The Note





News out of Iraq — our culture loves moving video over still photos, don't you know — will dominate the media consciousness today, but if you want to know where the minds of the political insiders are focused, think of these things:

1. With new state job figures due today, the focus is on Ohio, Ohio, Ohio, with Treasury Secretary Snow and Tar Heel Senator Edwards in the Buckeye State talking separately about the economy.

2. USA Today 's Judy Keen correctly reports that the Bush-Cheney campaign will go on the air next week with an ad challenging John Kerry's record and statements on the Patriot Act.

3. The Wall Street Journal says that the Kerry campaign is about to switch its ad traffic from bio to issues (Which ones, we wonder … .?).

4. USA Today 's Walter Shapiro shares with us an inside look at the biweekly meeting organized by America Votes that is so vivid and insightful that it's sure to give Sean Hannity nightmares for at least a week, and the presence of one of John Kerry's advisers is sure to perk up the Sisyphusian ears of GOP superlawyer Ben Ginsberg. LINK 5. Are Leader Pelosi's anti-Bush words from yesterday just par for the course in the Gingrich-Clinton world of Washington, or do they represent a watershed?

6. What staffers/advisers are getting on the Kerry plane soonish?

7. What will Ralph Nader (on "This Week") and Hillary Clinton (on the Rupert Murdoch Sunday show) have to say in less than 48 hours?

8. Post-POTUS pep rally, what will MOCs hear at home during the recess about peace and prosperity from their constituents?

President Bush delivers the commencement address at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge today and then attends a fundraising reception at a private residence in Metairie, La. This weekend, the president is out of Washington as he attends a dinner for his daughter Jenna's graduation in Austin, Texas, on Saturday and another for his daughter Barbara on Sunday in New Haven, Conn.

Senator Kerry records the Democratic radio address today in Washington (to air Saturday) and attends a fundraising reception at a private residence in White Plains, N.Y. this evening. Over the weekend Kerry will be in Boston with no scheduled public events. On Saturday, the campaign will hold "Kerry National House Party Day" where supporters will gather in 2,000 house parties in all 50 states to show their support for their candidate. Kerry will join them via conference call.

Today, Vice President Cheney campaigns for congressional candidates in Texas. He will speak at a breakfast for congressional candidate Judge Ted Poe in Houston and at a reception for congressional candidate Arlene Wohlgemuth in Waco in the afternoon. This evening the Vice President also will speak at a reception for congressional candidate Judge Louie Gohmert in Longview.

The Labor department releases its monthly state-by-state unemployment and aggregate job gain and loss numbers today.

Lynne Cheney travels to La Crosse, Wis. today and speaks at the Republican Party of Wisconsin's state convention.

Ralph Nader sits down with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" for a conversation on the presidential race, the Bush Administration, and more.

In addition, Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are scheduled to join ABC's George Stephanopoulos, George Will and Linda Douglass.

On Saturday, Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) will speak at the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's state convention in Duluth, Minn.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) visits Washington state, where he will campaign with Washington Senate candidate Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) in Seattle and Tri-Cities, Wash.

In Plainfield, N.J., former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) attends a fundraiser for Senator Kerry.

Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) attends the New Hampshire Democratic Party's state convention breakfast as the keynote speaker.

In Detroit, Mich., the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network holds an event at the Fox Theatre.

On Sunday, Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) campaigns with North Carolina Senate candidate Erskine Bowles in Raleigh, N.C.

Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) attends a campaign fund-raiser for Pennsylvania Senate candidate Rep. Joe Hoeffel in Montgomery County, Pa.

