The Note

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:

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