The Note





While ordinary Americans are putting the finishing touches on their summer vacations and looking under the sofa cushions for extra pennies for gas money, the Gang of 500 — the crème de la crème of the Chattering Class — is busy asking each other questions.

Many of these questions — or, rather, their answers — can only be known after tonight's presidential address on Iraq.

Bush's appropriate theatre is the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. The speech begins at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Still, there is a whole day to kill before POTUS Speaks, so if you don't already know, here's what's being batted around:

1. Will President Bush rise to the occasion with tonight's Big Moment speech (a la the 2000 convention speech and the post-9/11 address to Congress) or fall below "where he needs to be," as in this year's State of the Union and his last press conference?

2. How much of the speech will be taken up by (or overshadowed by) news of violence out of Iraq today?

3. Any live broadcast network coverage?

4. How perfectly timed is the new ABC News/Washington Post poll and just how hard will it impact in the next several news cycles?

5. How much will the Establishment press wring its collective hands over the question of whether John Kerry is being "overshadowed" by Iraq and is having "trouble getting his message out," this week — as if he has one (yet)?

6. When will the Kerry campaign learn that how they handle breaking news stories whose timing they don't control could make the difference between winning and losing? And does the candidate even understand the concept?

7. Did Howard Dean really come up with the delay-the-formal-nomination strategy, as Time reports?

8. Did those Kerry bio spots work or not? (Kerry folks say "yes," Bush folks say "no.")

9. Is the U.N. resolution on Iraq on a fast track or a slow burn?

10. Would you please repeat after us: "Don't alienate the mayor of the city hosting your convention." (Say it, then repeat, oh, 500 times … .)

11. Are both campaigns really changing their ad traffic this week or next? (Bush to bash Kerry on Patriot Act, Kerry to go from bio to issues … )

12. Which interests you more — David Sanger's Nostradamusing on North Korea or Adriana's death? LINK

13. Isn't Elisabeth Bumiller due for a White House Letter in the New York Times that quotes Parsky, Freeman, and Betts explaining how in touch with real people the president is, rather than another one quoting Hagel, Chafee, and Lugar saying how much 43 is in the bubble?

14. Will the President find out that Speaker Hastert told the New York Times that, in dealing with Mr. Bush, "You have to get through a little Texas cocky … ."?

15.Will the President find out that Time magazine reports that during last week's pep talk on the Hill, members "checked e-mail on their BlackBerrys or read newspapers on their laps while Bush rambled"?

16. If we gave the Wall Street Journal editorial board a big sign that says "President Bush signed McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan into law," would they post it in their conference room and remember to cite it whenever they write about the measure?

17. Does Newsweek believe in "innocent until proven guilty"?

18. How big and loud will the Zinni echo chamber be?

19. How significant is it that Ralph Nader supported two pro-Iraq war Democrats for Kerry's veep on "This Week"?

20. Will anyone truly mind that The Note will be taking a final 2004 pre-election fishing trip and publish our last issue of the week on Wednesday, and take Memorial Day off? Look for some Mini-Notes during that time!!!

President Bush today welcomes the WNBA Champion Detroit Shock to the White House and speaks about Iraq and the war on terror this evening in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Kerry is in Washington and spends time at campaign headquarters, with no scheduled public events.

Vice President Cheney speaks at a reception for the 2004 State Victory Committee in Little Rock, Ark.

Ralph Nader is in New York City today to speak against the construction of new sports stadiums and to attend a campaign fundraiser in the evening.

The Senate is in recess until June 1.

On Tuesday, President Bush meets with Iraqis receiving medical care in the United States at the White House. In the afternoon he travels to Youngstown, Ohio, where he will participate in a conversation about health care.

Per ABC News' Ed O'Keefe, the Kerry campaign will unveil the Senator's official campaign plane on Tuesday at Reagan National Airport. The white, Boeing 757 painted with "John Kerry" on the front section and a "Real Deal" logo on the engine features power in every row a front cabin for Kerry, a staff section, the press section in back and a stand-up bar. Kerry travels on the plane to Portland, Ore., to campaign and ends the day in Seattle, Wash.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) speaks at the Portland Rotary Club in Portland, Ore., and the state of Idaho holds their presidential and state primaries.

