The Note

Dooming and glooming, Bob Novak looks at North Carolina as a case study of how Democrats, abandoning free trade for tough protectionist talk, can gain traction among voters hit hard by an economic downturn. "It is not the war in Iraq," Novak argues, but jobs and playing to the anger over unemployment and the fear of falling behind in international competition that could turn Republican voters toward the other side. "North Carolina may be changing from a certain 'red' state (carried by Bush with 56 percent in 2000) to a potential battleground with hopes for capturing Edwards' Senate seat diminishing," he predicts. LINK

Jeff Zeleny of the Chicago Tribune Notes that while Florida Democrats are eager to vote against one of the Bush brothers, Kerry may decide to redirect his efforts to states like Ohio and Missouri to avoid the entrenched organization the Republicans have put together to fight for the state's 27 electoral votes. LINK

It's up to you to accept or reject the Palm Beach Post's report on Bush and Kerry's common bond in Skull and Bones. LINK

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

As Noted above, Elisabeth Bumiller tells us that decisions on last week's BC04 advertising buy and the defining of Kerry as "the senator from Massachusetts who has a record of weakening national defense and raising taxes" were made directly by a "revved up" President Bush. LINK

Bumiller also adds this golden nugget from the call that President Bush made to Sen. Kerry on the night of Super Tuesday: "The call was described by one Republican close to the White House as 'pure Bush;' that is, it had the gentlemanly aura of good manners but was designed to knock Mr. Kerry slightly off balance and remind him that the man he would spend the next eight months attacking was the person on the other end of the line."

Alas, nary a mention of any secret New Haven meeting.

The New York Times' Abby Goodnough details the parties' ground game efforts in Florida and reports that BC04 spent $900,000 in Florida ads alone -- "more than twice as much" as any other state. LINK

USA Today's Judy Keen Notes the President's recent big ideas which he hasn't mentioned since announcing them. LINK

And file this under the "everything counts in an election year" column: Houston Chronicle's Roth Notes this about Bush's appearance at the rodeo "Some analysts warn that the appearances at sports events could backfire if they turn off suburban women, who may be critical in a close election." LINK

The Presidents' BC04 fundraiser in Houston tonight is expected to bring in $1 million for the re-election coffers and the Houston Chronicle's Williams looks at the money Texans have given so far. LINK

AP's Scott Lindlaw reports that President Bush heads to Long Island this week for more fundraising. LINK

A particularly interesting comment in a presidential election year:

"'I have not discussed this with President Bush or anyone else in the White House, and have no desire to,' Mr. DeLay told The Washington Times in an interview in his majority leader's office. 'But if you don't set these conservative goals, you don't get conservative governance.'"

And a rare appearance by Vice President Cheney, who filled in for his boss this weekend at the Gridiron Club dinner. Cheney took a few jabs at Sen. Kerry, Sen. Clinton and even himself, reports Washington Times' Widhalm. LINK

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