TODAY SCHEDULE (all times ET)
As The Note goes to the printing press each day, a series of conference calls and morning staff meetings at the White House, the campaigns, the party committees, congressional offices, and those shadowy 527s (NFTSOTTC . . . ) are just ending.
Each side emerges from those sessions with certain cards they plan to play throughout the day to reach the voters through the national and state media.
What the Rs and Ds are holding today:
POTUS Air Force Academy speech -- CiC in a friendly crowd, playing to his strength.
Show Me State Senators Bond and Talent bracketing Kerry in, well, the Show Me State.
Continued barely-contained-glee over the apparent progress with the Iraqi government and at the United Nations.
Patriot Act and Kerry (cont.).
Friday's job figures (in their back pocket).
Kerry hits two battleground states in a day -- playing offense on homeland security.
The Herseth win in South Dakota's special House election.
The Halliburton-Cheney push.
The Accenture contract.
The seemingly successful to-date national security tour.
The new Kerry TV ad's little girls, who are every bit as cute and adorable as the little girls in the Bush spots.
It's an exciting Wednesday, because, based on those lists, we don't know who is gonna win the news cycle!!!
President Bush gives his second major speech leading up to transition of power in Iraq at the United States Air Force Academy commencement in Colorado Springs.
Sen. Kerry holds a conversation with first responders and public health officials at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla. and meets with local supporters at the Kansas City airport.
Teresa Heinz Kerry meets with military families at the Humphreys Pine Room, Charleston, W.Va.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice heads to the Hill today to brief Congressional leadership on the new Iraqi government.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld flies to Singapore today.
The Senate resumes debate on the defense budget today after Majority Leader Bill Frist tabled discussing a bill that would place limits on class-action lawsuits yesterday.
ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:
More than 1,600 religious leaders and social workers from across the country met Tuesday at the White House National Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to support President Bush, reports Mike Allen of the Washington Post. LINK
"The plan is a crucial part of Bush's reelection strategy, because aides believe it will encourage evangelical Christians to mobilize to keep him in office and could give the ticket inroads in African American communities."
Elisabeth Bumiller writes up the "pep talk" the President gave to the religious groups, Noting that parts of the speech "sounded like a revival meeting." LINK
"I will tell you, the cornerstone of any good recovery program is the understanding there is a higher being," Mr. Bush said.
"Yeah, yeah," audience members responded.
"To whom you can turn your life and therefore save your life," Mr. Bush continued.
"That's right," an audience member said, while the rest of the crowd applauded.
"'It's true that much attention is being placed on the war in Iraq, but there's also another war that's going on,' said Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, during a conference promoting the funding of religious groups engaged in social service activities. 'It's a culture war that really gets to the heart of the questions about what is the role of faith in the public square.' LINK
"Towey, who has worked for Democrats and Republicans and was a lawyer for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, warned that when faith was driven out of that public square, 'you almost wind up creating a godless orthodoxy,'" reports an astute-eared Peter Wallsten.
President Bush headlined a Victory 2004 fundraiser in Denver last night and told the crowd that "party fund-raising events help ensure there's 'water in the bucket to water our grass roots -- turn out the vote,'" reports AP's Reichmann. LINK
Reichmann Notes that in addition to delivering commencement remarks to the Air Force Academy today, the President will meet with Focus on the Family's James Dobson, "a leading supporter of a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar legal recognition of same-sex marriages."
The President raised $2.2 million for the Republican party at the 200-person event. LINK
President Bush said at the fundraiser the U.S. could face worse attacks than Sept. 11 if he is not re-elected, reports the Rocky Mountain News. LINK
"'It's a choice between an America that leads the world through strength and confidence and an America that is uncertain in the face of danger,' he said. ' know exactly what we need to do to win the war on terror and to bring freedom and peace to the world.'"
Karen Crummy of the Denver Post distilled Bush's remarks to his theme of strong, confident, and steady leadership. LINK
The Washington Post's Robert O'Harrow looks at the e-mail that links Cheney's office and Halliburton and Notes the efforts on the part of the Kerry camp, Rep. Henry Waxman, and other Democrats on the Hill to make an issue out of the connection. LINK
The AP wraps up the Vice President's speech on the Patriot Act yesterday. LINK
Joseph Curl of the Washington Times looks at the BC04 strategy to pick up a greater percentage of Jewish voters in November. LINK
"The Bush-Cheney campaign, according to one Jewish official who works closely with the White House, is looking to pick up about a third of the Jewish vote this year, similar to the support former Republican President Ronald Reagan, a strong advocate of Israel, received in his two successful campaigns."