On Wednesday, President Bush meets with the president of Gabon in Washington. Senator Kerry campaigns in Seattle.

The National Archives will also on Wednesday, release some material from the White House files on John Kerry and 20,000 pages of transcripts of Henry Kissinger's telephone conversations from 1969 to 1974.

In Cincinnati, Republican Governors' Association Chairman Gov. Bob Taft hosts a Governors Forum.

On Thursday, President Bush meets with the president of El Salvador in Washington. In the afternoon he heads to Nashville, Tenn., where he takes part in a conversation on health care and attends a RNC Victory 2004 fundraising reception.

Sen. Kerry will be in Seattle again campaigning, before ending his day in Green Bay, Wis. A major foreign policy speech is planned. The Kerry campaign also celebrates "National John Kerry Meetup Day."

In addition, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will speak at the Arizona Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner Thursday evening.

On Friday, the President makes remarks with the Prime Minister of Denmark in the Rose Garden. Sen. Kerry campaigns in Green Bay and ends his day in Washington.

Bush-Cheney Chairman Gov. Marc Racicot will speak at the Washington state Republican convention on Friday night.

On Saturday President Bush attends the National World War II Memorial dedication and makes remarks. Sen. Kerry will also attend the WWII Memorial dedication. Will they pull a 'Brown' and miss each other? Or will they be at the same place at the same time?

Saturday also marks the ninth wedding anniversary for the Senator and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

On Sunday, President Bush welcomes Rolling Thunder Leadership to the South Lawn of the White House.

On Monday, Memorial Day, President Bush participates and makes remarks at the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The politics of Iraq: the President's speeches:

The Washington Post's Robin Wright previewed the major White House PR blitz on Iraq Sunday commencing with President Bush's big speech. LINK

"In the first of at least six presidential speeches on Iraq before June 30, Bush will particularly try to counter growing criticism that Washington has lowered the goal posts for its year-long occupation, U.S. officials said."

"'He will talk about the importance of not lowering our sights and sticking to our goals of a free, peaceful, democratic Iraq, of adhering to our commitment to the June 30 transfer of sovereignty, and of an election in a January time frame,' said a White House official who insisted on anonymity."

Steven Weisman of the New York Times reports a UN draft resolution detailing the organization's role in a post-occupation Iraq could begin making the rounds as early as today. LINK

And here's the curtain-raising graph on this evening's speech: "An administration official said Mr. Bush would outline a plan of action to dispel 'this idea that we don't know what we're doing' on Iraq. Mr. Bush will explain to Americans and people around the world that the United States has a plan to overcome the security problems and the political impasse in Iraq, this official said."

William Safire used all of his best lines from his column today on Meet yesterday, but here's the link in case you missed it. LINK

Kerry nomination delay?:

Note that Stephanie Cutter is quoted in Time this weekend as saying that a decision re: the acceptance of the nomination at the convention is at least weeks away … so we wonder how the campaign will handle the chatter in the meantime.

Per ABC News' Ed O'Keefe, Sen. Kerry boarded his charter flight and immediately apologized to the press corps for being 45 minutes late.

The press corps returned the favor with several questions on the Boston convention.

"Boston will be open for business," Kerry said. "People will make a lot of money … we're going to have a great convention. All this talk about reduced this and that. No decision has been made but we're going to have a full fledged convention. And people are going to have a fantastic time."

"What's important to me is that Boston will be open for business. We're working through these issues."

The news of Kerry potentially not accepting the presidential nomination at the Democratic convention in July is raising the level of already palpable tension between the Kerry campaign/Democratic National Convention Committee and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino/host committee, reports the Boston Globe. Mayor Menino, who was not told of the idea until hours after the media reported it, is publicly asking the presumptive nominee to accept the nomination at the convention. LINK

"Menino has much on the line politically regarding the success of the convention, because he was instrumental in bringing it to Boston. Recent studies have predicted that the convention will be a net economic loss in Boston, because it is displacing other big events this summer and because shutdowns of major roadways for security needs will affect worker productivity."

"The mayor may also need city taxpayers to chip in for the convention, because fund-raising has slowed in recent months and costs are threatening to increase. A convention without a formal nomination could take away from the event and make it harder for organizers to draw interest from television networks."

The Boston Herald leads with the Bush team rebuttal to the Kerry convention proposition: having their own rallies. LINK

John Harwood allows his readers to play catch up on the Kerry convention story.

