The Note




Nothing annoys elite Republican supporters of President Bush's re-election more than the political media's disparate treatment of poll results favorable to their man versus those favorable to John Kerry.

In the view of BC04ers, polls suggesting progress for Kerry are allowed to frame coverage for days on end, while polls demonstrating incumbent superiority -- such as yesterday's ABC/Washington Post and Gallup numbers -- usually are barely allowed to pierce even the news cycle in which they first appear.

Unlike Bush-Quayle '92 and Dole-Kemp '96, the back-to-back presidential efforts of George Walker Bush follows two simple media rules: know the press is the enemy, and never let on to the press that you think of them that way.

But the BC04 campaign's strong sense that the press processes and evaluates the polls differently (and even favors flawed polls showing Kerry gaining over solid polls showing Bush thriving) tests the GOP's capacity to hold its collective tongue.

Anyone of even modest political sophistication viewed the President's improved horserace standing (and improved issues standing) in yesterday's two nearly identical polls as part of a simple narrative -- Bush's advertising and free media efforts have filled in a still-mostly-blank portrait of Kerry with lots of negative information (liberal, goofy, arrogant, out of touch flip flopper), overcoming the bad news out of Iraq.

We share the Bush concerns that polls should be covered prudently and equitably.

And there are lots of twists and turns that will occur in the "real world" between now and election day. Even some occurring as we speak, erh, type:

1. The Boston Globe's Mike Kranish and the RNC's Ed Gillespie are both spotlighting Sen. Kerry's refusal to match the POTUS release of Vietnam-era medical and military records. Kranish = must-read. LINK

Gillespie's speech in Ohio today to a GOP party meeting is expected to cleverly create a rhetorical link between the failure to fully disclose with the BC04 effort to make Kerry = Gore.

And Note how aggressive government official Dan Bartlett is on the record in the Globe story on the records release issue.

This morning, the Kerry campaign's Stephanie Cutter is contradicting the Globe headline about Kerry refusing to release more medical/military records. She says they will release "everything." They want have to have a doctor pore over them first, however -- "due diligence." Timing of the release is TBD.

2. Despite Powell's "good soldier" routine, addicts require post-Woodward polls to feel they know which way the wind is blowing.

3. The Kerry campaign's Earth Day gambit.

4. Dick Morris says Iraq is killing the President politically. LINK

5. Will the new Kerry fundraising ads in Blue States open a new stream of gushing Democratic money? (What is up with the Kerry on cameras in winter clothes!!!!????)

Let's briefly hear from four people who "get" the national environment in which all of this is percolating:

The Washington Post's Mike Allen: "Republican officials said that Bush plans to make the Patriot Act a central theme of his campaign to show his plan to combat terrorism and that he took specific action after the attacks. Bush has used the vote to portray Kerry as a waffler."

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne: "The Bush campaign wants to re-create the dynamic of 2002 and render criticism of Bush's anti-terrorism policies illegitimate and unpatriotic. Kerry wants Bush held accountable for the decisions he made. The side that wins this definitional war is likely to win the election."

The Wall Street Journal's Jake Schlesinger and John Harwood: "(BC04 strategist Matthew) . . . Dowd pointed to two new polls released late yesterday, by CNN and ABC, that showed Mr. Bush's standing against the Massachusetts senator rising in recent weeks. Despite the steady stream of bad news out of Baghdad, Mr. Kerry slipped in the polls when voters were asked which candidate could best handle Iraq."

"'Kerry has not offered any acceptable and viable alternative to the public,' Mr. Dowd said, underscoring a central Bush campaign argument: that no matter how much negative reporting comes out about the incumbent, voters may still harbor greater doubts about the challenger."

But let's keep our eyes on the ball here. One in every eight people in these national polls is a Californian, and, in terms of anticipating results, we don't much care what they think. One in every 14 is a Texan, and, again, their views are meaningless to the outcome of this election.

What really matters are the views of people in 17 states. A day like yesterday -- with Bush in Pennsylvania and Kerry in Florida -- is going to be repeated many times between now and November -- with each man in a battleground state, fighting for hearts, minds and free media.

