THE NOTE: Mitt's Mormon Gamble

Whether or not she's actually having fun, she is undeniably now on the giving end. Follow the bouncing attack ball: After spending most of last week flogging Obama over healthcare, Clinton's campaign pressed Obama to shut down his PAC on Sunday, and is blasting Obama for his plan to encourage out-of-state college students to stick around in Iowa for caucus night.

Camp Clinton even launched a fresh attack on when Obama first harbored presidential aspirations, citing essays he wrote in Kindergarten and third grade. (Oppo alert: We're pretty sure a young Hillary Rodham told playgroup friends she wanted to be a princess, and she may or may not have had a crush on Ike.)

Clinton is getting serious in her efforts to take down Obama. "Sunday, in a dramatic shift, she made it clear that her goal is to challenge Obama not just on policy but also on one of his strongest selling points: his reputation for honesty," The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut writes.

"There's a big difference between our courage and our convictions, what we believe and what we're willing to fight for," Clinton said. Asked directly whether she intended to raise questions about Obama's character, she replied: "It's beginning to look a lot like that."

"Clinton aides made three hits on Mr. Obama within just a few hours -- on health care, campaign spending, and candor -- yet denied that they were acting out of concern about the new Register poll, which showed Mr. Obama in a statistical dead heat with Mrs. Clinton with less than five weeks to go until the Jan. 3 caucuses," Patrick Healy writes in The New York Times.

Denials aside, the Register poll provides context here as well: "Obama, an Illinois senator, leads for the first time in the Register's poll as the choice of 28 percent of likely caucusgoers, up from 22 percent in October," writes Thomas Beaumont.

"Clinton, a New York senator, was the preferred candidate of 25 percent, down from 29 percent in the previous poll."

But before any of that happened, Clinton got a chance to display herself as crisis manager -- in a situation she of course would have much rather never have had to face.

Friday's bizarre hostage standoff in New Hampshire showed Clinton in control, making all the right moves. "She directed one group of aides to work on reaching parents of the hostages. Another team was talking to New Hampshire officials," ABC's Kate Snow reports.

"The senator herself stayed in touch with the police commander in charge, the governor, the Secret Service and the FBI."

When she faced cameras at the end of the day, this was -- dare we say -- presidential: "It affected me not only because these were my staff members and volunteers," Clinton told reporters, "but as a mother, it was just a horrible sense of bewilderment, confusion, outrage, frustration, anger, everything at the same time."

This is Oprah week -- Des Moines and Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Columbia, S.C., on Sunday, and Manchester next Monday. Newsweek looks at how the Oprah-Obama relationship began with some bonding over "O" names, during a trip to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

This from Quincy Jones: "I think she saw his giving spirit and that really touched her. . . You can't fake the funk in those horrible circumstances." (Why would we try?)

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