To avoid the mistakes of presidential campaigns past, the BC04 team sent chief strategist Matt Dowd to dig through the papers at the presidential libraries of Ford, Reagan and Bush 41, Bill Adair of the St. Petersburg Times reports in an interesting look at how far back the campaign began to prepare for the election year and what the top strategists were looking for. LINK
"The hundreds of old papers revealed the problems of unclear leadership (Bush 1992), the danger of failing to respond to voters' concerns (Ford 1976) and the risk of starting late (Bush 1992). Those lessons have been incorporated into the Bush-Cheney campaign and can be seen in its early, aggressive start."
"Said Dowd, 'The way to make as few mistakes as possible is to learn from the mistakes others have made.'"
Note Note: who knew that Dowd was a condiments stain expert???!!!
The Washington Post's Mike Allen points out the alleged pitfalls of President Bush's big picture management style, in which he proudly focuses on larger goals and delegates, delegates, delegates the details to his aides. LINK
"Outsiders, including some Republicans who speak forlornly about the debacle, said the Abu Ghraib scandal is the price Bush is paying for lacking curiosity and showing unwillingness to delve into potential roadblocks to his larger mission."
While you gotta love any analysis piece that works in a quote about hubris about any politician, we've seen this story before: Jackie Calmes, Wall Street Journal, May 19.
Harold Meyerson writes in a Washington Post op-ed that President Bush has indeed changed the tone in Washington -- among Democrats. LINK
The Washington Times' James Lakely aggregates the blizzard of criticism by President Bush's opponents, and suggests Democrats are crossing the war-time line. LINK
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank previews President Bush's trip to Italy and France to commemorate World War II and to seek support for the situation in Iraq. LINK
The Boston Globe's Gareth Cook reports, "A majority of the US Senate has signed a letter asking President Bush to lift the government's funding restrictions on embryonic stem cells, increasing the pressure to change a policy critics say is holding back potentially lifesaving medical research." LINK
ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:
Gerald F. Seib writes in the Wall Street Journal that because the Midwest's prime battlegrounds will likely decide the election, the economy, not Iraq, will dominate the landscape in the final months. LINK
The Boston Globe's ed board offers their two cents on the campaign ad truth-squadding fad that's going around. They write, "Bush campaign advertisements in battleground states have so distorted John Kerry's record that the voters soon won't be able to know what to believe. It is time to flag these ads and call the foul." LINK
Roll Call's Chris Cillizza reports, "After weeks of watching President Bush battered over the war in Iraq, the Republican National Committee, along with House and Senate Republicans, are preparing a two-week counter-offensive against Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and key supporters."
And here we thought that the GOP Hill counter-offensive was an on-going, never ending process.
ABC News Vote 2004: Sen. John Kerry:
AP's Darlene Superville looks at Sen. Kerry's national security focus for today: bioterrorism. LINK
The New York Times' Jodi Wilgoren scene-set Tuesday's speech: "A 20-year veteran of the Senate's foreign relations committee, Mr. Kerry spoke here at the nation's 18th busiest commercial port, in front of a massive cargo ship piled with colorful containers, an American flag tacked on its port side for the occasion. It was his ninth day in the critical electoral battleground of Florida over the past three months, part of his 17th visit since beginning his presidential bid; Mr. Bush has returned to the state that handed him the White House 21 times since his election. LINK
The Washington Post's Dan Balz wraps Kerry's speech in Florida on Tuesday, which focused on securing nuclear materials and preventing them from falling into the hands of terrorists. Kerry slammed President Bush, saying the Administration has not made nuclear nonproliferation a priority, leaving the U.S. vulnerable to possible nuclear attack. LINK
USA Today's Jill Lawrence writes, "Many of Kerry's proposals would speed up, expand or intensify Bush's efforts to keep nuclear bomb-making material out of terrorists' hands." LINK
Former Wall Street Journal reporter James Gannon writes a bitingly negative assessment of Kerry's Catholicism on USA Today's op-ed page, calling Kerry a Catholic in label only. LINK
"Given his beliefs and his voting record, I wish John Kerry professed another religious faith or none at all. I would rather have an agnostic or an atheist in the White House than a person who proclaims himself a Catholic but tosses overboard those parts of Catholic doctrine that are politically inconvenient."
The Wall Street Journal's editorial page urges Kerry to support the African Growth and Opportunity Act, arguing that only a "hardened protectionist" would oppose it. The Journal calls a previous version of the act one of the better achievements of the Clinton era and portrays AGOA as a political nightmare for Kerry should he vote against it.
ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:
The Boston Globe's Brian Mooney visits Canton, Ohio, and describes why Stark County is arguably a microcosm of the country. LINK
"In a county and state with a knack for picking the winner, an unprecedented political ground war is already underway. Fully five months before presidential ballots are cast, the partisan armies are mobilizing across this most critical of battleground states."
Echo chamber alert: Did we read this Stark-County-is-a-microcosm story before? Like in yesterday's Washington Post? LINK
One of Sen. Kerry's top political operatives was dispatched to Ohio yesterday to wheedle away the 6-point lead Bush holds in Ohio (according to a recent Cleveland Plain Dealer poll of 1,500 likely voters). Teresa Heinz Kerry went on a mission for hearts and minds in Austintown, where she met with and "listened" to military families outside the library, then later attended a private reception with campaign supporters. "Our obligation is to help them -- body and soul and brain," says Heinz Kerry. On her husband's alleged flip-flopping on issues, "There's nothing wrong with changing your mind" over time. "It's a sign of intelligent people." LINK
The Portland Press-Herald's Joshua Weinstein writes up a Kerry report that claims Maine will lose up to $15 million in federal funding if Bush wins in November. LINK
The figures pass the look test apparently for some: University of Maine political scientist Amy Fried calls them "a reasonable extrapolation" of a Bush Administration memo.
In Kansas City, Star reporter Scott Canon says they're still talking about Cheney's visit yesterday, where his Patriot Act speech mimicked in "stagecraft and substance" an appearance by Attorney General John Ashcroft last September. LINK
Kerry heads to Kansas City this afternoon. KMBC-TV reports that he may be coming at the right time, with Zogby showing Kerry with a slight lead over Bush and one Republican conceding that "Kerry's intense campaign on television has had an effect." LINK
A KCCI poll (Des Moines, Iowa) released this morning has Kerry leading Bush, 48 percent to 43 percent in Iowa. LINK
Seattle columnist Joel Connelly claims in the Post-Intelligencer that in the Northwest, "Bush's negative ads pose a great peril" for his "tortoiselike challenger." LINK
A Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette editorial says that "honor and respect have been hurt by Bush's shallow plunge into a war that wiser thinkers would have avoided." LINK
The Arizona Republic's Robert Robb questions why liberals detest high gas prices. LINK
The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board thanks California Democrats for helping Nevada's economy. LINK
The Des Moines Register's Lynn Campbell reports, "Flanked by firefighters wearing 'Firefighters for Kerry' T-shirts, Gov. Tom Vilsack on Tuesday criticized the Bush administration for what he said are plans to cut spending for homeland security." LINK
Tom Vilsack plays a mighty good Governor of Iowa, even while preening to be the next VP every step of the way, opines Rob Borsellino of the Des Moines Register. LINK
The Naples Daily News reports that Sen. John Edwards hits southwest Florida June 12 to raise a hoped-for $250,000 for Sen. Kerry's campaign. LINK
Cindy Adams's gossip on veepstakes and the Boston convention could be true, or it could be gossip, but, our darlings, Mommy has pretty good Democratic entertainment sources, so you be the judge. LINK
The politics of Iraq:
The Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran lays out the process of choosing Iraq's new interim government, the competing interests of all the parties involved, and the atmosphere in Baghdad as the preparations for the June 30 handoff begin. LINK
The Washington Post's Robin Wright and Mike Allen lay out the complications facing both the interim government and the Bush Administration as it tries to push the new U.N. draft resolution, Noting that President Bush was "almost giddily buoyant" at his Rose Garden news conference Tuesday as he talked about the new Iraqi interim government -- more upbeat than he's seemed since the May 1, 2003 declaration that major combat operations were over. LINK
The two Note that the resolution comes at an opportune time for the President -- when his approval ratings have slumped.
"Bush aides contended over the weekend that the president has bottomed out politically. They told White House allies in Washington that the new government would mark a turning point by showing progress and would strengthen Bush for his meetings with European leaders later this week by putting Iraq's postwar future on a multinational track."
Look for the President to talk about the resolution and the handover in his address to the Air Force Academy today.
