The Note

Glenn Adams of the Associated Press previews the Maine Republican Party convention, where White House Chief of Staff Andy Card will deliver the keynote address. LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Mitch Lipka reports that New Jersey Gov. McGreevey has signed an agreement to create the first state-funded stem-cell research institute in the country. The Governor's 2005 budget proposal includes $6.5 million for the center. For the record, McGreevey is a Catholic. LINK

The AP reports results from an American Research Group poll in Ohio, showing Sen. Kerry leading in a three-way race. The poll of 600 likely voters found Kerry at 49 percent, Bush at 42, and Nader at 2 percent. In a two-way match-up, Kerry leads Bush 50 to 43 percent. LINK

The Wall Street Journal writes up gubernatorial retreats from some recent trade pacts.

"At least four governors have pulled out of an agreement with U.S. trade officials committing their states to abide by trade pacts that would bar giving preferences to local businesses or restricting outsourcing."

"Governors including Iowa's Tom Vilsack, Missouri's Bob Holden, Pennsylvania's Edward Rendell and Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty — three Democrats and a Republican — have informed the office of the U.S. Trade Representative that they can't comply with the agreement, fearing it could make illegal certain practices that states use in awarding government contracts. Other states are considering a similar move, including Oregon."

The politics of national security:

The Washington Times says that Democratic attacks are "backfiring," and has this: "One Republican strategist close to the campaign said the taped beheading of Philadelphia businessman Nicholas Berg will make it harder for Democrats to score political points with the prison abuse scandal."

"'The public isn't going to buy these attacks,' the strategist said. 'Even though there was widespread revulsion to the prison abuse, the moment they see this barbaric decapitation, they say, 'Yep, that's why we're there. This is what we're up against,' and the attacks lose their punch.'") LINK

The New York Times' Schmitt on yesterday's "contentious three-hour hearing" also known as the Wolfowitz/Reed or Warner/Kennedy show: LINK

"The double-barreled jousting over two sensitive parts of Iraq policy, cost and the treatment of prisoners, underscored growing unrest on Capitol Hill over operations there."

"Senate Democrats lit into the Bush administration's Iraq policies yesterday, using an uncharacteristically contentious hearing on additional war spending to attack the Pentagon's number two official in personal and bitter terms," writes the Washington Post's Ricks. LINK

The land of 5 plus 2 = 7: Glen Justice of the New York Times writes the actions taken (or not) by the FEC yesterday cleared "the way for these organizations to exert considerable influence over this year's presidential race." LINK

And not surprisingly, the New York Times edit board called the decision "shameful." LINK

Tom Edsall: "Pro-Republican groups immediately vowed to try to match the liberal organizations. But Republicans have been under less pressure to raise nonparty money because of the success of the Bush campaign, which has already raised $200 million, while the Republican National Committee had raised $157.4 million through the end of March." LINK

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