TODAY SCHEDULE (all times ET)
HOT NEW EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS!!!
Good news for the college-aged Googling monkeys (and a certain President seeking to be re-hired by the American people):
The economy added more than 308,000 new jobs in March, exceeding the expectations of some economists and providing the White House a tangible, repeatable number to wave around.
According to ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim's tally, that's 513,000 new jobs since the beginning of the year. 759,000 since last August. Seven consecutive months of job growth, following seven months of job losses. The manufacturing sector did not lose jobs for the first time in 43 months.
The gains appear to be broad-based:
Per the AP: "Labor Department report released Friday showed widespread hiring in industries across the economy at a time when President Bush's re-election campaign, counting heavily on a pickup in hiring, jumped into high gear."
"For the first time in 44 months, the nation's factories did not shed jobs. But they weren't hiring either. March's figures show zero gains and losses for industries hammered by the economic downturn that began three years ago."
The unemployment rate nudged up to 5.7 percent.
Democrats are already saying "one month does not a comeback make" and "too little, too late," but in stark political terms, their weekends are now ruined.
Overall and thus — the best little talking point a White House could ask for.
We wonder what this does to the dueling Bush-Kerry radio address scripts!!!! And the new ad traffic!!!!!!
And in other news:
New TV ads released this cycle:
Kerry: Outsourcing and jobs, to air in 17 battleground states
BC04: Kerry's tax record, to air in 17 battleground states and on cable
AFL-CIO: Iraq, economy, to air in 11 states
Media Fund: Iraq, $87 billion, the economy, to air in battleground states TBD
Bush Administration investigative and legal flaps:
-- withholding of Clinton-era 9/11 documents
-- Dr. Rice slated for Thursday testimony
-- slow start-up of the WMD investigation
-- judge orders energy task force documents released
-- chemical industry-Administration collaboration
-- CIA agent leak investigation reportedly grows
-- Paul Krugman's complex narrative regarding Daryn Kagan, Wolf Blitzer, David Letterman, Dick Clarke, and Jim Wilkinson
Kerry on Imus: CANCELLED
Kerry fundraising shocker:
-- $43 million total (compared to BC04's expected $50 or so), per ABC News' Dan Harris.
-- $26 million+ on the Internet (compared with maybe a couple million for BC04 and way more than Howard Dean ever raised that way)
-- About $109 average donation (compares favorably to the BC04 numbers)
-- Around 250,000 contributors (ditto)
-- Just what can the man raise in the 2nd quarter?????
-- Democrats risk all by blocking the welfare bill
-- Republicans haven't solved their my-way-or-the-highway-bill problem
President Bush speaks about job training in West Virginia today before heading to fundraisers in Georgia this afternoon. He has no public events over the weekend. On Monday he is expected to throw out the first pitch at the St. Louis Cardinals' game against the Brewers.
Sen. Kerry, having cancelled on Imus, is supposed to record the Democratic radio address and meet with part of his economic team today -- with maybe a still photo or two coming out of that. His campaign announces its record breaking fundraising number for the first quarter of 2004 on a conference call this morning.
Tomorrow Kerry will meet with his foreign policy team, and on Sunday, he will attend church in Dorchester, Mass. On Monday he hosts reporter roundtables on the economy in Washington, D.C.
First Lady Laura Bush is in Forth Worth, Texas today.
Vice President Cheney has no public events today or over the weekend. He will travel to Ohio on Monday to throw out the first pitch at the Cincinnati Reds' game against the Chicago Cubs.
The Senate continues to debate the welfare reauthorization bill and the minimum wage. The House debates the highway bill.
On Monday, Secretary of State Colin Powell travels to Haiti.
ABC News Vote 2004: $en. John Kerry's money:
By raising so much on the Net, Kerry out Deaned the Dean campaign. And remember how much ink and airtime the Dean numbers got.
