The Note




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 ( 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 … .

6:00 am: Imus and Stern air. Note jogs by window in Northwest D.C., sees "X" marked in electric tape, proceeds to rendez-vous point with key source. 7:00 am: ABC's "Good Morning America" and other morning shows air. 7:00 am-9:00 am: various White House, Bush Cheney '04 conference calls. 7:30 am: Imus marquee political or media guest. Optional: Joe Lieberman laughs at jokes that debase our culture. 8:15 am: DNC/Kerry campaign communications coordination conference call. 8:20 am: Note writers breeze into ABC News headquarters in New York and the ABC News Washington bureau and begin to flip through smartly prepared research and news summaries put together by overnight staff of Googling monkeys. 8:30 am: Nattily dressed Vaughan Ververs does two-way with C-SPAN's Steve Scully on "Washington Journal" 8:45 am: The Note staff makes up a lede. The phrases "Bartlett will HATE that," "Cutter will be mad," and "Devenish won't think that's funny" are never uttered. 9:43 am: Katherine Lister e-mail hits inbox announcing Kerry surrogate conference call with Howard Dean on gay marriage, Democratic anger, centrist politics, and the $87 billion Iraq appropriation. 9:00 am: The Note is Ready! 9:45 am: White House off-camera morning briefing known as the Gaggle 10:41 am: Worldwide Reminder: Refresh Noted Now in browser. 11:40 am: Unfavored Googling monkey checks National Journal to see if Hotline is posted on time 11:45 am: Angry IM messages complain that that day's Note is too long, too short. 11:58 am: Note writer secretly checks Wonkette and Gawker. 11:59 am: The Unit convenes for daily debriefing on "The View." 12:00 pm: Top sources gather for daily conclave at The Palm on 19th Street. 12:06 pm: Vernon Jordan gives The Note a great big bear hug and offers to help land a plum job for The Note's niece. 12:08 pm: Worldwide Reminder: Refresh Noted Now in browser. 12:45 pm: BC04 e-mail announcing surrogate conference call with Norm Coleman on economy rebutting latest Fournier article with Pawlenty or other scare quotes. 1:00 pm: Ever wonder what David Chalian looks like? Politics Live airs on the Web and AOL. 2:00 pm: Daily Kerry campaign background conference call on Bush record. Gene Sperling refuses to speak over static. 2:06 pm: Bush-Cheney conference call announcing 40 new ads in 18 battleground states. Ken Mehlman shouts inexplicably. 2:35 pm: Sixth e-mail of the day from the Schwarzenegger press office, this one announcing the new deputy associate director for parking at the San Diego office, who is a Democrat; reminds Unit to re-examine distribution list subscriptions. 2:18 pm: Bush-Cheney conference call announcing targeted radio ads in specific neighborhoods in 18 battleground states 2:23 pm: Worldwide Reminder: Refresh Noted Now in browser. 2:24 pm: Unit member passes by Elmendorf looking studly on Stairmaster at Washington Sports Club 3:30 pm: Judy Woodruff's "Inside Politics" airs on CNN. Chuck Todd winks. 4:00 pm: The Note declares that the Atlantis Resort television commercial is the work of evil itself 4:00 pm: Hyperexcited state election director runs down his state's fabulous military ballot provisions. 4:31 pm: Jano Cabrera e-mail previewing two-days-old McAullife/Cheney speech lands in in-box. 4:35 pm: 37th e-mail of the day from Jim Jordan reminds The Note to reexamine distribution list subscriptions 4:45 pm: Bush-Cheney conference call unveiling research that a 10-year-old Kerry once stole a piece of gum from his classmate's knapsack. 4:50 pm: Brooke Brower leads the Unit in desk pushups. 5:00 pm: Worldwide Reminder: Refresh Noted Now in browser. 5:00 pm: Unit has cocktail (s) with key source at Mayflower Hotel. 6:00 pm Lower inhibitions allow Unit calls to set up next day's meetings. 6:30 pm: ABC News' "World News Tonight" with Peter Jennings airs. 8:00 pm: Note writers retire to trendy Washington, D.C. and New York watering holes with various and sundry sources for "outreach."

