The Note




The only way to get The Note written on time every morning is to give exquisitely precise instructions every evening to the 500 Googling monkeys working the overnight shift.

Last night, before we left, we told the Googlers to watch out for:

1. How the President's jobs speech played in Ohio.

2. If John Kerry would be punished for his major league, big time potty mouth.

3. How the New York media would curtain-raise the President's combo 9/11 memoralizing-fundraising jaunt to The Island. (And whether he would get a surprise endorsement from some Empire State first responders . . .)

4. Whether anyone got a simple tick-tock of the cancellation of the announcement of the Commerce Secretary manufacturing czar -- and whether Anthony F. Raimondo will ever be nominated.

5. How happy/lappy is John Kerry's Capitol Hill victory lap going to be -- and which side's Hill echo chamber is most geared up for maximum echo?

6. What Sen. Kerry will do to finesse the gay marriage debate in his Bay State home state today.

But, most of all, we reminded them that this phase of the campaign is about defining John Kerry for the American people, which means, focus on.

7. The expected new Bush/Cheney 04 campaign ads, including what we expect to be the first contrast spot, containing the word "Kerry."

President Bush is in New York to speak on the economy, attend a 9/11 memorial and a Bush-Cheney campaign fundraiser.

Vice President Cheney attends a fundraiser tonight in Potomac, Md.

Sen. Kerry is in Washington, D.C. with meetings galore, including various caucuses and the sonofameeealworker.

Rep. Kucinich is in Washington, D.C.

Rev. Sharpton is in New York.

Ralph Nader is in Washington, D.C.

J-O-B-S and outsourcing:

We can't possibly do justice here to all that went on yesterday from mid-afternoon through early evening on the Commerce manufacturing job czar storyline.

Trust us: both campaigns, the Hill, the White House, and every political reporter worth her salt were all over it for several hours.

The Washington Post's Allen and Weisman report after the Kerry campaign was tipped off to Bush's nomination of Anthony F. Raimondo to become the manufacturing czar, the campaign passed to reporters news that Raimondo's company had opened a factory in China. LINK

The AP's Martin Crutsinger reports that the Bush Administration postponed the announcement of announcing the manufacturing czar nominee because of "scheduling conflicts," according to the Commerce Department. LINK

The trade deficit reached record levels on a day when Kerry and Bush attacked each other over outsourcing. Reports the New York Timesin its breathless lead, "The new data . . . was slightly worse than economists had expected and intensified the battle over trade and jobs playing out in the 2004 presidential campaign." LINK

The economy:

Retail sales climbed by .6 percent, a development the AP calls a "hopeful sign for healthy economic growth in the current quarter." And the AP says "new claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week by a seasonally adjusted 6,000 to 341,000, a six-week low, the Labor Department said." LINK

The Washington Post's Greg Schneider reports that small manufacturers asked Congress for relief from rising steel prices, "which several said threaten to drive them out of business." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Marshall and Iritani reports China's "chip design" is stirring some of the trade deficit pot. And Administration officials are paying attention. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry:

The AP's Deb Reichman wraps yesterday's back and fourth jabs between Kerry and Bush on the economy. LINK

The Boston Herald's David Guarino and Noelle Straub report that President Bush would like an apology from Kerry for his "crooked" remarks. LINK

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

President Bush took his economic message to Cleveland, Ohio yesterday -- a state that he has visited 15 times since taking office. Ohio Republican Party spokesman Jason Mauk told ABC News, "Nobody would argue that the economy is struggling here but we are also seeing positive numbers on state levels -- just not on employment directly. Part of the President's message is reaching Ohioans, especially the 4.4 million Ohioans that benefited from the President's tax cuts. Sen. Kerry has positions that would hurt the economy in Ohio and he would set us back."

Mark Naymick of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the economic message President Bush conveyed yesterday there, "one in sharp contrast to the version told by Democrats" that campaigned in the state throughout the primaries.

