With John McCain on vacation and Rudy Giuliani occupied elsewhere in the state, Mitt Romney sought this weekend to close the deal with New Hampshire Republicans who remain undecided about his presidential candidacy.
Romney fired away at McCain, repeatedly accusing the Arizona senator of failing "Reagan 101" by voting twice against Bush administration tax cuts. Romney also said McCain's past support for allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the United States and work toward legal status amounted to amnesty.
To hear Mitt Romney tell it, Republican Mike Huckabee shares more with Democrat Bill Clinton than a hometown in Hope, Ark., and a stint as Arkansas governor.
Both men, Romney suggests, have left-leaning governing philosophies, particularly on taxes and spending.
"Governor Huckabee's record is more liberal than our nation needs right now," the former Massachusetts governor said in Iowa last week, seeking to link his GOP presidential rival to the former Democratic president who is loathed by many Republican loyalists.
The Iraq war dominated the presidential campaign on Friday, with Hillary Clinton facing charges she flip-flopped on withdrawing forces and the White House rebuffing Mike Huckabee's criticism of its foreign policy.
As the violence in Iraq has fallen in recent months in response to the deployment of additional U.S. troops, the war has become less of a daily issue among candidates for the November 2008 election.
Barack Obama suggested Friday that he has more foreign policy experts from the Clinton administration backing his candidacy over Hillary Rodham Clinton's, but lists provided by both campaigns show hers is nearly twice as long.
Clinton's campaign provided more than 80 names of her husband's former foreign policy advisers who are publicly backing her, while Obama's campaign provided 47.
While Republican Mike Huckabee wishes voters Merry Christmas in a television ad, a group organized by his supporters makes automated phone calls slipping the knife into his opponents.
John Edwards, lagging behind his Democratic rivals in cash, gets more than a million dollars in help from labor unions running parallel campaigns.
And Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is locked in a tight race in Iowa, has well-organized and highly strategic assistance from labor backers and EMILY's List, the pro-abortion rights fundraising group that aims to help female candidates.
Under fire, Mike Huckabee countered mounting criticism from GOP presidential rivals Thursday by playing the woe-is-me card — and then hitting back by suggesting they lack substantial agendas of their own.
"Everything but the kitchen sink is being thrown at me," the Republican leader in Iowa polls complained at nearly every stop. "If the only thing some of these candidates have to run on is what's wrong with somebody else, they must not have much of a platform to talk about."
Mitt Romney, who earlier this year had to backpedal on his hunting exploits, is explaining himself again after claiming an endorsement he did not receive and saying he witnessed his father in civil rights marches he could not have seen.
"It's a figure of speech," Romney said Thursday after media inquiries into the Republican presidential contender's statement during his recent religion speech that he watched his father, the late Gov. George Romney of Michigan, march with Martin Luther King Jr.
When a mayor of New York leaves office, little goes out the door but memories — unless he's Rudy Giuliani. Government rules discourage the city's most powerful officeholder from departing with more than token gifts collected on the job.
Ed Koch, mayor from 1978 to 1989, recalls keeping some neckties. His successor, David Dinkins, walked away with knickknacks from his desk, including a crystal tennis ball and a collection of photographs documenting his meetings with celebrities and business icons.
When Giuliani stepped down, he needed a warehouse.
The God-O-Rama that the Republican presidential campaign has become has eclipsed the GOP's signature issue: taxes. Assuming life still matters here on Earth, not just in the hereafter, it might help to evaluate the top GOP candidates and their executive tax records.
It's that time of year when we review the weird and wacky comments made this past year by some of our public figures, prompting the always apt phrase, "Is this a great country or what?"
This week we will rankle the Republicans. Next week, the Democrats.
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year, was arrested in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport in an undercover sex sting. He refused to resign, stating he was innocent although he had pleaded guilty to proposing a homosexual encounter.