THE NOTE: Regional Managing

Mitt gets to bring his millions (at least some of them).

Huck gets to bring Chuck (and Ed Rollins).

Fred gets to bring his pride (and he may have helping hunting around for it).

Rudy gets to play snowbird (dressed as tax-cutting stork).

John McCain gets to fight his demons.

John Edwards gets to go home.

Bill Richardson opts to stay home.

Barack Obama gets a lift from new union friends.

But Hillary Clinton gets to drive (and ask Karl Rove for directions).

The race for 2008 is now a regional affair -- a series of mini-primaries, with different entrants who each have different goals. The most important people in campaigns and news organizations are the delegate trackers; yes, Feb. 5 is big and all, but numbers will count in the end.

If New Hampshire did nothing else, it allows its winners to define the terms of the race: the Democratic race is now being fought according to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's, D-N.Y., wishes, just as the Republican race is tipping in the direction that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wants it to.

No one has higher stakes in the coming week than former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., with two dull silvers to show for the first week of voting -- and the state of his birth holding his only real shot at advancing.

This is not where the Romney campaign thought it would be, back when he was the deep-pocketed frontrunner in his "kindling" states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Now he's the (maybe slightly less) deep-pocketed loser of both Iowa and New Hampshire, and Michigan holds its last realistic hope of getting him back in contention.

One statement on Romney's prospects: He has pulled his advertising out of South Carolina and Florida (wonder if the five brothers are secretly happy about the boost to their kids' trust funds). It's a Mitts-off push to take Michigan, which votes Jan. 15. (Budget cuts for the self-funded multi-millionaire -- can you just see the smile on McCain's face?)

"The decision to focus its advertisements on Michigan suggested that the Romney campaign is making tough decisions about where to spend its money, despite Mr. Romney's ability to reach into his own pockets," Marc Santora and Adam Nagourney write in The New York Times.

"Mr. McCain, whose campaign until now has operated by necessity as a wide open but low-cost insurgency, adopted a carefully choreographed series of rallies as it scrambled to gather the money and the organization it needs to take advantage of his victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday."

Writes The Boston Globe's Michael Levenson: "Both men are chasing history, with McCain trying to reprise his victory in the 2000 Michigan primary and Romney his father's success as a three-term governor." Romney even dropped his optimism long enough to utter the R-word: "I've watched with concern as I've watched Michigan go through a one-state recession," the former Massachusetts governor said, standing on a chair and yelling without a microphone.

"For me, it's personal," Romney said Wednesday in Michigan. His campaign can call this a battle for delegates (and it is), but the point is that it wasn't supposed to be this way for Romney. "Romney's losses to Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses and John McCain in the New Hampshire primary have wrecked his campaign strategy," Michael Finnegan writes in the Los Angeles Times.

And Romney is having trouble with his shifting campaign themes, Michael Shear and Chris Cillizza write in The Washington Post. "The abrupt shift in tone and substance -- a huge poster with a 'to-do' list of Washington reforms suddenly began appearing at rallies in New Hampshire -- reinforced one of the most damaging narratives about Romney's candidacy: that he has no firm political convictions and will say anything to get elected."

The most important thing to know about the next big state for the GOP: "Michigan has as many unemployed job seekers as Republicans had voters in Iowa and New Hampshire combined," Justin Hyde writes for the Detroit Free Press.

The state's battered economy could leave an opening for former governor Mike Huckabee (remember him?) as well. Huckabee, R-Ark., is advertising in Michigan, and adviser Ed Rollins tells ABC's Jake Tapper that two groups of voters there make the state winnable for him: "Evangelicals open to his faith and values, and disaffected former 'Reagan Democrats' who helped then-President Ronald Reagan win overwhelmingly in his 1984 re-election campaign, then helmed by Rollins."

It's a three-way race in Michigan, and a four-way race in South Carolina (toss in former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., but maybe toss out Romney if he can't win Michigan). Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the site of the next Republican gathering, Thursday night at 9 pm ET, for a debate televised on Fox News Channel.

This is where it gets fun for McCain: His campaign ran into George W. Bush's buzz saw in South Carolina in 2000. In 2008, it's where all of the candidates' strategies (save Rudy Giuliani's) collide: "a divided electorate is likely to crown one candidate the front-runner and cripple the chances of one or more others," Perry Bacon Jr. and Juliet Eilperin report in The Washington Post.

Tell us this storyline isn't irresistible: "Could there be a more unlikely setting than South Carolina for McCain's victory lap?" Maeve Reston writes in the Los Angeles Times. "He was crushed by the state establishment's favorite, George W. Bush. The senator from Arizona now returns to that blood-soaked political battlefield hoping to prove his appeal to the conservative party regulars he needs to keep his resurgent campaign on track for the long haul."

