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.
17:27:23 EST Concern is growing among supporters of Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel that his single-minded focus on Iraq comes at the expense of laying the groundwork for a White House run. Sources told FOX News that Hagel has not been making the phone calls to supporters, recruiting the talent, or, most importantly, raising the money necessary to launch a presidential campaign, and as a result he is being left behind. Backers say they hope Hagel's political chops and competitive fire kick in soon or else they anticipate an announcement in a month or so that he will take a pass in 2008.
16:59:09 EST Illinois Sen. Barack Obama meets with 100 inquisitive constituents from Illinois, who ask him everything from whether he was experienced enough to be president to his views on Social Security.
Obama, who said he'll leave it up to Americans to decide whether he has the experience and said "some adjustments to the system" can assure the solvency of Social Security, joked that reporters must be planted all over the room. "I appreciate you doing their dirty work," he said.
16:31:57 EST New York Comptroller and Clinton ally H. Carl McCall says Obama reached out to him to ask for his support — a sign that Obama isn't afraid to go after Clinton on her home turf. McCall says he's still supporting Sen. Clinton, but Obama's candidacy "will appeal to a lot of people."
16:11:03 EST President Bush may need Arizona Sen. John McCain and his popularity to help sell his war plan to the American people. According to a new Hotline survey, 32 percent of Americans say the support the plan when it's associated with the president compared with 37% who approve when it is associated with McCain. The poll also puts McCain on top of all potential '08 challengers on both sides of the aisle.
14:38:16 EST Obama-mania in New Hampshire? A new Zogby poll shows 23 percent of Granite Staters would support the senator from Illinois in 2008, compared to 19 percent who would back Clinton or John Edwards. Despite one pollster telling The Boston Herald that John McCain's push for more troops in Iraq has him "tanking" in New Hampshire, Zogby shows McCain leading Rudy Giuliani by 6 points, 26 percent to 20 percent.
14:18:02 EST Mitt Romney is in town meeting for private meetings with members of Congress and Republican National Committee members. McCain and his campaign surrogates are holding meetings with RNC members as well. Both host dinners in Washington. McCain insiders tell FOX News that the event is a small reception to thank Republican staffers for all their hard work during the last election cycle.
13:32:52 EST Outgoing RNC chairman Ken Mehlman gives his final speech at the RNC winter meeting. Voters are likely to approve Florida Sen. Mel Martinez as the new head of the RNC despite some vocal critics who say Martinez favors amnesty for illegal immigrants.
13:20:52 EST McCain's campaign e-mailed supporters to rip a MoveOn.org ad attacking his support for sending more troops to Iraq. Campaign manager Terry Nelson says "these negative attack ads are about the 2008 presidential campaign — not what is happening today in Iraq." The campaign then asks for donations to help respond to the "negative attacks."
13:05:44 EST Sen. Clinton tells Greta Van Susteren that she's against President Bush's plan in Iraq, but also against taking away funds for U.S. troops.
12:29:57 EST A new Rasmussen Reports survey of likely Republican voters puts former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on top of Arizona Sen. John McCain 28 percent to 20 percent. Newt Gingrich is the only other GOP candidate in double digits, with 14 percent.
12:26:34 EST Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin says he's likely to run for re-election in 2008. Harkin has always played a key role in the Iowa caucuses for Democrats, helping shepherd his preferred candidate through the complicated process and bring Democrats to the polls in the general election. He tells The Des Moines Register "Until I tell you differently, the Democratic presidential nominee will have Harkin on the ballot in Iowa."
11:22:14 EST New Hampshire Union Leader columnist John Distaso reports Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has enlisted political consultant Matt Rodriguez, a political director on Dick Gephardt's 2004 campaign and a deputy manager for Bill Bradley in New Hampshire in 2000 to run his campaign in New Hampshire.
11:02:50 EST Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced that 16 members of the Republican National Committee will be joining the Romney for President Exploratory Committee.
A.M. Top Stories
— New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will sit down with FOX News' Greta Van Susteren Thursday morning for an interview that will appear on Thursday night's "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren."
Clinton on Wednesday proposed capping the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and said she will co-sponsor a non-binding resolution authored by, among others, Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel and Delaware Democratic Sen. Joe Biden, both fellow presidential contenders. Clinton said she supports the resolution's statement that "our strategy should be focused on having Iraqi leaders make the political compromises necessary to end the violence in Iraq."
— A new Gallup poll shows Clinton leading Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 29 percent to 18 percent among Democrats. In a head-to-head match up, Clinton beats Obama 53 percent to 39 percent. On the Republican side, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tops Arizona Sen. John McCain in the poll 31 percent to 27 percent.
— The Boston Herald reports a new American Research Group poll shows support for McCain is "tanking" in New Hampshire, where the Arizona Senator cemented his presidential standing with a primary win in 2000.
— McCain has told conservative activists that he'll withdraw his previous support of a provision in the lobbying reform bill that would require grassroots organizations to report on their fundraising activities. The Hill newspaper reports the provision is opposed by groups on both sides of the aisle, but counts conservative leader James Dobson, who has said he's praying for a McCain defeat in '08, among its most vehement critics.
— The Republican National Committee begins its annual winter meetings on Thursday. The group most likely will elect Florida Sen. Mel Martinez as its new chairman, but not before some members protest his stand on immigration, The Washington Times reports.
— A Pew Internet Project study says 2008 could be the year the Internet takes over presidential politics. The 2006 election showed usage more than doubled from the 2002 midterm. John Edwards and Barack Obama are already making use of the Internet, and video sites like YouTube and other front-seat Web views could attract more attention, particularly young voters, to races.