The Note





The BushhasbethispresidencyonIraqandKerryhastogetoverthelikeabilityandnationalsecuritybars storylines are important, sure, but if you want to understand American politics in 2004, there are other events for you to watch out for:

1. Hillary Clinton's introduction of Chuck Schumer at next Tuesday's New York Democratic Party meeting in Manhattan — the first political event the two have done together in forever. It's not quite Bob Torricelli buying Frank Lautenberg a charm bracelet and a Whitman's Sampler LINK, but it's close.

2.(Senator?) Barack Obama and the impact he'll have on Washington, no matter who the President is.

3. The Olympics (how many times do we have to tell you this?)

4. Republican National Convention CEO Bill Harris ' May 21 Web chat to mark 100 days until the start of the convention.

5. President George H.W. Bush's 80th birthday on June 12, and the hoopla surrounding it.

6. Rush Limbaugh's daily readings from Bill Clinton's "My Life" (annotated).

7. The New York convention schedules of Bill Frist, George Allen, Rudy Giuliani, Jeb Bush, Phil Gramm, John Kasich, and George Pataki.

8. The rising powerhouse consulting firm of Powers Bluestein earning so much revenue so fast that they start to buy ads in The Note that say, "Powers Bluestein provides strategic guidance and communications consulting to political candidates, non-profit organizations, and others looking to participate in civic dialogue." LINK

9. The Al Smith dinner at the Waldorf on October 21.

10. The launching of the European version of The Note in the fall.

11. Following the MTA's lead, the late fall announcement of the Yiddish version of Noted Now. LINK

12. All television networks becoming Court TV with the year's many (mostly Western) celebrity and celebrated criminal trials.

13. The continued unchecked expansion of the gaming industry throughout America.

Today, President Bush greets G-8 Foreign Ministers at the White House, speaks at an RNC fundraiser in Bridgeton, Mo. and delivers the commencement address at Concordia University in Mequon, Wis. On Saturday, President Bush speaks at the Annual Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the Capitol. He is down on Sunday.

Sen. Kerry today meets with members of his campaign finance committee, speaks to the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, and records the Democratic radio address in Washington. He just might take questions from reporters today at some point, and the radio address just might be on America's military.

He spends Saturday in Boston with no scheduled events and travels to Las Vegas on Sunday to address the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at their Annual Unity Conference.

On Monday both President Bush and Sen. Kerry will be in Topeka to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, although their appearances will not overlap. Still, the coverage will be boffo and important.

Sen. Kerry also plans to attend a rally in Portland, Ore. on Monday night.

Vice President Cheney today speaks to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and at a fundraiser in Orlando, Fla.

The Democratic National Committee holds its Hispanic Leadership Summit in Orlando this weekend.

Secretary Colin Powell travels to Jordan this weekend. (Catch an interview with him on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos").

ABC News Vote 2004: Balz and Sanger: Twin pronouncements from the Washington Post and the New York Times that President Bush's re-election campaign is on a bumpy portion of the ride.

To call them must-reads are to understate the non-negotiable essentiality of your reading them in full.

The highlights:

Dan Balz, veteran political reporter from the Washington Post: "Given the volatility of events, the amount of time before Election Day and hurdles Kerry must overcome, Bush has plenty of time to recover. His advisers said that they recognize the weakness in the president's current standing but that he is far more resilient politically than his detractors suggest. They also argue that in this climate, perceptions of Kerry will be just as important as perceptions of the incumbent, and they have poured tens of millions of dollars into television ads attacking Kerry as a politician lacking clear convictions." LINK

"Matthew Dowd, senior adviser for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said Bush occupies a unique position compared with former presidents. In past campaigns, Bush's predecessors have either been above 53 percent in approval by the time of the election and been reelected, or have been below 46 percent and been defeated."

"Douglas Sosnik, White House political director during Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign, told the Democratic Leadership Council meeting in Phoenix last week that an incumbent's eventual vote is linked more directly to his approval rating than to any other measure and thus serves as a leading indicator early in the race. Dowd, too, has said repeatedly that the president's eventual vote percentage will track closely with his approval rating."

