THE NOTE: Waiting for Mo

"If Barack Obama thought his message of 'new politics' would carry him to victory without some retooling following his loss in New Hampshire, his popular-vote defeat in yesterday's Nevada caucuses might have convinced him otherwise," Peter Canellos writes in The Boston Globe. "By promising 'new politics,' Obama has staked a claim on the passions of Democratic voters hungry for the strongest possible repudiation of the Bush presidency. But there are signs that his cry for change may be sounding hollow or, worse, like a typical political slogan." LINK

"Obama now must decide whether to continue with the bruising exchanges that marked his greater willingness to criticize Clinton directly in Nevada, or return to the campaign style that stressed hopeful messages over direct criticism of his opponents," Newsday's Martin C. Evans writes. LINK

A final echo of Clinton's message in Nevada may leave Obama little choice but to change tactics: Clinton hits the Obama-as-visionary image in the new issue of The New Yorker: "You have to be prepared on Day One to basically wrest the power away in order to realize the goals and vision that you have for the country," she tells George Packer. LINK

Adds Clinton: "What we now know about how Dick Cheney basically controlled the information going to Bush means that we'll never really know how much responsibility Bush should be assumed to have taken with respect to serious decisions." Obama, meanwhile, describes being president as "having a vision for where the country needs to go . . . and then being able to mobilize and inspire the American people to get behind that agenda for change."

South Carolina also offers former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., what looks like his last chance to reemerge as a contender, and the race is slipping away from him -- fast. He disappeared into Kucinich-like territory in Nevada, with just 4 percent support in a state where his union support was supposed to mean something, and where he made an early push.

"This is one of those times that I hope the old saying, 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,' turns out to be true," Edwards said Saturday night, ABC's Raelyn Johnson reports. "We'll see what happens." LINK

Indeed. And this is where his spending cap matters: He could have less than $20 million left to spend for the entire primary season -- up all the way to the convention -- while Clinton and Obama spend freely.

Among the Republicans, South Carolina will be remembered for winnowing the field. Not just Duncan Hunter, whose exit means precisely nothing to the race, but also Fred Thompson, who thundered through a rambling discourse that made him sound like a man who wanted to quit Saturday night, if only his wife would let him.

Per ABC's Christine Byun, a campaign official is pronouncing his status as "fluid." (The clock is running on how long it will take for him to flow back home. He delivered his speech long before the race was called, so the Thompson family could hit the sack early back home in Virginia. We're not making this up). LINK

Thompson's lasting impact on the race may have been the blow his presence dealt to former governor Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., who desperately needed a South Carolina victory.

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