Key grafs from Jim VandeHei's Washington Post story:
"It appears Kerry is not draining money from fellow Democrats, as some party officials feared: The Democratic National Committee broke its previous record by raising $27 million, while the House and Senate campaign committees, which both topped $11 million, also set all-time highs last quarter. The figures, which were provided by top party officials, will be released today. Several Democrats credited anti-Bush energy, rather than excitement about Kerry, for the turnaround."
"But the unexpected fundraising surge shows Democrats are far more competitive financially against Bush and suggests the pool of Democratic money runs much deeper than officials from both parties originally projected, GOP and Democratic strategists say. The Kerry campaign initially projected it would raise $80 million this year, then Kerry fundraisers said in interviews last month it could top $100 million in 2004 alone."
"'You can easily see a scenario where he hits $120 million, particularly given the fact the race is so close and will continue to be close,' said Anita Dunn, a Democratic strategist."
"If Kerry, the presumed Democratic nominee, goes on to win the presidency, historians might look back on his decision to forfeit federal matching funds during the Democratic primary as a critical moment of his candidacy. By doing so, Kerry is not restrained by fundraising and spending limits as Al Gore was in 2000 and every Democratic nominee before him. Instead, Kerry is following the Bush model: Forget matching funds, and focus on small donors and party insiders who can bundle together tens of thousands of dollars in $2,000 checks."
"If needed, many Republicans believe Bush can top $250 million. Now that Bush has hit his $170 million goal, he will help raise money for the Republican Party, his aides said, and the campaign's top fundraising officials are turning their attention to the Republican National Committee's "victory" fund, which pays for get-out-the-vote activities. Last night, Bush began his party drive by speaking at a dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which raised $7 million."
"Some Democrats worry Kerry is not spending enough money to counter Bush's ad barrage. "I would be spending money with both hands right now,' said James Carville, a strategist. 'The Kerry campaign is not where it needs to be right now, but I have never seen this type of intensity this early in a campaign.'"
The Boston Globe's Mooney spoke to Michael Meehan, who gave him an interesting tidbit: 21 trays of checks were still being counted yesterday. How many checks in a tray exactly? LINK
ABC News Vote 2004: the money:
Yes, the Democratic committees and the Kerry campaign did unusually well and are well positioned to be competitive with Republicans, financially, particularly in Senate races, where Democratic candidates had flush quarters. But Republicans still raised a lot more across the board.
Sharon Theimer reports that the Democratic Party is in "the most confident and comfortable" money situation it has been in for a long time.LINK
"The Democrats' efforts to whittle away at the GOP's spending advantage has been aided by presidential nominee-to-be John Kerry's decision to skip public financing and its spending limits, anti-Bush sentiment over the Iraq war, elimination of the party's debt, the formation of outside Democratic fund-raising groups and Howard Dean's Internet fund-raising explosion."
ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:
On to West Virginia …
The editorial board of the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia Notes that, as Bush brings his re-election campaign to Huntington with the hope of carrying the state like he did in 2000, there exists a sharp contrast in the strength and viability of West Virginia in 2004, leading the Board to claim, "since 2000, severe harm has been inflicted on both the Mountain State and America."
Bob Withers of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch reports on Bush's visit to West Virginia today, where the President is making an "official" visit to talk about jobs and the economy rather than a stop for a campaign trip, which means the hundreds of people turning up to see him speak are also the taxpayers paying for it. LINK
The campaign has smashed fundraising records and is taking the art of bundling to a new level, reports the Los Angeles Times' Lisa Getter.
We love the idea of future Rangers, Pioneers and Mavericks practicing their skills and cutting their teeth over Thin Mints and Caramel deLites:
"'They're doing such an amazing job of getting people's competitive juices going,' said Kirk Jowers, a Republican election lawyer in Washington. 'As I talk to people around town, it's like watching my daughter and her friends sell Girl Scout cookies. Who can raise the most money?'" LINK
Several Bush Administration officials will be going to pivotal "swing states" next week on "official" business Notes Jackie Calmes in the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire.