"[U]nlike his Democratic rivals, Bush struck an optimistic tone, referring to the nation as 'vibrant' and declaring: 'We can prove the pessimists wrong again.'" LINK

The Washington Post's Amy Goldstein writes that President Bush's attacks on Kerry were an example of the Administration's attempts "to mold early, negative perceptions of his rival at a time when polls suggest Kerry holds a slight edge among registered voters." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Reynolds Notes that the President didn't dwell on the dismal job-creation numbers in states like Ohio. "Instead, at greater length than in the past, he offered an explanation for the country's economic woes," repeating a theme that is used in the campaign's ads. LINK

President Bush "campaigned in Ohio today as though it were Labor Day instead of eight months before the election," Notes Stout of the New York Times. LINK

AP's Lindlaw writes "President Bush isn't backing down" on his message that his administration's response to the 9/11 attacks is a "centerpiece" of his re-election campaign, as he heads to Long Island for a dedication ceremony for a memorial. LINK

Under the foreboding headline "economic fears may threaten Bush's job," the Wall Street Journal's Harwood details President Bush's falling numbers in the latest WSJ/NBC News poll due to the economy and Notes that "That means Mr. Bush needs to shift the campaign dialogue to friendlier terrain."

From the WSJ/NBC News poll:

Forty-nine percent of those polled said that the country was heading on the wrong track while 41 percent agreed that the country was moving in the right direction.

Fifty-one percent said that they disapproved of the way President Bush was handling the economy but he does have a 50 percent overall job approval rating.

The Boston Globe's Washington looks at one potential problem for President Bush in the general election -- "women have been far less receptive to Bush's message." LINK

"Adding a prescription drug benefit and tightening school standards in his No Child Left Behind bill were supposed to burnish Bush's image as a leader with cross-party appeal who can draw major support from women."

"So far, however, that hasn't happened."

And another potential voting bloc worry for the BC04 campaign:

William Douglas of Knight Ridder profiles Bush's declining popularity among military voters. "Democrats sense an opportunity to chip away at what's been a mostly Republican base since the United States turned to an all-volunteer military in 1973." LINK

the AP reports that Bush's Medicare ad campaign is legal although "somewhat political," according to the General Accounting Office. LINK

The New York Times' Oppel, Jr., reports the Senate passed a measure that will require 60 votes for any tax cut -- a "surprising election-year rebuke" to the White House that reduces the chances of making President Bush's tax cuts permanent. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. and Glenn Simpson report the Pentagon's Halliburton probe has widened and Note the "broadening of the fuel inquiry, which one military official described as "highly significant," would give the investigation considerably more heft. Justice investigators have the power to indict and to press criminal fraud charges -- abilities denied the Pentagon's civilian watchdogs. They also can assess hefty penalties and seek additional damages, a power the Pentagon lacks, though its auditors can reject a contractor's billings as being too high and decline to pay."

These aren't your typical Long Island fundraisers. And three hours of cocktail party on a school night! Newsday's Michael Rothfeld reports on the "big-money donors that President George W. Bush is scheduled to greet at his fund-raising gala in East Meadow this afternoon" and says many of them are "unknown in local circles." Among those scheduled to be in attendance: Gov. George Pataki, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Lt. Gov. Mary Donohue, and state Republican chairman Sandy Treadwell. LINK

The Kentucky Post on the Cheney cash dive for Sen. Jim Bunning, which is designed for two purposes: "It will add to Bunning's $4.2 million re-election war chest and send a political message: opponents beware, Bunning is a national player who has President Bush's stamp of approval." LINK

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

The New York Times' Justice and Rutenberg report on Sens. McCain and Feingold's position that the 527s "are circumventing the new campaign finance law that they sponsored." LINK

The criticism was just hitting everyone Wednesday. The Washington Post's Tom Edsall reports that Sen. McCain "accused the chairman and vice chair of the Federal Election Commission of evading their obligation to enforce the law." LINK

The Hill reports that Sen. McCain says he will sue the FEC if it won't crack down on the 527s. Meanwhile "the shadow groups' legal counsel has sent a stern letter to the FEC warning it not to issue new rules in the middle of an election year." LINK

The Washington Times' Brian DeBose reports on McCain's threat to sue the FEC. Now watch the feeding frenzy begin: Republicans criticizing McCain and Feingold for proposing the regulations, and McCain going after an FEC that's, ahem, not particularly equipped to deal with enforcement. LINK

Question: Anyone ever think about funding the FEC or actually giving them authority? Just a thought . . .