"'This is the bring-it-on campaign,' said one senior strategist. If the option of delaying the nomination is rejected, other options include stepped-up campaign efforts by the Democratic National Committee and state parties during the month between the July Democratic gathering in Boston and the Republican convention in New York in late August."

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

As President Bush jumps onto the international stage this month, the Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein Notes two possible outcomes: one, the president could strengthen his image as a world leader; or two, give more credibility to Sen. Kerry's charges that Bush has alienate other nations and harmed the U.S. efforts in Iraq. LINK

With an "unusual concentration of international summits" in June and the presidential race shaping up to be focused considerably on foreign policy, Brownstein writes that "analysts in both parties believe the pressure on Bush to produce concrete achievements may be higher than usual."

"'If these opportunities come and go without more help [on Iraq], it is going to be a disaster,' said one Republican activist close to the Bush campaign. 'He's selling himself as a leader. But right now, who's he leading?'"

"Stuck in the mud" is never an expression Karl Rove wants to see in press accounts about the President, even if it is referring to his plane. LINK

Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times writes up the President's "retreat" into the bubble. LINK

"All presidents live in a bubble, but Democrats, European officials and a group of moderate Republicans say that Mr. Bush lives in a bigger bubble than most. As the problems of the occupation and insurgency in Iraq have intensified, they say, Mr. Bush has appeared to retreat more than ever into his tight circle of aides."

Bumiller lays out a few questions that perhaps some reporters would like to ask next time they have the opportunity: "The larger question is this: Inside the bubble, what is Mr. Bush's level of concern about the turmoil in Iraq? Does he think that the sunny predictions of Vice President Dick Cheney and the deputy defense secretary, Paul D. Wolfowitz, were all wrong? Does he blame them, or himself?"

And do read all the way through the end for Sen. Lugar's thoughts on the president's handling of Iraq.

Dana Milbank, traveling along with the president to New Haven, Conn., yesterday, writes of the emergence of the newly graduated Bush twins, who now are "leaving the zone of privacy the White House imposed and the press accepted, at least when the two were not getting in trouble with the law." LINK

Time's Waller looks at the president's pep rally on Capitol Hill last Friday that received good remarks in public but maybe people in the room weren't paying as close attention as they should have been: LINK

"Some lawmakers checked e-mail on their BlackBerrys or read newspapers on their laps while Bush rambled 'on and on and on with a stream-of-thought speech that lasted 35 minutes,' groused a G.O.P. Representative, adding that the applause afterward was only 'polite.'"

If Sen. Kerry delays accepting the Democratic Party's nomination at the convention this July, the Bush-Cheney '04 re-election campaign might have a few attention getting tricks up its sleeve, the Boston Herald's Andrew Miga writes. LINK

"If Kerry opts for delay, the Bush campaign would seek to blunt media coverage of the July 26-29 Boston convention by demanding TV networks abide by federal laws requiring equal time for both parties, a Republican source said."

Time's Nathan Thornburgh brings us a glimpse of the "Presidential Prayer Team," a non-profit group that claims to have 3 million supporters praying for the president and "is about to launch Pray the Vote, a national initiative that will feature half-hour radio ads, Dean-style meet-ups (called prayer parties) and a nationwide prayer rally on the eve of the election." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Senator John Kerry:

Jill Lawrence of USA Today profiles the forever profilable Teresa Heinz Kerry and defines her exactly as the campaign likes: as honest, sometimes too honest, as philanthropist, reluctant political wife, environmentalist, mother, and woman. LINK

The story lists her accomplishments such as, "In Massachusetts, she proposed a prescription-drug assistance program based on a project she funded; it is now law."

Lawrence interviews the woman herself, her husband, and her son.

Teresa on marrying a second senator with presidential ambitions: "I tried not to … But we had too many interests in common, too much of the same passion in common, you know? It's kind of a completion of the trip I started with Jack."