The Washington Times' Bill Sammon leads with President Bush's comment yesterday that he had nothing to do with selecting the members of Iraq's new government. LINK
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice heads to Capitol Hill today to brief Senate leadership, the Armed Services Committee and House leadership on the new Iraqi Governing Council. LINK
"Reflecting the dominant role of Iraq in his presidency and political fortunes, Mr. Bush got only one question on a domestic issue during the 36-minute news conference," writes the New York Times' Dick Stevenson. "[A]nd that was on oil and gasoline prices, a topic linked directly to the Middle East. Five months from Election Day, he never mentioned his presumptive Democratic challenger." LINK
The New York Times' James Risen and David Johnston look at the specifics of the communications between Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi and Iranian intelligence. LINK
The politics of national security:
The Wall Street Journal's Robert Block, Jonathan Karp and Joann Lublin report on the $10 billion contract -- "one of the largest federal technology contracts in history," awarded to Accenture by the Department of Homeland Security to help manage the screening program for foreign visitors coming to or leaving the U.S. We expect to see Democrats jump all over this story today, from criticizing the handover of security money for an untested technology to pointing out where the offshore headquarters of the company resides.
The Washington Post's Dan Eggen lays out the U.S.' case against Jose Padilla. LINK
Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times writes up a new Harris poll that shows 56 percent of Americans say that their personal situation has improved over the last five years, and wraps in Gallup poll from Tuesday in which 75 percent of Americans expressed confidence in the armed forces and 64 percent expressed confidence in law enforcement. LINK
The Washington Post continues its Faces of the Fallen series. LINK
Consumer confidence has dipped to a 14-month low this week in the face of rising gasoline prices, following an unusually steep drop in overall consumer confidence last week, according to a new ABC News/Money magazine poll.
The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index stands at -18 on its scale of +100 to -100. It was at -16 last week after a 5-point fall, and is now well below its long-term average, -9 in weekly polls since late 1985.
"With gasoline reaching $2.06 a gallon and oil at an inflation-adjusted 14-year high, just 34 percent of Americans say it's a good time to buy things. That's down six points in May to its lowest since March 30, 2003, shortly after the start of the Iraq war. Views of the buying climate have been similarly sensitive to rising fuel prices in the past," reports ABC News' Dalia Sussman.
In addition, 34 percent of Americans say the economy is in good shape, and 55 percent rate their own finances positively.
South Dakota special election:
Democrat Stephanie Herseth defeated Republican Larry Diedrich 51 percent to 49 percent -- by a total of 132, 066 votes to 128,990 in the special election to replace Rep. Bill Janklow. The AP reports that "South Dakotans went to the polls in record numbers" with just over 56% of registered voters casting ballots. LINK
The AP's Joe Kafka writes, "Democrats looking ahead to November got a bounce with the victory of Stephanie Herseth in a special election, marking the party's second straight congressional triumph and snatching a House seat in a heavily GOP-leaning state." LINK
KELOLAND TV reports, "It took until well into the morning before [Herseth] could celebrate her special election win with 51 percent of the vote. Herseth becomes South Dakota's first congresswoman." LINK
Herseth will run again for re-election in November, and one has to wonder if presidential coattails are worth 3 points.
ABC New Vote 2004: the House:
Roll Call's Erin Billings reports, "Adopting a tactic their party bashed as a stunt in the watershed 1994 elections, House Democrats plan to unveil their election-year themes by rolling out a "Contract with America"-style legislative blueprint in September."
More: "Democratic sources say in their version leaders will unveil a "palm card" with a handful of themes designed to define the party and explain why it would provide a better alternative to the current majority. Unlike the original contract, which laid out specifics such as support for Congressional term limits and applying workplace laws to Congress, this version is expected to shy away from detailing policies."
ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:
The New York Times' Rick Lyman overviews the Democrats' chances to keep a few Senate seats in the South; Charlie Cook believes that Louisiana is the Democrat's best shot. LINK
Roll Call's Chris Cillizza writes, "Less than a week before South Carolina Republicans will choose their nominee in the state's open-seat Senate race, three of the leading GOP candidates are circulating private polling that indicates they will be the one to advance to the likely June 22 runoff with former Gov. David Beasley (R)."
In a separate story, Cillizza reports that many Senate watchers are already looking at 2006 to see what could happen: "Unlike this cycle, where the playing field clearly tilted toward Republicans at the outset, neither side has an obvious advantage on paper."
The Seattle Times' Alex Fryer has an in-depth look at the politics of cloning, Noting that the polarizing issue has forced Rep. George Nethercutt, who hopes to take Sen. Patty Murray's seat in November, to cast the issue's "moral choices in simple, stark terms." LINK
The politics of gas prices:
ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim reports that oil traded at a new high of $42.45 overnight.