So let's see how they did, print-wise at least.

The President and Sen. Specter get center of the front page treatment in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Philadelphia Inquirer this morning, below the resignation of the US Airways CEO, which was the top story in both cities.

Front page images:

LINK (and Note the "roadmap to the primaries" banner featuring a rather dour cartoon of the senior Senator from Pennsylvania) and LINK

The coverage in Pennsylvania, unlike the national political reporters, focused heavily on the Bush/Specter relationship and the heated primary battle that Specter is engaged in with Rep. Pat Toomey.

The Post-Gazette headline: "Specter gets a big boost from Bush visit, Senator hoping president's support helps thwart challenge from the right."

The Inquirer headline picks up the same theme: "Bush tells Pa. he wants Specter reelected, The conservative President's support could sway voters for the moderate senator."

The Post-Gazette also writes what seems to be the obligatory local story about protestors outside events featuring the President or Vice President. Outside the convention center in downtown Pittsburgh yesterday, several protestors were arrested for allegedly leaving a designated area on the sidewalk and trying to disrupt traffic. LINK

As for the challenger:

Miami Herald headline: "Kerry, Bush court Jewish vote as a key"

Tampa Tribune: "Kerry Backers Hope Fundraising Record Falls"

Orlando Sentinel: "Kerry conjures up memories of 2000: Campaigning in the Palm Beach area, the Democrat spoke of a 'stolen' election."

St. Petersburg Times: "Kerry seizes on oil allegation"

Palm Beach Post: "Kerry focuses on economy at local rally"

Sun-Sentinel: "Kerry pitches jobs, tax break plan to S. Florida"

Naples Daily News: "Election 2004: Kerry criticizes Bush over oil report"

The Tampa Tribune's William March reports Kerry supporters hope to raise close to $500,000 today at a fundraising lunch in Tampa. LINK

"The amount Kerry backers hope to raise today wouldn't be unusual for a Democrat in Miami or Palm Beach. Kerry raised $1 million at events Sunday night and Monday in West Palm Beach and Juno Beach.

"Nor would it be a large sum for a Republican in Tampa. President Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush have raised seven-figure sums in the area.

"For a Democrat, though, it's a big deal."

Mark Silva of the Orlando Sentinel writes that appearances by Sen. Kerry and Sen. Lieberman in Palm Beach county yesterday ignited feelings of resentment over the 2000 election. "The scars of 2000 are motivating Democrats this year in a closely divided state where the turnout of core supporters could determine whether Bush holds a state he won by only 537 votes." LINK

The Palm Beach Post writes the glitches that began Sen. Kerry's campaign rally -- such as his normal being late and his microphone not working -- did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd at yesterday's rally. LINK

President Bush participates in a conversation on the Patriot Act in Buffalo, N.Y. and attends a Victory 2004 reception at the River Club in New York City.

Sen. Kerry discusses clean water and its effect on the economy at event in Tampa, then attends a luncheon fundraiser. In the evening, he attends three more reception fundraisers in Miami Beach and Bal Harbor, Fla.

The Supreme Court hears arguments on the Guantanamo Bay detainees while the Senate considers the asbestos bill.


Two big new polls out today find President Bush's approval rating holding steady, John Kerry's standing on the issues losing ground, and the country continuing to be almost evenly divided on the presidential race. The issues most important to Americans have also seen a bit of a shift.

The new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows President Bush maintaining his approval ratings, despite nearly six in 10 Americans saying the United States has gotten bogged down in Iraq, writes ABC Polling Director Gary Langer. It's a split country, Langer Notes, with Bush's overall approval rating at 51 percent to 47 percent -- roughly the same as February -- and the same margin split over whether the war in Iraq was worth fighting. The survey has a +/- 3 percent margin of error. LINK

Other highlights:

-- In a head-to-head matchup, Bush took 49 percent to Kerry's 48 percent. Add Nader into the equation, and the numbers read thusly: 48 percent for Bush, 43 percent for Kerry and 6 percent for Nader.

-- Bush's numbers have improved in relation to John Kerry in terms of public trust to handle the situation in Iraq; he's up 11 points, compared to the 1-point advantage Kerry had in March.