We love understatement: "Ohio, top target of Bush and Kerry, is popular."
David Sanger of the New York Times takes Note that President Bush made no mention of the gruesome killings of four Americans yesterday during a fundraising speech chalked with references to the accomplishments of the war in Iraq. LINK
Where will the President and Vice President be giving commencement addresses this spring? Hint, look at that battleground state map and start from there (think Ohio and Florida … ). LINK
The New York Times editorial page asks why Vice President Cheney's full medical records have not been released. LINK
"A federal judge yesterday ordered several federal government agencies to release documents concerning their work on Vice President Cheney's energy task force or provide a legal reason for withholding them," reports the Washington Post's Carol Leonnig. ttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43150-2004Apr1.html"> LINK
President Bush dropped in on the NRCC dinner last night and signaled his goal to increase the Republican majority in Congress this November. Bush rallied the Party, telling donors: "By ensuring that we have a Republican majority in the House you are helping our confident and hopeful agenda." LINK
The Dallas Morning News has some suggestions for Dick Cheney's iPod, including Metallica's "Master of Puppets." LINK
The Boston Herald reports John McCain "unleashed an attack on his own party" yesterday. He said the GOP has gone "astray" on environmental and minority issues and criticized the President on the Iraq war. He called the Democratic Party a "fine party" and says he has " no problems with it, in their views and their philosophy." LINK
"The maverick senator made the remarks at a legislative seminar hosted by U.S. Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Lowell) as he again ruled out running on a ticket with Democrat John F. Kerry."
ABC News Vote 2004: Sen. John Kerry:
"Senator John Kerry's support for abortion rights and stem cell research has prompted discussions among Roman Catholic bishops and Vatican officials over how to respond to a presidential candidate who professes Catholicism while taking stands contrary to church teaching," reports the New York Times' Laurie Goodstein. Be sure to Note the excellent Kennedy contrasts here too. LINK
Here are the two key graphs on why the Catholic dynamic is worth some attention:
"Catholics make up 27 percent of the electorate and belong to the largest church in the country, with about 65 million members. Many live in states with large blocs of electoral votes. Exit polls in states that have already held their Democratic primaries showed that Mr. Kerry did very well among Catholics."
"The Democrats began losing their lock on the Catholic vote about 30 years ago, and now it is very much up for grabs. No presidential candidate since at least 1980 has won the Catholic vote and lost the White House, with the exception of Al Gore in 2000. "
The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman masterfully assesses the effect of Kerry's tax proposals on a few big companies, and uses it to make this point: "The Byzantine U.S. system of foreign business taxation is in need of major change." LINK
"Under Kerry's plan, U.S.-based companies would have to pay taxes immediately on virtually all foreign profits that are not taxed by another country. Firms could still defer taxation on profits from subsidiaries set up abroad to serve local markets, but if a U.S. company sets up overseas to ship goods back home, taxes would be due in full."
"The $12 billion in additional taxes would be used to lower the corporate tax rate to 33.25 percent, from 35 percent. By closing a major loophole used by only the largest multinationals, the plan would bestow a tax cut on more than 99 percent of U.S. companies, Kerry advisers say. Kerry would also try to lure an estimated $639 billion in untaxed foreign earnings back home with a "tax holiday" that would lower the rate on repatriated earnings to 10 percent for one year."
ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:
The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel explores a huge ramification of outsourcing that will no doubt make its way quickly into the presidential debate. (Imagine how much mileage this can get if Kerry's VP pick is of the more populist persuasion.)
"The good news: The U.S. almost certainly isn't going to run out of jobs, even though history shows that it's impossible to predict what new jobs will replace those that are destroyed. The bad news: Outsourcing overseas and technology could widen the gap between the wages of well-paying brainpower jobs and poorly paid hands-on jobs."
