THE NOTE: Ad Wars

On the Republican side, if this is Thompson's moment in Iowa, this is looking like Sen. John McCain's moment in New Hampshire (take eight). "With his efforts heavily concentrated on New Hampshire, where ballots will be cast five days [after Iowa], McCain has managed to rebuild some support after hitting a low this summer when his once-dominant campaign sank to fourth place in the state," the Los Angeles Times' Maeve Reston and Robin Abcarian report. "Though McCain is jockeying with Giuliani for second place here, some 10 points behind Romney, few political analysts are discounting the possibility of a McCain resurgence."

With Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., now on board, McCain, R-Ariz., could be positioned to "recapture some of that magic" among New Hampshire independents, Sasha Issenberg and Lisa Wangsness write in The Boston Globe. They see similarities to 2000, when many independents flirted with Bill Bradley but wound up abandoning him for McCain on Primary Day.

"McCain's pitch to those in the middle of the road is something of a reversal for a candidate who spent much of the last year trying to prove his conservative credentials to the party's skeptical base, which has sometimes bristled at his more moderate positions on campaign finance reform, illegal immigration, and taxes," they write.

McCain spent the day with ABC's Terry Moran for Monday night's "Nightline."

McCain has already essentially driven former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., to warmer climes. "The shifting landscape has prompted Mr. Giuliani to fall back on his original strategy: Try to survive the first slate of caucuses and primaries and stay alive long enough to fight on Feb. 5, when more than 20 states and nearly half the Republican delegates are up for grabs," Joseph Curl writes in the Washington Times. "The shift in New Hampshire has been prompted by a newly surging Mr. McCain."

"Like a boxer in the late rounds of a match, Mr. Giuliani's team appeared to be slowed from a series of blows in recent weeks," Seth Gitell writes in the New York Sun. "His demeanor seemed sober and somewhat subdued. Gone was the swagger he demonstrated at a series of weekend events in New Hampshire just after Thanksgiving."

The Rudy folks are calling it retrenchment, not retreat, and he popped into New Hampshire Monday to tell voters there how important they still are. "The GOP field is more fractured than ever, so Romney will be denied the string of early victories that could have made him unstoppable, they say," David Saltonstall writes in the New York Daily News. Says Giuliani: "We do see it as a nine-inning game, so you're going to see money moving around."

Who can we blame for this chaos? Start with Huckabee, R-Ark., without whom we might now be talking about the inevitable Romney vs. Rudy clash. Huck's remarkable new ad -- it's one thing to tag yourself as a "Christian leader," but anyone remember a previous direct mention of "Christ" in a political TV ad? -- seems designed to break through in a crowded media landscape that's being interrupted by the holidays.

ABC's Jake Tapper: "I suspect discussng the true meaning of Christmas will be very popular among certain members of the Republican electorate -- it's really no more revolutionary than what Linus says in 'Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.' But religion and politics can be dicey."

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