To sum up today's big events:

President Bush and Vice President Cheney visit with the 9/11 Commission in the Oval Office at 9:30 am. Cheney participates on a conference call with more than 5,000 house parties for the the President across the county.

Sen. John Kerry addresses the National Conference of Black Mayors at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, Pa. Upon arrival at the Harrisburg airport, Kerry will be greeted by veterans before raising money for his campaign at the National Civil War Museum.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry:

A Democrat's wet dream … .

"Support for the war in Iraq has eroded substantially over the past several months, and Americans are increasingly critical of the way President Bush is handling the conflict," write The New York Times' Stevenson and Elder of the paper's latest poll numbers which show President Bush at the lowest approval rating (46percent) of his term in this survey. LINK

… .denied … .

More Stevenson/Elder: "The diminished public support for the war did not translate into any significant advantage for Mr. Bush's Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. The poll showed the two men remaining in a statistical dead heat … "

But here is our favorite line from the story: "Terry Holt, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, questioned whether the poll accurately reflected public opinion."

The Times, seeming a little defensive about its poll numbers, places these latest results in the context of other recent national surveys and finds some common thread. LINK

In a story that should be troubling to anyone in politics or the media with even a shred of professional ethics, the Washington Post's Kurtz and Balz write on the 1971 WRC tape of Kerry and an alleged orchestrated oppo effort by Republicans:

"In this case, copies of the tape were provided to two news organizations by the Republican National Committee, according to several media staff members familiar with the situation who, not surprisingly, said they could not be identified while discussing confidential sources." LINK

Republicans are and should be plenty annoyed. This latest alleged disclosure, whether accurate or not, comes after some White House television correspondents who were given an off-the-record session with the President chose to give out details on background to print reporters.

This kind of behavior is beyond unprofessional and should never occur.

Leaving that aside (as if … ), Kurtz and Balz offer up tons of perspective and insight into how the political game works, and it is a must-read for insiders and wannabees alike.

The final day of Kerry's jobs tour got national newspaper coverage that started highlighting "the message," and that and played the S.U.V./American car ownership issues at the bottom.

The New York Times' Wilgoren: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Gold: LINK

Although Jill Lawrence in USA Today points out that the locals were always on Kerry message. LINK

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

Nick Anderson of the Los Angeles Times writes up a University of Missouri study looking at the Bush and Kerry ads and their negativity thus far this cycle. LINK

"'Both candidates have made both positive and negative statements in their ads,' said William Benoit, a professor of communications at the university and head of the study. 'However, at this point, Bush's ads contain more attacks.'"

Trolling Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, David Broder says he "was lucky enough to have sandwiches and a fairly candid political conversation with their three governors." LINK

President Bush will soon troll the Midwest in that battleground bus tour we told you about Monday. Ed Chen has more details: LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Greg Hitt on Cheney: "Mr. Bush and his top campaign advisers show no sign of wavering on Mr. Cheney. Senior Bush advisers privately deny speculation that the President might seek a new running mate, as Messrs. Bush and Cheney have done publicly."

A Boston Globe story has good Doug Wead quotes about the President's faith: "There's no question that the President's faith is calculated ... And there's no question that the President's faith is real. I would say I don't know and George Bush doesn't know when he's operating out of a genuine sense of his faith and when it's calculated." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Sen. John Kerry:

The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont reports that aides to Gov. Tom Vislack "declined to say Wednesday whether he had provided materials for Kerry's team to review, but he acknowledged for the first time the campaign might be considering him."

Tad Devine and Jeanne Shaheen briefed House Democrats on the state of the campaign (and previewed two new Kerry campaign ads) and received some advice from more liberal members of the caucus, according to The Hill's Nichols. ">LINK

"A Democratic leadership aide, meanwhile, said, 'Constructive criticism is always helpful, but a lot of what people were suggesting I think the Kerry campaign was already aware of and doing.'"

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley (best-selling author of "Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War") a Kerry PR flak? Well, that's what Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam calls him LINK

Deborah Orin of the New York Post uses her senior Democratic strategist's use of "pretty freaked out" twice in the first two paragraphs of her story. LINK

"The concern is that in the long run the attacks that President Bush is making against Kerry will stick — and if Kerry continues not to offer up a vision, not to offer up a rationale, he'll go down in history as another Michael Dukakis.