The Washington Post's Paul Blustein takes a look at the terrorism "fear factor" that is likely to keep oil and gas prices high for at least the near future. On Tuesday, U.S. crude oil futures closed at $42.33 a barrel. LINK
Blustein waits until the last graf to bring in the political implications.
"The danger to the global economy is not as great as it was during the oil crises and gasoline shortages of the 1970s. In inflation-adjusted terms, oil prices are well below where they were then, and industrial economies have stockpiled large amounts of oil for emergencies. But higher energy prices act as a sort of tax on oil-importing countries, and Bush administration officials are concerned that a sustained $40-a-barrel price would slow growth in the United States, Europe, Japan and other major economies."
Petroleum geologist Jim Jackson spells out in the Oregonian just why oil revenues from Iraq will not be enough to pay for the cost of the war LINK and why prices will stay high. LINK
The Washington Post's Harden and Morgan preview an expected debate on the Senate floor which Sens. Cantwell and Hollings plan to lead in hopes of striping "language out of the defense authorization bill that would allow the Energy Department to leave some radioactive waste in buried tanks -- rather than get it up and ship it off for entombment in Nevada." LINK
The Washington Post's Marc Kauffman writes up Tuesday's ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco that the Partial Birth Abortion Act is unconstitutional. The decision by U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton "specifically prohibits the Justice Department from enforcing the law at any of Planned Parenthood's 900 clinics, which perform about half the nation's abortions. Planned Parenthood physicians who perform the procedure outside the organization's clinics also are protected." LINK
USA Today's Richard Willing wraps the ruling as well. LINK
Big casino budget politics:
The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports that House Republicans will take up a constitutional balanced budget amendment this year for the first time since it was a central part of the Contract with America in 1995. LINK
Big casino budget politics: Medicare:
Con artists in Iowa are taking advantage of confusion over new Medicare laws, charging senior citizens $99 while pretending to give advice on choosing a card, according to the Des Moines Register. LINK
More Medicare fraud. In West Virginia, the state AARP began a new project on Tuesday to root out rampant Medicare billing abuse. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Shailagh Murray surveys the Democratic anti-Nader groups and Notes a consensus to handle the long-time consumer advocate in a different and better way than Al Gore did.
The Boston Globe's Rick Klein reports, "The city of Boston has agreed to speed up its consideration of protest permits for the Democratic National Convention, as part of a legal settlement reached yesterday with a coalition of antiabortion groups." LINK
Klein also reports in a separate story that Kerry's "fund-raising team has helped open the spigot of private donations to the Democratic National Convention, bringing local event organizers within $1.7 million of fulfilling their cash commitment with 55 days to go." LINK
The Boston Globe's Yvonne Abraham reports that President and Sen. Clinton "are set to appear at a long list of hot-ticket events during convention week: a lavish, 500-guest party in their honor on Sunday night; a book-signing for Bill Clinton's much-ballyhooed memoir, out June 22, and his wife's own best-seller; a prime-time convention speech by the former president on Monday night. And their attendance is expected, and highly coveted, at several more soirees through the week." LINK
The Boston Herald's ed board tees off on the idea of who will ultimately pay for the proposed free downtown subway service during the convention. LINK
A day after the Democrats announced their new convention blog, the team putting together the GOP convention is unveiling its re-designed Web site. (http://www.2004nycgop.org)
One highlight: "GOP Live," a section devoted to interactive features including Web chats and radio interviews. During the week of the convention, "GOP Live" will be the forum for live Webcasts and special video features.
Third Day bass player Tai Anderson will take part in one such Web chat this week. He'll answer questions about youth involvement with the convention and MTV's "Stand Up and Holla!" essay contest on Thursday, June 3 at 10:00 am ET.
Richard Campagna of Iowa City, Iowa, accepted the Libertarian Party's nomination for vice president this past Sunday. LINK
Will this become an '06 election issue? The Wall Street Journal is on the trail of why Eliot Spitzer "spared" Carl McCall from scrutiny.
Ed O'Keefe's Kerry campaign report:
RIVIERA BEACH, FLA., June 1 -- Halfway through an 11-day focus on national security, Sen. John Kerry came to the Port of Palm Beach to deliver his second of four defense-themed addresses, this one on the "nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction."
Over the past six days and for the next five, the Kerry campaign aims to present a candidate who is strong on defense and capable of leading a post-9/11 world.
On a similar theme, Kerry went up with a new 30-second ad entitled "Optimists" in 19 states at a cost of $18 million.