-- The economy now shares top billing with Iraq and terrorism as the most important issues to voters, as opposed to clearly topping the list in March. In addition, Bush and Kerry came in with equal scores in terms of public trust over how to handle the economy.

The Washington Post's Richard Morin and Dan Balz also take a look at the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, highlighting positive findings for President Bush, who holds "significant advantages" over Sen. Kerry regarding who can better handle Iraq and has reduced Kerry's previously held advantages on domestic issues. LINK

Morin and Balz include reaction from Kerry adviser Tad Devine, who, not surprisingly, ain't buying the results, and Bush strategist Dowd, who, not surprisingly, is.

There's a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll out today too.

Susan Page of USA Today writes up the results of the new survey, finding Bush ahead of Kerry among likely voters 50 percent to 44 percent with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. The President's job approval rating stayed steady at 52 percent. LINK

"The survey illustrates Bush's strong edge over Kerry when it comes to national security. By 2-to-1, voters say only Bush, not Kerry, would do a good job in handling terrorism. By nearly as much, 40% to 26%, they say only Bush would do a good job in handling the situation in Iraq. Bush's approval rating on handling terrorism is a muscular 60%."

Rick Hampson of USA Today analyzes the new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll that finds "despite the shootings, bombings, sieges, ambushes, kidnappings and combat deaths, most Americans still support the war. And an increasing number think it should be stepped up." Hampson talks to voters around the country, some of whom are most concerned with the exit strategy. LINK

The poll results: LINK

Woodward and the White House:

The Washington Post presents the third installment of excerpts from Bob Woodward's "Path to War": Vice President Cheney and his team push for war in Iraq. LINK

Man, Woodward sure was snippy with Matt Lauer this morning!!!

The Washington Post's Dan Morgan reports that Secretary of State Colin Powell took issue with Woodward's book yesterday, insisting that his support for the Iraq war "was willing and it was complete, no matter how others might try to impose their policy wishes on my body." LINK

Powell said he'd cooperated with Woodward on the book on the instruction of the White House, and said he had been kept in the loop on the President's strategy -- including the briefings to Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.

Bill Nichols of USA Today writes up Powell's reaction to the Woodward book as well. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Schlesinger and Harwood wonder whether Colin Powell could "wind up helping John Kerry in the election" given that Woodward's book, in the eyes of Democrats, "underscores one of their main critiques of Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq: that the White House focused too much on war and not enough on diplomacy." Bill Kristol calls for Powell's firing. Matt Dowd says Kerry has his own problems on the issue of Iraq.

In a youcouldhavebeenacontender kind of editorial, the New York Times' ed board wonders whither Colin Powell in light of the Woodward book: "Knowing that Mr. Powell thought the invasion" of Iraq "was a bad idea doesn't make him look better -- it makes his inaction puzzling and disappointing. It's an article of faith in Washington that Mr. Powell would not serve in a second Bush administration. The lasting impression may be this sense of disappointment in the secretary he could have been." LINK

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal's ed board writes that "if Mr. Powell disagreed so passionately about Iraq, the more honorable path would have been to resign -- before the war."

Colin Powell is "'totally supported'" by the President, says Page Six. LINK

That's not what Lloyd Grove hears. LINK

Mark Memmott of USA Today finds subtle differences between what Woodward said about an alleged secret Bush Administration deal with the Saudis over gas prices on "60 Minutes" Sunday and what he actually wrote in his book. LINK

"Woodward wrote of a Feb. 24, 2003, White House meeting during which President Bush expressed his worry about the upcoming war's effect on oil prices. Woodward did not write that Bush was concerned about whether high oil prices might affect the 2004 election. It was Woodward who linked the meeting to an alleged plan by the Saudis."

More: "Correspondent Mike Wallace, however, interviewed Woodward about what he had told 60 Minutes, not simply what was in the book. Listeners might have concluded that Bandar had been present at that meeting and had made a direct pledge to Bush that his country would push down oil prices in time to help Bush's re-election effort."

