The Note

TODAY SCHEDULE (all times ET)

FUTURES CALENDAR

NEWS SUMMARY

Washington will be in a state of suspended animation for several hours this morning while it waits for the Mamet play with no recording in the Oval to finale (and speculate what Terry Moran and Mike Allen will be told about it).

Hats off to the White House communication team for handling the run-up and staging of this so well (gonna be crowded, Mr. Ben-Veniste, in that room … ). And watch how they use the POTUS to dominate the immediate aftermath. (Doubtful that VPOTUS say anything on the House Party conference call tonight?)

The economically inclined will look for signs of inflation in the Labor Department's GDP report. The estimated first quarter growth rate — 4.2 percent — means that the economy is solidly chugging along, although the figure is not as high as some economists had predicted, according to ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim.

Schindelheim: "The troublesome component of today's number is something called 'personal consumption expenditures,' which measures how much consumers spent for the 1st quarter. The PCE is a gauge of inflation and is closely-watched by the Federal Reserve. The PCE shows that inflation is picking up, increasing the likelihood the Fed will raise interest rates. The stock market does not like this, so look for a sell-off at the open."

As for the state of Bush v. Kerry, we can't really tell you what's going on, beyond what you know already.

ABC News' Dan Harris Notes that Kerry will talk homeland security to a meeting of the nation's black mayors today. He'll accuse the Administration of foisting the financial burden onto local governments. More provocatively, he'll also accuse Bush of failing to secure the nation's chemical plants despite dire warnings. He'll charge that the Administration has put the interests of the chemical industry first.

But we CAN tell you EXACTLY what the Gang of 500 is thinking about the race overall, because three of Maureen Dowd's paragraphs today capture it perfectly — in her column on the two candidates: LINK

"An incumbent who sticks with the wrong decisions based on the wrong facts versus a challenger who seems unable to stick to one side of any decision, right or wrong …"

"Bush strategists seem to believe that the worse Mr. Bush makes things, the better off he is, because nervous Americans will cling to the obstinate president they know over the vacillating challenger they don't know."

"Mr. Kerry errs on the side of giving the answer he thinks people want to hear, even as Mr. Bush errs on the side of giving the answer he expects people to accept as true."

Never forget that Ms. Dowd is a stellar reporter, even when you want to strangle her.

And we would suggest that if John Kerry really wants to run against George Bush on the Patty Loveless notion of a "trouble with truth," he should probably stop saying he hasn't run negative ads against George Bush and get straight what is in the Kerry-Heinz motorpool.

The morning breath-bated-ness gives us time to pass along a little bit of veepstakes news.

As you've no doubt seen on ABC News broadcasts, top Democrats tell us that Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Dick Gephardt, and Gov. Tom Vilsack are being vetted by lawyers associated with James Johnson.

They are by no means the only names that Mr. Johnson has raised for consideration. Stay tuned to ABC News broadcasts and Noted Now (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/) for more.

AP's Ron Fournier also Noted interest in Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and former Sens. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, and Sam Nunn of Georgia. LINK

But the 9/11 Commission pause that refreshes gives us a chance to answer a question we are often asked: how DO we spend our day?

Here's a look at the intersection between the ABC News Political Unit and the world of politics and policy.

6:00 am — 6:00 am the next day: The Political Unit serves all platforms at ABC News …

And … .

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