-A new Newsmax/Zogby poll of PA Dem LVs, conducted 4/15-16, shows Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama by a statistically insignificant margin, 45-44%, with 9% undecided (release).
-"In a tense and grim encounter" in Philly last night (Philadelphia Inquirer), HRC and Obama "hammered at each other's campaign lowlights" (New York Daily News). Obama "found himself consistently on the defensive," parrying questions and criticism on "values, patriotism and his association with onetime radicals from the 1960s" (New York Times).
-"Not until 50 minutes in was a policy issue -- Iraq -- asked about by the moderators" (Los Angeles Times). And HRC "constantly salted Obama's wounds," "insisting that she was merely concerned" that GOPers would do the same (Time).
-Meanwhile, asked during the debate if Obama is able to win in the fall, HRC "emphatically" replied: "Yes, yes, yes." But she added: "Now, I think I can do a better job" (AP).
-Obama picked up endorsements from both the Philadelphia Daily News and OK superdelegate Reggie Whitten today (release).
-Bill Clinton's "almost 70 public appearances" in small towns between Pittsburgh and Philly "may be paying new dividends" for HRC, especially in the wake of "bittergate" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
-However, in most of PA's markets, the only HRC TV ad running right now is a negative one, while in the Philly and Harrisburg markets, HRC's ad campaign is 50% negative (TPM Election Central).
-According to tax returns released yesterday, Obama and his wife made $4.2M in '07 -- "a significant jump in their income from the previous year" -- and donated $240,370 to charity (AP).
-During an appearance in OR yesterday, HRC chair Terry McAuliffe predicted the Dem race "will be over in June" (Medford Mail Tribune).
-Responding to Rep. John Murtha's (D-PA) comments about his age, John McCain said yesterday: "I invite John to come out with me on the campaign trail" (FNC).
-McCain, who is basing his WH bid on being a leader on defense policy, "has become the target of veterans groups pushing hard for more aid and relief" for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (Washington Post).
-British PM Gordon Brown will meet all three WH candidates today "before seeing" Pres. Bush -- "a reminder that world leaders are now looking beyond Bush to his successor" (Reuters).
-Americans United for Change will roll out another round of radio ads today, criticizing the Iraq stances of Sens. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and John Sununu (R-NH), and four House GOPers (Politico.com).
HAIR OF THE DOG
At the WH yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 81st birthday with a three-foot-tall "four-tiered lemon pound cake," layered with lemon curd and frosted with vanilla fondant (New York Post).
-At Farley's Pub in Scranton last night, where people gathered to watch the debate, "rumors that actor Tony Danza would make an appearance proved unfounded" (Scranton Times-Tribune). Sad.
-Spotted outside last night's debate: "Seven Clinton backers, each with a white-and-black flag displaying a letter" of her first name, "running in circles," and someone holding "a giant green Gumby balloon" ("Political Intelligence").
-"Shut up!" -- Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), asked by a reporter yesterday about rumors that his colleagues want him to step down from the Approps Cmte (AP).
-At yesterday's WH welcoming ceremony for the pope, ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was "way in the back" where the staffers stood, but "he sure was excited" ("In the Loop").
-"I'd rather get fat, grow a beard, and try for the Nobel Prize" -- Mitt Romney, giving his top ten reasons for dropping out of the race at last night's Radio & TV Correspondents' Assn dinner (Wake-Up Call! sources).
-Rep. Shelley Berkley's (D-NV) new tenant, Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH), "couldn't be more relieved" to have an apartment that "boasts of 21st-century appliances" (The Hill).
-"It gives me a little break from watching my grandkids" -- retired PA steelworker Bill Callaway, on why he went to go see Hugh Rodham's HRC rally, even though he'd never heard of him (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).
-Lately, B. Clinton has been spending time between events "reading and playing the 'Oh Hell' card game with his traveling party" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
-"My Suburban has them on it!" -- FL state Sen. Jim King (R), protesting state Sen. Carey Baker's (R) attempt to ban "truck nutz" -- decorations "resembling male genitalia" that attach to a trailer hitch (Orlando Sentinel).
-"Health care not warfare! That's our message, Martha Stewart!" -- a Code Pink protestor, now just disrupting Senate hearings for the fun of it ("Yeas & Nays").
-Jimmy Kimmel, on Bush telling the pope he gave an "awesome speech": "When did the president actually become Will Ferrell's impression of him from Saturday Night Live?" ("Jimmy Kimmel Live").
-The papal Mass (Nationals Park, 10 am).
-Dutch saxophonist Carola Cuypers and Spanish guitarist Enrique Lop (Kennedy Center, 6 pm).
-"The Office" (NBC, 9 pm).
-HRC and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) on "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central, 11:30 pm).
-Obama supporter Kal Penn on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC, 11:35 pm).
"Gorbachev's speaking at a casino in South Florida would have seemed unlikely two decades ago" -- Palm Beach Post, apparently thinking it's perfectly normal now.