In an in-her-own-words sidebar, Heinz Kerry talks about the addition of Kerry to her last name as well as her spouse: "On her spouse: 'I don't think John could be married to somebody who didn't interest him mindwise, intellectually. He'd maybe play around but not marry them." LINK

The Boston Globe's Kranish (Kerry biographer extraordinaire) takes an in-depth look at the environmental advocacy of Teresa Heinz Kerry and the potential for conflict-of-interest if it were to continue once she became First Lady. LINK

Time's Joe Klein went to the New Democrat Network's conference last week and it got him all nostalgic for 10 years ago. And Simon Rosenberg is going to be both happy and sad. LINK

The Washington Times' columnporter Don Lambro spoke with four Dem state chairs about Sen. Kerry.

"Democrats such as [Arkansas Democratic Party chair Ron Oliver] say that Mr. Kerry probably will not see any new movement toward his candidacy until he becomes better known and offers voters a more vivid contrast to the president's policies in Iraq." LINK

Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker saves Bob Shrum a lot of work and drafts a potential convention speech for Kerry if he were not to accept the nomination at the convention. LINK

One of the many humorous lines: "It's true that we've never had a convention without a nominee before. But, as we both know, Massachusetts is a state of 'firsts.'"

Kerry paid a surprise telephone call to the Maine Democratic State Convention on Saturday "The crowd … was most stirred, though, when Kerry talked about foreign policy." LINK

George Will dined with Nader before Nader broke (metaphoric) bread with Kerry and concludes: "So Nader is running again for president. Successful independent candidates have had at least one of three assets: a regional base, a vivid personality or a burning issue. George Wallace in 1968 had all three. Nader lacks the first (unless faculty clubs count as a region) and the second, but he certainly has the third: Iraq." LINK


The AP's Nedra Pickler writes up Nader's comments on ABC's "This Week" advising Kerry to pick Edwards or Gephardt as his running mate. Nader said McCain should be taken at his word that he doesn't want it, and he described Sen. Evan Bayh as a "soft Democrat." Bayh, who appeared later on the program, said, "I'm glad he's not registered to vote in Indiana." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

The Los Angeles Times looks at the "event-driven" stock market and Wall Street's unlikely jitters in an election year. LINK

"Many believe the Iraq transition, along with the economy and the presidential election, will affect Wall Street for the rest of the year. To some extent, all three issues overlap."

"Historically during election years, the stock market has done well from May through December … . But uncertainty over the election outcome may be one reason such a rally has yet to materialize in 2004; in the past, there has often been a clear front-runner."

"Indeed, strategists said the tightness of early polls has caused jitters on Wall Street, where President Bush and the status quo are generally preferred over the presumptive Democratic nominee, Senator John F. Kerry. One fear … is that Kerry might seek to raise taxes to balance the federal budget."

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

Peronet Despeignes of USA Today has good news for the Bush campaign: the Labor Department's employment numbers "show that 10 of the 17 states expected to be the most tightly contested this campaign season were among the fastest-growing job markets in the country in April."LINK

"Employment nationwide grew 0.2% in April, but job growth was more than double that in Wisconsin, West Virginia, Michigan and Missouri."

Important sidebar: "Several battleground states outpaced the USA in job growth. The top 10 in order: Missouri, Oregon, Wisconsin, West, Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada, Washington."

In Pennsylvania, the Patriot-News' Matt Miller writes about the place of the War College in presidential history, Noting that George Washington spoke there 210 years ago in the midst of the Whiskey Rebellion. LINK

On Sunday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Elizabeth Auster wrote, "Though Bush's optimism eventually could be vindicated, veteran Ohio political analysts say that for now at least, he has ample reason to worry that the state's economic woes could jeopardize his hopes for a second term. It doesn't help, they say, when Ohioans keep hearing reports of plant shutdowns, such as the announcement this month that Canton-based Timken Co. is closing three plants and eliminating 1,300 jobs." LINK

The AP's John Seewer reported on Sunday, "One in every three voters in 15 swing states, including Ohio, felt they were getting too much information about the election, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center in Washington." LINK

On Sunday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bill Lambrecht used Kennett Square, Pa., the Mushroom Capital of the World, as a window into looking at the fight for Pennsylvania. LINK

Granite State Democratic delegates are okay with Kerry's possible deferment of accepting the party's nomination. The Manchester Union Leader's Kepple has the story. LINK

Some local elected officials are none too pleased with the way in which Sen. Gregg acquired federal dollars to widen Granite Street. The funds are apparently coming out of the federal highway largess headed for New Hampshire. Gregg's office has called it a "$7 million mistake that they're trying to correct." LINK

Buried in a Mark Silva story about 527s in Florida is a hint that Republican outside groups may join the fray to great effect. LINK

The politics of gas prices:

The Wall Street Journal reports, "Saudi officials said in interviews this weekend that they are bringing on line new oil fields that will allow the country to pump significantly higher volumes of oil this fall — about 800,000 additional barrels a day. That would boost Saudi production capacity to 11.3 million barrels a day, up nearly 8% from the kingdom's current capacity of 10.5 million barrels."

