THE NOTE: Off Message

Clinton, in a 1994 speech circulated Wednesday morning by a "rival campaign" (any guesses?): "The only examples we have of individual mandates are those like auto insurance requirements in many states where, in spite of the fact that the state has access to all drivers through the licensing process, literally thousands and even hundreds of thousands of drivers remain uninsured in states with such an individual mandate."

Counter-spin from Camp Clinton, on "In fact, her 1993 legislation included an individual mandate. Hillary learned a lot from her experience fighting for universal healthcare in 1993, and has changed some of the ways she approaches the issue to reflect that experience.

But she has never wavered from her belief that you simply cannot cover all Americans without including an individual requirement." (The quote, they say, was taken out of context.)

The latest news from Bill and Hillary could rewrite some lines for Wednesday night's GOP forum in St. Petersburg, Fla., when the Republican candidates finally overcome their scheduling conflicts to attend the long-delayed CNN-YouTube debate.

It's been a month since the Republicans last met on stage, and in that time we've seen -- to cite just a few developments: the quick rise of Rep. Ron Paul and former governor Mike Huckabee; the slow slip of former senator Fred Thompson; the resilience of Sen. John McCain; and the schoolyard brawl between the two men who remain the most likely to remain standing come late January -- former governor Mitt Romney and former mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

USA Today's Mark Memmott and Catalina Camia count the words spoken at the seven previous GOP debates, and see "Reagan" edging out "Hillary," 30-28. Here's guessing that the junior senator from New York is beating the Gipper by at least a touchdown after Wednesday showdown.

"The campaigns of the top candidates are scattering accusations and snippets of 'opposition research' like birdshot in the hopes of winging an opponent," The Boston Globe's Brian Mooney writes in curtain-raising the Florida forum. "Mitt Romney, the poll leader in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Rudy Giuliani, the front-runner in national polls, are the most frequent duelists, but Fred Thompson, John McCain, and, increasingly, the surging Mike Huckabee are also mixing it up in combinations that change depending on the issue, the day, or the latest poll result."

Romney vs. Rudy is one big game of "He likes Hillary" -- "No, eww, HE likes Hillary." "He was all roses and petals for Hillary's [healthcare] plan," Romney, R-Mass., said yesterday of Giuliani, R-N.Y., per the New York Post's Carl Campanile.

The Giuliani campaign's response: "Governor Mitt Romney passed a mandate and tax hike laden health care plan in Massachusetts which Hillary Clinton's own legislative director said was just like HillaryCare."

"As with all decent fighters -- and both men are agile pols who can give as well as take a punch -- they are both going after each other's perceived glass jaws," ABC's Jake Tapper writes on his blog. "Romney wants to paint Giuliani as liberal. Giuliani wants to paint Romney as an ineffective leader."

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...