Prison abuse scandal:

The Washington Post 's Josh White, Christian Davenport, and Scott Higham detail the scenes depicted in as-yet-unreleased photos and videos of alleged prison abuse and misconduct at Abu Ghraib prison. LINK

Higham and Joe Stevens of the Washington Post report new allegations arising from statements of 13 Abu Ghraib prisoners, saying they were "ridden like animals, sexually fondled by female soldiers and forced to retrieve their food from toilets." LINK The New York Times ' Johnston and Shanker report "interrogators at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp received Pentagon approval to use special, harsher interrogation procedures on a Saudi Arabian detainee who was believed to be the planned 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 terror plot." LINK NBC's Tim Russert told Katie Couric this morning that the video "continues a string of very bad news for the Bush Administration … When you observe these today, I think it's going to have an enormously powerful effect on the American people."

Russert also said the abuse story is beginning to shake Republicans' faith in the administration's handling of the war. "These pictures are perceived by many Republicans I speak to as a metaphor for the mismanagement of the war," Russet said. " … They know in the absence of no weapons of mass destruction, the reason we are using for saying we went into Iraq was to do good for the Iraqi people. These pictures are just devastating when you try to make that claim."

The politics of Iraq:

The New York Times ' David Sanger on Ahmad Chalabi's "open political warfare with the Bush administration.". LINK Per the Wall Street Journal 's Cloud, Fields and Fassihi, "U.S. intelligence agencies believe" Chalabi, "once strongly backed by some Bush administration officials, may have passed classified information on the American occupation of Iraq to the government of Iran."

The Washington Post 's Robin Wright writes that the standing of Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile once championed by the Bush Administration as a leader of the new democratic government, has fallen to a new low, both in the region and in terms of his standing among high-level Administration officials — as evidenced by yesterday's raid on his compound. LINK "Throughout much of its relationship with him, the United States has been willing to shrug off Chalabi's past as a convicted felon disliked and mistrusted by many in the Arab world. . . . But Chalabi's close relationship with Iran, the only neighboring state that regularly deals with him, is now a further cause of concern in Washington."

USA Today 's David Lynch writes, "Ahmad Chalabi picked the wrong day to sleep late." LINK The AP reports on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's comments that the president's "Iraq policies show incompetence and that the only conclusion to draw is that 'the emperor has no clothes.'" LINK

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

USA Today 's Judy Keen reports that the Bush campaign will launch a new 30-second TV ad next week "attacking Kerry's stance on the Patriot Act." LINK The 30-second ad will air in 19 states and "will accuse Senator John Kerry of 'playing politics with national security.'"

Keen: "The campaign will reinforce its message in the next few weeks with a speech by Vice President Cheney and a news conference in key states with Republican governors, former state attorneys general and law enforcement officials supporting the Patriot Act."

ABC's Kate Snow reported this morning that President and Laura Bush won't attend their daughters' college graduations this weekend but will instead host dinners in Austin and New Haven. Laura Bush has talked about maintaining Barbara and Jenna Bush's privacy, and the White House has done a pretty good job at shielding them from the press for the last four years — despite lots of tabloid headlines. Now that they're done with school, Barbara and Jenna Bush plan to work on their father's campaign and shack up with their parents, who have a few extra bedrooms.

The Washington Post 's Milbank and Babington wrap President Bush's trip to Capitol Hill Thursday, which "gave Republicans a chance to circle the wagons as the violence and prison-abuse scandal in Iraq have pushed Bush's standing to the lowest of his term, and beneath that of Democratic challenger John F. Kerry." LINK The Boston Globe 's Washington Notes: "The president's need to maintain support among increasingly divergent factions of his political base is especially vital this election year, with Bush relying on strong backing from his fellow Republicans to offset plummeting support among Democrats and Independents. LINK

The New York Times ' Bumiller and Hulse wrap Bush's "pep rally" on the Hill and Note what he did not address: "the abuse scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison, calls for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation or the raid by what witnesses said were Iraqi and American authorities on the Baghdad offices and home of Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader once embraced by the United States." LINK Make sure to read the quotes from lawmakers at the bottom of the Los Angeles Times' Simon and Shogren article on the jaunt to Capitol Hill. LINK

The quotes may help explain that "current quagmires" that "come from within the GOP ranks."

