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Barely out of the gate in the presidential race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is gathering her top money men and women next week to offer them an inside peek at her campaign playbook.

The volunteer fundraisers — or HillRaisers, as members of her National Finance Committee will be known — will huddle Wednesday morning at the Hyatt Regency Washington Hotel for a four-hour briefing on how Clinton plans to win the White House in 2008.

In addition to the contender herself, the group will hear from top advisers, including Patti Solis Doyle, Mark Penn and Harold Ickes, according to a source with knowledge of the event.

“The program will include briefings on polling, message, and general strategy for the campaign,” national finance director Jonathan Mantz wrote in an e-mail to invitees. “We will also highlight the Senator’s upcoming travel schedule and discuss ways for you to be involved in our HillRaisers program in the coming months.”

Clinton’s camp declined to comment. While Clinton supporters are expected to fly in from across the country for the event, it also will be stocked with backers in the lobbying community.

Unlike her two main rivals for the Democratic nomination — Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) — Clinton has not sworn off contributions from registered lobbyists. A source close to Clinton said that while the Senator aims to limit her fundraising activity inside the Beltway, she is planning a blow-out event for the K Street crowd in late March.

Joe’s in! Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.) officially launched his 2008 presidential bid Wednesday, after months of declaring his intent to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination. He is skipping the exploratory process that has become customary and has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run.

In a conference call with reporters, Biden acknowledged the burgeoning field of contenders he is joining.

“It’s clear that not all of us are going to be standing after South Carolina,” he said.

But while there is talk that some of his competitors could raise as much as $100 million for the contest, he said he believed he could be competitive with a relatively small campaign budget for the early primary states.

“I believe all I need is $20 million to make my case in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and in South Carolina,” Biden said.

Biden, known for his foreign policy expertise, also acknowledged that he learned valuable lessons from his failed 1988 presidential primary bid.

“I made mistakes the last time out,” Biden said, adding that since then “I’ve learned how to take a punch.”

Stealing Amy. Amy Hopcian is leaving The Winston Group to work in the research division of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s (R) expected 2008 presidential run.

Hopcian, who will move to New York, has been director of political research for the firm headed by GOP pollster and Roll Call contributing writer David Winston for two years.

Prior to that, she worked at the National Republican Congressional Committee in opposition and legislative affairs research during the 2004 cycle.

Hopcian is originally from Michigan.

— Tory Newmyer and Lauren W. Whittington

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