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.
14:14:41 EST The Senate Foreign Relations committee — featuring five potential presidential candidates — will hold open hearings on Thursday with three retired generals who have spoken out against the current plan in Iraq. Later in the day it will hear from Sept. 11 commissioner and Iraq Study Group vice chairman Lee Hamilton.
14:02:19 EST Illinois official tells The Associated Press that Sen. Barack Obama will make his Feb. 10 presidential announcement in the state capitol of Springfield, Abraham Lincoln's hometown. The announcement comes just days before the country celebrates Lincoln's birthday.
13:01:20 EST Illinois Senior Sen. Dick Durbin announces his support for Obama's presidential run, saying, "Obama brings to this race a promise of reconciliation and a feeling of hope that America desperately needs."
12:09:28 EST The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney trailing New York Sen. Hillary Clinton by 8 points and former Vice President Al Gore by 11 points.
10:40:59 EST Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney will headline the National Review Institute's conservative summit this month, along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
10:09:25 EST Sen. Clinton cancels her afternoon news conference on her recent Iraq trip just minutes after Obama announced his presidential exploratory committee. Clinton staffers say the change has nothing to do with Obama, but that one of the other two participants — New York Rep. John McHugh — unexpectedly remained in Germany for another day and would not have been able to attend.
10:01:10 EST Illinois Sen. Barack Obama announces he's forming an exploratory committee in advance of a possible presidential run. He'll announce his final decision on Feb. 10 in Chicago. Obama posted a video statement explaining his decision on his Web site.
9:45:14 EST Arizona Sen. John McCain enlists Bobby Harrell, speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, to co-chair his exploratory committee in the Palmetto State. The announcement comes just days after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced the endorsement of South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.
A.M. Top Stories
— Not all of former President Bill Clinton's "Friends of Bill" are "Friends of Hill" as well, according to The Associated Press, which notes that New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will have to work to secure her husband's network of supporters.
— Both Sen. Clinton and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback are back on Capitol Hill Tuesday after traveling to Iraq. Clinton has an afternoon news conference to discuss the trip.
— Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo announced the formation of his exploratory committee on Tuesday morning on FOX News.
— Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd's hometown Hartford Courant weighs his White House chances. The newspaper notes that while conventional wisdom says the 62-year-old senator is a second-tier candidate for the presidency, some analysts say Dodd could have traction because questions about electability surround each of the Democratic frontrunners.
— Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced he will be chairing a new House subcommittee on the Federal Communications Commission, saying, "We know the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda." The Friday Morning Quarterback says Kucinich added during the surprise announcement that as a result of his new job: "We are now in a position to move a progressive agenda to where it is visible."
— Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh makes the case for Al Gore in 2008, citing one Democratic source who says Gore's camp has "quietly put out feelers" on a possible run. The unsuccessful 2000 Democratic candidate said Monday that he will not run for president next year.
— Columnist E.J. Dionne writes that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee may be the Republican to watch in 2008, in part because he has maintained a "loyal distance" from President Bush on his Iraq war policy.
— Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt calls much of the debate over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's religion "bigotry."
— The Hill newspaper reports on the race among top 2008 candidates to land the support of prominent politicians, particularly others who represent their own states. Meanwhile, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has signed up former Iowa Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle as an adviser in the early caucus state.
— Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean visited Deval Patrick over Martin Luther King, Jr. day, the Boston Herald reports, prompting speculation that the new Massachusetts governor is being targeted for the national stage by top Democrats.