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Uh-oh, did we sleep through the election?

The Ticket needs to apologize because apparently we missed something -- like the next three months and election day.

Sen. Barack Obama walked into a town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last week. The crowd was enthusiastic, ready to see and cheer him.

But, before listening to his usual stump speech, the crowd, perhaps spontaneously, had something to do for their guy, according to the From the Road blog of CBS News’ Allison O’Keefe. The nominee-to-be’s fans sang “Happy Birthday.” On Monday, Obama will turn 47.

But the happy crowd did not sing “Happy birthday, Sen. Obama.”

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It confidently sang “Happy birthday, Mr. President.”

And Barack Obama looked very pleased to hear it.

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Bill dishes on his dinners with Hill

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In an e-mail this week, hubby Bill Clinton reveals that during his wife’s presidential campaign, they didn’t have much chance to eat meals together because they were usually campaigning in different states. “Of all the people I’ve had the privilege to break bread with,” the ex-president states, “the person I most enjoy is still Hillary.”

Of course, now that he’s got us all feeling mushy, he sets the hook.

“Now you have a chance to have dinner with her. And if you contribute even as little as $5 today, you can help Hillary retire that pesky campaign debt, and you and a guest might be sitting down to dinner with her soon.”

That “pesky campaign debt” is, of course, the $25.2 million that she still owes people all over the country (as of June 30), $13 million of it to herself.

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Where’s that mojo of B.O.'s?

Something’s going on. Or some things.

Despite nine days of blanket media coverage from overseas of Barack Obama, the freshman Illinois senator is stuck right where he was in the polls before he left.

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No bounce. Not even a roll.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll Wednesday shows he still leads Republican Sen. John McCain 51% to 44%. A CNN poll average shows a slimmer 48-45 Obama lead. “Obama has not picked up any ground against McCain on foreign issues,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

A lead’s a lead, but political strategists are puzzled.

Several strategists of both parties sense that Americans want to vote for Obama, but something -- or things -- holds them back.

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Maybe Obama’s promise to take public campaign financing, since broken, or his eagerness to debate McCain in town halls, now abandoned. Is there a simmering concern over arrogance by the mere candidate who patted the French president on the back for a well-done news conference?

Asked the other day if he ever doubted himself, Obama replied smartly, “Never!” and grinned broadly.

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Obama’s found another relative

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Barack Obama has gotten a lot of mileage out of the ancestral intersection of his and Dick Cheney’s family lines. In Springfield, Mo., he claimed another link, reports our colleague Steve Braun. Said Obama:

“So if Sen. McCain wants to debate taxes, then I’m ready. I was just reading that Wild Bill Hickok, he had the first duel in the town square here in Springfield. And . . . I have not done all the full research on this, but the family legend is that Wild Bill Hickok, he’s a distant cousin of mine. . . . So we’re going to research that, ‘cause I’m ready to duel John McCain on taxes. Right now, right here. I’m a quick draw.”

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Excerpted from The Times’ political blog, Top of the Ticket, at www.latimes.com/ topoftheticket.

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