Woodward takes questions in a live discussion on today at 1:00 pm ET. LINK

The morning shows:

The morning shows led with a combination of a rare quiet night in Fallujah and the five-year anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

While on the CBS "Early Show" to discuss his book, "Why Courage Matters," Sen. John McCain was asked about Bob Woodward's book, "Plan of Attack," and expressed concern about the diversion of funds from Afghanistan to Iraq. "Seven hundred million dollars moved around from place to place is a lot of money," McCain said.

Speaking in general terms of the President's war aims, McCain said of Congress, "We knew what the President's plan was." But McCain signaled there would be congressional hearings into the diversion of funds. "The mechanics of moving the money around will be the subject of hearings," McCain said, "particularly in the Senate Armed Services Committee."

All three networks -- Claire Shipman for ABC, Bill Plante for CBS, Andrea Mitchell for NBC -- had pieces on the Woodward fallout with a heavy emphasis on Powell's Monday comments saying he was not out of the loop. ABC's piece concluded by Noting that some are saying Powell made a mistake by playing the loyal soldier and that he should have threatened to use his star power and walk out. CBS concluded its piece by Noting that Powell is "not planning on sticking around if there is a second term" to which Rene Syler said "no surprise there." For the second day in a row, Matt Lauer interviewed Woodward on NBC's "Today Show." Woodward stuck by his version of events despite Powell's disputations.

ABC News Vote 2004: Sen. John Kerry:

The Boston Globe's Michael Kranish reports that despite Sen. Kerry's assertion on "Meet" Sunday they he would release all his military records, when a reporter showed up at his campaign headquarters to view them (as instructed), they were told by spokesman Michael Meehan that they are not releasing anything more than has been released already. LINK

"Kerry has not released the formal evaluations from superior officers, although his campaign has given a letter from a commanding officer that recommended him for service aboard Navy patrol boats and also reports for the Silver and Bronze stars that laud Kerry's actions in combat."

The Washington Post's Lois Romano and Howard Kurtz Note that Sen. Kerry "lambasted" President Bush in Florida Monday over Woodward's report that the President received from Saudi Arabia a promise to keep oil prices low before the November election. LINK

The New York Times' Halbfinger and Wilgoren report that Kerry yesterday "attacked the Bush administration" "for what he called 'a secret deal' with Saudi Arabia to cut oil prices in time to help the president in the November election." Note the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds "greater public confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to deal with Iraq and terrorism." LINK

Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe writes up Sen. Kerry's attacks on the alleged Bush-Saudi gas deal while on the trail in Florida yesterday. "In a state where gas is selling for more than $2 a gallon and in a country where gas prices have risen an average of 29 cents a gallon since late December, Kerry added: 'Those aren't Exxon prices we see, ladies and gentlemen. Those are Halliburton prices.'" LINK

"The mere mention of the book by Woodward, who as a Post reporter helped expose the Watergate scandal, brought murmurs and nods from the crowd, a mix of senior citizens on fixed incomes and students attending the commuter school."

USA Today's Lawrence and Drinkard Note Sen. Kerry's reaction to the deal was that of disgust. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny and Paul Singer report that Kerry urged voters Monday to hold Bush accountable for high gas prices, seizing upon a report that the White House allegedly brokered a secret pact with Saudi Arabia to lower fuel prices in advance of the November election. LINK

The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos writes -- without factoring in the new polling -- that all the bad news facing President Bush right now is allowing Sen. Kerry to just slip into the background, and that could be a good thing for Kerry. LINK

The AP's Mike Glover Notes Sen. Kerry making a shift from Iraq to the environment as Earth Day approaches. "In its critique, Kerry's campaign said the president's air quality proposals will send 21 tons more pollution into the atmosphere, contribute to up to 100,000 premature deaths from respiratory troubles and induce millions of asthma attacks." LINK

The New York Times' Kit Seeyle reports that, unlike Al Gore four years ago, John Kerry plans to make the environment a central issue in the election, Noting his advisers' view that the President's environmental record "will be a powerful motivator in getting voters to the polls." LINK

The AP takes a look at the three new Kerry ads. "The ads are running in some states that he typically wouldn't campaign in because they are Democratic strongholds -- California, New Jersey and New York. He's using the ads, instead, to raise funds." LINK

