The Web's Best Political News Summary: Feb. 7: Let's Get Workable:

"Intervening for the first time in a case involving abortion, the Bush administration asked a federal appeals court yesterday to reverse a lower court ruling that struck down an Ohio law banning the controversial procedure known to critics as 'partial birth' abortion," the Washington Post reports. "In a brief filed with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department argued that the Ohio law should be upheld because 'it is virtually a carbon copy of provisions that the Supreme Court already has held are constitutional.' The case" is "the first to reach a federal appeals court since a 2000 Supreme Court decision overturned a 'partial birth' abortion ban in Nebraska." ( )

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary

Al Hunt takes one of the more sophisticated looks to date at the Democratic party's changes to its nominating calendar. He slips in there that Al Gore is not Chairman Terry McAuliffe's choice to be the standard-bearer, and he tisk-tisks the front-loaded system, but his main points are summed up on these graphs, and we are guessing he has the same sources we do, because this all matches our reporting exactly (with the possible exceptions of what he says about Daschle, and his failure to mention any — for now — dark horse governors):

"The early front runner, at least in polls, is Al Gore: He'll probably run but it wouldn't shock any … [key Democrats] if he doesn't. Joe Lieberman won't run if Al Gore does, and might not in any event. Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle both are gearing up to run but it's unlikely both will. Mr. Gephardt is the more probable candidate, especially if Democrats don't win back the House."

"Two of the most attractive of the unknowns are Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Senator Dodd may not realize it yet, but he won't run because there are two women his life: his wife and firstborn child, five month-old Grace. Running for president and being a dutiful father, which he takes seriously, are incompatible. That'll pose challenges for Senator Edwards too, as will the fact the freshman lawmaker faces reelection North Carolina in two years. Nevertheless, he's the hottest topic among Democratic activists."

"There are only two 2004 certainties: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry will run, and Senator Hillary Clinton, to the dismay of the right-wing conspiracy, will not."

"Actually, there's one other certainty: the front-loaded primaries, like every other rules changes over the past thirty years, will have unintended consequences."

USA Today 's Benedetto reports on how the struggling economy is affecting cities' decision to bid for one or both presidential conventions in 2004, though his suggestion that "the belief by some that New York is the sentimental favorite after the attacks on the World Trade Center" runs counter to what we've heard, at least from Democrats. ( )

Within a round-up corrections column, Bill Safire adjusts his Democratic presidential nomination odds. ( )

Money isn't flowing into Senator McCain's Straight Talk America PAC the way it used to — though in part because they've stopped trying so hard to raise it. ( )

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