The Washington Post briefs the Gore re-gifting story; the New York Times assigns two writers to it. LINK

Roll Call's Chris Cillizza reports that DCCC Chairman Robert Matsui predicted their new $1 million will give House Democrats at least two additional seats in November.

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

SCOTUS says yes to Pennsylvania's redistricting map but also to ways in which overly partisan maps can be challenged. LINK

The Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune's Eric Black reports on Kerry's upcoming visit to Minnesota on Monday, where he will attend a fundraiser at the same facility where Bush spoke this week. LINK

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jo Manning Notes that millions of seniors will flood government phone lines beginning today to get details on how to buy discount drug cards through the Medicare program. LINK

Voters in struggling cities like Youngstown, Ohio, seem less interested in a 33-year-old controversy about Sen. Kerry's Vietnam medals than in their "daily struggle to find and keep jobs and health insurance," thumbsucks USA Today's Jill Lawrence. LINK

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's James Wallace Notes Boeing's smashing first-quarter sales, based on strong military sales. LINK

On the Hill:

On the Hill, Senators did not meet Sen. John McCain's call for a truce in the fighting over Vietnam military service with agreement yesterday (from either side of the aisle), reports Roll Call's Emily Pierce. As Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "Most everything is fair game in a political season."

In a break with Senate tradition, Bill Frist plans on campaigning against Tom Daschle in South Dakota this spring and is actively raising money against him, the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports in a broader look at the breakdown of Senate comity

The Conventions:

Re: the DNC convention, "A group called the Umoja Coalition is demanding 35 percent of all business contracts go to those owned by people of color." LINK

Bloomberg to would-be firefighter/police officer protestors at the RNC: I'd rather you not … . LINK

Hometown tabs to Secret Service … . DON'T CLOSE PENN STATION. LINK and LINK


Weird AP story: Ostensibly, a lack of minority representation in the upper echelons of the Kerry campaign organization is drawing criticism from liberal advocacy groups. LINK

But the story has good detail about who's on the senior staff call … . Of seven regular participants, two are black, one is Hispanic, two are female, one is gay … . Where's the there there?

Ms. Orin (who continues to be enchanted by Sen. McCain) declares John Kerry is no Gary Cooper in her New York Post column. LINK

Grover Norquist is tearing out his hair … LINK

Judging by the tone of his column, Bob Novak would like to run his fingers through Bob Woodward's hair. LINK

Ed O'Keefe's Kerry campaign report:

YPSILANTI, MICH., April, 28 — For months, Sen. John Kerry rode around Iowa's vast landscape and through New Hampshire's slick streets in a bus dubbed the "Real Deal Express" with little fanfare or commotion.

On Monday the presumptive Democratic nominee boarded the "Jobs First Express," covering 377 miles over four states in three days, and concluding Wednesday with a manufacturing speech in Michigan.

Proving all politics is local, Kerry's bus trip, much like the President's next week, is not about the national press; it's about directly reaching a community and, in the process, creating a local media spectacle.

Traveling to West Virginia on Monday, Kerry reached two markets: a sizeable portion of the Mountain State and nearby Pittsburgh. The headline in the local paper blared "Kerry Arrives in Wheeling" and nearly every local station led their nightly newscasts with Kerry's arrival.

But to watch the national news, it might seem that Sen. Kerry's tour kickoff was a no good, really bad day. On the ground, however, Kerry faced only a single local interview question about his Vietnam medals.

In Youngstown, Ohio on Tuesday, Kerry's rally remarks were taken live by ABC and NBC, with a second local NBC crew positioned for the motorcade arrival. And while in Toledo, both the ABC and CBS affiliates had live trucks on hand.

Only a handful of national reporters set foot in Kerry's coach while locals climbed aboard at every stop. In total, Kerry gave 12 local interviews in three days, leading local newscasts nightly and appearing on the front page of newspapers from Wheeling's The Intelligencer to Youngstown's The Vindicator, Cleveland's Plain Dealer, and the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette.

In those dozen local interviews, Kerry faced the medal question plaguing the national press only twice. A television affiliate in Ann Arbor did, however, put Kerry on the spot on another issue: his cars.