Kerry also dispatched the Vet-heavy, 60-second "Service" to the not-quite-battleground Virginia, in addition to posting the spot on BET and in Hispanic media outlets.
Traveling en route to Portsmouth, Va.'s Memorial Day parade with Commonwealth governor and long-shot veepstakes contender Mark Warner, Kerry defended the curious ad buy, saying with a smile, "There's not much usual about this campaign."
And despite the fact that Warner, who insisted ticket talk "didn't come up," repeatedly told reporters he felt Virginia, would be a competitive state, some politicos suspected the Kerry camp was merely doing something former Vice President Al Gore couldn't do in 2000: bait Bush-Cheney into spending money in likely Red states.
As Kerry hits the national security stump, Teresa Heinz Kerry joins Sharon Rockefeller to meet with military families in Charleston, W.Va., on Wednesday.
Sen. Kerry meets with first responders in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, and delivers the third of four national security speeches at the Harry S Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Mo., on Thursday.
Kerry wraps up the week with a Minnesota rally, then takes a brief break before commemorating the 60th anniversary of D-Day on Sunday.
TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): —7:00 am: National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice appears "Good Morning America," "Today," "Early Show," and "Fox and Friends" —9:00 am: National Security Advisor Rice briefs the Senate leadership on the new Iraqi government at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —9:00 am: Rep. Dave Obey discusses counterterrorism and homeland security in a speech sponsored by the Center for American Progress, Washington, D.C. —9:15 am: Sen. Gordon Smith holds a news conference on the Universal Service Equity Act at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —9:30 am: The Brookings Institution Welfare Reform and Beyond Initiative hold a forum on "The Marriage Movement and the Black Church," Washington, D.C. —9:45 am: The Senate convenes for morning business —10:00 am: The House of Representatives debates the reauthorization of the higher education act —10:00 am: Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Peter Pace, OMB Deputy Director Joel D. Kaplan, and acting Defense Comptroller Lawrence J. Lanzillotta testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense about the $25 billion supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: The Commerce Department releases the April report on construction spending —10:15 am: National Security Advisor Rice address the Senate Armed Services Committee on the new Iraqi government at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —10:30 am: Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness Charles Abell and United States Postal Service Vice President for Network Operations Management Paul Vogel hold a news briefing on absentee ballot initiatives at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va. —10:30 am: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds holds a pen and pad briefing on the election landscape at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —10:45 am: FCC Chairman Michael Powell, ABC News' Sam Donaldson, and others participate in a public forum sponsored by the FCC and the Department of Homeland Security about how local media and government can better encourage preparation for terrorist attacks, Washington, D.C. —10:45 am: The Senate resumes debate on the defense budget bill —11:00 am: Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign Chairman Gov. Marc Racicot and former Attorneys General William Barr and Dick Thornburgh hold a press conference on the war on terror and the Patriot Act at the Phoenix Park Hotel, Washington, D.C. —11:00 am: Sen. Charles Schumer holds a news conference on civilian corrections contractors in Iraq at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —11:15 am: Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Sens. Ted Kennedy and Debbie Stabenow hold a news conference about the price of drugs under the new drug discount cards, Washington, D.C. —11:30 am: National Security Advisor Rice briefs the House leadership on the new Iraqi government at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Sen. Richard Durbin holds a news conference on Catholic members' voting records, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, Don King, and others speak to African American business leaders as part of the RNC's "African-American Economic Empowerment Tour" at Zanzibar Blue, Philadelphia, Pa. —12:05 pm: President Bush delivers the commencement address at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. —12:30 pm: The Democratic Policy Committee holds a closed meeting at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —1:00 pm: Sen. John Kerry holds a conversation with first responders and public health officials at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla. —2:00 pm: Teresa Heinz Kerry meets with military families at the Humphreys Pine Room, Charleston, W.Va. —5:00 pm: RNC Chairman Gillespie, Don King and others are joined by Republican National Committee CEO Bill Harris at an "African-American Economic Empowerment Tour" event at A. Williams Construction, Brooklyn, N.Y. —6:30 pm: of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Claude Allen delivers the keynote address about President Bush's AIDS initiate and health care policies at Esparanza USA's Pacto de Esperanza dinner, Washington, D.C. —6:45 pm: President Bush returns to the White House —7:00 pm: Author Arianna Huffington awards New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Elaine Jones, and MoveOn.org staff and leadership at the Campaign for America's Future "Take Back America" conference, Washington, D.C. —7:40 pm: Sen. Kerry is greeted by local supporters at the Kansas City airport, Kansas City, Mo.