"But Sosnik said yesterday that the extraordinary uncertainty that surrounds the campaign could render historical patterns moot. 'Perhaps we are in a new era in politics where the lessons of history no longer apply," he said in an e-mail message. 'Based on President Bush's current job approval rating, he had better hope so.'"

David Sanger, veteran international economics correspondent and North Korean nuclear program expert from the New York Times: "[F]or the first time, even some of the most loyal administration aides, who have regularly defended every twist in the Iraq strategy, are conceding that the president and his top advisers are stuck in what one of them called 'the perpetual debate' about whether to change strategy or soldier on. Mr. Bush's usually sunny campaign advisers make no effort to hide the depth of the problem." LINK

"But Mr. Dowd said that changing Mr. Bush's tone on the campaign trail was not an option. So with some modifications, Mr. Bush is following the script he and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, drafted as the prisoner scandal emerged: He repeats his disgust with the abuses, then turns the subject immediately back to his broader goals in the war on terrorism, merging it with the action in Iraq. He did so again on Thursday in a West Virginia school gymnasium."

Both Balz and Sanger end their stories with a consideration of the right track/wrong track numbers, with Balz writing that the numbers are "hurting" the president and Sanger writing that they are reason for "alarm."

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

In this week's National Journal, Charlie Cook says forget the marathon/dash metaphor; this presidential contest looks more like a demolition derby, and Notes that "the current president is sitting on the bubble between past winners and losers. At the moment, he's closer to the winners, but his ratings have been dropping while those of his predecessors who went on to win were gaining at this point in their presidencies."

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten reports that "pollsters and even some Republican strategists say the most important indicators of whether an incumbent is likely to win are — at least for the moment — grim for Bush." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Jessica Mintz has a nifty story today about all of the Bush and Kerry campaign merchandise, Noting that there is a wider array of Bush gear than there is Kerry gear.

"Nowhere are the policy differences between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush more apparent, health analysts say, than on what to do about rising health costs and the growing number of Americans without insurance," writes the New York Times' Robin Toner. LINK

Note to Robin: get more space from your editors, or tell them it isn't worth the trouble.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: The AP's Sharon Theimer reports that the Bush campaign has hit the $200 million mark, which is almost twice as much as Kerry and "surpasses the Bush campaign's stated goals." LINK

Visiting a West Virginia high school yesterday, the president aimed to counter Kerry's criticism that his administration has done too little to improve public education, writes the Washington Post's Amy Goldstein. LINK

The West Virginia Intelligencer covers the president's visit strictly on educational terms, making no mention of Senator Kerry. LINK

The Green Bay News-Chronicle's Anna Krejci previews the President's visit there today. LINK

The Note loves these two paragraphs:

"Commencement speakers are encouraged to speak from their perspectives, and [Concordia University President Patrick] Ferry said he believes the speech will be more 'presidential' than 'political.'"

More: "Ferry said the president might have accepted Concordia University's invitation to speak because it is a campaign year and Wisconsin is considered a key state in the presidential race."

Send President Ferry to a poli sci class next term!!!!

The Miami Herald's Lesley Clark reports that Vice President Cheney "is scheduled to address the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County at noon today — a visit that comes as the White House intensifies efforts to court Jewish voters, including President Bush's decision last month to reverse decades of U.S. policy and endorse an Israeli plan to hold on to lands seized in the 1967 Six Day War." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Jackie Calmes (although the Web version would have you believe it is John Harwood's handiwork) has Karen Hughes saying she didn't know about the photos showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners until she saw them on CBS, and he writes that "even party allies are dumbfounded"and "lament that White House damage control suffered."

The Wall Street Journal looks beyond gas prices and explores the idea of rising phone bills due to the administration's recent legal victory in relaxing some telecom regulations.

"Without the rules to keep rates in check, regional phone companies could well boost the prices they charge rivals to use their phone lines. That cost would likely be passed on to consumers, industry and government officials say."