The Senator, whose family owns a now well-known SUV, said he owns a Dodge 600 and Chrysler 300 M while his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, owns, "a number of different cars in some different locations."

Kerry cited some of Heinz Kerry's cars including a "Chrysler van, a minivan, a Chrysler PT Cruiser … a suburban Chevy, a big suburban, and a Land Rover Defender."

When the reporter questioned whether Kerry had bought "mostly American," the Senator replied, "Almost all American."

Moments later, with the camera turned off, Kerry revised, "All my cars are American."

The camera began rolling again and the Senator corrected the record.

Hopping off the bus but staying on the campaign trail, Kerry returns to Pennsylvania Thursday, delivering remarks at the National Conference of Black Mayors in Philadelphia and holding a fundraiser in Harrisburg.

Sen. Kerry accepted an invitation to speak at Westminster College Friday, the site of a critical speech from the Vice President earlier in the week.

Kerry campaign aides insist the Senator will take the "high road," laying out his agenda rather than responding to the Vice President's attacks.

The event will also serve as the Senator's only opportunity to comment on the one-year anniversary of the President's "Mission Accomplished" speech as Kerry will be off the trail through the weekend.

TODAY SCHEDULE (all times ET):

— 8:30 am: Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims report — 8:30 am: Commerce Department releases the first look at the first quarter Gross Domestic Product report

— 9:30 am: President Bush and Vice President Cheney meet with the 9/11 Commission, Oval Office — 9:30 am: Senate meets for morning business — 10:00 am: House of Representatives meets for a pro-forma session only — 10:00 am: House Government Reform Committee with New York Gov. Pataki, the GAO, and others to look at role of the National Guard, Washington, DC — 10:00 am: Off-camera gaggle by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan — 10:15 am: Sen. Hillary Clinton inaugurates the Senate India Caucus at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 10:45 am: House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 11:00 am: Stan Greenberg, pollster to MoveOn and the Media Fund, will release new poll results on a conference call with reporters — 11:15 am: Ben Affleck and Major Owens join Sen. Ted Kennedy, Reps. George Miller in a call for an increase in the minimum wage at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 11:30 am: The National Campaign Against Dirty Air marks end of public comment period on the new mercury rule by the EPA, Washington, D.C. — 12:00 pm: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin speaks to Center for Global Development and Wilson International Center, Washington, D.C. — 12:30 pm: Sen. John Kerry speaks at the National Conference of Black Mayors Annual Convention at the Loews Hotel, Philadelphia, Pa. — 12:30 pm: Congressional Democrats reiterate call for an apology from Karen Hughes, who they say implied pro-choice Americans are like terrorists, Washington, D.C. — 1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL — 1:15 pm: On-camera White House briefing from McClellan — 2:30 pm: Rep. Pelosi meets with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 2:25 pm: Sens. Corzine and Baucus discuss administration's enforcement of trade agreements and to announce legislation, the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 3:15 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a fundraising reception at City Hall, Philadelphia, Pa — 3:15 pm: Senate Majority Leader Frist and Senate Minority Leader Daschle meet with the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 3:30 pm: House Speaker Hastert holds a closed meeting with Japanese Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Kinzo Abe at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 4:00 pm: Sens. Lugar and Biden meet with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. — 4:00 pm: House Majority Leader Delay delivers keynote address at NCSL's Spring Forum, Washington Court Hotel, Washington, D.C. — 4:30 pm: Federal Reserve releases weekly reports on aggregate reserves and the monetary base, factors affecting bank reserves and money supply — 5:30 pm: 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Lee Hamilton receives a recommendation from the American National Standards Institute — 6:00 pm: Sen. Kerry is greeted by Harrisburg-area veterans upon arrival at Harrisburg International Airport — 7:15 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a fundraising reception at the National Civil War Museum, Harrisburg, Pa. — 8:30 pm: Vice President Cheney, others speak by conference call to 5,021 parties for the President — 10:00 pm: Reps. Rahm Emanuel, Rosa DeLauro, others hold a Medicare discount cards press conference, Washington, D.C. — 11:00 pm: Bob Woodward appears on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart