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Making news today:
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Say good-bye to peace on earth, and goodwill among men: Christmas is over, and the presidential campaign has hit the homestretch.
With just over a week to go until the Iowa caucuses, most of the candidates are spending the day in the Hawkeye State, with a few notable exceptions.
For the next two days, Mitt Romney is campaigning in New Hampshire – a state that was supposed to be his firewall. John Edwards is also stumping in the Granite State today. And Rudy Giuliani, who is looking past the earliest contests, is spending the day in Florida.
Back in the Hawkeye State, everyone’s still trying to parse the American Research Group’s Christmas Eve surprise: a new poll that seemed to show Huckabee losing, and Hillary Clinton gaining, big leads in their respective races. Full Story
An outlier, or a sneak peek at the late shape of the race? The answer’s just days away.
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
Now you can take the Best Political Team with you anytime, anywhere. Subscribe to the “Best Political Podcast” for extensive coverage of the 2008 election. Best Political Podcast
Political Hot Topics
(Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)
Compiled by Lindsey Pope & Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
NY Times: Edwards Gets Demerits For Tardiness On The Trail
It seemed as if everybody in the northeast Iowa town of Manchester had squeezed into the Cedar Lodge Steakhouse one night this month for a John Edwards event. Everyone, that is, except Mr. Edwards. Forty-five minutes after he was scheduled to arrive, Mr. Edwards had yet to show up, and his campaign’s county coordinator, Judy McMahon, was onstage, gamely trying to keep the crowd occupied.
LA Times: Romney's Running Mate - His Father
The admired public servant, undone by an offhand comment, is both a role model and cautionary example for the family's newest GOP presidential candidate.
Reuters: Student Break Makes Christmas Tough For U.S. Campaigns
A clash between Christmas vacations and the U.S. election calendar has left presidential campaigns in Iowa struggling with a shortage of student volunteers to call voters, distribute pamphlets and drive people to the polls.
NY Daily News: Democratic 'Also-Rans' Not Giving Up
Bolstered by Iowan idealism, the knowledge that it's nearly impossible to accurately poll the caucuses and an election history replete with startling upsets, supporters of caucus also-rans Dodd, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson are still doggedly looking on the bright side.
Wall Street Journal: Campaigns Hit the Road in Iowa, New Hampshire to Make Final Pitch
Republican and Democratic presidential contenders are back in action today for the home stretch leading to next week's Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary a week later. Where they head first may reveal something about their short-term strategy.
Washington Post: Courting Students, And Hoping They'll Actually Cast Votes
Many of the presidential candidates have actively courted young voters, sending them text messages, visiting college campuses and launching Web sites that explain the complicated caucus process. The goal is not only to win over these voters but, just as critically, to get the ripe but unreliable group to turn up at caucus sites, perhaps hundreds of miles from their homes.
Washington Times: Huckabee's Illegal-Alien Enforcement Record Hit
Mike Huckabee is overselling his record of cracking down on illegal aliens as governor, claiming he ordered his state police to arrest illegal aliens when in fact he never signed the agreement with federal authorities that would have allowed it.
Boston Globe: Grass-Roots Activists Fill Void Within GOP
Social and economic conservatives, two key Republican blocs, have yet to unite behind a common candidate, depriving groups such as the Christian Coalition of a rallying point. That uncertainty has caused grass-roots activists to go follow their own path, often at odds with party elites.
Wall Street Journal: 'HILLARYLAND’ Clinton's Right-Hand Woman Scrambles for a Win in Iowa
With snow and sleet pounding her hotel window, campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle dialed in to an early-morning strategy debate a few weeks ago among the top advisers of Hillary Clinton, who were bickering over stumbles that had caused Sen. Clinton to lose her edge in Iowa opinion polls.
Boston Globe: N.H. Democrats, GOP Sharply Divided On Healthcare
Most Americans believe healthcare is a critical issue the next president must tackle, but in New Hampshire, the first primary state, there's a sharp partisan split over government's role in making healthcare available.
New Hampshire Union-Leader: On The Trail: Richardson Touts His Plans For Jobs And Education
With the state's primary drawing near, presidential hopeful Bill Richardson covered more than 400 miles in two days recently, touting his plan for jobs and education, two issues he says are unsatisfactorily addressed by the other candidates.
Washington Post: Not Relevant? Sharpton Scoffs at the Idea
For Al Sharpton, the hyperkinetic pace of his past year and the pleas for support from presidential aspirants provide the answer to the question some are posing: How does Al Sharpton remain relevant in a Barack Obama world?
Washington Post: Sooner or Later, Candidates Will Surely Look Lost
They have become a useful, though very tricky, class of images in this roller-coaster ride of a presidential campaign. Call them the "hangdog" candidate photographs: They capture the politician with eyes downcast, looking tired, stressed.
Washington Post: Freshmen Padding Their Independence
Half a dozen freshman Democrats took to the House floor one late-October morning to cast their lot with Republicans.
AP: Clinton, Obama: Coverage vs. cost
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama intensified the bickering yesterday over their competing health plans, reflecting the crucial stakes as Iowa's leadoff caucuses in early January approach.
On the Trail:
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich and Katy Byron
CNN Washington Bureau
* Hillary Clinton kicks off her "Big Challenges, Real Solutions – Time To Pick A President" Tour with President Bill Clinton, Gov. Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Later, she holds campaign events in Pella and Cumming.
* Barack Obama kicks off a bus tour through Iowa with a town hall meeting in Mason City, Iowa. Later, he meets with Iowans in Webster City, and holds rallies in Fort Dodge and Carroll.
* Rudy Giuliani participates in a roundtable discussion with veterans at American Legion Post 119 in Largo, Florida.
* Mike Huckabee goes pheasant hunting at High Prairie Farm in Osceola, Iowa.
* John McCain holds a town hall meeting at the School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
* John Edwards holds town hall meetings in Conway and Laconia, New Hampshire. He continues to stump through the Granite State with stops in Manchester and Salem.
* Bill Richardson holds Presidential Job Interviews in Council Bluffs, Onawa and Sioux City, Iowa. He meets with Iowans at the Dunlap Livestock Auction in Dunlap.
* Mitt Romney campaigns in New Hampshire, meeting with local voters in Henniker and Hooksett. Later, he holds an "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall in Merrimack.
* Fred Thompson meets with local voters at The Windrow in Creston, Iowa.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook:
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook: