The Note

The Washington Post's Chuck Babington writes up Kerry's tough talk yesterday on the Hill while surrounded by colleagues, and includes an observation from "a participant who took notes" at yesterday's gathering with House Dems at the Library of Congress, where Kerry tried to calm any nervousness of Southern lawmakers by discussing his understanding of gun culture. Babington also Notes that Sen. Edwards encouraged his donors to help Kerry raise $80 million. LINK

The Boston Herald's David Guarino writes that gay marriage is fast becoming Kerry's campaign albatross, with a firm stance on either side threatening a swath of voters that could cost him the election." LINK

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn and Ron Hutcheson write, "Relishing the Bush offensive and the lawmakers' embrace, Kerry emerged as a unifying figure for Democrats, who haven't had a consensus leader since 2000, when Bill Clinton was president and Al Gore was the heir apparent." LINK

Cox News' Malone Manuel puts the "crooked" remarks in historical context. LINK

The AP's Mike Glover lets us know that Kerry has no plans to apologize for the "crooked" statement. LINK

The New York Post's Morris reports on Kerry's "I won't apologize" stand. LINK

The AP's Nancy Benac writes about Kerry's plan to cut the deficit in half in four years, advising everyone to "[stock] up on calculator batteries, though, because just how many dollars go where and whether Kerry's economic numbers really add up is sure to be the subject of heated debate in the presidential campaign for months to come." LINK

In a possible move to ward off criticism of his past voting records to cut military and intelligence spending, John Kerry released a statement to Portsmouth Herald saying the government should put off the next round of military base closings until the government does a long-range review of the military, writes the Herald's Elizabeth Kenny. LINK

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt and Stephen Dinan examine Kerry's claim on Monday that he's met with foreign leaders who support him over President Bush, and Note that the Senator took no official foreign trips since the beginning of last year, and refuses to reveal the names of those he says support him. Be sure to catch Ed Gillespie's "imaginary friends" comment and Stephanie Cutter's move to steer the conversation. LINK

The land of 5-plus-2-equals-7:

The Wall Street Journal ed board gently thumbs it nose at Sen. McCain with an "I told you so" when it comes to the 527s, writing that "you can't stop water running downhill, and money can never be banished from politics short of throwing out the U.S. Constitution."

Business Week goes inside the Land to offer readers a look at the "highly sophisticated political machine under construction -- a web of interlocking, like-minded organizations that could at once save and partly supplant the Democratic Party. And if the 527s don't give presumptive nominee Senator John Kerry an edge against George W. Bush, they will at least help level the playing field." Note this project is called the "brainchild" of one Mr. Rosenthal. LINK

Veepstakes:

Washington Wire picks up on the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finding Edwards the preference for Kerry's no. 2.

Sharpton:

The AP reports on the good news and the bad news for the Sharpton campaign. LINK

The New York Daily News on the Sharpton probe. LINK

Nader:

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