The New York Times ' Jim Rutenberg gives an overview of the new Bush and Kerry ads. LINK
As does Liz Sidoti: LINK
Jonathan Peterson's second day look at the Los Angeles Times poll numbers provides some insight into why John Kerry hopes to keep the campaign discussion on the economy. LINK
Garry South uses the Los Angeles Times op-ed page to ponder what effect the "I approved this message" requirement will have in this first post-McCain-Feingold presidential cycle. LINK
ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:
A Badger poll in Wisconsin shows a tight race in that fulcrum state.
"President Bush enjoys a narrow lead in Wisconsin, though his popularity has gradually slipped since the fall. At the same time, negative views of challenger John Kerry are up sharply since his victory march through the Democratic primaries." LINK
"Bush led Kerry 47% to 41% in the poll, with independent Ralph Nader capturing 5%."
"In the Badger Poll, this shows up in perceptions of Bush's job performance. The poll asks voters to choose among four ratings: excellent, good, fair or poor. Since the last Badger Poll, the number of people giving Bush the highest rating — excellent — went from 11% to 16%. And the number of people giving him the worst rating — poor — also rose, from 22% to 30%. That 30% figure, reflecting the most anti-Bush segment of the electorate, is easily the highest recorded for Bush in the Badger Poll, going back to early 2002."
Emily Bittner at the Arizona Republic reports that the Scottsdale Democratic Party offices were broken into yesterday and vandalized. Last month, the office was broken into and the only item taken was a computer hard drive containing donor information. LINK
Carla Roccapriore of the Reno Gazette-Journal reports on drives to register young voters in the state of Nevada, where the New Voters Project, a (self-proclaimed) nonpartisan effort spread through Nevada Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin targeting youth at colleges, universities and on the playing field to raise voter support and awareness. LINK
Chris Wetterich of the Charleston Gazette reports that the West Virginia state Supreme Court voted 3-2 Thursday not to hear a petition asking the court to allow same-sex marriages in the state. LINK
Bob Kerrey predicts marital problems if he is selected as John Kerry's running mate, something he isn't willing to tolerate, according to the New York Daily News. LINK
The politics of national security:
"Prosecutors investigating whether someone in the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case," reports the New York Times ' Johnston and Stevenson. LINK
"The broadened scope is a potentially significant development that represents exactly what allies of the Bush White House feared when Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself from the case last December and turned it over to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago."
"Republican lawyers worried that the leak case, in the hands of an aggressive prosecutor, might grow into an unwieldy, time-consuming and politically charged inquiry, like the sprawling independent counsel inquiries of the 1990's, which distracted and damaged the Clinton administration."
House Democrats on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recommended the establishment of a director of national intelligence who would "have both budgetary and operational control over the CIA and the much larger collection of Pentagon and other agencies that collect and analyze intelligence," reports Walter Pincus of the Washington Post. LINK
The Bush Administration announced yesterday that they are "imposing sanctions on 13 foreign companies and individuals in seven countries that it says have sold equipment or expertise that Iran could use in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs," writes the New York Times' Judith Miller. LINK
Rice, Clarke, and the politics of the 9/11 Commission:
New York Times leads with Shenon and Sanger's report that the White House has held back a number of classified Clinton era documents from the 9/11 Commission. The duo Note that "three-quarters of the nearly 11,000 pages of files the former president was ready to offer the commission had been withheld by the Bush administration." The Kerrey quote is almost stump-like. LINK
The New York Daily News' James Gordon Meek gets some 9/11 families to react to Alberto Gonzales' phone calls to commissioners during Clarke's testimony. LINK
Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post was not impressed by Richard Clarke's apology. LINK
Big Casino budget politics and the Congress:
This is the thanks the White House gets for that veto threat:
"House Republicans, openly defying President Bush's call for spending restraint, pressed ahead yesterday with a $275 billion highway and mass transit bill that exceeds a White House spending ceiling, bestows thousands of projects on lawmakers' districts and requires Congress to consider adding more money two years from now," reports Dan Morgan of the Washington Post. LINK
Fun sentence: "Key Democrats stressed this week that they are solidly behind the Republicans in their money battle with the White House."
