The Note: Philadelphia Freedom


The Petraeus-Crocker tour continues Wednesday with two more hearings on the House side. Here's a topic that might come up: Crocker told ABC's Terry Moran on "Nightline" Tuesday that the US is ready to restart talks with Iran: "We don't want to have just what you describe as a proxy war with Iran inside Iraq, and that is why we are willing to sit down with Iran face to face for talks on Iraqi security at the invitation of the Iraqi government. We've had three rounds of those talks and we've told them we are ready to again."

In terms of political strategy: "Democrats in the House of Representatives on Wednesday intend to use hearings on Iraq to hammer home what they think is a key political point: that the expense of the Iraq war is making it harder for the American economy to rebound," McClatchy's David Lightman reports. "Tying the war to the economy could be crucial for the Democrats in the run-up to November's elections."

President Bush meets with congressional leaders on Iraq on Wednesday, in advance of his speech on the war Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal's Mary Jacoby and T.W. Farnam provide some perspective on the $15 million McCain raised last month: "Sen. McCain's March total compares with the $11.6 million he raised in February and $11.8 million in January, reflecting the time he has spent at high-dollar fund-raisers around the country. But he is being vastly out-raised by his Democratic rivals, underscoring the Arizonan's larger problems motivating the Republican base."

That's one reason Obama may not be so keen on keeping his promise to pursue an agreement on public financing.

His argument: My donors are cleaner than yours. "We have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it, and they will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally reserved for the wealthy and the powerful," Obama said Tuesday night at a Washington fundraiser, per ABC's Jake Tapper.

Obama campaigns in Pennsylvania and Indiana on Wednesday, while Clinton hits Pennsylvania early and then heads to New York for her fundraising concert with Elton John. McCain spends much of the day in the Senate, and hits Connecticut for a late afternoon campaign event.

Get all the candidates' schedules in The Note's "Sneak Peek."

Also in the news:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may or may not be angling for the vice presidency (still more likely a not), but Grover Norquist likes what he sees. "If her goal was to convince everyone she would be a good president and, therefore, a good vice president -- she hit it out of the ballpark," Norquist tells The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers, referring to Rice's now-famous appearance before Norquist's Wednesday breakfast club.

It's not an endorsement, but Elizabeth Edwards is far happier with Clinton's healthcare plan than she is with Obama's. "You need that universality in order to get the cost savings," Edwards told ABC's Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" Wednesday. "I just have more confidence in Sen. Clinton's policy than Sen. Obama's on this particular issue."

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