WASHINGTON – Senate Democratic leaders threw a monkey wrench into the campaign plans of a half-dozen presidential candidates Thursday, setting a litmus test vote on Iraq for today.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., had events set in New Hampshire. Her top rival, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was jumping from South Carolina to Virginia. GOP front-runner Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., hoped to turn around slipping poll numbers with his inaugural visit to all-important Iowa.

The campaigns didn’t complain out loud, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said not all caucus members were pleased.

“Not everyone,” he said. “It’s hard to get everyone to agree.”

All the campaigns had to scramble, shifting their schedules to be in Washington for a midafternoon vote.

Clinton moved a Granite State rally to 10 a.m., and was holding out hope she could sprint back north for an evening event.

Obama was trying to figure out if he could pull off a similar south-north-south hopscotch.

McCain had been hoping to barnstorm Iowa with three events. His office didn’t know how they’d shift plans, but an aide vowed McCain would go.

The vote is actually only a procedural move to halt debate and allow the Senate to vote yes or no on a resolution disapproving of President Bush’s addition of 21,500 troops to Iraq.

Republicans blocked a similar move last week. Democrats have the votes to pass the resolution if they can break another filibuster.

Thursday, they challenged Republicans who don’t like Bush’s plan to let the resolution happen.

“They are going to have to step up to the plate and say where they stand,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

If Democrats win, it spells more headaches for candidates, who could face yet another vote on Monday during the Presidents’ Day recess.


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