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.
14:29:09 EST Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign has added James Bopp, a prominent attorney for several right-to-life groups, as special adviser on life issues. Romney has been assailed by the right for just recently coming to his conservative opinions on abortion and any step he can take to gain credibility in the right-to-life camp he covets is a positive one. Romney also added four experienced advisers in Iowa, which he called a "critical state."
13:49:08 EST The Democratic National Committee has released the list of speakers for its 2008 winter meetings in Washington, D.C., this week. All the announced presidential contenders will be there, as will Gen. Wesley Clark, who has been rumored to be thinking about a repeat of his 2004 run, but has yet to form an exploratory committee.
— Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee, who helped engineer former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's improbable rise to power in that red state and most recently contributed to current Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine winning campaign, has signed on as senior spokesperson for Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign. He'll oversee the state press operation.
— Arizona Sen. John McCain's exploratory committee announced that noted political consultant Dax Swatek has joined the senator's team and will serve as a senior advisor to the exploratory committee in Alabama.
— A new Quinnipiac University poll in the swing state of Ohio shows New York Sen. Hillary Clinton well out in front of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, 38 percent to 13 percent. Among Republicans, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has an 8 point lead over Arizona Sen. John McCain. That margin is larger than most places in the country, possibly attributable to the fact that Giuliani appeared in TV ads for Ohio Republicans during the 2006 elections.
— New York Republican Rep. Peter King has offered to help recruit Capitol Hill support for Giuliani. King tells Newsday that he's convinced Rudy is running, and calls him "more on target" on the issue of terrorism. Besides being fellow New Yorkers, King and Giuliani go back 40 years, when both men worked at the same Manhattan law firm. Giuliani's camp told FOX News that he'll roll out a fully-staffed campaign operation within two weeks.
— Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Monday he disagrees with Sen. Clinton's call for President Bush to get the United States out of Iraq by 2009. That statement prompted a fast and furious reply from Clinton spokesman Phil Singer — John Kerry's rapid response coordinator in 2004 — who told The New York Times "Unlike Governor Romney who supports George Bush's failed policies in Iraq, Senator Clinton opposes the president's escalation." Romney shot back that Clinton fails to see Iraq as part of the broader War on Terror, suggesting that giving up on Iraq would mean walking away from the fight against jihadism. The Clinton camp may already be defending itself against critics from either party, but Singer said it's the Democratic criticism they're worried about, claiming, "The Republican stuff is not an issue. That's routine."
— On a tour through South Carolina on Monday, Romney again defended his views on abortion, telling listeners that he changed his mind in part after hearing a Harvard researcher declare that destroying 14 embryos a day was not a moral issue. On ABC's Nightline Monday night, Romney also defended his Mormon faith, saying voters will "look at the heart and character" of the candidates, not their religion.
— Romney's skills at turning flagging companies around as a venture capitalist show off his ability to make sound, objective judgments and achieve results, but The Boston Globe writes that the same objectivity often made him appear "bloodless and cynical" as governor, and could do more harm than good in his quest to win the GOP nomination.
— Chuck Hagel is being called "The New McCain" in some circles for bucking the party leadership. But will he use his newfound national stage to launch a White House bid — or even to run for re-election? Federal Election Commission filings show Hagel raised only $80,000 for his campaign committee in the last quarter of 2006 and had the least cash on hand of the senators up for re-election in 2008, raising speculation that he may retire. However, The Hill newspaper points out that Hagel is not likely to face a serious challenge in Nebraska and his political action committee raised more than $400,000 during the same period.