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.
— New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is filing paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission, making her 2008 presidential aspirations official. Over the weekend, she broadcast a Web site video announcing that she would form a presidential exploratory committee and saying she's "in to win."
— Clinton's announcement all but eclipsed Republican Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback's official entry into the race Saturday. Brownback told FOX News that he's not concerned about being upstaged, saying he timed his announcement so that he could join Monday's March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., as an official candidate, adding that his pro-life position "is a passionate issue and it's one I care about and I want to be able to express it."
In his announcement speech, Brownback made all the claims of a candidate seeking the support of the Republican Party's conservative wing, but spoke too of the need for affordable health care for all, a reduction in carbon emissions and the need to work across party lines on Iraq.
— New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson formally announced his intentions to form an exploratory committee over the weekend. On FOX & Friends Monday, Richardson touted his impressive foreign policy résumé as well as his experience running a large western state.
He called Clinton a "formidable candidate," but noted that governors are elected more frequently than senators. Richardson also said that while his Hispanic heritage might help him with a large bloc of potential voters, he was not running just as an Hispanic candidate, but was targeting the American mainstream vote.
— While two of his long-rumored Democratic competitors jumped in over the weekend, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's most exciting news may have come when his hometown Chicago Bears beat the New Orleans Saints to earn a trip to the Super Bowl next month. Earlier this month, Obama made a big splash with a mock announcement that his team was going all the way. Also, this month, Arizona Sen. John McCain flipped the coin at the college football national championship game in Tempe, Ariz., with 26 million people watching at home. Watch for Obama to take advantage of a new free media moment when his team prepares to play its championship game.
— Delaware Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden told "FOX News Sunday" that Clinton is the "odds-on pick" to win the nomination, but called the race "a marathon," saying "I don't think Hillary's best case versus mine or Barack's or anybody else's necessarily trumps us." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he would only run for president as a "last resort" if the front-runners flame out. On NBC's "Meet the Press," McCain said he would announce his decision soon, adding he's been "tied up in Iraq, which is far more important than any campaign." Brownback and Richardson spoke about their presidential ambitions on ABC's "This Week."
— Meanwhile, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards campaigned in Iowa on Saturday, repeating his call for members of Congress who oppose escalation of the war in Iraq to cut off funds to support it. Wife Elizabeth Edwards also had harsh words for first lady Laura Bush, saying, "I am sure Laura Bush is a really nice woman, but she has not used that megaphone that somebody put right next to her for any of the things she cares about," and calling Bush's inaction "a tremendous disappointment to me."
— Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney began a four day tour of Israel over the weekend, where he met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and was attending a conference on Israeli defense priorities. Meanwhile, the Republican Jewish Coalition has launched an ad campaign calling on retired Gen. Wesley Clark, whose birth father is Jewish, to apologize for suggesting that money donated by Jews in New York is buying cooperation from U.S. officials to go to war with Iran before diplomatic means are exhausted. Clark reportedly wrote in a letter to the Anti-Defamation League that he "will not tolerate anti-Semitic conspiracy Webs to permeate the honest debate Americans must have about how best to confront Iran."
— The poll roundup shows good news and bad news for Clinton. A Washington Post poll from Saturday shows her as the top Democrat in a packed field. But a new Newsweek poll shows Edwards with more support in head-to-head match-ups against top Republicans.
— With top tier candidates needing an estimated $100 million by the end of the year to remain competitive in the 2008 race, it is expected that none will take advantage of federal matching funds, which limit the donations a candidate can accept if public money is to be used. Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson told The Los Angeles Times that she will not take matching funds in the primary or general election.
— Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is getting a lot of press for his outspoken criticism of President Bush's Iraq proposal, fueling more speculation that he might seek higher office in 2008. Hagel tells C-SPAN that he'll make a decision "in the next couple of weeks," and would not answer questions about whether he might run as an independent. Last week FOX News reported that supporters feared Hagel is getting left behind in both fundraising and recruiting talent because of his single-minded focus on the Iraq issue, and was unlikely to run unless he began laying the groundwork now.