It’s that time of year — when folks in Iowa and New Hampshire are sick of ringing phones, and the rest of us are just starting to get the push polls.  Oh, frabtacular campaign season.

I’ve highlighted the latest Edwards ad because I think it is well done and hits on several levels.  And I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks.    Especially when contrasted against this from Hillary Clinton, these from Rudy Guiliani and the Huckabee Christmas extravaganza, the Obama and Ron Paul offerings, and the Romney attempt at a two-fer.   ‘Tis the season, I suppose.

Sen. Dodd is getting some good press on his FISA work.  Guess that time off the campaign trail standing up for the rule of law resonated with a lot of folks.  Gee, who could have predicted?  (Ahem.)

Speaking of Edwards, his campaign released a press memo today detailing all the numbers they think the press has been missing.  It’s quite an eye-full, and a bit amusing in light of the fact that the national press seems to be waking up to something David Yepson in Iowa has been saying for a while:  the Edwards ground game there is solid, locally based, and runs deep in the rural areas.  Yepsen’s also throwing a "he’s gotten off his ass and is actually campaigning" bone to Thompson.   (More on Yepsen here.)  And I loved this particular paragraph from the Newsweek cover on Edwards:

For months, Edwards has been rounding up support in the state’s rural precincts where the front runners have paid less attention. While Obama and Clinton have drawn crowds in the thousands in places like Des Moines and Ames, Edwards has been winning over people in tiny towns like Sac City (population: 2,189). Even if he loses to Obama and Clinton in the state’s bigger cities, he hopes he can still win by wrapping up smaller, far-flung precincts that other candidates have ignored. "The bulk of our support is in small and medium counties," says Jennifer O’Malley, Edwards’s Iowa state director. O’Malley says Edwards has visited all 99 counties in the state; the campaign has so far trained captains covering 90 percent of all 1,781 precincts. Rural voters are sometimes reluctant to caucus, so the campaign has been enlisting respected community leaders to encourage first-timers to get past their apathy or fear.

This is the Dean 50-state strategy writ local. And I would love to see more Democratic candidates nationwide employing the same thing. THIS is exactly what we need to combat the GOP ground game. Kudos. Of course, the Obama and Clinton camps have their own ground game strategies going as well in Iowa, along with every other candidate running, and this year there are no gimmes for anyone in either party.

Ought to be an interesting Jan. 3rd is all I’m saying.  And where things go from there?  Anyone’s guess at this point.

Speaking of Yepsen and Iowa, the Des Moines Register has been featuring essays from presidential candidates that are worth a read (scroll about halfway down the page) – for what they say, and what they don’t as well.   And Foreign Affairs magazine has been running some incredibly illuminating essays from the campaigns on foreign policy strategies (or lack thereof).  This month features Huckabee and Obama Richardson, but they are all worth a read.

The WaPo points to turnout as being key — isn’t it always in every election?  I mean, honestly?  For those who are still confused about caucusing, the Clinton campaign video on how to caucus has been joined by an equally snarky take from Edwards.  Haven’t been able to find any other campaigns putting these together, so if you know of one, link it up in the comments.

The Richardson campaign lays all the Iraq cards on the table with this new ad on Iraq and foreign policy.

Political Wire says the race has tightened up again in Iowa, with Edwards retaking the polling lead.  USAToday isn’t so certain, but says Edwards is leading the "second choice" portion of the race which can be very important where caucusing with so many candidates leads to a lot of folks switching after the first ballot.

There is a lot more swirling about, including: 

Krugman and the Obama campaign are going another round on the economy.

– Huckabee now has something to lose which means the press gets to turn on him, too.

– Edwards’ "surge" in Iowa confounds AdNags

– Clinton has embarked on a "likeability tour" according to the NYTimes.  Seems like the standard "close the deal" tour at the end of a campaign season to me, but hey — that’s not a sexy headline, is it?

– The positioning on potential caucus results kabuki has started.  See here and here.  (Full disclosure:  Tony Lake was a professor of mine, not that it really matters in the context of this, but I didn’t want it coming up and not have disclosed it.)

– And this on an undecided voter in Iowa and how the candidates come a’courting.

McCain’s interesting choice of pals.

What is catching your eye on the blogs or in the news about the campaigns?  Do tell…

And one last note:  condolences to Dennis Kucinich and his family.  So sorry for your loss.