The New York Times reports, "Saudi Arabia's promise to increase its oil output and its call for increased production quotas from OPEC is creating a rare public rift in the group, with one country contending that unrest in Iraq, not production levels, is a main cause of the high cost of crude oil." LINK

The politics of national security:

The New York Times leads its Monday editions with a report detailing the Department of Homeland Security's soon to be announced huge contract awarded to one of three companies vying to build the nation's "virtual border" to better track visitors to the United States. LINK

The New York Times' David Sanger looks at how the North Korean threat ("an economically desperate nation [which] may be engaging in exactly the kind of nuclear proliferation that the president says he went to war in Iraq to halt") is given very different treatment from that of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. LINK

"Federal investigators now suspect that Mr. Chalabi funneled a wide array of Pentagon and C.I.A. secrets to Iran — much more material than they believe he might have obtained through his political contacts with Americans, they said. 'This was not the kind of stuff that he would have gotten by accident,' one official said,' reports the New York Times. LINK

USA Today's Mark Memmott reports that the producers of the new controversial ad, "Fire Rumsfeld," "considered, but rejected, using some of the infamous photos of abused prisoners." The ad, with the doctored image of a hooded Statue of Liberty, has raised questions about what's crossing the line in political ads. LINK

A Harvard University report warns that the Bush White House is not doing enough to secure loose fissile material that could be made to build a nuclear weapon. LINK

"Less fissile material was secured in the two years after Sept. 11, 2001, than in the two years just before, according to the Harvard report, which was obtained by The Washington Post." Former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, who is sometimes mentioned as a possible running mate for Kerry and who heads the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative that funded the study, warns, "What's missing is a sense of urgency." "Nunn believes President Bush must focus on removing bureaucratic hurdles and work more pointedly with Russian President Vladimir Putin."

Big Casino Budget Politics: Medicare:

"Lobbyists for the elderly, blacks and Hispanic Americans said on Sunday that they had begun a nationwide campaign to ensure that 5.5 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries receive drug discount cards, with a bonus of $1,200 in free medicine over the next 19 months," reports Robert Pear of the New York Times . LINK

Weekend must-reads:

On Saturday, the New York Times' Richard Stevenson wrote, "Despite a big rebound in hiring in the last few months, President Bush has been unable to translate the economic improvement into political benefit, leaving Republicans increasingly anxious that the White House might let slip away its best chance to counter the bad news from Iraq." LINK

On Saturday, the New York Times' Michael Slackman reported that it now appears that the Republican National Convention will indeed have a "round stage in the center of Madison Square Garden." LINK

And the New York Times' Michael McFadden reported on Saturday that security would be "stepped up" during the convention. LINK

On Saturday, the New York Daily News' H.B. Shin and the New York Post's Stfan Friedman wrote about the latest on the Sheekey Bridge and other developments around 8th Avenue. LINK and LINK

On Sunday, the New York Times' Rick Lyman reported that part of Kerry's demographic problem is among white men. LINK

Jim Kennedy offered his thoughts in Sunday's New York Times on Secretary Powell's infamous moment on "Meet the Press" last week. LINK

Anne Kornblut got applause from The Note this weekend when she delivered her comparison on Bush 2000 campaign speeches and Bush 2004 campaign speeches, finding that on at least six issues, the president uses many similar stump speech lines in quite a different world — steady leadership or ineffectual leadership? You decide. LINK

The Boston Globe looked at the local impact of the potential of Sen. Kerry not accepting at a convention that's planning had already caused quite a rise among the locals. They said it's not fair to turn the whole city upside down for just a "big party." LINK

Profiling two of the divided voters in Sturtevant, Wis., the Washington Post's David Finkel addressed the question: "What is the political price of a gallon of gasoline?" LINK

"No one filling up this day at the Village Mart, or the Shell and Marathon Oil stations across the street, says their vote for president will be based solely on gasoline. But factor the price of a fill-up into what has happened to the economy in Racine County since Election Day 2000, and the price becomes more important.

