SNEAK PEEK: Economy Replaces Iraq as Top Concern

23 Days Until the Iowa Caucuses

The Republican '08ers (including Alan Keyes!) take part Wednesday in a 2:00 pm ET Des Moines Register debate.

The 90-minute affair, which takes place in Johnston, Iowa, will be broadcast live on Iowa Public Television.

It will also be carried live around the country by the Fox News Channel, the Cable News Network, and C-SPAN 3.

The GOP showdown comes on the heels of a new ABC News/Washington Post poll showing that the economy, for the first time, has surpassed the war in Iraq as the top concern among likely voters.


"Among all Americans, 44 percent now say the economy's one of the top issues in their vote for president, up 15 points from last month; 37 percent name Iraq, down eight."

The coverage of Mike Huckabee's surge has largely focused on the consistency of his socially conservative views.

But he also has stood apart from his Republican rivals in giving voice to economic angst.

He hasn't done it with white papers (doesn't have the staff for that). LINK

Instead, he's done it with a mix of Lava soap, anecdotes from his days as a Baptist minister, and a promise to make sure that pimps and prostitutes pay their fair share.

"For many people on this stage," Huckabee said at the CNBC debate, "the economy's doing terrifically well, but for a lot of Americans it's not doing so well. The people who handle the bags and make the beds at our hotels and serve the food, many of them are having to work two jobs. And that's barely paying the rent."

"And you know what else?" he continued. "They don't think that they can afford for their kids to go to college. They're pretty sure they're not going to be able to afford health insurance."

Contrast Huckabee's answer with the answer given by a Gucci-wearing rival. LINK

""I think there is no reason to believe that we're headed for a recession," said Fred Thompson. ". . . I think that not enough has been done to tell what some call the greatest story never told, and that is that we are enjoying a period of growth right now and we should acknowledge what got us there and continue those same policies on into the future."

When you combine Huckabee's populist pitch with the Kirsten Fedawa-arranged meals, is there any wonder how Huckabee became what Howard Kurtz calls the media's "favorite Republican"? LINK and LINK

On the heels of his "Holy Huckabee" Newsweek cover, the former Arkansas governor has landed the cover of the forthcoming New York Times Magazine. LINK

For his part, Mitt Romney has snagged the National Review's endorsement. LINK

New National Poll Numbers

Here are the latest national horse-race numbers from ABC News/Washington Post:


Giuliani: 25

Huckabee: 19

Romney: 17

Thompson: 14

McCain: 12


Clinton: 53

Obama: 23

Edwards: 10

Full results:

Obama Dogged by 1996 Questionnaire

On the Democratic side, Camp Clinton has put aside its questions about character and kindergarten in order to step up its electability argument against Barack Obama.

The new Clinton effort began with her aides, or what is known in the trade as "political sources opposed to Obama's presidential campaign," giving Politico a decade-old Obama questionnaire. LINK

The 1996 document revealed that in Obama's first run for state senate he was "flatly opposed to capital punishment, in support of a federal single-payer health plan, against any restrictions on abortion, and in support of state laws to ban the manufacture, sale, and even possession of handguns."

The Clinton camp followed up the planted story with a strategically timed conference call which featured Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, ripping into Obama on consistency and guns. LINK

Now that her campaign is playing up the electability argument, will Clinton denounce Obama for refusing to say whether he would have signed the welfare reform bill approved by former President Clinton? LINK

And can the Edwards camp break through with the electability argument of its own? LINK

Wednesday's schedule


--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines Register Republican debate, Johnston, IA


--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines register's Republican debate, Johnston, IA

--5:30 pm ET: Visits with local supporters, West Des Moines, IA

--7:45 pm ET: Delivers remarks at a town hall meeting, Cedar Rapids, IA


--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines Register's Republican debate, Johnston, IA

--4:10 pm ET: Attends a post debate house party, Johnston, IA

--7:00 pm ET: Hosts a Linn County Christmas party, Marion, IA


--12:15 pm ET: Holds campaign rally, Urbandale, IA

--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines Register Republican debate, Des Moines, IA

--Holds meet and greet, Des Moines, IA

--Attends house party, Waukee, IA

--Holds media availability, Waukee, IA

FMR. MASS. GOV. JANE SWIFT (McCain Supporter)

--10:30 am ET: Holds meet and greet with New Hampshire Women for McCain Leadership, Portsmouth, NH

--10:45 am ET: Holds press conference, Portsmouth, NH

--12:30 pm ET: Delivers remarks to Seacoast Republican Women holiday luncheon, Greenland, NH


--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines Register Republican debate, Johnston, IA

--3:50 pm ET: Drops by a debate watch party, Johnston, IA


--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines Register's Republican debate, Johnston, IA

--7:00 pm ET: Speak to supporters, Des Moines, IA


--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines Register's Republican debate, Johnston, IA


--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines Register's Republican debate, Johnston, IA


--2:00 pm ET: Participates in the Des Moines Register's Republican debate, Johnston, IA

The Democrats. . .


--No public campaign events, Washington, DC


--Events in Chicago, IL


--1:00 pm ET: Holds a town hall meeting, Iowa City, IA

--5:00 pm ET: Holds a town hall meeting, Grinnell, IA

--7:30 pm ET: Holds a town hall meeting, Des Moines, IA


--12:30 pm ET: Holds a campaign event at Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, IA

--5:00 pm ET: Holds a campaign event, Storm Lake, IA

--7:45 pm ET: Holds a campaign event, Fort Dodge, IA


­--12:30 pm ET: Attends community forum, Vinton, IA

--7:00 pm ET: Attends community forum, Mason City, IA


--No public events scheduled


--Attends to Congressional duties for Ohio's 10th district


--3:00 pm ET: Delivers remarks to students at the University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

At the White House. . .


--2:10 pm ET: Participates in photo-op with recipients of the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor


ABC News' Martha Raddatz: "Bush Says He Didn't Know About CIA Tapes" LINK

ABC News' Jonathan Karl and Z. Byron Wolf : "Hayden Having Second Thoughts?" LINK

ABC News' Rick Klein: "The Year's Best Political Ads" LINK

ABC News' John Stossel and Kristina Kendall: "Ron Paul Unplugged" LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: "Huckabee's Plethora of Pardons" LINK

ABC News' Clayton Sandell: "Max Mayfield: 'No One Forced Me to Say Anything' LINK


'The Note' Rewinds the Week's Best Moments ABC News' Senior Political Reporter Rick Klein on the weekly political roundup. LINK

A Day in The Life of The President A rare behind the scenes look at President Bush's work day LINK

Campaigning with The Stars Senator Barack Obama hits the stump Hollywood style LINK

CIA Director 'Delighted' to Lay Out Facts Gen. Hayden says the CIA wants "to come and lay it all out for the committee." LINK

Bush Reports Decline in Overall Teen Drug Use Bush: "An estimated 860,000 fewer children [are] using drugs than 6 years ago." LINK

Inside Look at the CIA A former CIA interrogator speaks out about waterboarding. LINK

Romney on the Attack Romney releases a new ad criticizing Huckabee for his position on immigration. LINK