USA Today's Jim Drinkard writes about the Bush campaign's argument to the FEC that the Media Fund's ad campaign is illegal. LINK

In writing the RNC (not to mention the Bush-Cheney team) couldn't agree with more, the New York Times' editorial board argues for regulation of the 527s, stating that "political insiders are carving a giant loophole that the Federal Election Commission must swiftly close. Otherwise, the system will be flooded again with the large and politically destructive contributions the new law was meant to stop." LINK

Harold Ickes, Mr. Media Fund himself, said today on CNN's "American Morning" that the group's activities -- making their arguments and their ads against President Bush -- pre-dated the passage of the new campaign finance laws, and that Congress didn't change that part of the law. He also told Soledad O'Brien he does not believe the courts can change what they are doing, and that his group is not -- not -- coordinating with the Kerry campaign.

Sit tight, take hold . . .

Jim Jordan is NOT the face of the Democratic 527s.

That, ah, chore, belongs now to spokeswoman Sarah Leonard, formerly the Iowa communications director for Gov. Howard Dean. Expect to see and hear from her a lot.

She'll work for Jordan at the Thunder Road Group, which handles communications and research for the entire consortium.

Another major hire The Note can report: the Fabu Mo Elleithee, formerly of the Clark and Graham presidential campaigns and the Reno gubernatorial campaign, will oversee the regional press desks for Thunder Road's America Coming Together account.

From the outside:

Howard Kurtz is now the second person who tells us the Club for Growth is prepping to go up with new anti-Kerry spots. We shall be eagerly awaiting for our packet from Shirley & Banister . . . LINK


The Washington Post's Dan Balz managed to get the headline writers to use "crooked" and "lying," and Notes that Kerry's comments yesterday, given the consternation they caused among the Bush campaign, "threatened to overshadow" the dual peace summits between the presumptive Democratic nominee and his former rival, Howard Dean, and the DNC. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Gold on Kerry's off-the-cuff "crooked" and "lying" comments, writing that "the remarks are the latest example of a general election campaign that is off to an unusually nasty and pointed start. Republicans responded to Kerry with barbs of their own Wednesday, calling him 'relentlessly negative.'" LINK

Jill Zuckman and Jeff Zeleny of the Chicago Tribune Note that John Kerry did not offer an apology for yesterday's overheard comment. They also Note that spokesman David Wade took the opportunity to reminded reporters that Bush supporters have done such "crooked" things as register and

The Dynamic Duo also reports that a Dean endorsement may come at the Democratic unity dinner on March 25. LINK

ABC News' Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe describes the aftermath of the off-the-cuff remarks on the rest of the day:

"On the Kerry charter en route from Chicago to Washington, Kerry campaign spokesperson David Wade insisted the Senator was referring to the 'Republican attack machine' and not the Bush Administration."

"Wade included Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in that group, and also suggested Bush political guru Karl Rove is a 'mastermind' of 'dirty tricks.'"

"Late in the day, Kerry communications director Stephanie Cutter got into the act, saying via an e-mailed statement, 'What (Kerry) was saying today was that we're not going to take it.'"

"Wade asserted, 'We're making it very clear that this is a Democrat who punches back.'"

"In a less pugilistic moment, Kerry met in Washington Wednesday with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the last politician to tangle with the Boston Brahmin."

"At the newly relocated Kerry for President headquarters in downtown Washington, 75 staffers gathered to welcome the man many Kerry loyalists long feared might derail the Senator's presidential plans."

"As they waited in the awkwardly professional reception area of a former law firm, staffers delivered applause. Advance desk wizard Carrie James got the biggest shout out of them all."

"As the man they once called 'Ho Ho' made his way down the hall, the young staffers cheered and applauded as 'Dean, Dean, Dean' and Kerry hugged."

"The pair met for an hour and 20 minutes, though by the end, Dean had still not formally endorsed his rival. Nevertheless, officials familiar with the meeting expect the two will campaign together very soon."

