WASHINGTON – The following is a new feature from FOXNews.com's political unit offering readers updates and the lowdown on newsmakers looking at their 2008 presidential prospects.
12:30:31 p.m. EST Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is likely to announce his presidential decision in February. Campaign sources say that while he'd been considering going public around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day next week, he now plans on making his intentions known after President Bush's State of the Union Address, now scheduled for Jan. 23.
12:19:25 p.m. EST Sources close to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry say he's giving serious consideration to another White House bid. Kerry is beefing up his Senate staff for his Senate re-election race in 2008, including signing up Erik Smith, former spokesman for U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt's failed presidential campaign, as a senior adviser to his Senate campaign committee, and former Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams' spokesman Vince Morris to fill the same post in Kerry's Senate office.
Kerry also is seeking to become a key player in the national debate on Iraq in the next month and a half — when he will most likely announce whatever 2008 presidential decision he makes. If he does run, he'll transfer some of the new high-powered Senate staff to his exploratory committee. Kerry still has a formidable war chest — around $10 million or so — left over from his last White House run, but he has considerably less support after his missteps in that campaign and recent gaffes such as his 2006 "botched joke" about President Bush that ended up insulting the intelligence of U.S. troops in Iraq.
12:09:17 p.m. EST The New Hampshire Democratic Party has pushed back it's annual 100 Club Dinner — featuring an address from New York Sen. Hillary Clinton — from January to March 7, 8, or 9. Sources say that the shift is to accommodate Clinton's presidential timetable, saying the dinner was rescheduled with the understanding that Clinton would not have filed exploratory papers by the original date — if she does in fact file them — but will have done so before the new dinner date.
12:08:10 p.m. EST Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee steps out of the governor's mansion and in front of the TV cameras this week. Huckabee will be promoting his new book "From Hope to Higher Ground: 12 STOPS to Restoring America's Greatness" in New York City Wednesday. He will appear on several shows, including FOX News' Hannity & Colmes. Huckabee is also scheduled to tape a promo for FOX's hit drama "24" before his appearance on Hannity & Colmes.
11:34:26 EST South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint has endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2008 presidential race, according to a letter the senator is sending to state Republicans and obtained by The Associated Press.
10:38:11 a.m. EST Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore files papers to set up a presidential exploratory committee.
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Meanwhile, Romney could also see the formal endorsement of South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint as early as Tuesday, according to National Journal sources. DeMint's support would go a long way toward getting the New England governor a toehold in the first southern primary state but may cause friction within the South Carolina congressional delegation as senior Sen. Lindsey Graham is a McCain man.
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke to the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Project summit in Manhattan on Monday. According to local news outlet New York 1, Clinton told the crowd that Democrats plan to "revitalize urban America."
Democrat and freshman Sen. Barack Obama made a late stop on Clinton's turf in New York City, also addressing the summit. New York Daily News reports Obama praised Jackson for paving the way for black candidates with his White House runs in 1984 and 1988.
Obama's first big legislative undertaking is off to a rocky start in the Senate. He is offering a plan to create an independent office of public integrity to supplement the ethics committee, but it's meeting some resistance. ... and for those who like their presidential candidates topless, Obama appears in this week's People Magazine spread of celebrities at the beach, looking mostly fit in a photo placed right next to one of international actress Penelope Cruz.