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The Debate is About to Begin

We're minutes away from the start of the Democratic presidential debate even as the NBA Draft enters the middle of the first round.

In the 24 hours leading up to tonight's debate, the campaigns of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) were furiously playing the expectations game on fundraising. Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson sent out a memo this morning setting the bar for Clinton in the "range of $27 million" raised for the second fundraising quarter, which ends Saturday night.

Obama's campaign didn't put out their final number but they did note that more than 250,000 individuals have given to his campaign in the first months of the year including more than 146,000 in the last three months, a stunning testament to his grassroots appeal. Then, roughly two hours before tonight's debate, the Obama campaign released a memo designed to differentiate between money raised for the primary and cash collected for the general election. "The funds raised for the general election serve no purpose other than inflating a candidate's total," writes Dan Pfeiffer, a spokesman for Obama's campaign. (Clinton is expected to outraise Obama in total funds but Obama seems likely to edge her out in primary funds for the second straight quarter.)

On the draft front, things have gone largely as expected. Ohio State big man Greg Oden, who almost single-handedly beat my beloved Georgetown Hoyas in the second half of this year's Final Four game, went first to Portland. Seattle went on to take Kevin Durant, the all-everything guard forward from Texas. Seattle followed the Durant pick by trading Ray Allen to the Celtics in exchange for two bit players and the #5 pick in the draft. That pick was used on Jeff Green, a Hoya.

One side note: Spencer Hawes, the 7 footer out of Washington, apparently has a soft spot for politics;his car has a bumper sticker supportive of President George W. Bush. He'll get to hang around the California state capitol on off days; he was taken with the #10 pick by the Sacramento Kings.

--Chris Cillizza

By Eric Pianin  |  June 28, 2007; 8:59 PM ET
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