Rich Galen

McCain, whose campaign has finally gotten out of the starting blocks is statistically unchanged at 22%; more important for him is that Giuliani is being drawn back to the pack. But, McCain's campaign has to begin to make its own destiny and not just be reflective of the activity (plus or minus) of the other major candidates.

Newt will suffer from a potential Fred Thompson candidacy because Fred may become, in many GOP voters' minds, the alternative to the Big Three (Giuliani, McCain and Romney) which is the position Newt has been holding since the beginning of the campaign.

On the Democratic side, Hillary still holds a largely unchanged lead over Obama 35% to 22% with Al Gore remaining at 17% and Edwards gaining five percentage points to 14%.

Gore has not indicated he will enter the race but a worrying stat for the Hillary and Barack campaigns has to be Gallup's point that Gore is viewed favorably by 84% of Democrats - a full 10 percentage points higher than Clinton.

If Gore follows Thompson's construct that he is "leaving the door open" for a Presidential run, the Democratic race will turn into a mad scramble probably ending up in a Gore v. Clinton stretch run next February 5.

The Boston Globe has a piece by the AP's Nedra Pickler, wondering whether there is any substance to the Obama campaign.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the transcript of Fred Thompson's interview on Fox, the Gallup analysis of this latest poll and the AP piece on Obama. Also a Mullfoto which makes me smile and a Catchy Caption of the Day which will make you wonder.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at