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Starting Gate: All About Next November?

It looks as though everyone is rested up from that end-of-the-quarter fundraising frenzy. Some stories likely to drive the political discussion today:

Clinton's Surge: Inevitability is apparently selling for now. A day after Hillary Clinton's campaign announced that the New York senator had out-raised Barack Obama by seven million dollars in the third quarter of the year, the latest Washington Post/ABC poll shows her taking a commanding 33 point lead in the primary race. The poll has Clinton with 53 percent of support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents compared to 20 percent for Obama and 13 percent for John Edwards.

Timing is crucial in politics and the concurrence of these two pieces of news is impeccable. Perhaps the most interesting numbers in the new poll are these: Fifty seven percent of Democrats believe Clinton has the best chance to win the White House next November and Clinton now leads among Democrats who are most concerned with charting a new direction. Of course, it's just one national poll but Clinton shows few signs of weakness in the state-by-state polls outside of Iowa where all three of the top Democrats are within striking distance.

Rudy's Argument: The strategy memo from Rudy Giuliani's campaign is making the rounds and it's no surprise that it echoes Clinton's electability argument. The campaign's strategy director Brent Seaborn digs into available polling data and writes: "There is no candidate that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats fear more in the general election than Rudy Giuliani. That strength is further supported by recent poll numbers showing Mayor Giuliani as the Republican's strongest general election candidate and reiterated by Democratic polling in swing Democratic congressional districts."

Politico displays some of the projection maps for various GOP candidates in the general election which look to be wildly optimistic considering recent electoral history. The maps projects Electoral College breakdowns for four GOP candidates against Clinton. In these scenarios, Romney fares poorest, according to the Giuliani camp.

They have Clinton projected as winning 274 EVs, Romney winning 159 and 105 up for grabs in swing states. For Fred Thompson, it's; 248 for Clinton, 178 for Thompson and 112 up for grabs. McCain fares better, nabbing 178 to Clinton's 190 with 170 in swing states. And, of course, Giuliani completely nullifies Clinton. The projection in that case awards just 18 EVs to Clinton compared to 210 for Giuliani and 310 up for grabs.

Still Waiting For That McCain Comeback? The Arizona senator's ship has been righted a bit since his summer meltdown. The fundraising has ticked up, he's improved in the polls and his stump appearances have been more reminiscent of his 2000 campaign. Today, he will reportedly take the battle to the Democratic front-runner.

In prepared remarks obtained by the Associated Press, McCain will argue: "The Democratic front-runner wants to have it both ways when it comes to foreign policy. On the one hand, the New York senator voted for the Iraq War. On the other hand, she now opposes it - sort of," according to the prepared remarks. "On the one hand, she wants a firm deadline for retreat. But, on the other hand, she says we cannot abandon the nation to Iran's designs. … Senator Clinton, this is not the '90s. This is the post-September 11 world. The commander in chief does not enjoy the luxury to conduct our national security by means of triangulation."

Update: The AP reports this a.m. that those remarks will NOT be included in McCain's speech today: Campaign spokesperson Brooke Buchanan says: "It has nothing to do with the content of the speech. It has to
do with the with the venue. This isn't the appropriate venue for that." McCain's speech will be delivered to the Camden Military Academy, which is for students grades 7 through 12.

Around The Track

  • Mike Huckabee told reporters yesterday that there's no reason for concerned conservative activists to mount a third-party bid because they have a candidate already in the GOP race – him. "I don't think it's necessary at all to be thinking about a third party. I think it's necessary to think about the people who have been out there on the track," Huckabee said, according to the AP. "The fact that a few people talk about a third party doesn't mean they're the rank and file. There's a lot of people who are quite satisfied with my candidacy within that group of evangelical and social conservatives."
  • In Iowa, Thompson said there is no "table" when it comes to discussion Social Security and other entitlement programs but also said he wouldn't take anything off of it – including the possibility of higher taxes. "I always like to say, it's not a matter of what's on the table. As far as I'm concerned, there's no table, there's a conversation," he said in an editorial board meeting. "And you don't leap across the room in order to put your hand on somebody's mouth and say you cannot utter these words."
  • Mitt Romney has run over 10,000 TV ads so far this year, mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire.
  • From the "how did we miss that?" files: New Hampshire's primary filing deadline has been set for 5:00pm on November 2nd – but still no word on what date the actual primary will be held.
  • Barack and Michelle Obama celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary today.
  • Get your tools out, the Des Moines Register is providing pumpkin-carving templates for the presidential candidates. Scared yet?