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Eye on '08: Candidates Rally for List of Monied Allies, Accomplished Activists

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14:55:22 EST Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's guest at the State of the Union is an elementary school teacher from the south side of Chicago named Rana Khan, who recently was named one of two recipients of the Milken Family Foundation's National Educator Award. Khan's award was earned in part because she teaches students "not to give into life's challenges, but to overcome them," a theme similar to the one Obama is promoting in his 2008 presidential bid.

14:52:10 EST Talking Points Memo's Election Central learns that Sen. Hillary Clinton has won the support of top Democratic donor Hassan Nemazee, John Kerry's New York finance chair in 2004 and "the force behind the (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's) fundraising success in 2006." The good news for the New York senator comes after billionaire Democratic activist George Soros decided he would back Obama in 2008.

13:35:04 EST Arizona Sen. John McCain bashed former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and — for the first time — Vice President Cheney in an interview with the new Washington publication, Politico.com, saying "The president listened too much to the vice president," leading to mishandling of the war in Iraq. "Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the vice president and, most of all, the secretary of defense," McCain is quoted saying.

13:00:00 EST The Chicago Tribune reports Sen. Obama has endorsed Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in his re-election bid — passing over a black candidate who questioned whether the move was political quid pro quo. Obama denied any pact between the two men, saying "I had made a determination well before my exploration of my presidential candidacy that this was the right thing to do."

12:44:36 EST Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd tells FOX News that he likes what he hears of President Bush's 20-10 energy proposal, set to be introduced at the State of the Union address. It reportedly calls for a 20 percent reduction in gasoline consumption over the next 10 years.

11:02:49 EST Sen. Clinton sets the date for her speech at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's annual 100 Club fundraising dinner. She's set to appear on March 10. Clinton had already accepted an invitation to speak at the high profile New Hampshire event but pushed the date back this month amid speculation that she would not have announced her candidacy in time for the dinner.

A.M. Stories

Roll Call newspaper reports that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expect to announce the endorsement of former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

— Romney delivered a foreign policy address in Israel Tuesday, outlining his five steps to prevent a nuclear Iran. He also called "folly" the argument by "some congressional leaders" that the president is not authorized to allow U.S. forces to pursue hostile Iranian elements inside Iraq.

The New York Post has learned Rudy Giuliani is moving to sell the investment banking arm of his consulting firm — the strongest sign yet that he's serious about a White House bid. Critics have questioned whether the former New York mayor would enter the race, citing his reluctance to divest himself of business holdings that could be a political liability. One source tells the paper that while the firm is the largest and perhaps most profitable of Giuliani's business holdings, it gets involved in "issues which could be politically sensitive.

— Former President Bill Clinton says he's happy to do "whatever I'm asked to do" for his wife's presidential campaign. The New York Post reports President Clinton made the remarks at a party for longtime friend and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who he joked told him to be there "because he said I need to practice in a supporting role."

The New York Times has a rundown of Sen. Clinton's first web chat, in which she talked about Iraq, Katrina and her favorite movies. Aides say Clinton showed she's determined to speak directly to the voters without going through the sometimes-critical news media, although in the past half a day she whipped through a whirlwind tour of the nightly news casts and the morning shows. No one knows just how many voters are watching her online broadcasts.

Meanwhile, Clinton spent much of her vacation before her presidential announcement meeting with the BET founder Robert Johnson on the island of Anguilla. Supporters say the meeting with Johnson, America's first black billionaire, is part of a strategy to make Obama fight for every black endorsement and every black vote. Politico cites an anonymous Clinton adviser who says Obama is "not built to be the black candidate," adding "his youth and inexperience play against him in that world."

The New York Times calls Sen. Clinton's decision to forego public financing in both the primary and general election a sign of the "death knell" for public financing, adding that Clinton's announcement merely confirms that the system can't keep up with the amount of money presidential candidates must now raise to be competitive.

The Chicago Tribune reports on the growing cost of political fundraising, and cites aides to Sen. Obama who say it will take $50 million by the end of the year just to have "a seat at the table" in the primaries. To be competitive this year will take raising as much as $100 million — an average of $2 million a week, or "$274,000 a day, including Sundays and holidays, all of it raised in increments legally limited to no more than $2,100 per person."

— Sen. McCain netted two top Iowa activists: former 2004 Bush/Cheney field director Ed Failor, who helped President Bush earn the first win for a Republican presidential candidate in the state since 1984, and RNC strategist and longtime Iowa organizer Karen Slifka.

The Boston Globe reports Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry won't rush his decision about 2008 just because the field is filling up. His aides say he still plans to announce his intentions by the end of the month, adding that the senator, who has $13 million in the bank from his 2004 presidential run, can afford to take his time.

— Are we headed for a national primary? The Associated Press reports more states are contemplating pushing their presidential primaries up to Feb. 5, making that date the most super of "Super Tuesdays."

The Washington Examiner's Ed Morrissey warns voters not to roll over New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who could be the Democrats' most fearsome candidate.

Roll Call reports that Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel has assured the National Republican Senatorial Committee that he'll run for re-election in 2008 — but that doesn't mean he won't change his mind and run for president.

— Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner may be traveling like a presidential hopeful, but he insists, according to ABC News, that his decision to take a pass in 2008 is final.