The New York Daily News' Kennedy and DeFrank write "the presidential exhortation may have been a harder sell than White House optimists contended. The Bush handlers 'were worried that people were getting weak-kneed on the foreign policy agenda,' said a GOP Capitol Hill source." LINK The Washington Times ' Bill Sammon and Stephen Dinan wrap Jano Cabrera's statement into their pep rally story, along with a colorful statement from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's protesting comments by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling President Bush "incompetent." LINK Gebe Martinez of the Houston Chronicle reports that during his meeting with lawmakers yesterday, the president "renewed his push for an energy bill that has lost steam on Capitol Hill amid party disagreements." LINK

"Bush's 40-minute speech to party allies signaled the White House would use its political muscle to break the deadlock, especially with gasoline prices now over $2 per gallon, and lawmakers later showed the challenge facing the administration."

"'We are not interested in renegotiating this bill,' [House Majority Leader Tom] DeLay said."

The Wall Street Journal reports that the BC04 campaign will hit the ground today to tout job growth. "'A body in every state,' one aide says — including the president in Louisiana, Treasury Secretary John Snow at an auto plant in Ohio and Commerce Secretary Don Evans at a town meeting in Florida."

The Boston Globe 's Mary Leonard spends some time on the campaign trail with First Lady Laura Bush and profiles her "rescue" effort for her husband. LINK

"She also may be raising her profile in anticipation of the media's focus on Teresa Heinz Kerry, an heiress who is passionate about the environment and other policy initiatives," Leonard reports.

But one critical difference between the First Lady and the woman who would replace her: Laura Bush said she had "no intention of sharing her views on hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage in the campaign."

"'I know people are very interested in the personal lives of their president and his family,' Mrs. Bush said. 'At the same time, I am more reserved and want a private life.'"

If you are a college (or maybe even high school) graduate this year in one of the battleground states, there is a good chance you will hear a politician give you post-graduation advice. LINK While the speeches may not be political or focus on the upcoming election, commencement addresses by the president and his surrogates and Senator Kerry provide a vehicle for positive media coverage in important states, USA Today 's Benedetto reports.

The AP's Pete Yost goes into detail on one of those graduation speech sites: Louisiana. LINK The AP has learned that President Bush will make another trip to Ohio next week, his second visit to the key battleground state this month. LINK Bush is schedule to talk about health care in Youngstown, Ohio.

AP's Nedra Pickler Notes that during her first campaign event in New York City yesterday, Lynne Cheney jumped into the fray and criticized Senator Kerry's record on education, specifically his vote on the president's No Child Left Behind act. LINK The Wall Street Journal 's ed board chides Bush for waving the white flag by striking a deal with Senate Democrats on judicial appointments, but says it "can understand why the White House felt it had to wave this white flag … Especially if Mr. Bush loses this fall, Republicans will be glad they filled those seats."

Townhall columnist and conservative talk show host Neal Boortz raps the president for the judges deal, writing that "if it were not for his fondness for tax cuts, and his pursuit, however flawed, of the ongoing war on terror, I can't for the life of me think of a good reason to vote for George Bush this November." LINK New York Times ' Yardley and Stowe look at Connecticut Gov. John Rowland's falling star and how he "relinquished a crucial platform of political power and influence within his party: leading the state re-election campaign for President Bush." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry: the money: The AP's Sharon Theimer writes up the money reports for April. LINK The Washington Post 's Paul Farhi takes a look through the FEC reports and finds that Senator Kerry raised nearly twice as much as the president in April, and that the BC04 burn rate amounts, as ABC News' Karen Travers reported yesterday, to nearly $130 million. LINK Farhi reports that the folks in Arlington spent nearly $31 million in April, and took in $15.6 million. The Kerry campaign collected $30 million — the second month in a row that the Senator's fundraising haul has topped the president's.