The New York Times' Robin Toner on the intersection of Catholicism and politics as some conservatives argue that pro-choice politicians "cannot have it both ways, presenting themselves as faithful Catholics while voting against the church's clear teachings on abortion" and urge bishops to deny John Kerry communion, "a prospect that fellow Catholic political figures who support abortion rights describe as deeply troubling." LINK

The Los Angeles Times Notes that "Kerry advisors hope that (Joe) Lieberman, the first Jewish candidate on a major-party ticket, will help the 2004 Democratic ticket carry Florida. Lieberman remains popular in Florida, home to a large Jewish community." LINK

The Jacksonville Times-Union cover the Teresa Heinz Kerry campaign event Monday where 75 people came to listen to her talk about her roots and her husband's health care, energy and public service programs. LINK

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

It's the 20th, so that means FEC filing reports from the presidential campaign!

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign is filing their March fundraising numbers this morning with the FEC and will report that it raised $26.1 million in March. This brings the grand total to $184.4 million, well over the long-stated goal of $170 that the campaign was aiming for.

The campaign will also report that it had $86.6 in cash on hand at the end of March, spending nearly $100 million so far.

In March, the campaign raised $10.1 million through events, $14.4 million through direct mail and phones, and $1.6 online.

USA Today's Jim Drinkard and Judy Keen look at the BC04 spending and Note that it "reflects heavy television ad buying in February and March, when the campaign put on a blitz aimed at shaping an unfavorable image of Kerry in voters' minds. The campaign also has been building an organization in key states." LINK

Back to Pennsylvania . . . In yet another poll this morning, one by Quinnipiac University shows that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is in trouble in his race for re-election. Conservative voters in Pennsylvania have shifted their support to Rep. Pat Toomey going into the Republican primary giving Toomey a 49 percent to 44 percent lead among likely voters. For full results, check out the Q-poll's site LINK.

The Post-Gazette team of O'Toole and Barnes Note that Specter traveled to Pittsburgh on Air Force One with the President and Sen. Santorum and made this observation:

"The image of the three of them, arms linked before the cheering crowd, is certain to become familiar to the state's television viewers between now and next week's primary. A Specter film crew captured the event for use in commercials over the campaign's final sprint."

O'Toole and Barnes also look at how the Specter/Bush alliance can help the President in the key battleground state in the fall:

"In some ways, administration allies view Specter's presence on the ticket as an aid to Bush's chances of carrying a state that he lost by five percentage points four years ago. Specter's record rankles some conservatives, but his support among moderates, particularly in southeastern Pennsylvania, is viewed as a potential plus for the entire Republican ticket in the fall." LINK

The Inquirer's Budoff also looks at the Specter/Bush meeting in terms of how it can win votes for the President (so the trip was not all about Specter??) LINK

"Specter argues that his centrist record could help Bush appeal to moderate voters, particularly in Philadelphia's moderate-leaning suburbs, a strong base for the senator and an area where one-third of the state's registered Republicans reside."

"Bush is embracing Specter for another reason: The senator, if reelected, will most likely head the Senate Judiciary Committee, giving him influence over federal judicial nominations. Specter has been a hesitant supporter of some Bush nominees, and the President's support in the primary could improve their relationship in a potential second term."

The Allentown Morning Call leads with the President stumping for the Patriot Act. John Micek Notes that "Bush appeared strong in his resolve, defending the war on Iraq while painting the fight against terrorism as a battle of good against evil that America must win." LINK

In addition to the local coverage of the Bush/Specter appearance yesterday, some national reporters tagged along on the trip and write up the President's day stumping for the Patriot Act and the senior Senator from Pennsylvania.

AP's Lindlaw reports that with Karl Rove in tow, President Bush made his 27th stop in the Keystone State. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board argues the President may be bitten by his backing for incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in his Pa. GOP primary against more conservative Rep. Pat Toomey. Writes the ed board, "a Senator Toomey would be a far more reliable vote in a second Bush term on everything from legal and Social Security reform to taxes. Senator Specter, on the other hand, has made a career of breaking with his party on key votes and then high-tailing it to the right when it's necessary to save his hide in a primary."

