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Raise your hand

It may well be easier to ask all Americans who are NOT running for president to raise their hands. The new week brings three new entrants in the race, and while they are all interesting, the woman who is perhaps the most prominent among them dropped by our studios today for an interview that will air tonight. Senator Clinton certainly wins the entourage sweepstakes. By dint of her Secret Service protection, and additionally due to the sheer size of her staff (a lot of familiar faces who have been at this a long time), she presents as a walking event when she goes anywhere. Today our central hallway, makeup room and studio were no exception. If you pay attention to the political and press types, Bill Richardson, another of this weekend's entrants, may be the guy sitting on top of a minor electoral gold mine. The thinking being expressed by some is that by getting into the race, he might be the most valuable potential VICE presidential candidate in the field: a Southwestern Governor with Cabinet-level international political experience, who is today at the heart of the immigration debate. We'll see, of course. He's running for the top job, after all. In this compressed existence, a day is a year -- and we have over a calendar year to go. It will be fascinating to go back through the clips, blogs and broadcasts to see who was whistling Dixie.

When I asked Senator Clinton about the "Obama effect" -- namely her declaring her candidacy so early -- even before the President's State of the Union address, she answered, "That was our plan, yes..." We'll have it all for you tonight.

Brian interviews Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in Studio 3A. Photo by NBC's Subrata De.

David Gregory will start us off by looking at the exploding field of candidates, and Tim Russert will unveil our brand new numbers in tonight's NBC News poll, including attitudes toward President Bush and the Iraq policy change that is now in motion. And we'll air the interview with Sen. Clinton, of course -- with minor edits merely for time and to accommodate all the other news of the day. The entire conversation will, per usual, be available on cable and on the Web. You can watch a snippet now at Nightly.MSNBC.com.

Then there's Iraq. 27 American deaths over just this past weekend. Mike Boettcher will have our report.

As you C-SPAN viewers may know, I moderated several panels this weekend at the symposium marking the 30th anniversary of President Carter's inauguration.  There was an extraordinary moment during a town meeting with President and Mrs. Carter, during which he disclosed, for the first time in detail, how close the Camp David talks came to collapse, and what he said to Anwar Sadat that convinced the Egyptian President not to leave for home. History buffs and others will find it an extraordinary and emotional moment when we air it tonight. Many of the old hands from those years were in attendance. Many of the audience questions had to do with the former President's controversial new book on the Israelis and the Palestinians, and he was forced at various times to defend himself from charges of bigotry and anti-Semitism. At one point he interrupted a panel about his administration and at his own symposium, as if to ask permission to say a few words from the stage. The moderator, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, wisely "allowed" President Carter up on stage.

We kick off a new series of reports tonight called "Coming Home" -- a series title we have used before -- but this week we've commissioned and compiled a superb collection of stories on that front. Over the weekend we promoted a piece about spam (known by its official title as "unwanted computer e-mail") and the explosion in that particular menace: by one official count, spam doubled in just the past year.

The old grey lady of newspapers, The New York Times, proved again this morning that she may be passing through a mid-life identity crisis. Today's paper -- the front page of the Business Section no less -- features an article about the perils of High Definition for the video porn business (NYTimes.com login required for link). Unsightly "razor burn" is listed among the imperfections that the industry is dealing with. The climax of the article is the retelling of a scene where a pimple on an "actor's" body was distracting. The remedy? "We just changed positions." Kind of like The New York Times has lately.

On to cleaner matters: We hope you can join us for the broadcast tonight.