WASHINGTON – The following is a new feature on FOXNews.com's political unit offering readers updates and the lowdown on newsmakers looking at their 2008 presidential prospects.
18:10: 14 EST Sen. John McCain will formally announce his candidacy for president in a March 12 event in Arizona.
13:46:16 EST South Carolina state Sens. Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson, who backed John Edwards in 2004, say they're switching their support to Sen. Hillary Clinton — for purely political reasons. The two African American lawmakers say Clinton is the most electable Democrat in the race, and while Illinois Sen. Barack Obama solicited their support, they believe Obama would drag down the rest of the party. Ford told The AP: "Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he's black and he's at the top of the ticket. We'd lose the House, the Senate and the governors and everything." He added, "I love Obama, but I'm not going to kill myself." Another deciding factor? A phone call from former President Bill Clinton.
— While he took some heat in Democratic and Republican circles for saying the lives of 3,000 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq had been "wasted," Sen. Barack Obama told the Des Moines Register that he immediately regretted using that term during his weekend presidential announcement activities in Iowa, saying "I was actually upset with myself when I said that, because I never use that term." He added: "Their sacrifices are never wasted.... What I meant to say was those sacrifices have not been honored by the same attention to strategy, diplomacy and honesty on the part of civilian leadership that would give them a clear mission." Obama also apologized for the comments on a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Monday, but continued to emphasize his early opposition to the war in Iraq, saying the senators who voted to authorize the president to use force are partly responsible for "the situation we're in now."
— Mitt Romney announced his official entry into the 2008 presidential race at in Dearborn, Mich. Romney portrayed himself as an innovator, emphasizing his leadership and management experience as an entrepreneur and former governor of Massachusetts, and stressed the importance of traditional conservative issues like smaller government, fewer taxes and family values. On Iraq, Romney said he favors additional troops to seek stability in Iraq so long as there is a reasonable prospect of success there.
— The Los Angeles Times rounds up Romney's victories in the "insider's primary" — the battle to score key endorsements on Capitol Hill — noting that he has scored some major successes against Arizona Sen. John McCain despite, or because of, his Washington outsider status. Running third in Republican primary preference polls, Romney will need top surrogates to give his campaign an air of credibility and to help educate the public about his candidacy and his strengths. Most Americans say they still don't know enough about him to form an opinion.
— USA Today has another comprehensive look at Romney's Mormon faith, as well as some background on the religion itself. A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that 72 percent of Americans say they would vote for a well-qualified Mormon candidate. That's compared to 88 percent who say they would vote for a woman or 94 percent who would vote for an African American.
— Michigan's planned move to a Feb. 5 primary date could help Romney's chances at winning the nomination, but McCain and other Romney rivals aren't conceding the state. McCain's campaign was expected on Tuesday to announce the support of several state lawmakers who had previously pledged to back Romney.
— Rudy Giuliani had kind words for Romney on the eve of his announcement, telling a group of California businessmen that "Governor Romney is a good friend, he was somebody I campaigned for very, very hard when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, helped him get elected." The former New York City mayor added: "I don't think I'll be campaigning for him for the Republican nomination this time. I have another candidate that I think is probably going to be better, but I really wish him well. He's a very, very good man." He also told the group that he is "100 percent committed" to running for president.
— Controversial blogger Amanda Marcotte has resigned as one of John Edwards' official campaign bloggers. Opponents dredged up some of her more inflammatory and obscenity-laden posts on the Duke rape case, sex, and religion, and Catholic League president Bill Donohoe called on Edwards to fire her. Edwards chastised Marcotte, but kept her on the payroll until Monday, when he accepted her resignation. On her blog, Marcotte lashed out at her critics, particularly Donohoe, who she said had run a "scorched earth campaign" intended to silence her.
—- White House political guru Karl Rove said the speed and intensity of the campaign could create voter backlash, telling The Politico that the early start to the 2008 season "is going to mean that people develop a persona earlier and wear out their welcome earlier than they would." He added: "I think there's going to come some point this year where people are going to basically be saying, 'I'm largely disinterested in the contest.'''
— Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack delivers a major policy address in San Francisco, where he is expected to say America's security depends on converting to a system of renewable energy, which he says will also help reduce global warming.