The New York Times ' Glen Justice has his own facts and figures. LINK The Los Angeles Times Notes the shrinking green gap between the president and Senator Kerry: "The president's campaign has spent $130 million, more than all the money Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, has raised since he announced his candidacy. Bush has spent so much of his money — $80 million in March and April — that the gap in cash available to the two candidates has been significantly narrowed." LINK

(P.S.: We knew Barbara Bush'd be a hit!)

The Orlando Sentinel's Mark Silva writes, "The cost of winning the White House in 2004 is heading toward the half-billion-dollar mark." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Frank James picks up the Kerry campaign's prizefighter line in his fundraising story, and wraps in a Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll showing Bush and Kerry tied with 40 percent each. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Senator John Kerry:

The Wall Street Journal 's Washington Wire gives us a ladle-full of nuggets all at once, reporting some Kerry advisers "want to toughen" their candidate's defense "profile by enlisting Carter-era hawk Brzezinski as a surrogate."

And this: "As internal polling shows gas prices gaining traction, Kerry will cast energy policy as a security issue in West Coast speeches next week. Democratic state attorneys general help with plans to investigate possible price-fixing."

And one last item: "Kerry's campaign, reporting $28 million in cash, will shift from biography to issue agenda in next TV-ad wave."

The Los Angeles Times' Finnegan writes on Kerry's latest attack against the president on the education front, this time "for proposing cuts to federal programs that ease access to college for students from low-income families." LINK

And quotes David Wade as saying "it was 'absurd' to accuse Kerry of waffling on abortion."

The New York Post 's Orin sees it rather differently, for the second day in a row!! LINK The Boston Globe 's Pat Healy reports that Kerry "dashed around the Northeast" on Thursday. LINK

"The trip to Philadelphia … was Kerry's fifth visit to the swing state of Pennsylvania in the last five weeks," reports the Philadelphia Inquirer's Fitzgerald. LINK The Philadelphia Daily News Noted Kerry wasn't talking about either Iraq or the economy yesterday in Philadelphia, but instead threw his support behind an education program sponsored by Rep. Fattah. LINK The Des Moines Register 's Jane Norman writes about the noise over Kerry's 1985 trip to Nicaragua. LINK

The Madison Capital Times' David Callender reports that Kerry will be in Green Bay, Wis., next Thursday and Friday for a rally and a town hall meeting. Callender Notes the Badger Poll showing Bush leading Kerry by 12 points, and the St. Norbert College poll showing Kerry leading Bush just 1 point outside the margin of error. He also points out that despite Kerry's statement last week that he's taking Wisconsin very seriously, the campaign has a state spokesman but no statewide coordinator. LINK

Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Notes that President Bush has visited Wisconsin twice and Vice President Cheney has been there once since Kerry was last there April 8. LINK

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Jason Zengerle takes a look at the veterans groups that are supporting and opposing John Kerry, debating whether, despite the central role of Kerry's military service in his biography and his campaign, he really will get a big share of the veterans' vote.

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry and Nader:

Dan Balz of the Washington Post reports that Ralph Nader is telling a different story than Kerry aides about whether Iraq came up during their talk Wednesday. Nader says he talked about the need for Kerry to have a public exit strategy from Iraq; Steve Elmendorf and Mary Beth Cahill don't remember the subject coming up. LINK Perhaps Nader will continue to clarify when he sits down to talk with George Stephanopoulos for Sunday's "This Week." Check your local listings, and be sure to tune in.

Veepstakes: For the Gang of 500, the dream will never die.

The Washington Post 's David Ignatius writes that neither Bush nor Kerry are able to reach across the ideological divide to unite the Red and Blue states — but John McCain can. LINK "The Arizona Republican is a cranky, impulsive, headstrong man. But there is something of greatness about him," the smitten Ignatius writes. "Simply put, the country needs him. The logic of a Kerry-McCain ticket isn't to win an election but to provide leadership for a divided country at war."