But, as McCain noted on Wednesday, eight years is a long time in politics. This is why McCain is the GOP candidate who at this moment has the clearest path to the nomination: "Yesterday became line-in-the-sand day for Republicans, with Mitt Romney declaring that he is making his stand in next week's Michigan primary and Fred Thompson saying South Carolina's Jan. 19 primary is his do-or-die state," Stephen Dinan writes in the Washington Times. "Standing in their way is Sen. John McCain, who is feeling momentum from his Tuesday win in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary and hopes to narrow the field by winning both states."

If all works out according to Giuliani's plans (and things rarely do), he's got a bye until Florida, and only one other candidate will be left standing by then. On Wednesday -- two fourth-place finishes behind him -- he unveiled "a tax overhaul plan that would reduce capital gains and corporate tax rates and allow many Americans to file a one-page return," Bloomberg's Christopher Stern and Alison Fitzgerald report. "It would be the biggest tax cut in American history," and it's one of those good ones that will pay for itself.

Rudy has a new ad up in Florida -- attacking pundits. "Florida has a chance to turn down the noise, and show the world that leadership is what really matters," the voice-over says.

The campaign crunch claims a Democratic casualty on Thursday: Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., "is shelving his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination after back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire," the AP's Nedra Pickler reports. "With the New Mexico Legislature convening for its annual one-month regular session next Tuesday, there was speculation the two-term governor might announce was 'suspending' his campaign for the time being rather than formally withdrawing from the race."

The formal announcement is expected at 2 pm ET.

This provides at least of touch of additional clarity in the Democratic race, particularly if the remaining debates are three-way affairs. (Maybe Clinton won't have any allies on stage, but maybe she may not want any, either.)

As former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., makes a last stand in the state of his birth, "the Democratic contest has effectively boiled down to a two-senator race between New York's Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama of Illinois, with neither having an edge," Jackie Calmes writes in The Wall Street Journal.

"Both have the money and ground forces to continue their battle on multiple fronts through Feb. 5, or 'Super Tuesday,' and beyond if necessary," Calmes writes. "Sen. Clinton's rebound from her Iowa loss last week to win the New Hampshire Democratic primary injected her campaign with new optimism and new cash yesterday. Sen. Obama got a big lift for their next big showdown -- in the Nevada caucuses Jan. 19 -- with endorsements from two big unions that are a major force in Democratic politics in that state."

Camp Clinton took something of a financial victory lap on Wednesday, telling reporters that the campaign raised $24 million for use in the Democratic nominating contest in the fourth quarter of 2007, "outpacing rival Sen. Barack Obama, whose campaign said it brought in $22.5 million October through December," per ABC's Tahman Bradley. And campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe tells ABC's Kate Snow that Clinton has $25 million in the bank for use in the nomination fight.

As expected, Obama picked up the endorsement of the culinary union in Nevada, the biggest organized labor "get" in the state, ABC's Teddy Davis and Sunlen Miller report.

Obama grabs some muscle, but Clinton heads to Nevada on Thursday with the campaign narrative gusting at her back. "Her victory left her resurgent heading into the Nevada caucus," J. Patrick Coolican writes in the Las Vegas Sun. "Clinton is now the protagonist in a new national narrative. Although it's not clear why so many New Hampshire voters turned to Clinton, obliterating Obama's double-digit lead in the polls, what is known is that in the final 48 hours, she revealed new emotion and fire and openness to the press and public. She also created a contrast, accurate or not, with Obama: He's a talker, I'm a doer."

But don't discount that endorsement: "Although the union is coy about how many of its members are registered to vote, the endorsement is expected to give Obama at least 10,000 supporters in the caucus, in a contest whose turnout estimates have ranged from 28,000 to 100,000."

This is no fairy tale: As he campaigns Thursday in South Carolina and then heads west, Obama is lashing back at former President Bill Clinton, accusing him of repeatedly "mischaracterizing" his position on the Iraq war. "The press has already pointed out that he's wrong about this, but he keeps on repeating it," he told National Public Radio on Wednesday. "At some point we are just going to keep drilling away at the fact that it is indisputable" that he's been consistently anti-war. (That point just might be now.)

The leading Democrats appear just a tad tentative coming out of New Hampshire, their advisers honing the right strategy for a hectic schedule. And what a difference a win makes: "A day ago, Clinton's campaign was considering whether to duck Nevada and South Carolina. On Wednesday, aides were considering plunging headlong into both states. But both campaigns are digging in for Feb. 5," Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post.