"Kerry continued his Democratic unity tour with a visit to DNC headquarters, now draped with a large 'John Kerry for President' banner."

"On Thursday, Kerry assumes the mantle of party leader, meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, House Democrats, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and his fellow Democratic colleagues in the Senate."

"Kerry will also meet face-to-face with another, less contentious former opponent: Sen. John Edwards."

"And while Edwards may not receive the Kerry staff welcome wagon, the 'Kerry/Edwards 2004' bumper stickers strewn throughout the Kerry campaign digs might just make the friendly former foe feel right at home."

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK

And speaking of that DNC meeting . . .

According to one person who was there, Kerry told the DNCers that (and this is a paraphrase; our source was clapping and laughing so much that it made taking verbatim Notes impossible):

"Just the other day I talked to (Al) Gore, who said that at even at the height of our campaign, he will still want to beat Bush more than me. [laughter/applause] I'm willing to debate him on that point! [stronger applause] (Also there was lots of love for The Macker.)

The New York Times' Wilgoren and Halbfinger report that Howard Dean and John Kerry met yesterday to "plot the path to their mutual goal," and that a Dean endorsement of Kerry is expected "before the end of the month." Report the two, Sen. Edwards today "is expected to bring his fund-raising network to meet with Mr. Kerry, in what Kerry aides say is a sign both of teamwork and Mr. Edwards's desire to be as useful as possible, particularly while Mr. Kerry is shopping for a running mate." LINK

The Boston Globe's Glen Johnson and Pat Healy write, "Kerry tried to move beyond the criticism, having his staff give Dean a standing ovation in the reception area of his new campaign headquarters." LINK

Also: "Dean plans to endorse Kerry later this month, aides said."

USA Today's Jill Lawrence writes about the Dean-Kerry meeting, but leads with the Kerry "crooked" remarks. LINK

The Washington Post ed board puts Kerry on Notice that he best not waffle this year, or they won't like him. LINK

Maureen Dowd tries to elicit a frown -- or even a wrinkle -- from Sen. Kerry. LINK

They're not the Mommy Party anymore, perhaps? Max Cleland talks to new Salon Fearless Washington Chieftain Sidney Blumenthal and offers some serious fightin' words of his own when it comes to the Republicans and their campaign tactics.

Writes Blumenthal, "'They have been shown to trash anyone, anywhere, anytime,' Cleland told me. 'They seek to slander a noble veteran's record who was wounded and the only member of his division in the Navy who won a Silver Star. Use 9/11? Have they no shame? Listen, John Kerry knows that the slime machine is targeting him and his family. We discussed this before the race -- somebody's got to fight. That's the way it's turning out, the band of brothers against the slime machine.'" LINK

The Boston Globe's Michael Kranish writes about one of Kerry's Vietnam crewmates whose "view of Kerry at war is far different from the heroic view presented by others." LINK

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein reports on Kerry's picking Robert Crowe, "a longtime Massachusetts political operative and Kerry ally," to head his DNC fundraising. LINK

The Hill reports that Kerry-endorsing League of Conservation Voters is facing questions over money ties to Teresa Heinz Kerry. Most of these questions are coming from the RNC. The LCV's Mark Longabaugh says "Heinz-related funding 'didn't go into our political efforts in any way, shape or form.'" LINK


The New York Daily News picks up on the "McCain as Veep" storyline, Noting that the Arizona Senator didn't rule out the position (!), but Mark Salter did it for him. LINK

That Mark Salter: he knows how to be Shermanesque.


A new angle on the Nader run. The Boston Phoenix's Adam Reilly says it's not just Kerry and the Dems who should fret about a Ralph Nader candidacy. The Greens should be worried too. And they are.

Not only is Nader's lingering reputation as a spoiler making it hard to get prospective voters into the party, but "if Nader continues his run as an independent, he'll compete with the Green nominee for volunteers and votes - which could pull the Green candidate below the thresholds required for ballot status in various states and make it harder for the party to add members and run candidates in 2006."

