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

An average news consumer may wonder just what exactly is going on in the presidential race, as surrogates appear to have taken over the — well, I won’t use the cliche. You have  Bill Clinton’s temper on the trail, some of Barack Obama’s union backers claiming Hillary “does not respect our people,” and John McCain actually finding an unintentional surrogate in rival Mike Huckabee.

But perhaps most curious is the mea culpa of BET founder Robert Johnson, who, in an appearance on Sunday with Hillary Clinton, compared Obama to Sidney Poitier and referred to the candidate’s past admission of drug use. After Clinton distanced herself from the remarks at Tuesday’s Democratic debate, Johnson apologized to Obama on Thursday. As Time’s Michael Scherer points out, Johnson “was caught throwing mud. He denied he was throwing mud. He called
anyone who said he was throwing mud ‘irresponsible.’ Now he seems to
admit he was throwing mud.”

Who gets hurt most by these exchanges. My guess is that more voters hear the attacks first and may or may not hear the apologies/backtracking later, like a crafty trial lawyer anxious to blurt out inadmissible statements before a jury. The end result is that, especially in an instantaneous campaign increasingly waged on the demands of an Internet news cycle, the average voter is overwhelmed.

Voight for Rudy:
Less incendiary in his comments is Giuliani surrogate Jon Voight, who is out on the campaign trail for him today in Florida. “There is nobody who has the credentials of Rudy Giuliani,” Voight told a local station in Doral. On 9/11, “he inspired hope and quelled fears.” Voight was confident about Giuliani’s late-in-the-game strategy. “The guys who win the race in the long run are the people who have the imagination and put in the work and have the credentials.” Asked whether he would campaign with his  daughter,  Angelina Jolie, he said, “Wouldn’t that be nice? Listen, everybody say a prayer.” Would she endorse a Republican? “Well, I would hope.” Making comparisons of Giuliani to Churchill, he also suggested that all of the Democrats’ talk of diplomacy is setting them up to be “modern day Chamberlains.”

Mitt on Jay: Mitt Romney guests on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” tonight. Perhaps showing where their campaigns lie, Romney’s appearance has drawn little attention to the fact that he’ll be crossing picket lines while Mike Huckabee had to answer for it on the evening before the Iowa caucus.

Fonda Speaks:
Jane Fonda is the featured guest at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Saturday night for an event to raise money for the Women’s Reproductive Assistance project. She will be discussing her plan to decrease teen pregnancy.

Dukakis Talk: Almost 20 years ago, Michael Dukakis was on his way to becoming the Democratic nominee for president. He speaks to the Luncheon Society in Westwood on Monday, talking about what has become a favorite subject: Grassroots organizing.

Mamet Play: Variety reviews David Mamet’s new political work, “November.”