And how to reconcile it all by April's end with the Senate's $318 billion without a messy, public conference?
The Houston Chronicle Notes the political implications for the President, "The measure has created a political dilemma for the White House, which has threatened to veto the bill. The administration is sensitive to Democratic attacks in this election year about the millions of jobs lost since 2001. It also faces pressure by fiscal conservatives in Congress to control spending and reduce the ballooning federal deficit." LINK
Senate Republicans lost their efforts to end a filibuster over a bill to reauthorize the nation's main welfare program. "Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, acknowledged that the bill had 'overwhelming bipartisan' support. But he and other Democrats said they opposed ending debate because they had been denied a separate vote on a proposed amendment to increase the minimum wage," reports Robert Pear of the New York Times. LINK
More on the minimum wage deadlock: LINK
Watch to see where the politics of this goes.
Big Casino budget politics: Medicare:
Vicki Kemper of the Los Angeles Times reports Chairman Bill Thomas' successful efforts at quashing Democratic attempts to get Thomas Scully and Doug Badger to testify before his committee regarding the swirling controversy over undisclosed cost estimates for the recently enacted prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. LINK
The Seattle Times' David Postman on Nader's attempt to sell his "second front" against Bush. Nader meets with Kerry this month and recently sent out an "open letter to Anybody But Bush Liberal Democrats" in which he touts his campaign and lays out the ways his campaign will help defeat Bush. Postman writes:
"On issues that he and Kerry agree on, Nader says they will work collaboratively to weaken Bush. But Nader will also continue to beat up on Kerry to try to push the Democratic nominee farther to the left, which Nader says will attract progressive voters to Kerry in November." LINK
But according to Postman, some people remain skeptical of Nader's strategy and the letter:
"If it's addressed to Anybody-But-Bush Democrats, this kind of letter isn't really designed to attract support from swing voters who conceivably might be up for grabs," one critic said.
The Los Angeles Times' Gerstenzang writes up yesterday's bill signing. "In a ceremony suffused with the politics of abortion, the president said, 'Any time an expectant mother is a victim of violence, two lives are in the balance, each deserving protection, and each deserving justice.'" LINK
ABC News Vote 2004: The Senate:
The New Yorker's always-more-than-palatable Phillip Gourevitch begins his (upcoming this Monday) profile of Pennsylvania's Senate Republican primary thusly:
"Most days begin for Arlen Specter, the senior senator from Pennsylvania, with a game of squash around dawn, and they taper off in the evening after a couple of Martinis. "Martinis I find to be very relaxing," Specter told me recently, on an early morning of weak, gray light, with sleet blowing across the parking lot where we stood?"
And here's an exclusive, thirst-quenching excerpt:
"In front of a medical office that abutted a mall alongside an interstate on the outskirts of Reading. Specter had just spent an hour urging a group of about a dozen doctors to vote for him in the state's Republican primary, on April 27th. Now he stood clutching a cell phone in one hand, holding his coat shut with the other, waiting for his Town Car to glide over and take him to a TV studio for an interview with a Christian broadcaster in Lancaster County. 'I've been drinking Martinis since law school,' he said, in the nasal drawl that serves as a constant, folksy reminder that, although he is a Philadelphia lawyer, he spent his boyhood in Bob Dole's home town, Russell, Kansas.
"'Martinis take a lot of the pressure off,' he said. 'Y'know, medicinally, there've been some recent studies that show they're good for you'"
'Specter, who is seventy-four, has been a senator since he was fifty, and he's in the business of telling people what they'll be glad to hear. Gin as health food? Why not? The harder sell for him these days is himself."
Rest up all weekend and get ready to read it.