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

The Wall Street Journal 's Pollack gets three Madison Avenue ad execs to weigh in on the relative effectiveness of Bush and Kerry's ads — boring, trite, meaningless, we say.

Knight Ridder's Steven Thomma writes about how the southwestern part of the country is arguably up for grabs. LINK The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Scott Shepard writes that Kerry, "who once said he didn't need the South's support to win the presidency, will compete there after all." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds: Mrs. Bush received some splashy front-page treatment from the Albuquerque Journal today as only the surrogate-in-chief can.

Before holding a news conference supporting her husband's funding and support for No Child Left Behind, "[Mrs.] Bush read to first-graders in teacher Alisa Valdez's class, a quiet bunch that fidgeted when they posed for a picture with the first lady. Seven-year-old Matthew Taylor invited her to dinner."

The Santa Fe New Mexican Notes Marc Brown's "Arthur Writes a Story" was Mrs. Bush's reading selection yesterday. LINK

The New Mexican also reports the Albuquerque school board is cutting 83 jobs in its attempt to close a $40 million budget gap. LINK

Some moderate Republicans joined Democrats in the Arizona legislature to pass a $7.4 billion budget plan. The Arizona Republic declares it a "dramatic victory for the political center." LINK

The Arizona Republic also takes a front-page look at recent environmental bond measures that garnered voter approval. LINK "Arizona voters are making a link between land preservation and wildlife protection and their own quality of life and economic stability."

"That's how joyous environmental advocates interpret this week's approval of up to $687 million in bonds for land preservation in Scottsdale, Pima County and Flagstaff."

" … (T)wo Arizona bishops … said they will not deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights," reports the Arizona Republic. LINK The SBC employees strike is dominating local television and newspaper coverage in the St. Louis media market. LINK

The economy: The Wall Street Journal reports that "an unexpected quickening in the pace of price increases in the past two months is challenging the Federal Reserve's plan to raise short-term interest rates only slowly from today's 46-year lows."

The politics of gas prices: OPEC's president said "speculation, geopolitics and structural problems in the United States gasoline market were to blame for the run-up in pump prices" in the U.S., not his own organization's oil production quotas, reports the New York Times ' Timmons, who Notes these remarks "contradicted statements last week by Saudi Arabia, the cartel's leading producer, calling for increases in the quotas to ease price pressures." LINK "Eight state attorneys general Thursday called on the Bush administration to investigate whether oil companies are colluding to drive up gasoline prices," the Wall Street Journal 's Berthold reports. Note, again, the partisan affiliation of said AGs.

USA Today 's cover story by Chris Woodyard and Gary Stoller talks to lots of people at the pumps whose jobs put them on the road — and they are not so happy. LINK Lisa Sink and Nicole Sweeney of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel look at how higher gas prices are affecting public works budgets.

The St Paul Pioneer Press reports gas prices "jumped 20 cents or more a gallon Thursday at scores of stations throughout the Twin Cities, and another round of gas price hikes is expected before the upcoming Memorial Day weekend." LINK

The politics of national security: By a vote of 391 to 34, the House "approved a $447 billion military package that includes the extra $25 billion sought by the Bush administration to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through early next year," reports the New York Times ' Carl Hulse. LINK "The House also gave its support to tearing down the Abu Ghraib prison, the scene of the abuse of Iraq detainees, and replacing it with a new facility. But lawmakers defeated a Democratic push for a special Congressional inquiry into the abuse as Democrats complained that the House was failing in oversight of the war."

