THE NOTE: Countdown to Iowa

The Concord Monitor's Margot Sanger-Katz, on McCain: "McCain could have made a different choice - he could have dined out on his war stories and dwelled on his mistreatment for years. But instead he was determined to find a kind of success divorced from his celebrity and free from the bitterness that afflicted many of his fellow veterans."

This timeout from McCain's media love affair. Jeffrey Birnbaum and John Solomon write up McCain's "private schmooze sessions" with moneyed interests. "As a presidential candidate this year, McCain has found himself assiduously courting both lobbyists and their wealthy clients, offering them private audiences as part of his fundraising. He also counts more than 30 lobbyists among his chief fundraisers, more than any other presidential contender."

Giuliani tells Mark Halperin of Time and ABC News that his strategy could still pay off. "It's just the first and second and the third inning and I'm not even sure if January 29 and February 5 even gets you to the fifth or sixth inning but it gets you around there," he says. And on campaign messaging, just a touch (maybe) of resignation: "I think that doing it any differently wouldn't have helped."

In a conversation with Time's Michael Scherer, Huckabee doesn't quite have the timeline straight on that National Intelligence Estimate he didn't read in time to answer questions about. "That particular day [when the NIE came out], which I thought it was a little bit ridiculous to talk about, the report came out at 10 in the morning and it was like five in afternoon. [Editor's note: The National Intelligence Estimate report stating that Iran was not pursuing nuclear weapons came out Monday Dec. 3. Huckabee was first asked about it in the evening of Dec. 4]."

Another anti-Romney dirty trick of a mailer, this one in Florida. "Help me sound the alarm that one day the Mormon Church plans to replace the Constitution with a Mormon theocracy. Mitt Romney's political success indicates this may be sooner than most have thought," reads part of the 11-page letter that reached a Florida Romney supporter over the weekend, Adam Smith reports in the St. Petersburg Times.

Clinton's GOTV operation: "Google, goodies, and 'angels,' " per the write-up by the Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs. "The campaign is expecting women to dominate the caucus by as much as 60 percent. To recruit more into their sisterhood of politics and to bump up the urgency for backbone supporters, an army of Clinton volunteers logged more than 10,000 house calls and 4,000 phone conversations on Saturday alone," Jacobs writes. "But some female Democrats are rejecting the message they're hearing about Clinton, long a controversial political figure. And some men are turned off by what they see as an estrogen-soaked campaign."

The Obama operation: Forget MySpace and Facebook -- there's,, and Peter Slevin and Jose Antonio Vargas of The Washington Post: "With turnout likely to be decisive in a Democratic race that pollsters call a three-way tie, Obama (Ill.) has built an Election Day operation that combines an apparent edge in technology with the tried-and-true grunt work of a traditional Iowa campaign."

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