The Rev. Al Sharpton:
The New York Post's Morris that the FEC granted The Reverend an "additional $79,000 in public matching funds despite serious questions about his campaign's finances and the objections of one commissioner who refused to vote."LINK
The Republican National Convention:
Taking a break from Inner Circle rehearsal, Maggie Haberman of the New York Daily News reports, "Penn Station will remain open during the GOP convention — but the city could 'live with' closing the hub while President Bush is upstairs in Madison Square Garden, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday." LINK
The Democratic National Convention:
The AP reports on an economic study performed by Mayor Menino's budget staff and other local economists saying Boston and the surrounding area will reap $154.2 million from the Democratic National Convention. LINK
This contradicts a report on Tuesday from the Beacon Hill Institute and written about in the Boston Globe projecting $122 million as the magic number
However, Menino's "study does not take into account potential losses from the proposed closings of the new Interstate 93 tunnel through the city and North Station."
William G. Myers III makes it through committee for his 9th Circuit Court of Appeals nomination "setting the stage for a filibuster when the nomination reaches the Senate floor," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK
The New York Times reports that "Anna Perez, who recently directed communications at the National Security Council, will become chief communications executive for NBC." LINK
In a tailor-made article for Matt Drudge, The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg writes that television programs up and down the dial are more often using President Bush for their punch lines. Read how Matthew Dowd acknowledges the existence of such material while not running against it. LINK
" … many in the creative community are not shy about their anger and distress with the administration, and some acknowledge channeling those emotions into their productions."
Paul Krugman of the New York Times takes on CNN for passing along a "smear that it attributed to the White House" without holding the administration accountable. Or something like that. LINK
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the yawning and pee-pee-dancing 13-year-old boy standing behind President Bush during his campaign kick-off speech in Orlando a few weeks ago will be making an appearance on David Letterman tonight after being featured on the show all week. LINK
The New York Daily News makes Tyler Crotty's 15 minutes into a solid half-hour. LINK
"The boy's reaction to Bush's 45-minute speech got further play on CNN, which inexplicably reported — but then retracted — that the boy and his yawns somehow had been edited in."
We can only hope that CNN will make the inexplicable, explicable this news cycle.
TODAY SCHEDULE (all times ET):
—8:29 am: Sen. John Kerry doesn't call into "Imus in the Morning" —8:30 am: The Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report —9:00 am: The Senate convenes to debate on the welfare reauthorization bill and the minimum wage —9:00 am: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify before the House Armed Services Committee —10:00 am: Sen. Kerry's campaign hosts a conference call to announce its first quarter fundraising totals —10:00 am: The House convenes to debate the highway bill —10:30 am: Sens. Jon Corzine, Maria Cantwell and others hold a press conference on unemployment figures and the economy, Capitol Hill —11:00 am: Acting Deputy Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok discusses changes to the No Child Left Behind Act at the Holiday Inn, Washington, D.C. —11:40 am: President Bush participates in a conversation on job training at Marshall University Community and Technical College, Huntington, W.Va. —12:15 pm: First Lady Laura Bush speaks at the Greater Texas Community Partners "Round-Up" luncheon, Fort Worth, Texas —1:00 pm: National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormick speaks to foreign media about U.S. foreign policy, Washington, D.C. —2:00 pm: Sen. Kerry records the Democratic radio address, Boston, Mass. —2:00 pm: Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, reviews the center's new survey on the attitudes toward America, Washington, D.C. —2:05 pm: Laura Bush speaks to the press, Fort Worth, Texas —3:00 pm: Sen. Kerry holds a closed meeting with former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and other economic experts, Boston, Mass.
—4:00 pm: President Bush attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser reception retreat at the Reynolds Plantation resort, Greensboro, Ga. —4:30 pm: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivers the keynote address at the American Society of International Law meeting, Washington, D.C. —6:20 pm: President Bush attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser reception at the Ritz Carlton, Greensboro, Ga.