The Washington Post's Mike Allen reports on the President's stumping for the permanent extension of the USA Patriot Act. LINK

The Washington Times' Lakely: LINK

USA Today's Keen: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Chen and Schmitt: LINK

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller focuses on the stumping for Specter yesterday and Notes that despite differences of opinions, President Bush and Sen. Specter last night were "side by side, heaping praise on each other as if their political futures depended on it." LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank summarizes the White House's approach to the press: "Reporters covering the Bush administration discovered early on that the best source on the president's activities was often someplace other than the White House." LINK

After weeks of tough negotiations, Vice President Cheney was allowed to speak live and uncensored to the Chinese people when he visited the country last week, The New York Times' Joseph Kahn reports. LINK

The New York Times' Lee reports that at this tax season, the IRS totes a supportive message for the president on its Web site. LINK

The New York Times' David Brooks reviews air pollution trends under the Bush Administration and concludes that they have remained largely unchanged from the Clinton Administration until now. LINK

The Hill's Kaplan writes that Hill Republicans, "concerned" by the campaign focus on outsourcing from their Democratic competitors, "are crafting a 'competitiveness agenda' that will stress simplifying the tax code and scaling back government regulations" set to be rolled out in mid-May." LINK

More POTUS vs. AFL-CIO: The Wall Street Journal's McKinnon and Pierceall report that "the government is expected to issue new rules as soon as today extending rights for overtime pay to more low-wage workers, but reducing or eliminating that protection for many white-collar and middle-income employees."

In a "substantial shift," the Washington Post's Kirstin Downey reports, the Administration will allow workers who earn less than $100,000 to earn overtime pay. LINK

From the outside:

Keying off the latest FEC reports, the Los Angeles Times reports that "fueled by money from Hollywood, unions and wealthy executives, the largest independent groups raising money to defeat President Bush in November collected more than $20 million in the first quarter of 2004, according to records released by the IRS." Note, though, the 527s "are still far short of their goal, now estimated at $145 million" and the Media Fund's fundraising goal has been scaled back from $75 million to $50 million LINK

The Hill picks up on those FEC figures, too, and writes that Sen. Kerry "and his Democratic allies have raised almost twice as much money as the Bush-Cheney campaign so far this year." LINK

Speaking of active outside groups from the Dem side, the League of Conservation Voters will gather in the Chinese Room of the Mayflower Hotel here this morning to launch the "Environmental Victory Project," with the stated "singular goal of defeating President George W. Bush and electing John Kerry in November." (You'll remember the LCV came out for Kerry in New Hampshire, fresh off the Senator's Iowa win.)

The effort will target independent and swing voters in "four battleground states -- Florida, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin" with the goal of mobilizing "25,000 volunteers to knock on the doors of 1.5 million households." Expect to see TV spots from the group as well as activity on the Project's Web site,

Meanwhile the folks at Moveon say that their weekend bake sale push raised "$750,000 to support the group's efforts to remove George Bush from office in November."

The economy:

In some good news for BC04, Dow Jones reports that "a gauge designed to describe future economic activity rose last month, lifted by increased business demand and a rise in the nation's money supply. The Conference Board said that its composite index of leading indicators rose 0.3% to 115.3 in March."

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

The Miami Herald reports that Florida state election officials have not certified printers for Miami-Dade's touch screen voting machines and this could mean no print-outs on election day. LINK

The St. Paul Pioneer Press Notes that Bush will visit Minnesota next Monday, where he will attend a fundraiser and a separate non-political event in the Twin Cities. LINK

The Las Vegas Review-Journal's Sean Whaley reports that Nevada's unemployment rate is 4.4 percent and the state continued to have the highest rate of job growth in the country at 4.2 percent. LINK

The politics of national security:

King Abdullah backs out of a planned Washington visit, while Spain and Honduras back out of Iraq.