Salon looks at some not so full-throated supportive GOP Senators who aren't named McCain or Hagel. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Senator John Kerry

On "Good Morning America," ABC News' Dan Harris looked at the delicate, daily decision of whether Kerry should address the prisoner abuse scandal. Kerry's problem: when he speaks softly, anxious Democrats accuse him of lacking leadership and aggressiveness. But when he speaks out, like he did on Fox News last night, Republicans pounce.

The Boston Globe's Pat Healy delivers a look at the battleground state of New Hampshire and those staunchly anti-war Naderites who are planning on voting for Sen. Kerry this time around. "Al Gore lost here in 2000 by 7,200 votes, and many Democrats blamed Nader, who drew 22,000 votes. It is this psychology of defeat, a fear of throwing the election to Bush, that will steer Naderites, as well as many undecided voters, to Kerry's side, campaign officials say." LINK

But an unnamed Kerry strategist is skeptical: "Another Kerry strategist, who asked not to be named, said 'hard-core antiwar voters' were a greater threat to Democrats than Nader. This strategist expressed concern that such voters might simply stay home in November if they feel that Bush, Kerry, and Nader all lack a plan for Iraq."

Yesterday's meeting between senior campaign officials and members of the Congressional Black Caucus from key battleground states brought about a new plan for helping the Kerry campaign court black voters, the AP reports. "Campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill and chief communications strategist Bob Shrum agreed to visit with them weekly, at least by phone, and Kerry himself expects to participate about every two weeks. The campaign also announced the hiring of Broderick Johnson, a former vice president of congressional relations for AT&T Corp., who will become Kerry's congressional liaison." LINK

More AP: "Besides the commitment to regular meetings, the campaign agreed to major newspaper, radio and television ad buys targeting blacks in a handful of toss-up states, including Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana and Missouri."

Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times writes up John Kerry's embrace of Bill Clinton (tardiness and all) in Arkansas this week. LINK

At least the AP's Mike Glover gives some attention to Sen. Kerry's health care message. LINK

"Flip-Flop Kerry … " is how the New York Post began its headline on Deb Orin's story today about the Senator's support for the $25 billion. LINK

Lloyd Grove reports New York Magazine is paying $10,000 to former Associated Press intern Alexandra Polier to write her account of what it was like to be at the center of a political rumor firestorm. LINK

Best Wall Street Journal correction of the day, and we want to know how it came about: "Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has hunted doves with a shotgun. A May 7 article incorrectly said that he used a rifle."

Ad traffic this week: A bonanza of new ads this week from outside groups, with the buys ranging from very teeny to somewhat significant.

The Kerry campaign continues his bio ads in an effort to let voters know more about him.

The Bush campaign retools their ad line-up to tout the President's education record (in English) and knock Kerry's education record (in Spanish). The campaign also returns an older ad to the air to beat up on Kerry for being a waffler.

By the numbers …

--2 new Bush ads on education: one touting his record and another (in Spanish) knocking Kerry's record

--1 Bush ad calling Kerry not-so-decisive --2 Kerry ads promoting his life story --4 anti-Bush Administration ads by outside groups --2 pro-Bush Administration ads by outside groups --2 ads by the New Democrat Network continuing to plug Hispanic unity behind Democrats

Veepstakes: Pat Healy of the Boston Globe vets Gen. Wesley Clark as the number 2 on the Democratic ticket and points out signs that Senator Kerry is looking more closely at the four star general than previously thought. LINK

Check out this blunt Nedra Pickler sentence: "Clark's standing also is not helped by Kerry advisers' belief that the former general helped spread rumors that Kerry had had an affair with a young woman." LINK

Check out the sourcing on this Adair/Smith story on Sen. Bob Graham's veepstakes activity. LINK

" … . it is known that representatives of the Kerry campaign have received records concerning Graham."

