The Trendsetter

The three Democratic frontrunners rode Chris Dodd’scoattails today when they

announcedtheir opposition

to Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey. Obama calledMukasey’s “professed ignorance” on waterboarding “appalling.” Edwards said ifwaterboarding was used in

theSpanish Inquisition

, it shouldn’t be used in America’s fight against terrorism. Clinton looked inward,saying she was “deeply troubled” by Mukasey’s Senate testimony.

But Dodd was the first candidate to speak out againstMukasey’s nomination on Sunday after he finished his Meet the Press interview. On Monday,sensing an anti-Mukasey vacuum, he held a conference call with journalists to reasserthis opposition. For two days he had all of the anti-Mukasey headlines tohimself.

But now the frontrunners have entered the fray. The threecandidates all voiced opposition to both Mukasey’s waterboarding position andhis support of an expanded executive branch. Dodd is not nearly as upset aboutMukasey’s wishy-washystance on waterboarding as he is about the AG nominee’s support of expanded executive power. But his decision to speak out will likely force thefrontrunners to add this issue to the alreadypacked agenda for this evening’s debate.

Dodd is doing what a third tier candidate is supposed to do.He’s changing the conversation and pressuring the frontrunners into makingdecisions. If he’s smart, he’ll brag about his trendsetting tonight at thedebate.