And then there is the issue whether Nader will eventually end up the Green nominee at the Green convention in June, which some say could happen if the Greens rally around him in the end. With several other candidates currently running for the Green nomination, such a move could be divisive:

"This wouldn't destroy the Green movement. But it could create some serious turbulence for a party that's grown from 100,000 to 300,000 since 1992." LINK

Another Green-related opinion piece by Collin Levey in the Seattle Times argues that the Greens are in the midst of an identity crisis:

"Along with San Francisco, the Pacific Northwest is the closest thing the Greens have to an electoral stronghold. The party's fortunes are often covered in the press, where the former public citizen's doings are front-page news. But even here, the party seems to be suffering an identity crisis in the vacuum Nader left." LINK

The house of labor:

The New York Times' Steven Greenhouse reports that the AFL-CIO says it will spend $44 million this year in an attempt to unseat President Bush and, for the first time, "will seek to persuade and mobilize hundreds of thousands of nonunion members to vote for labor's preferred presidential candidate." LINK

The AP's Leigh Strope calls the cash "a record sum in an election they say is do-or-die for the labor movement." LINK

Steven Franklin of the Chicago Tribune files from sunny Bal Harbour to report that John Sweeney has announced a 4-cent increase in labor's 57-cent monthly dues from individual members to fund that whopping $44 million. Also, Andy Stern announced that the SEIU will spend more than $40 million. LINK

Do read this lead from Klaus Marre: "'When, in the future, the Bush campaign is 'using firefighters for their photo op,' the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) 'will loudly and aggressively' make known the administration's cuts to federal funds for first responders, Harold Schaitberger, the group's general president, told The Hill." LINK

Big casino budget politics:

The Washington Post's David Broder Notes that "It's a familiar complaint from state officials -- the charge that the federal government passes bills that voters love and then passes the buck on paying for them." LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

He ain't heavy . . . and Democrats' blocking his nomination is making it tough for the Bush Administration to implement the Medicare plan. So sayeth (saideth?) White House spokesman Scott McClellan Wednesday as he criticized Senate Democrats for blocking the nomination of his brother, Mark McClellan, to head up the Medicare program. LINK

The politics of national security:

We can hear Foggy Bottom yelling from here . . . The New York Times' Douglas Jehl reports that the Pentagon is paying Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress $340,000 a month "even as the group jockeys for power in a future government." LINK

Tenet vs. Feith? The Wall Street Journal's David Cloud reports "investigators are looking into a briefing on possible Iraq-al Qaeda links that the Pentagon unit, known as the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, gave to senior White House officials in late September 2002."

The Los Angeles Times' Miller on the congressional questions and criticisms over the rebuilding of Iraq. LINK

The Washington Post's Paula Span Notes that "the number of military families who oppose Operation Iraqi Freedom, though never measured, is probably small. But a nascent antiwar movement has begun to find a toehold among parents, spouses and other relatives of active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops." LINK

The Washington Post's Bradley Graham updates the status of the missile defense program. LINK

Bob Novak starts off shaming John Kerry for saying he'd have sent in troops to save President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti (before he fled, of course), winds his way over to a Kennedy family connection to Aristide, and scolds the Congressional Black Caucus for supporting the now-deposed president even as he spending loads of cash on U.S. lobbyists and lawyers as his people lived in abject poverty. And at the very end, he throws a little responsibility toward President Bush. LINK

The politics of same-sex marriage:

The Boston Globe's Frank Phillips and Raphael Lewis report, "A compromise constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but also establish same-sex civil unions appears to be gaining support as Massachusetts lawmakers reconvene today…" LINK

The Boston Globe's Pat Healy reminds readers that while Kerry may be ""keeping a low profile" on the issue in Massachusetts, he is fairly vocal out on the campaign trail as he accuses the President of using same-sex marriage a wedge to divide people. LINK

The Washington Post's Finer Notes on same-sex marriage law that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, "perhaps more than any other politician," "could feel the impact of the intensely divisive issue on his political future." LINK

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein and Mary Leonard report that the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts is going after the President and Gov. Romney. LINK

Fighting same-sex marriage is fast becoming Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's "'legacy.'" The New York Timestakes a look at her hometown and finds people who say they feel "almost a burden of history, or as though they are living in a laboratory -- because Ms. Musgrave, a Republican, has become such a symbol and lightning rod for the national debate on the question of gay marriage, and because this is the place that shaped her and elected her." LINK