Dan Morgan of the Washington Post reports that the House passed a $447.2 billion defense bill that will let the Pentagon add 39,000 new troops — 30,000 Army and 9,000 Marines — over the next four years. The administration's additional $25 billion request to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are included in that number, and $3.4 billion is specifically earmarked for armored vehicles and equipment for soldiers in the field. LINK The Los Angeles Times' Simon Notes the GOP-controlled House "defied a White House veto threat by failing to strip out a two-year delay in the Pentagon's next round of base closings." LINK

Big Casino budget politics: Mutiny by four Senate Republicans — we bet you can guess 'em — forces Senate GOP leaders to concede "they could not muster enough votes to pass a $2.4 trillion budget plan and abruptly postponed a vote until at least next month," the New York Times ' Edmund Andrews reports. LINK The House voted to expand and extend the $1,000 per child tax credit, reports the Wall Street Journal 's Shailagh Murray, who goes on to call the Senate GOP quartet's defection a "snub to President Bush."

The Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman tallies up the 10-year cost of the child tax credit that the House voted to make permanent yesterday: $569 billion, lowering the odds that it will pass muster with the deficit hawks in the Senate. LINK

Big Casino budget politics: Medicare:

The Washington Post 's Bill Brubaker Notes that patient advocacy groups are concerned that as the June 1 date for the Medicare discount drug card program nears, drug manufacturers have been shifting prices making it extremely difficult for consumers to choose a card. LINK Environmental politics:

The Los Angeles Times' Miller and Harburger report on the EPA's approval of an air pollution regulation that "could save the wood products industry hundreds of millions of dollars" that "relied on a risk assessment generated by a chemical industry-funded think tank, and a novel legal approach recommended by a timber industry lawyer." LINK

The Washington Post 's Juliet Eilperin reports that the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania "will sue five West Virginia power plants for violating the Clean Air Act's pollution-control rules." LINK The politics of same-sex marriage:

The Boston Globe 's Yvonne Abraham and Raphael Lewis report that Gov. Romney asked state Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, "a likely Democratic opponent to Romney in 2006," "to stop municipal clerks from issuing marriage licenses to samesex couples from other states and said Massachusetts would refuse to officially record the licenses of those couples who do not intend to live here." LINK

The New York Times chimes in on Massachusetts Gov. Romney's effort to invalidate same-sex marriages by out-of-state couples. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

The Los Angeles Times' Simon Notes that Senator Frist will campaign against Senator Daschle in South Dakota this weekend while writing that "Democrats now appear to have a fighting chance at gaining the majority" in the Senate. LINK

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn writes about Senator Frist's plans to campaign against Senator Daschle. LINK The Chicago Sun-Times' Dave McKinney and Scott Fornek report that Democratic Senate hopeful Barack Obama is less than thrilled with the tracker for rival Jack Ryan's campaign — particularly that following him to the bathroom thing. LINK The New Republic on Mr. Obama. LINK

From the outside:

Conservatives of the world unite! Now that the FEC has passed on deconstructing the Dem-leaning 527s, folks on the other side are prepping for battle. Washington Wire gives Club for Growth some good press (We know Kevin McVicker will be pleased … ) and says the group has set a "$20 million goal for pro-Bush advertising."

Our only question: When will PHARMA and Co. join in the fun?

The conventions:

The Boston Globe 's Anthony Flint headlines the paper with something sure to make everyone smile this weekend: "Massive closing of roads set for convention week." LINK

The Boston Herald's Jack Meyers writes, "Unprecedented security will turn Boston into a fortress during this summer's Democratic National Convention as commuters face gridlock at every turn — all for a made-for-TV event starring an already certain presidential nominee." LINK

"Now that the extent of road closings has been made public, an inherent tension is emerging for local convention planners. The desire to make the convention a community celebration is rubbing up against security precautions ordered for the first political convention since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks," writes the Boston Globe 's Rick Klein. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Diane Lewis and Mac Daniel report that "some Massachusetts workers have already planned an escape from the hubbub, headaches, and hellish commute: They're taking vacation." LINK

The Boston Herald's Greg Gatlin writes, "Hospitality insiders say just getting employees to and from work will be a major ordeal. Gridlock and fears of gridlock are expected to wipe out nonconvention-related business." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Kimberly Blanton writes about how some downtown businesses are going to handle the commuting problems. LINK

