide to hit, you feel it.

Now that Obama is starting to engage Clinton, here comes the counterattack -- and Camp Clinton is once again driving the conversation of the Democratic race, seeking to own every media cycle.

The campaign jumped on a Monday Washington Post story about Obama's PAC spending -- hardly a blockbuster expose -- with the fervor of an underdog.

It's another front in a raging month-long battle, where "Clinton has gone after Obama and Edwards on a range of issues, including healthcare, Social Security, and experience," The Boston Globe's Scott Helman writes.

And take the day's other big battle, this one started by Obama on ABC's "Nightline."

"I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I've done," Obama told Terry Moran.

Yet even on this day, the Clinton campaign still managed to own the New York Post headline: "Rap the 'Rookie." "If he is elected, he would have less experience than any American president of the 20th century," Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said.

Among the Republicans, as former mayor Rudolph Giuliani slugs it out with former governor Mitt Romney, it looks like Rudy's may be doing some gardening.

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