The Huddle

For those of you who keep your browsers parked in The Crypt, here's today's installment of The Huddle, the daily Congress briefing from Politico's Mike Allen and Tim Grieve.  If you'd like The Huddle to show up on your BlackBerry every morning, there's a spot for signing up here.

Senate Porn?
Reid and Pelosi say the race will be over soon.

By TIM GRIEVE & MIKE ALLEN

It's Friday, and you're inside The Huddle.  Ask Jim Manley why he skipped lunch with Warren Beatty this week. (Really.)

DONE DEAL? Senate Majority Leader HARRY REID tells San Francisco's KGO that he's talked with House Speaker NANCY PELOSI and DNC Chairman HOWARD DEAN, and that they all agree that "there won't be a fight at the convention."

The Washington Post's Paul Kane notes that Reid's comment came as Pelosi was telling the San Francisco Chronicle that the Democrats can't let their presidential nomination fight drag on to the convention.

Reid says the Democratic leaders will be calling uncommitted superdelegates and urging them to "make a decision very quickly."

"By this time next week," he vows, "it'll be all over, give or take a day."

Democratic Whip JAMES CLYBURN appears set to announce his decision as soon as the last primaries are over next week.

THE ANTI-CONGRESS CANDIDATE? The WSJ's Kimberly Strassel argues that Sen. JOHN McCAIN should run against Congress.

"Mild as Mr. McCain's criticism has been, it's already got Republicans spooked," Strassel writes. "Many in the party resisted falling in behind his reform message, and some worry that's already taking a toll – creating difficulties even in races that should have been easy.

"Consider: As part of his condemnation of the farm bill, Mr. McCain singled out a $93 million earmark for racehorses. While Mr. McCain avoided naming the author, it happened to be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. . . .

"Republicans haven't been worried about Mr. McConnell's seat, and a recent Rasmussen poll has Mr. McCain with a whopping 25 percentage-point lead over Mr. Obama in the state. Yet that same poll had Mr. McConnell's opponent with a five percentage-point lead. And only 67 percent of declared McCain voters said they'd vote for their four-term Republican senator.

"If congressional Republicans were smart, they'd be figuring out now how to get some protection from a potential McCain onslaught. A unilateral earmark ban? A new resolve against the farm bill? They'd better think of something. If Mr. McCain does take aim at the big, fat congressional target in front of him, right now it's the GOP, as much as Democrats, that he'll hit."

McConnell is up by 11 in his campaign's internal polling.

THE PLAYBOY PROBLEM: As Politico's Josh Kraushaar reports, Rep. BETTY McCOLLUM (D-Minn.) is raising pubic concerns about Al Franken, her party's likely Senate candidate. McCollum told the AP that a piece Franken wrote for Playboy in 2000 was "pornographic" and "indefensible" and could cause problems for down-ticket Democrats in November.
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