The Washington Post's VandeHei and Balz wrote Sunday of Kerry's recent shift to the center in an attempt to woo independents and "non-Bush Republicans." They acknowledged the remarkable fact that because of the strength of the anti-Bush sentiment, Kerry's base is willing to let him get away with making more conservative statements. LINK

"Kerry's effort to adjust his message also represents a strategic necessity for another reason [in addition to expanding the battleground]. A top Democratic strategist, who discussed private data on the condition of anonymity, said internal polling shows that Kerry is still viewed as a Massachusetts liberal by a large number of independents and some Republicans who express a willingness to vote for a Democrat."

How's this for a lead in the Sunday Los Angeles Times that just puts you at ease enough that you could just sip coffee, relax, and enjoy the last few hours of your weekend? "President Bush is hearing increasingly bleak warnings that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is heading for failure — from Republican and Democratic members of Congress, current and former officials and even some military officers still on active duty." Thank you, Doyle McManus. LINK

Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times delivered a Sunday must-read on the big for the Congress and how it seems Democrats are in much better shape than what they thought a few months ago. "Recent polls indicate that problems in Iraq and continuing lack of confidence in the economy are not only hurting Bush but undercutting voters' assessment of Republicans in Congress." LINK

"For Democrats, the challenge remains to translate that general discontent into specific victories. But the party's chances of winning control of the Senate have significantly improved in recent months, because of both the unexpected strength of Democratic candidates in several Bush strongholds and retirements by GOP incumbents. And the bid by the Democrats to take over the House, though still a long shot, would gain momentum next week if they won an open seat in South Dakota — a surprisingly likely prospect in a heavily Republican state. That would be the Democrats' second victory in a special House election this year."

Newsweek reported Sunday on the alleged erosion of Cuban-American support for Bush in the uber swing state of Florida: "Bush's support among Cuban-Americans in south Florida-about 80 percent of whom backed him in 2000-shows signs of eroding. A March Florida International University poll, for instance, showed that only 56 percent of the state's Cuban-Americans planned to vote for Bush, with 25 percent undecided. While the vast majority will almost certainly back Bush in November, even a shift of 5 percent could tip the balance if Florida is a close race." LINK

The results of a Columbus Dispatch poll reported on Sunday suggeted some not-so-good news for the Bush campaign. The situation in Iraq is turning Central Ohio against the president — an battleground state he can't afford to lose.

"In a September poll of the Columbus area, 54 percent said they favored staying the course in Iraq even with hundreds more American casualties. Now only 38 percent express that sentiment. During the same period, the percentage saying the war is worth the cost in U.S. lives fell from 51 to 38."

"Approval of Bush's handling of Iraq has dropped 11 percentage points to 38 percent. His overall approval rating has sunk 6 points to 44 percent since September — but is 17 points below the that of April 2003, shortly after the war started."

"Bush gets less support for his dealing with Iraq — 38 percent — than his handling of the economy — 41 percent."

The margin of error in this poll was 4.9 percent.

ABC News Vote 2004: Casting and Counting:

The New York Times continues its series with CBS News looking at how Floridians are applying learned lessons from 2000 to the preparations for this year's presidential election. Today's installment explores Gadsden County's efforts to ensure valid votes are cast. The county had the highest disqualification rate (12 percent) in 2000. LINK

The conventions:

Protest organizers across the country are preparing to descend upon New York for the Republican National Convention in great numbers despite the logistical obstacles. LINK

"The protesters are not deterred by the barriers they face. New York City has yet to issue any protest permits. Housing is in short supply and prohibitively expensive. And just the logistics of getting to vehicle-unfriendly New York can be daunting. But convention protesters like the group in Richmond are pressing forward with plans, and developing ways around the hurdles."

