THE NOTE: Countdown to Iowa

"Edwards has been drawing increasingly large and energetic crowds in recent weeks as he presses his case that America needs a fighter in the White House. His audiences are filled mainly with people who are middle age or older, and he's banking that such Iowans have been most likely to show up in caucuses."

Biden, D-Del., likes Obama -- he really does. And yet -- he comes close to big trouble again. On Sunday, he called Obama "a real superstar. A person who makes me realize why I got involved in politics in the first place," ABC's Brian Wheeler reports. "I've spent probably as much time in the African-American community as Barack has." (Well, he DOES have two decades on the man . . . )

ABC's Teddy Davis notices Romney "chiding G.O.P. rivals Mike Huckabee and John McCain for their deviations from President Bush on security and tax policy." Davis writes, "Romney is focused on getting through the next two weeks when voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will render their verdict on his bid to be the conservative establishment's choice for president."

From the department of last-minute profiles:

Bloomberg's Kim Chipman and Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, on Obama's years in Indonesia: "Obama had the same penchant for calling out bad behavior when he was with his friends. 'We played marbles out on a dirt field. We could never cheat him. We did try but he always found out,' says Zulfan Adi, 47, a freelance tourist guide who still lives down the street from Obama's old house in a lower-middle class neighborhood in South Jakarta. 'He used to say, "Kamu curang, kamu curang!" ("You cheat, you cheat!")"

(Isn't that what Obama campaign manager David Plouffe is saying about Clinton, Edwards, and their outside groups these days?)

Kate Zernike in The New York Times, on Elizabeth Edwards: "The campaign is a shared mission. Elizabeth Edwards is her husband's most trusted adviser, his chief provocateur and his most popular surrogate, mobbed at campaign stops by people who admire her struggle against breast cancer and share stories of children lost. She describes the presidency as not just his quest, but hers, too."

Elizabeth Kolbert on Giuliani, in The New Yorker: "Once again, Giuliani is in the awkward situation of wanting to represent a group of people whose views he does not actually represent. Once again, appeals based on "values" or personal history are closed to him. (Fourteen years ago -- before he had appeared in drag, or ditched his second wife on TV, or met his third wife at a cigar bar -- a "vulnerability study" commissioned by his staff noted that Giuliani's "personal life raises questions about a 'weirdness factor.' ") And so, once again, Giuliani is left to campaign on the basis of a single, strongly held idea: a great-leader theory of history, in which the great leader happens to be himself."

The Los Angeles Times' Joe Mathews, on Huckabee: "Huckabee's tenure as governor, 1996 to 2007, shows that his faith sometimes created political burdens for him, turning minor issues into public controversies and exacerbating tensions with other state leaders. Huckabee at times seemed too biblical even for fellow believer-politicians in the Bible Belt. In the "acts of God" dispute, there is no indication that anyone was harmed by the delay, but some felt that the governor's religiosity, as politically expressed, came close to pettiness."

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