The politics of Medicare:

The New York Times' Robert Pear highlights the GAO's finding "that advertisements and brochures prepared by the Bush administration to publicize a new Medicare law, although not illegal, misrepresented the prescription drug benefits that would be offered to millions of elderly and disabled people." LINK

The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly writes that "The Bush administration did not overstep legal boundaries in its $12 million marketing campaign promoting the virtues of a new Medicare prescription drug package." LINK

Of course the AP leads thusly, "The Bush administration's publicly funded Medicare ad campaign on television is legal, though somewhat political, congressional investigators said Wednesday." LINK

The politics of the Hill:

The Washington Times' Amy Fagan looks at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's legislative agenda, which he presented in a closed-door meeting yesterday as a conservative roadmap for the Republican Party -- including "winning the war on terror, doubling the size of the economy and strengthening the family." Now the Republican caucus sounds eager to hear specifics. LINK

ABC Vote 2004: the Senate:

The Associated Press reports on Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar's decision to run for retiring Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell's seat and how he cleared the Democratic field -- including Rutt Bridges, who was strongly contending for the title of "Favorite Candidate Name" in The Note's 2004 rankings. LINK

Salazar is in, Udall is out, reports the Denver Post. LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times' Scott Fornek looks at the latest flap over divorce records in the Illinois Senate race -- this time, those of Republican frontrunner Jack Ryan. Shouldn't somebody somewhere be discussing policy or something? LINK

On the Democratic side, the Chicago Sun-Times' Abdon Pallasch looks at the shifting sands of the candidates' fortunes, played out in a pre-primary debate. Now, Pallasch reports, it's Obama and Hynes fighting each other and Hull fighting his own demons. LINK

Buckle your seatbelts for this primary, write the Chicago Tribune's John Chase and John McCormick under this headline: "Hull concedes he took cocaine in early '80s." LINK


The Washington Post's Thomas Heath writes up yesterday's steroid hearings. LINK

Al Hunt defends Iowa and New Hampshire's role in the presidential primary process and then writes that "a better system would keep the value of the early retail politics but allow more breathing room to slow any rush to a decision. Iowa and New Hampshire would be held in the last half of January, two weeks apart rather than one. Then starting in early March there would be four regional primaries, one every three weeks; ideally these would be held by time zone and would rotate order every four years."

We shall see what the DNC thinks about that! Not to mention Jeb Bush.

At the Fleischman-Hillard Democratic primary conference this morning, Ron Klain said the media played a small but interesting role in the proceedings . . . calling it the Noteization of the American Politics. Klain said he noticed that voters seem to be uniquely attuned to ad buys, polls, and strategies . . . and that that's become part of the vernacular. It was something he hadn't witnessed.

Jon Haber, Dean's campaign chief of staff in later months, said the Dean scream burned the candidate's perceived temperament problem into the minds of voters in later states and effectively muted any chance of a comeback.

Lieberman campaign director Craig Smith said the single most important factor in deciding who wins this election will be the breakfast table conversation people have on the morning of Nov. 2. In Steve Murphy's view, if that conversation is about anything but terrorism, the Democrats have a real shot.

Kerry senior adviser Jim Margolis refused to speculate on a veep choice . . .

There was a lot of joking on the panel about Howard Dean's voter list. And the panel essentially agreed that for Democrats not to turn out their base this year would be malpractice, especially since Kerry seems to have the benefit of an energized, unified party extremely early by historical standards. But the panel also agreed that the 3-10 percent of the electorate that truly swings will be decisive -- and that to concentrate primarily on the base would be equally as foolish.

The Wall Street Journal reports that FDA chair and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services candidate Mark McClellan has agreed to "testify about drug importation before the Senate Commerce Committee to head off a Democratic critic who had sought to delay a vote on his nomination."

The Washington Post's Christopher Lee on the House's passing the "cheeseburger bill." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's David Wessell ponders whether health care costs are really the culprit in the hiring gap and finds that "if the joblessness of the recovery persists, the public search for culprits will intensify. Health costs are bound to get more scrutiny and might even rival outsourcing as a focus of public concern."

