The Note: Storm Before the Calm

And Clinton is, once again, raising the possibility of delegate-poaching (how many times can a candidate say something like this before the campaign can no longer deny that it's pursuing such a strategy?).

"There is no such thing as a pledged delegate," Clinton said Thursday, per the AP's Beth Fouhy. "The whole point is for delegates, however they are chosen, to really ask themselves who would be the best president and who would be our best nominee against Senator McCain."

The magic words -- clanging, deplorably loud music to the ears of uncommitted superdelegates: "And I think that process goes all the way to the convention," Clinton added.

Former Kerry strategist Bob Shrum uses a New York Times op-ed to lay out what could be the congealing conventional Democratic wisdom: "She has very little chance of winning, but Hillary Clinton has no reason to get out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination -- for now," he writes. "And, in the likely event that she falls short by June, I hope and believe that no matter how hard it is, she will do the right thing."

As Clinton tries to get from here to there, a Michigan do-over is dead (again). "The state party's executive committee is expected to hold a meeting by phone [Friday] to vote on a statement saying any kind of election to replace the results of the Jan. 15 primary no longer is possible," the AP's Kathy Barks Hoffman reports.

With no re-do, "a formal declaration that it's not possible would put new pressure on Clinton to accept a negotiated split of Michigan's 156 delegates," writes the Detroit News' Gordon Trowbridge.

Notice that there was no March fundraising number forthcoming Thursday from Sen. John McCain's campaign. (If they had a good story to tell, do you think they'd want to tell it?)

"The fundraising prowess of each Democrat -- it was Mrs. Clinton's second-strongest month of the campaign -- may be a sign of future trouble for the Republicans," Christina Bellantoni and Stephen Dinan write in the Washington Times. "Mr. Obama in particular has been able to utilize the Internet with dinner contests and other creative grass-roots efforts to attract more donors from more places."

This is only really good news if the other side joins him: "In another sign that John McCain is moving toward accepting public financing this fall, the Republican's campaign is returning about $3 million in checks to contributors who have given money for his general election campaign, funds he could not use if he opts into the public system," Scott Helman writes in The Boston Globe.

To that end, this push from the McCain campaign Friday morning: "Five months ago Barack Obama personally and publicly declared that he would accept public financing if the Republican nominee did as well. As the McCain campaign moves toward the option of public financing, we hope Senator Obama will keep faith with his pledge to the American people," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds says.

(And stay tuned Friday for a new RNC research document that rounds up Obama's week -- a "hypocrisy" primer, from public financing to off-message advisers to energy policy. Think they have a pretty good sense of who they're going to face?)

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