The Note

Even with Kerry's tough, if oddly phrased, talk, there were no illusions about the Senator's chances in Texas this November. In his Houston introduction, Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) pledged, "I'm going to do my best to make sure we carry Texas for Senator Kerry. If not…President Bush will know he had a darn good fight in his hometown."

While Kerry's trip was largely a symbolic to take after the President on his home turf, Kerry aides insist it was a good opportunity to campaign in the state before Tuesday's primary while organizing fundraisers and stirring the party faithful.

Kerry travels to the true battleground state of Florida for the first two days of this week, then settling back in Washington for three days of strategy and organizational plotting, including a meeting with former rival, Howard Dean.

Read more from the trail with Kerry on abcnews.com: LINK

Veepstakes:

The Associated Press reports on the Sunday show performances of some possible veep choices, who incidentally all said they are very happy with their current jobs. LINK

Mort Kondracke writes in Roll Call, "Most of the most-discussed candidates for the No. 2 spot have definite virtues -- and drawbacks -- but none of them will exactly light up the sky for Kerry."

Nader:

Sean Wilentz wrote in the Sunday New York Times Magazine that Nader's claim to represent the interests of third parties rings hollow. LINK

"Nader's intention is not to advance third-party politics, any more than it is to push campaign-finance reform or to stop global warming. Rather, he seems to think that his insurgency presages the end of the party system as we know it."

Not likely, says Wilentz. In fact, "third parties and candidates, whether they like it or not, have always been gadflies. They raise issues and propose programs that the major parties are either too timid or too unimaginative to embrace."

And unfortunately for them, "the price third parties pay for their success is enormous -- for after their issues have been taken up by others, they become irrelevant even as goads."

Sharpton:

Al Sharpton, pundit (who happens to have hired William Morris two weeks ago). LINK

Florida:

Adam C. Smith of the St. Petersburg Times writes up his paper's poll with the Miami Herald showing Kerry leading Bush by 6 points in Florida. LINK

The St. Petersburg Times reports on its own poll showing Floridians do not support gay marriage. LINK

Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post writes that Tuesday's Florida primary -- and its touch-screen voting machines -- is making people jittery. LINK

The Tampa Tribune's Brad Smith reports on fears about more voting problems in Florida -- maybe not Tuesday, but possibly in the general election. LINK

The economy:

The Note wishes a happy belated birthday to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who turned 78 on Saturday -- a rockin' day for birthdays.

Legislative agenda:

The Baltimore Sun's Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports that the congressional agenda has become a backdrop for the presidential election this year, with votes on fetal rights and gun control, not to mention the proposed amendment against gay marriage.

Majority Leader Bill Frist calls it "almost inevitable" that the presidential election be fought by proxy in the Senate, with an aide to Sen. Santorum confessing "an unprecedented level of communication" between the Bush campaign and Senate aides. LINK

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