The New York Times' Jacques Steinberg reports that the liberal radio network, now called Air America Radio, will begin broadcasting on March 31 in "low-rated stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. LINK

AP reports that Sens. Graham and Clinton are pushing legislation that "would ensure a printed receipt of votes cast on new touch-screen computer terminals." LINK

The media:

The Wall Street Journal's ed board looks at the state of the investigation into columnist Bob Novak's sources and writes that "if the legal push in these cases does come to shove, we may well end up with a Supreme Court pronouncing even more definitively that the First Amendment includes no privilege covering the protection of confidential sources. And the road to that blow to a free press will be paved by all the liberal writers who thought they could discard Bob Novak with no effect on their own journalism."

The New York Times' Jacques Steinberg reports that the liberal radio network, now called Air America Radio, will begin broadcasting on March 31 in "low-rated stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper talked to comedian and actor Al Franken, whose show, "The O'Franken Factor,'' is one of the cornerstones of Air America's programming. Franken, no stranger to taking on the right wing as the author of the books "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" and "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot," said he hopes to do to conservatives what his nemesis, Mr. Limbaugh, does so successfully to liberals.

"'It's like ju-jitsu,' Franken told ABC News. 'You use what they say against them and use it to hold them to scorn and ridicule. So there will be a lot of ridicule.'"


TODAY SCHEDULE (all times ET): —8:00 am: Ron Klain, Steve Elemendorf, Jon Haber, Craig Smith and Jim Margolis attend a debate sponsored by Fleishman-Hillard about the presidential nomination season at the Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C. —8:00 am: Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks at the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington, D.C. —8:00 am: Sen. John Kerry attends a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, Washington, D.C. —8:30 am: The Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims report —9:00 am: Sen. Kerry attends a meeting and holds a photo op with the House Democratic Caucus, Washington, D.C. —9:30 am: The Senate convenes for legislative business —9:40 am: House Speaker Dennis Hastert holds a pen and pad only briefing for reporters at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: The House of Representatives convenes to consider the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 —10:00 am: The Federal Election Commission holds an open meeting, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing about the recruitment of college athletes —10:00 am: The Senate Commerce Committee meets with Mark McClellan —10:00 am: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan speaks to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee —10:00 am: The House Ways and Means Committee meets with United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick —10:15 am: Sen. Kerry attends a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Washington, D.C. —10:15 am: The House Budget Committee meets to discuss the FY2005 budget resolution —10:35 am: President Bush delivers remarks via satellite to the National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Colorado from the White House —11:30 am: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference —11:30 am: Bicameral Republican leadership meets to discuss Sen. Kerry and the upcoming legislative agenda, Washington, D.C. —11:30 am: Education Secretary Rod Paige speaks at the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington, D.C. —12:15 pm: Reps. Pelosi and Portman speak to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington, D.C. —12:45 pm: Sen. Kerry attends the Senate Democratic policy luncheon, Washington, D.C. —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —1:20 pm: President Bush tours USA Industries, Bay Shore, N.Y. —1:40 pm: President Bush participates in a conversation on the Economy and Job Training at USA Industries, Bay Shore, N.Y. —1:45 pm: Sens. Kerry and Daschle speak to the press, Washington, D.C. —2:15 pm: HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Joe Biden hold a news conference to discuss androstenedione, Washington, D.C. —2:30 pm: The Senate Select Intelligence Committee holds a hearing on pending intelligence issues —2:30 pm: Reps. Rob Portman and Sander Levin hold a news conference to introduce legislation against drug-impaired driving —3:15 pm: President Bush attends the ground-breaking ceremony for the Nassau County 9/11 Memorial, East Meadows, N.Y. —4:00 pm: Lynne Cheney talks to elementary students at James Madison's Montpelier High School, Montpelier Station, Va. —5:00 pm: Sen. Kerry meets with Sen. John Edwards, Washington, D.C. —6:05 pm: President Bush attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 Reception at Carltun on the Park, East Meadows, N.Y. —11:00 pm: Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist appears on The Charlie Rose Show