The Note

TODAY SCHEDULE AS OF 9:00 am (all times ET):

—6:00 am: Polls open in New York, Connecticut and Vermont —6:30 am: Rep. Dennis Kucinich votes at Brooklawn Elementary School, Cleveland, Ohio —6:30 am: Polls open in Ohio —7:00 am: Sen. Kerry appears on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox morning shows —7:00 am: Polls open in Massachusetts, Georgia, Maryland and Rhode Island —7:30 am: Sen. John Kerry greets workers at the Roadway Express Freight Distribution Facility, Atlanta, Ga. —7:30 am: Sen. John Edwards visits a polling place at Fulton County QLS Senior Center, Atlanta, Ga. —7:45 am: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist attends a breakfast with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at The Capitol —8:09 am: Sen. Kerry appears on MSNBC's "Imus in the Morning" —9:30 am: The Senate convenes to resume consideration of the gun liability bill —9:40 am: Off-camera briefing by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan —10:00 am: The Supreme Court meets to hand down decisions —10:00 am: Polls open in California —10:00 am: The Federal Communications Commission's Media Security and Reliability Council holds a meeting on Homeland Security —10:00 am: President Bush makes remarks on the One-Year Anniversary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: Rep. Kucinich visits a polling place at Parma Senior Center, Parma, Ohio —10:00 am: The Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, Judicial Watch, Common Cause, the Center for Responsive Politics and others speak to the press about current controversies and the House Ethics Committee, Washington, D.C. —11:00 am: Sen. Frist delivers a speech on the Senate's legislative agenda to the National Association of Broadcasters at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Washington, D.C. —11:30 am: RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie gives a news conference outside of RNC headquarters, Washington, D.C. —11:35 am: The Senate begins a series of stacked roll call votes for a number of amendments to the gun liability bill —11:50 am: Ed Gillespie launches the Big Rig Tour —12:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a staff luncheon at Niko's Restaurant, Lakewood, Ohio —12:15 pm: Sen. Frist meets with Commerce Secretary Donald Evans on the FSC/ETI tax bill at The Capitol —12:30 pm: On-camera briefing by Secretary McClellan —12:30 pm: The House of Representatives convenes for morning business —12:30 pm: Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and other members of Congress hold a news conference to discuss the vote on the gun liability bill at The Capitol —12:50 pm: Secretary of State Colin Powell gives the B.C. Lee Lecture at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC NEWS Live and AOL —1:30 pm: Global Justice sponsors Haiti protest outside of the White House in Washington, DC —1:30 pm: Bush-Cheney '04 Chairman Marc Racicot announces the campaign's National Farm & Ranch Steering Committee, Las Vegas, Nev. —1:45 pm: Sen. Joseph Lieberman holds a news conference to discuss homeland security —2:00 pm: NASA holds a news briefing to announce significant findings from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity —2:00 pm: The House of Representatives Convenes for legislative business —4:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich visits District 11 polling places, Shaker Heights and Cleveland, Ohio —4:00 pm: Vice President Cheney appears on MSNBC's "Lester Holt Live" —5:00 pm: Vice President Cheney appears on CNN's Wolf Blitzer —6:00 pm: Vice President Cheney appears on Fox News's "Special Report with Brit Hume" —7:00 pm: Sen. Edwards attends an Election Night Party at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Convention Center, Atlanta, Ga. —7:00 pm: Polls close in Georgia and Vermont —7:30 pm: Polls close in Ohio —7:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends an Election Night Party at Club Moda, Cleveland, Ohio —7:30 pm: Minnesota caucus registration begins —8:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends an Election Night Party at the Old Post Office Pavilion, Washington, D.C. —8:00 pm: Polls close in Connecticut and Massachusetts, Maryland —9:00 pm: Minnesota caucuses end —9:00 pm: Rev. Al Sharpton attends an Election Night Party at Jimmy's Uptown, New York, N.Y. —9:00 pm: Polls close in New York and Rhode Island —11:00 pm: Polls close in California —11:00 pm: Sen. Barbara Boxer speaks as part of the California Democratic Party's election night reception at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, Los Angeles, Calif.

NEWS SUMMARY

Political dynamics to watch today:

1. Even if John Edwards completely outperforms the expectations of the Group of 19, John Kerry will end today's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Tuesday with a mathematical stranglehold on the Democratic presidential nomination.

So, however John Edwards does, which people will call for him (finally) to get out of the race?

And will they have last names like "Clinton," "Graham," "McAuliffe," "Rendell," "Brazile," "Pelosi," or "Fournier"?

