THE NOTE: Off Message

Obama was thinking philosophical foreign-policy thoughts Tuesday in New Hampshire -- but with a political purpose. "Amid stepped-up attacks by Hillary Clinton claiming that Obama lacks the experience to face a dangerous world, the Obama camp turned loose a half dozen of the foreign policy experts in his fold to show the world the kind of high-caliber minds that are advising the first-term senator, who joined the panel of experts after nearly two hours of their deep ruminations," Alec MacGillis writes for The Washington Post.

A glimmer of hope out of Maryland (with apologies to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad): "Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged yesterday in Annapolis to begin negotiations next month for a possible peace agreement, but their speeches before representatives of 40 countries -- including Arab nations with no diplomatic ties with Israel -- laid bare the deep grievances between them and the tough compromises that will be necessary to forge a lasting deal," The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports.

"They're now ready to go," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "The United States will be a strong partner. We will be a strong facilitator."

The New York Times' Steven Lee Myers and Helene Cooper: "Its success, both sides said, will depend in part on how vigorously President Bush pushes Palestinians and Israelis toward resolving the core issues that have bedeviled peace negotiators since 1979."

Another day, another White House departure: Alan Hubbard, President Bush's top economic adviser, will step down at the end of the year, ABC's Ann Compton confirms.

"Mr. Hubbard's departure comes as the White House confronts one of the biggest economic challenges of Mr. Bush's presidency, the mortgage crisis that has triggered big losses on Wall Street, rising foreclosures and recession fears," John McKinnon reports in The Wall Street Journal. "It also appears to further cement the position of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as the administration's pre-eminent voice on economic matters."

More fun Rudy associations: "A Pennsylvania man convicted in a notorious corruption case played host to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a fundraiser last night, despite the Giuliani campaign's public efforts to distance itself from the man," ABC's Avni Patel and Richard Esposito report.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., doesn't like the Clinton campaign suggesting that Clinton's rivals will be part of her team. (Examples?) "I think here's this kind of a sell out there coming from the Clinton camp that you can have me as president, you can probably have Barack as vice president and you can have Biden as secretary of state," Biden tells the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody.

The kicker:

"One of the great pleasures of running for president has been, you know, to go to some tiny town in Iowa and you've got some guy in overalls and a seed hat say, 'what do you think about the situation in Burma?' You know, and you think he is going to ask you about corn -- and he asks you about Burma." -- Obama, on the campaign trail.

"They don't last long in the cookie jar." -- Last instruction in the recipe for Great-Grandma Gravel's Biscuits a la Creme Sure, as submitted to Yankee Magazine.

"We'll have as much spine as we possibly can, under the circumstances." -- Sen. Clinton, on the trail.

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