The Times' Steinhauer and Rashbaum profile the city's top cop in a story that will no doubt be given to all network talent by their researchers when Commissioner Kelly hits the interview circuit this summer to talk convention security in advance of and during the Republican gathering. LINK


Carl Hulse of the New York Times keys off of Speaker Hastert's back and forth with Sen. McCain and takes a look at the role the Illinois congressman is playing this cycle. (Requisite wrestling metaphor included.) LINK

"Mr. Hastert is emerging in this election season as a highly partisan figure. He seems determined to do and say what it takes to help Republicans hold on to not only its narrow House majority, but the White House as well. A former wrestling coach, he is showing a willingness to go to the mat."

For now it appears Mr. Hastert is committed to preserving his majority and reelecting the president. We're not so sure where his allegiances will lie should the president's approval rating slip below forty percent.

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times clearly comes down on McCain's side in the Hastert v. McCain dust-up, and continues his months' long call for higher taxes in times of war. LINK

Hell remains hot. Pigs are firmly grounded. McCain's moderation earns the praise of the New York Times editorial board. LINK

That "conservative movement" thingie keeps growing and growing and growing … LINK

The Los Angeles Times previews a new Brookings report detailing a migration pattern of blacks leaving places the likes of California and New York for the southern states many of them and their ancestors left in the 20th century. If the trend continues in large numbers the electoral maps of 2008, 2012, and beyond could look very different from the current landscape. LINK

Vince Morris of the New York Post writes up Sen. Clinton's inaugural appearance on Fox focusing on her admission that "we all put on our political hat when we have to … " LINK

The Note has learned of a dream come true for all you political junkies, staffers, or staffer-wannabes: From June 4-6, Campaigns and Elections Magazine will be hosting "The Art of Political Campaigning: Techniques and Strategies to Win Your Upcoming Election" at the Washington Marriott. No, everyone, Karl Rove will not be teaching.

Seminars range from "The New Campaign Finance Law and How It Affects You" to "Appearing On Television -- How To Look Like A Professional" to "Fund Raising On The Internet" to "Targeting Minority and Ethnic Voting Constituencies" to "Going Negative: When, Why & How" and many, many more.

For a registration form, an agenda, and more info, check this out: LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): —9:00 am: 9-11 Commissioner and fmr. Sen. Bob Kerrey gives a keynote address at the "Personal Democracy Forum," New York, N.Y. —9:30 am: The Citizens' Debate Commission holds a news conference to announce sites and dates of presidential debates it is sponsoring, with former presidential candidates calling on current candidates to participate in these debates at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. —9:30 am: Brookings Institution holds a briefing on what happens after the U.S. transfers power to Iraq, with Amatzia Baram, Ivo Daalder, Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, Washington, D.C. —9:40 am: Off-camera gaggle by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan —10:00 am: The U.S. Supreme Court meets to hand down decisions and release orders —10:00 am: United Nations Security Council meets to discuss a U.S. resolution about the transfer to power in Iraq, New York, N.Y. —10:10 am: President Bush speaks to the WNBA champions Detroit Shock at the White House —1:00 pm: Ralph Nader speaks against the building of the Manhattan and Brooklyn sports stadiums, New York, N.Y. —1:00 pm: On-camera briefing by Press Secretary McClellan —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —1:15 pm: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) gives a keynote address at the "Personal Democracy Forum," New York, N.Y. —1:45 pm: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky hold a press conference about the election and the "Women Lead" project, San Francisco, Calif. —1:45 pm: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and police and fire unions call for more homeland security funding for New York City, New York, N.Y. —1:45 pm: Joe Trippi, fmr Dean for America Campaign Manager, gives a keynote address at the "Personal Democracy Forum," New York, N.Y. —4:00 pm: Former Vice President Al Gore, liberal author and activist Al Franken, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and others hold a press conference sponsored by about "The Day after Tomorrow," New York, N.Y. —5:00 pm: Ralph Reed, Southeast Regional Chairman of Bush-Cheney '04, gives a keynote address at the "Personal Democracy Forum," New York, N.Y. —6:30 pm: The World Affairs Council, the Newseum, and the Forums Committee of the National Press Club host a discussion on "America's Future in the Middle East" with Jon Alterman of CSIS, Hisham Melhem of Al Arabiya, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post and others, Washington, D.C. —7:00 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks at a reception for the 2004 State Victory Committee, Little Rock, Ark. —7:30 pm: Ralph Nader attends a campaign fundraiser, New York, N.Y. —8:00 pm: President Bush speaks about Iraq and the war on terror at the United States Army War College, Carlisle, Pa.