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That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

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In the final hours before the end of 2007, revelers in Des Moines buzzed about the Des Moines Register final poll before the caucus: Obama pulls a seven point lead, and Huckabee maintains his. And just as quickly, reports the Rocky Mountain News’ M.E. Sprengelmeyer (who took the photo at right), came dismissive reports from the other campaigns. For instance, Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist, lamented the “unprecedented departure” from the “historically established turnout patterns in the caucus.” (The Register is still endorsing Clinton, no matter what he says).

Other polls show a much tighter race, leading to the possibility that not much will be settled on Thursday night, and that perhaps this will be a real race more than just a few weeks in to 2008. That can only be good news for Californians, itching to finally have some real say in who the nominee is. Remember: Absentee ballots go out next week.

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Night Life:
Sprengelmeyer, by the way, has been in Iowa for almost a year now, and has been filing dispatches via his Backroads to the White House blog. His Colorado connections earned him   backstage access to the Clinton campaign’s New  Year’s event with Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Front man Todd Park Mohr told him, “We’re all hoping for a Democratic candidate to win the presidency,” Mohr said. “Between
now and November is a long time, of course, but I personally am a big
fan of Hillary’s and I’d be really pleased to see her in the
presidency… She has been in the White House for eight years, and her
experience, in combination with her experience as a senator, she has
had a lifetime of public service. And I like where she stands on the
issues: health care, education… But at the same time, I think she’s a
very pragmatic woman and has the ability to get things done.”


Seacrest’s Scoop:
It was Ryan Seacrest who got New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to go on he record about his presidential ambitions. “No, I will not run for president, but I will speak out to try to get
people to really focus on the issues and to get rid of partisanship and
special interests,” Bloomberg said, when queried on ABC’s coverage of Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations. If this is so, then why are his aides interviewing prospective campaign consultants?

Quotable:
“The point I’m trying to make is that, on the campaign trail, nobody’s
going to be able, if they’ve been campaigning as hard as we have been,
to keep up with every single thing, from what happened to Britney last
night to who won ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ ” … Mike Huckabee, on why he hadn’t immediately read the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran.