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.
14:35:35 EST Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is likely to hire David Plouffe, a partner in the consulting firm of Obama strategist David Axelrod, to run a possible 2008 campaign. He will also sign up Democratic National Committee research director Devorah Adler, likely to serve in a similar capacity on the campaign.
14:07:30 EST Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden will participate in the NAACP's Martin Luther King Day observance at the South Carolina Statehouse.
12:44:52 EST Former National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Carl Forti has signed on as Mitt Romney's political director and deputy campaign manager.
12:09:57 EST Kansas Republican Sen. Sam Brownback met with Kurdish leaders in Iraq Wednesday and reports that he encouraged them to create a federal system within the country. "Iraq has three primary groups and each should have a region they govern within a federated country; one country with three states and Baghdad as the federal city," he said.
11:22:36 EST FOX News confirms that the Democratic National Committee has chosen Denver over New York as the site of its 2008 national convention. Republicans had previously selected Minneapolis-St. Paul for its nominating activities.
10:24:00 EST Arizona Sen. John McCain speaks to reporters outside the White House, saying he believes Congress has the right to cut off funding for Iraq, but if lawmakers choose to do so they must accept responsibility for the consequences of failure there.
A.M. Top Stories
— As FOX News reported Wednesday, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., announced plans Thursday to make a bid for the White House in 2008 by filing paperwork to establish a presidential exploratory committee. The Connecticut Democrat told radio host Don Imus "I'm going to skip this exploratory phase that a lot of people go through and become a full-fledged candidate for the presidency."
— Emily's List will endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton soon after she makes her official announcement for the presidency. PoliticalMoneyLine rates Emily's List as the largest political action committee, giving $46 million to Democratic candidates in the 2006 cycle.
— New York Daily News reports the White House 2008 Democrats "will have their first candidate forum" at the Democratic National Committee Feb. 1-3 winter meetings.
— The Birmingham News reports Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will attend Alabama Gov. Bob Riley's inaugural ceremony on Monday.
— Presidential hopefuls' reactions to President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq were decidedly mixed. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama says "escalation has already been tried and it has already failed," adding that he will "actively oppose" the move. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden says "sending more American troops to the epicenter of a vicious civil war is not the answer." New York Sen. Hillary Clinton says the president "has not gotten the message," and John Edwards called the plan a "grave mistake."
Even conservative Sen. Brownback, who met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq this week, says "more troops is not the answer." Republican contenders Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain — an early proponent of additional troops in Iraq — came out in favor of the decision.
Meanwhile, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich said the speech made him wonder whether President Bush was "getting ready to attack Iran."
— Mitt Romney says he was "wrong on some issues back then," after a video appeared on YouTube Wednesday from his 1994 Senate debate with Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy. In it, Romney defends a woman's right to choose, distances himself from Ronald Reagan and supports gay rights. The former Massachusetts governor tells "The Glenn and Helen Show" "if you want to know where I stand... you can go to look at my record as governor."
— The Washington Times reports that Sen. Clinton's poll numbers have dropped in Iowa and New Hampshire because of strong competition from John Edwards and Barack Obama, as well as a "deepening antipathy" among state independents.
— The Times also updates the Democrats' search for a 2008 convention location, which is a two horse race between Denver and New York — reporting that while some in the party favor Denver, the city's chances are hurt by the fact that it's not a union town. Republicans chose Minneapolis-St Paul for their convention in September.
— A new North Carolina poll shows native son John Edwards well out in front of the Democratic field, trailed by Sens. Clinton and Obama. Giuliani and Newt Gingrich top the Republican slate with McCain a distant third.
— The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, featuring no fewer than five possible presidential candidates — Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel — was meeting Thursday for a second day in a row, this time to hear testimony from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
— Speaking of Biden, the Delaware senator has chosen Florida Democratic Party leader Luis Navarro to run his 2008 campaign, The Palm Beach Post reports.