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Jones to Hagel: Run!

Memo to Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney: Don't bother asking Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) for his endorsement for the Republican presidential nomination.

While most of the GOP establishment sees a top tier populated by the former New York City mayor, the Arizona senator and the former Massachusetts governor, Jones views the field as a one-man race: Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

"I don't think anybody else can win," Jones told Capitol Briefing Thursday night.

Jones is one of the leading anti-war Republicans in the House. And Hagel is the leading anti-war Republican in the Senate, which has drawn him considerable attention as he ponders a presidential bid.

While no match for Hagel's media draw, Jones has a bit of cachet himself these days. Yesterday, while walking back from an interview with NBC News' David Gregory on the Senate side of the Capitol complex, Jones was being interviewed about his lead role in organizing the loosely affiliated group of GOP lawmakers opposed to President Bush's troop surge in Iraq. He unexpectedly ran into Hagel.

"You let me know if you run," Jones shouted to Hagel, who's mulling a 2008 presidential bid as an anti-war conservative.

Jones called Hagel "one of my heroes", flatly rejecting the chances of any other Republican in the White House field. Their support for the Iraq war will drag them all down, Jones said.

As for Hagel, he's cautiously optimistic that a large number of Republicans will side with Jones today in the vote. While he rejected the idea that there are a "threshold" number of votes that will send the clearest signal to Bush, Hagel told Capitol Briefing that a large enough opposition would be a symbolic victory for anti-war conservatives.

"Obviously, the more Republicans that vote against it [the surge], the more clear the signal," he said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is hoping for the vote to come off at 4 p.m., although if some lawmakers don't speak it could come as early 2 p.m. The Senate is slated to vote on a motion to take up the House resolution Saturday afternoon.

A big moment in today's House debate comes at 1 p.m., the time that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is scheduled to speak on the floor.

Now, on to the numbers from Day 3 of the debate yesterday:

14:40: as in, 14 hours, 40 minutes, the marathon length of yesterday's floor debate, which didn't wrap up till 1:15 a.m. this morning, the latest the debate has gone this week. Debate started back up again at 8 a.m. this morning, the earliest the debate has begun. It appears that Democrats are doing everything they can to get every lawmaker to the floor so that the vote can happen before the nightly network newscasts kick off at 6:30 p.m.

79: The percentage of the 233 Democrats who spoke on the floor Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

77: The percentage of the 202 Republicans who spoke on the floor in the previous three days.

97: The number of lawmakers who hadn't yet spoken as of 8 a.m. this morning. (Note: that figure includes the five non-voting delegates, some of whom have spoken during the debate.)

8: The number of hours it would take for all 97 remaining lawmakers to speak today for 5 minutes each, which would set the vote for precisely 4 p.m.

81: The number of House Democrats who voted to approve the resolution authorizing Bush to start the war in Iraq in October 2002.

1: The number of Democrats who have spoken out against the resolution in the first three days of debate [Rep. Jim Marshall (Ga.)]

By Paul Kane  |  February 16, 2007; 1:16 PM ET
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