The Note

The Washington Post 's Charles Babington writes that Republicans in Congress have "rallied to President Bush's defense yesterday, chiding Spanish voters for ousting a government that had backed his Iraq policy." This comes after a new poll conducted in nine nations has shown considerable disapproval by European and Muslim countries of American foreign policies.LINK

In Pennsylvania yesterday, national and local AFL-CIO leaders "made clear yesterday that disdain for Bush remains the unifying force for labor activists."

Philadelphia Inquirer's Ginsberg and Von Bergen report: "Using a combination of door-to-door efforts, phone banks, mailings, work-site leafleting and repeated contact with swing voters, the federation hopes to raise its turnout by 5 percent — a vast majority of which it believes will vote Democratic."LINK Bob Novak on the manuczar fiasco: "The most charitable explanation of why President Bush's choice to be the government's manufacturing czar crashed and burned last week is sheer incompetence. But the real causes look like something worse: secrecy, deceptiveness and vindictiveness in this administration." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the politics of national security:

Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said in television interviews yesterday that the Spanish government "mishandled" early information about the train bombing and "that propelled the Socialists into power in Spain … a protest by the people against the handling of the terrorist event by the sitting government of Spain," writes the New York Times Sanger and Johnston. LINK

In a brief to the Supreme Court, the Bush Administration argued that "the president should have broad and 'robust' authority to imprison enemies in wartime, even if it means locking up American citizens away from the battlefield," writes Eric Litchblau of the New York Times . LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

The Palm Beach Post reports that thousands of voters are expected at what's being billed as Candidate Bush's first all-out campaign rally in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday. The Post Notes this is Bush's 20th visit to the Sunshine State. LINK

The Boston Globe reports on a new poll by Miami's Univision-23 showing that Cuban-Americans (a large population of Florida voters) are less than pleased with Bush policy in Cuba. Many said they "felt the administration had done little to support the issue most important to them: how to bring an end to the Fidel Castro regime."LINK

Allegations of Medicare controversies:

The New York Times ' Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear detail how a House Democratic health policy aide mysteriously received an anonymous fax that suggested that Medicare's chief actuary had lowballed the cost of prescription drug benefits for the elderly by over 150 million dollars. LINK

"Work up the numbers and share them with Tom Scully only. NO ONE ELSE," was the content of an email from Scully's top aide to Richard Foster, reports David Rogers of the Wall Street Journal .

More Rogers: "That has outraged conservatives in Mr. Bush's own party, as well as Democrats, who accuse the administration of misleading them to win a major legislative priority for the president. While Republican leaders say the feud is overblown, no one doubts that release of the higher cost estimates last fall could have killed the measure, which only passed by one vote after hours of arm-twisting in the House in November."

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