Edwards is campaigning aggressively in South Carolina, where he was born, and where his political career just might perish. The New York Times' Julie Bosman reports that he has a plan to stay in contention: "To not drop out." "Though Mr. Edwards has lacked the fund-raising power of his rivals and is proceeding under the constraints that come with accepting federal matching funds, his aides say the money situation is not dire," Bosman writes. "If they spend judiciously, he could be there to take advantage should another candidate stumble."

And another Bloomberg blast for your reading pleasure. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, I-N.Y., "has quietly been polling and conducting a highly sophisticated voter analysis in all 50 states as he decides whether to launch an independent presidential bid," AP's Sara Kugler reports. "The exhaustive data collection started months ago, and when the review begins shortly, it will provide the data-obsessed billionaire businessman with the information he will use to decide whether to make a third-party run for the White House."

The Republicans' Thursday night debate in South Carolina is the day's big event. Check out all of the candidates' schedules in The Note's "Sneak Peek."

Also in the news:

The big question out of New Hampshire: How did she do it?

The misty-eyed moment is central to the storytelling: "It turned out to play phenomenally well, one of several turning points during Mrs. Clinton's five-day sprint in New Hampshire after the Iowa caucuses that transformed the dynamic of her race against Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination," Patrick Healy writes in The New York Times.

"Women, in particular, responded: Several said they chose to vote for Mrs. Clinton at the last moment because she had shown a human side of herself that they had never seen." But it's a tough act to follow: "She can't just keep crying," one adviser tells Healy.

Per The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Anne Kornblut, "in the end, it may have been the exhaustion and stress of the moment that helped save her. Having been told so many times to reveal a little more of her personal side, she let down her guard on election eve in response to a question about how she was doing, choking up with emotion as she talked about how important the election is to the country."

"Voters and analysts point to a paradox," Scott Helman and Sasha Issenberg write in The Boston Globe. "It was Clinton's very vulnerability -- her dim prospects in the primary, combined with perceived attacks by rivals and the media -- that won her a late, powerful surge of sympathy from New Hampshire voters."

Karl Rove credits Clinton's victory in part to those two tender moments in the last 72 hours of the campaign -- at the debate, and when here eyes welled up -- and, of course, to smart targeting. "Sen. Hillary Clinton won working-class neighborhoods and less-affluent rural areas. Sen. Barack Obama won the college towns and the gentrified neighborhoods of more affluent communities," Rove writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. "Put another way, Mrs. Clinton won the beer drinkers, Mr. Obama the white wine crowd. And there are more beer drinkers than wine swillers in the Democratic Party."

Moving forward, Rove writes: "For someone who talks about a new, positive style of politics and pledges to be true to his word, Mr. Obama too often practices the old style of politics, saying one thing and doing another. He won't escape criticism on all this easily. But the messenger and the message need to be better before the Clintons can get all this across."

(The emotions didn't work for the woman who asked the question that prompted the emotional response on Monday. Per ABC's Kate Snow and Jennifer Parker, she voted for Obama: "Marianne Pernold Young, 64, a freelance photographer from Portsmouth, N.H., told ABC News that while she was moved by Clinton's emotional moment, she was turned off by how quickly the New York senator regained her 'political posture.' ")

McCain and his favorite endorser, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., use a Wall Street Journal op-ed to declare, "the surge worked." "If the mismanagement of the Iraq war from 2003 to 2006 exposed our government's capacity for incompetence, Gen. Petraeus' leadership this past year, and the conduct of the troops under his command, have reminded us of our capacity for the wisdom, the courage and the leadership that has always rallied our nation to greatness."

In one of those buck-up-kids moments, Romney told supporters Wednesday that he's won more delegates than any of his opponents. That's some fuzzy math: "The way they are doing this is by simply not counting Iowa," ABC's John Berman explains. "They say that Iowa's delegates are not technically committed through the caucus process, and so, instead of extrapolating how the delegates would be apportioned (which is what media, such as ABC News and the Associated Press, do) they just pretend like Iowa did not happen."

And the press orders a helping of crow: "If journalists were candidates, there would be insurmountable pressure for us to leave the race," John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei write in Politico.

The kicker:

"Not yet." -- President Bush, urging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stop talking at a press conference until a translator could be located. Abbas' response: "Not yet." Said Bush, as Abbas went on, "I agree completely."

"We head out west and the fight goes on." -- Bill Richardson, after coming in fourth place in New Hampshire on Tuesday, technically telling the truth (he lives in New Mexico).

I'll be live-blogging during Thursday night's debate on Fox News Channel, starting at 9 pm ET. Be part of the conversation here.

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