The New York Times' Weisman writes that King Abdullah "dealt a rebuff to President Bush," "abruptly putting off his visit to Washington scheduled for later this week. Jordanian officials said the visit had become impossible in light of Mr. Bush's recent support for Israel's territorial claims in the West Bank." Note the Polish troop commitment expires in September. And Bill Clinton's "qualified support for the Sharon plan." LINK

The Washington Post's Robin Wright outlines the thorny job ahead for John Negroponte, the nominee to be the new American ambassador to Iraq. LINK

The Los Angeles Times writes of the John Negroponte appointment: "Other diplomats tied Negroponte's appointment to his contacts at the United Nations, which Bush now hopes will play a larger role in Iraq. Some expressed concern that Washington is trying to dump its Iraq problems on the U.N. There's no question that the U.N. is the only way out of Iraq,' said a Security Council diplomat." LINK

More Woodward book fallout: The Los Angeles Times' Simon and Wallsten report "charges that the Bush administration had diverted $700 million to prepare for a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq without informing Congress drew criticism Monday from congressional Democrats, while Republicans contended that Congress had given the administration 'unprecedented flexibility' in spending after the Sept. 11 attacks." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board sees the same thing, and expresses its dismay with the idea of the President "abdicating decisions about the June 30 transition to Iraqi rule to U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi" and writing that "the fastest way for Mr. Bush to lose support at home would be if Americans see their soldiers restrained from doing what it takes to win by U.N. statements or political control. That's when his own base begins to walk."

The Los Angeles Times' Demick writes of North Korea, negotiations, and the next U.S. election: "Dealing with Pyongyang's headlong pursuit of nuclear weapons, once described as the biggest security threat to the United States, has been downgraded to a droning diplomatic process with little sense of urgency -- at least until after the U.S. presidential election."

And the Los Angeles Times reports that "federal authorities will begin nationwide preparations to counter the threat of terrorist attacks aimed at the national political conventions and at the U.S. presidential election, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Monday." LINK

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt argues that the Commission hearings have been too partisan, but reports that former Gov. Tom Kean still believes the Commission will produce a final report that is "fair and balanced." LINK

The Washington Post's editorial board argues that Attorney General John Ashcroft's declassifying a memo during his testimony before the 9/11 Commission and pointing to commissioner Jaime Gorelick as the memo's author was "grossly unfair" and "absurd." LINK

The Portland Press Herald's John Richardson Notes that some Maine families are beginning to question the extent and duration of call-ups for local reserve units, including one military police unit which has been activated three times in 10 years. LINK


The New York Times' Rosenbaum reports that the self-identified "'messianic militarist'" Ralph Nader "made an explicit appeal on Monday for votes from the antiwar movement and called for the United States to announce a firm date for the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq." LINK

Knight Ridder's Maria Recio Notes that Nader called yesterday for the withdraw of all U.S. troops from Iraq in six months in a three-point plan he created that involves creating an international peacekeeping force under the UN, promoting Iraqi self-rule through independent elections, and providing humanitarian aid to stabilize the country. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan reports that Ralph Nader told a group of journalists yesterday that John Kerry would not be a much better leader than George Bush. LINK

The Houston Chronicle's Julie Mason reports on Ralph Nader's struggle to get on the ballot in Texas, which has one of the earliest deadlines and toughest requirements to secure a place on the ballot. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

The Washington Post's Evelyn Nieves reports that Pine Ridge Indian Tim Giago has decided to drop his bid for the South Dakota Senate seat and instead endorse incumbent Sen. Tom Daschle -- a move that "represents a huge victory for Daschle, who was counting on the Indian vote." LINK

Roll Call's Paul Kane takes Note that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist seems to be doing everything he can to unseat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Example? Sen. Frist's PAC donated more than $166,000 to the campaign of Sen. Daschle's Republican challenger John Thune. "Bundled contributions steered through Frist's Volunteer PAC accounted for almost 8 percent of the more than $2.2 million former Rep. Thune raised from January through March, according to Federal Election Commission reports."

Roll Call writes that since taking over as majority leader last year, Sen. Frist has used his political action group VOLPAC to raise more money than any other Congressional leadership PAC, nearly $2.8 million in 15 months.