BUT — and this is an excellent example of good supply-side reporting — "The Kerry campaign has not visited two libraries that contain a wealth of information about Graham: No one has requested Graham's gubernatorial papers recently at the state archives in Tallahassee and no one has examined the legislative papers that are kept at the University of Florida." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds: The lead headline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette goes to Rumsfeld, but Sen. Kerry's visit to Little Rock made it above the fold … however it was on Iraq, not health care. LINK

The New York Times' Elisabeth Rosenthal recently spent some time in a St. Louis suburb chatting with likely voters. We wonder how long it will take the Kerry campaign to contact Mr. Femmer. LINK

"Voters are waiting to be wooed, a task that almost all say the Kerry campaign has not really started yet. 'My vote is there to be won,' said Damon Femmer, 49, an architect who voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 but said he was dissatisfied with him because of a war he had come to see as dishonest and pointless."

About 500,000 Hispanic adults remain unregistered in Florida, according to estimates. LINK

AP reports that Minnesota's finance commissioner says that next year's state budget deficit could be $1.1 billion — much higher than the $160 million shortfall this year and the $441 million deficit forecasted for next. LINK

Eric Gorski of the Denver Post reports that Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs has issued a letter to the 125,000 Catholics under his domain that they cannot receive Communion if they vote for politicians who support abortion rights, stem-cell research, euthanasia, or gay marriage. LINK

"In an interview Thursday, Sheridan said he chose those issues because the church considers them 'intrinsically evil.'"

The New York Times has the story too. LINK

Dave Hogan of the Oregonian reports that the authors of a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage can begin gathering signatures next week, leaving them six weeks to collect 100,840 valid names before the July 2 deadline. LINK

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

The man providing the money behind the New Democrat Network ads gets a moment of fame courtesy of the Los Angeles Times' Nick Anderson. LINK

The FEC did indeed take action yesterday. The Commission ordered Rev. Al Sharpton to give back $100,000 in matching funds. The New York Post 's Stefan Friedman reports. LINK

Corrections: "Corrections" is not just an important California union, but a way of acknowledging our mistakes.

Yesterday, The Note incorrectly identified a former U.S. Defense Secretary.

He is Robert McNamara, not Richard.

The Note imprecisely referred to the progenitors of new anti-Bush ads in West Virginia. They were commissioned by The Media Fund, not ACT.

The Note regrets the errors.


John Broder of the New York Times takes a look at Gov. Schwarzenegger's end run around the California Legislature. Do enjoy the James Cameron references. LINK

Rene Sanchez of the Washington Post Notes many lawmakers deem the budget plan either "daring or delusional." LINK

On the Hill:

The Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman Notes "the House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to permanently extend the 10 percent income tax bracket that President Bush and Congress created in 2001, approving its third significant tax cut in as many weeks despite concerns over a record budget deficit." LINK

"On March 31, with their eyes on record budget deficits, 11 Republican moderates in the House penned a letter to their leadership, demanding that any congressional budget resolution this year require that future tax cuts be offset by spending reductions or tax hikes," reports Weisman. LINK

The conventions: The Boston Globe reports that Gov. Bill Richardson, chairman of the Democratic National Convention, attempted to dispel fears over the potentially crippling higher-than-expected costs of production and construction. LINK

The politics of same-sex marriage:

The Boston Globe 's Abraham reports that opponents to gay marriage are losing hope. "As many opponents of gay marriage see it, same-sex unions will make homosexuality more acceptable and fracture family values. On a practical, political level, the reality of gay marriage will make the opponents' battle for a state constitutional amendment to ban it more difficult than ever." LINK

The Boston Globe reports of a town "abuzz" with wedding plans in anticipation of Monday. LINK

Ed O'Keefe's Kerry campaign report:

LITTLE ROCK, ARK., May 13 — At the half million-dollar Peabody Hotel fundraiser in the heart of Little Rock, Senator John Kerry was hardly a minute into the remarks donors had paid at least $1,000 to hear when a Southern drawl bellowed from the crowd, "Make (General Clark) vice president!"

The Lieutenant grinned in the direction of the General and said, "Well, there you go. They told me down in Arkansas you tell it like it is."

During a health care town hall the next day, a similarly frank questioner asked, "Will you make General Clark your vice president?"

Again, the Senator danced, turning to Clark and joking, "Do you know this guy?"

Nevertheless, the tea leaves stirred when the four-star General joined the presumptive Democratic nominee on the Kerry campaign charter from Little Rock to Washington.

Facing one another in the foremost quadrant of the first class cabin, the primary rivals talked nearly the entire two-hour flight; former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, now Kerry's national campaign director, sat beside Clark.

Given Thursday's journey, Clark joins an elite list of (in)frequent Kerry charter fliers including Florida Sens. Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, Sen. Edwards, and Rep. Dick Gephardt.

From the Franco files, potential first daughter Alexandra Kerry screened her 15-minute short film, "The Last Full Measure," in the non-competition portion of the Cannes Film Festival this week.

Ms. Kerry, the eldest of the candidate's two daughters, dined in Paris with stepbrother Andre Heinz on Thursday but could not avoid the pesky paparazzi. New York Times ace reporter David Halbfinger took a brief break from his European vacation to track the young filmmaker's progress in her search for a film distributor.

While festival-goers take their first look at the graduate student's work, one significant audience member has yet to view the Vietnam-themed film. In yet another local television interview, Kerry admitted, "I have not seen the film yet," but added, "I'm very proud of her."

Three full hours after the candidate's protective pool had been dismissed with the assurance of a full lid Thursday, Kerry did take time to view the Iraq abuse slides in S-407, a secure room inside the Capitol. Rand Beers, the campaign's national security adviser, accompanied the Senator, who took 50 minutes to view hundreds of pictures which remain in the custody of the Department of Defense.

Kerry offered no comment to the quickly assembled members of his national press corps, dismissing three questions on the topic dominating news headlines all week.

Kerry holds a single event on Friday in Washington, speaking to the International Brotherhood of Police Officers before darting to Beantown for a day off the campaign — but probably not bike — trail.

Kerry speaks to the Teamsters in Las Vegas on Sunday, and then travels to Topeka, Kan., for Brown vs. The Board of Education anniversary festivities. The Senator heads back west on Tuesday, campaigning for the first time with former Gov. Howard Dean in Oregon before returning to Washington for more "administrative time."

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): —8:30 am: The Bureau of Labor and Statistics releases the April Consumer Price Index —9:30 am: The Senate convenes for morning business —9:45 am: President Bush greets G-8 Foreign Ministers at the White House —10:00 am: Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Deborah Daniels unveil an intelligence gathering initiative, Washington, D.C. —10:30 am: Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with the French minister of foreign affairs at the State Department —11:00 am: Secretary Powell meets with the Japanese foreign affairs minister at the State Department —11:50 am: President Bush speaks at a Victory 2004 RNC fundraiser luncheon at the Hunter Engineering Company, Bridgeton, Mo. —12:00 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Boca Raton, Fla. —12:00 pm: Sen. John Kerry meets with members of his finance committee at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Attorney General Ashcroft speaks at the Concerns of Police Survivors Lunch at the Hilton Hotel, Alexandria, Va. —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —1:40 pm: Secretary Powell poses for pictures with fellow G-8 ministers at the State Department —2:00 pm: Sen. Kerry participates in a roundtable discussion with law enforcement officers at his campaign headquarters, Washington, D.C. —3:00 pm: Sen. Joe Lieberman delivers the keynote speech at the George Washington University's Interfaith Baccalaureate Service at the Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C. —3:00 pm: President Bush makes remarks at the Concordia University Commencement, Mequon, Wis. —3:15 pm: Sen. Kerry records the Democratic radio address to air on Sat. at 11:06 am —4:15 pm: The Federal Reserve releases weekly conditions report of large commercial banks —6:30 pm: Vice President Cheney speaks at a reception fundraiser for the 2004 Joint State Victory Committee at the Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando, Fla. —7:10 pm: President Bush returns to the White House