The Globe's ed board does not like what they heard yesterday about the road closings. LINK

The New York Times ' Michael Slackman on Wall Street's plans to toast the GOP when the Republicans convene in the Big Apple. LINK ABC News Vote 2004: the gubernatorial races:

The Indianapolis Star's Matthew Tully and Mary Beth Schneider report on a new poll by the paper and local station WTHR that shows Mitch Daniels leading Gov. Joe Kernan by 46% to 40% and bad wrong-track news for the governor. LINK

The Deseret Morning News' Bob Bernick Jr. reports that the Utah GOP primary "turned angry Thursday when Jon Huntsman Jr.'s campaign released a tape recording of a Nolan Karras campaign volunteer making political threats against the Huntsman family." LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

The New York Daily News reports the former President is feeling mighty chatty these days — we bet Peter King enjoyed that 6:30 am wakeup call … LINK The Washington Post reports that Senator Hillary Clinton will make her maiden appearance on Fox News Sunday this weekend. LINK Politics:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is playing hardball to get legislators to raise some taxes and cut corporate tax breaks by threatening to lay off 5,000 state employees, the Chicago Sun-Times' Dave McKinney and Leslie Griffey report. Unsurprisingly, AFSCME, which supported Blagojevich in 2002, is apoplectic. LINK Note to those in charge of Democratic voter registration efforts: you're missing an untapped resource in strip clubs. LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): —9:00 am: House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on "Operation: Iraqi Freedom" with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. —9:30 am: Vice President Cheney speaks at a breakfast for congressional candidate Judge Ted Poe, Houston, Texas —9:30 am: The Senate resumes consideration of the Defense Authorization Bill —9:30 am: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments —10:00 am: Republican National Convention CEO Bill Harris, joined by Empire State Development Corp. Chairman Charles Gargano, marks 100-day countdown, New York, N.Y. —10:00 am: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld delivers opening remarks at the Wynonna Judd concert in recognition of National Military Appreciation Month, Arlington, Va. —10:00 am: The House meets for a pro-forma session —11:00 am: President Bush delivers remarks at the Louisiana State University commencement, Baton Rouge, La. —11:30 am: Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with ambassador-designate of Liberia, State Department, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge joins Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes in an event on homeland security efforts to share information. Kansas City, Mo. —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —1:00 pm: RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie attends a "No Child Left Behind" luncheon discussion, Tampa, Fla. —1:30 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks at a luncheon for congressional candidate Arlene Wohlgemuth, Waco, Texas —2:00 pm: President Bush delivers remarks at a Victory 2004 fundraiser at a private residence in Metairie, La. (Closed press) —2:00 pm: Former President Bill Clinton delivers the inaugural Robert Dole lecture at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan. —2:00 pm: Gov. George Pataki attends Bush-Cheney event in Auburn, N.H. —2:15 pm: Sen. John Edwards speaks at the UAW in Columbus, Oh. —2:30 pm: Sen. John Kerry records Democratic radio address, Boston, Mass. —3:00 pm: Lynne Cheney speaks at a rally for Larry Diedrich for Congress, Rapid City, S.D. —5:45 pm: Gov. George Pataki speaks at the Belknap County Lincoln Day Dinner, Gilford, N.H. —5:50 pm: Sen. John Kerry is greeted by local veterans at the airport as he arrives in White Plains, N.Y. —5:50 pm: President Bush arrives at the Bush ranch for overnight, Crawford, Texas —6:15 pm: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge delivers keynote address at American Red Cross Annual Conference, St. Louis, Mo. —7:15 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a fundraiser at a private residence, White Plains, N.Y. —7:30 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks at reception for congressional candidate Judge Louie Gohmert, Longview, Texas —7:45 pm: RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie addresses the Orange County Republican Committee's Lincoln Day Dinner, Orlando, Fla. —8:00 pm: Lynne Cheney speaks at the Wisconsin GOP state convention, La Crosse, Wis.