The politics of gas:

The Rocky Mountain News' Gargi Chakrabarty reports on gas prices in Colorado, which are the highest in the state's history and causing gas retailers to blame the EPA and the EPA to blame the retailers for the sharp increases under the EPA's new summer gasoline regulations. LINK

No Child Left Behind:

New York school chancellor Joel Klein steps into Washington's debate over who should control its schools. LINK

The politics of same-sex marriage:

It seems opponents of same-sex marriage are getting desperate as it gets closer and closer to the legalization date (28 days, but who's counting?). State Rep. Emile J. Goguen, a Democrat, is sponsoring a long-shot bill to remove the four judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. LINK

Courting Hispanic votes:

The Washington Times' Amy Fagan reports that 53 percent of Hispanic voters get all their news in English, while 40 percent watch both English and Spanish-language media for news. LINK


The Los Angeles Times profiles Log Cabin backer Michael Huffington, who says he will always be a Republican. LINK

The Supreme Court upheld yesterday the Texas redistricting plan, "effectively handing Republicans a victory in their efforts to maintain a GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in the November elections." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Greenberger reports the Supreme Court Monday "declined to review a lawsuit filed by Texas Democrats seeking to block a congressional redistricting plan pushed through by the state's Republicans."

TODAY SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—9:30 am: The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Meyers —9:40 am: President Bush participates in a conversation on the USA Patriot Act at the Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, N.Y. —9:45 am: The Senate convenes for morning business —10:00 am: The Supreme Court meets to hear arguments involving detention of foreign nationals at Guantanamo Bay —10:30 am: Sen. John Kerry discusses clean water and its impact on the economy with former EPA Administrator Carol Browner at Ballast Park Pier, Tampa, Fla. —11:00 am: Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson holds a news conference to announce the voluntary Chronic Care Improvement Program as part of the ongoing implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act, Washington, D.C. —11:45 am: Laura Bush attends an RNC "Victory 2004" fundraiser, Harrods Creek, Ky. —12:00 pm: Mayor David Miler and Mayor Bill Baarsma give an on the record briefing at the Foreign Press Center on the issues U.S. mayors' are concerned about for the 2004 election, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe delivers a speech on prospects for the 2004 presidential campaign as part of the "College Democrats of America Week" at American University College of Law, Washington, D.C. —12:30 pm: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay holds a pen and pad briefing at the Capitol —12:30 pm: The Senate Democrats hold their regular Tuesday party caucus at the Capitol —12:30 pm: The Senate Republicans hold their regular Tuesday party caucus at the Capitol —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —1:10 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a luncheon fundraiser at the Wyndham, Tampa, Fla. —1:45 pm: Laura Bush delivers remarks on the Preserve America initiative, Louisville, Ky. —1:50 pm: President Bush attends a Victory 2004 Reception at the River Club, New York, N.Y. —2:00 pm: The House of Representatives meets for legislative business —2:30 pm: The Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on the condition of the banking industry with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan —2:40 pm: Sen. Hillary Clinton offers the "Democrats' Response to Iraq, the Presidential Campaign and Healthcare" at a George Washington University, Harvard University, National Press Club and Associated Press event at the Marriott Hotel, Washington, D.C. —3:00 pm: Sen. Ted Kennedy gives a news conference on overtime regulations —6:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a reception fundraiser for the DNC, Miami Beach, Fla. —6:30 pm: The Georgetown University Law Center holds a panel discussion on whether voter disenfranchisement and other voting rights issues will again be a factor in the potentially close 2004 race —7:00 pm: Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund's 11th annual "Proudly Pro-Life Awards" dinner at the Inter-Continental Hotel, Washington, D.C. —7:50 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a young professional's reception fundraiser at the Sheraton, Bal Harbor, Fla. —8:25 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a reception fundraiser at the Sheraton, Bal Harbor, Fla. —9:00 pm: Sen. Hillary Clinton on CNN's "Larry King Live" —9:00 pm: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appears on Fox's "Hannity & Colmes" —10:00 pm: Sen. John McCain appears on Fox's "Off the Record" —11:00 pm: Bob Woodward discussed "Plan of Attack" on the Charlie Rose Show.