The Note

Writes Taranto, "Kerry's "weakness on defense is a huge liability. He opposes capital punishment, voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, has shown no sympathy for abortion opponents, and last week left the campaign trail for the Capitol to cast a series of antigun votes. Come November, these issues will be far more salient to voters in the South, as well as in the rest of the country, than a civil rights battle that was settled decades ago."

The Los Angeles Times' Gold says Kerry "plans" to meet with Howard Dean this week and "is scheduling a similar meeting soon" with John Edwards. LINK

The Boston Globe's Pat Healy writes about Kerry's Sunday campaign swing through Mississippi, where he "excoriated President Bush from the lectern of a black church, insisted that New England has much in common with the Deep South, and decried the "crucifixion" of the young gay man Matthew Shepard as he compared civil rights for blacks to gay and lesbian rights." LINK

The Dallas Morning News' Jackson writes up Kerry's latest efforts in the South. "From peeling crawfish in New Orleans to attending church in Mississippi, John Kerry is busy doing the Southern thing -- no easy task for a Massachusetts Democrat who also writes poetry and hangs out with Sen. Edward Kennedy." LINK

The AP's Karen Testa Notes that Teresa Heinz Kerry has "embraced" her husband's run for president -- and "that's lucky for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry." LINK

The Boston Herald's Andrew Miga reports on Kerry's possible Iraq-bound team. LINK

Roll Call's Preston and Cillizza report that Kerry "will meet separately on Thursday with the full House and Senate Democratic Caucuses" and that the "campaign is also developing rapid-response teams in the House and Senate to counter Republican floor attacks on the presumptive nominee and put Democratic Members forward as validators for Kerry on a variety of domestic and foreign policy issues."

From ABC News Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe:

TOUGALOO, MISS., March 7 -- By now, Texans hardly bat an eye at an 11-car motorcade swirling through the blocked streets and cleared expressways of their major cities. And, given the Bush-friendly roads of the Lone Star State, more than a few natives might have mistaken the challenger's motorcade for that of the either Presidents Bush.

Alas, it was Sen. John F. Kerry diving deep into the heart of enemy territory, greeting 600 friendly Texans in Houston and nearly 2,000 in the more Democratic San Antonio.

The Massachusetts Senator returned their favor by dabbling in Spanish and grilling the Governor-turned-President. As Lyle Lovett's "That's Right, You're not from Texas" spun to a close, Kerry clasped the microphone in San Antonio and opened, "Muchas gracias por un gran bienveniedo!"

The Boston Brahmin, who flaunted his fluent French in New Orleans Friday, taunted his new rival, "The President is holed up at the ranch in Crawford . . . This Administration has a loooong trail of broken promises."

Kerry continued to cut the brush-loving President: "I think George Bush ought to leave the ranch and talk to people with no jobs. I think George ought to leave the ranch and talk to people with no health care."

And followed with a less-than-stellar zinger: "George Bush is a walking contradiction, a broken barrel of contradictions." A day later, the line mutated into, "the President is a walking contradiction, a walking stack of broken promises."

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