2. What will be the sum total effect of Vice President Cheney's full-(cable)-Ginsburg (William, not David), with his big time series of interviews with a trio of major-league inquisitors?

3. Will John Kerry's victory speech be more like the soaring version in Seattle, or the wounded sparrow version from Wisconsin?

4. How will Kerry and Edwards' Senate colleagues treat them during their novel and unexpected return to their day jobs?

5. Finally: how out of sorts is John Edwards?

The Washington Post reports that he was "too tired" for his daily run on Monday. (Next thing you know, you'll turn down a Diet Coke … .)

And, according to an eye-witness account of this morning's "event" in suburban Atlanta, Edwards arrived at a polling place where he shook hands for two minutes and virtually RAN back to his motorcade. No questions. No talking to voters. No nothing.

The TOTAL tape that was shot by the network pool camera ran a limp 3:43 — and that includes pad.

The scrum of reporters, local and national, looked forlorn. And one correspondent said aloud: "The fat lady is now singing."

We'll see.

As for the Super voting states: has anyone else (besides those stateline.org folks and their patron, David Broder, and our Taylor Peck) noticed that all of the states voting today — making up about 33% of the U.S. population — have Republican governors?

New York Democratic primary: Polls close: 9:00 pm ET. Delegates to be allocated: 236 Closed primary — open to Democratic voters only.

Connecticut Democratic primary: Polls close: 8:00 pm ET. Delegates to be allocated: 49 Closed primary — open to Democratic voters only.

Massachusetts Democratic primary: Polls close: 8:00 pm ET. Delegates to be allocated: 93 Open primary — open to registered voters.

Maryland Democratic primary: Polls close: 8:00 pm ET. Delegates to be allocated: 69 Closed primary — open to Democratic voters only.

Georgia Democratic primary: Polls close: 7:00 pm ET. Delegates to be allocated: 86 Open primary — open to registered voters.

Vermont Democratic primary: Polls close: 7:00 pm ET Delegates to be allocated: 15 Open primary — open to registered voters.

Rhode Island Democratic primary: Polls close: 9:00 pm ET. Delegates to be allocated: 21 It's open to independents or "unaffiliateds."

Ohio Democratic primary: Polls close: 7:30 pm ET. Delegates to be allocated: 140 The caucuses are open to registered voters.

Minnesota Democratic caucuses: Caucus registration begins: 7:30 pm ET Presidential preference balloting begins: 8:00 pm ET Delegates to be allocated: 72 Party caucuses open to Republicans or independents as long as they sign a pledge of commitment to vote for the Democratic nominee in November

California Democratic primary: Polls close: 11:00 pm ET. Delegates to be allocated: 370 The Democratic primary is open to independents.

Also on the ballot today:

Californians will vote on Proposition 57, a $15 billion bond, and Proposition 58, which would require a balanced budget.

Republicans in California will decide who will be nominated to face Senator Barbara Boxer in the fall.

Former Secretary of State Bill Jones, former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Martin and former State Rep. Howard Kaloogian are expected to finish in the top three.

Georgians will get the chance to vote on what their state flag should look like.

Senator Kerry is in Georgia and Washington, D.C.

Senator Edwards is in Georgia and Washington, D.C.

Rep. Kucinich is in Ohio.

Rev. Sharpton is in New York.

ABC News Vote 2004: The delegate estimate:

Heading into Super Tuesday, John Kerry has a nearly insurmountable lead in the delegate race. The Massachusetts Senator has collected 705 delegates to date which is about one-third of the delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Nomination contests occur in ten states with 1,151 delegates up for grabs, representing one-third of the pledged delegates to attend the Democratic National Convention and 53 percent of the total delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Delegates so far (pledged delegates and superdelegates combined)*:

Kerry: 705 (roughly 33% of the total delegates needed to secure the nomination)

Edwards: 201

Sharpton: 15

Kucinich: 10

Delegates needed to win the nomination: 2,162

Delegates at stake: (Mar. 2): 1,151

These totals include both pledged delegates who are allocated according to their home state's primary and caucus results as well as "unpledged" delegates, known as "superdelegates," made up of state party leaders and activists, Democratic governors, members of congress, former presidents, vice-presidents, and national party chairmen.

The GOP delegate estimate:

President Bush has collected roughly 325 delegates in Republican nomination contests thus far. There are 587 Republican delegates at stake today. Due to the Republican winner-take-all system in most states (including the nine primary states in play), it is likely that President Bush will win all of the delegates up for grabs putting his total over 900 and well within striking distance of securing the Republican nomination. 1,255 delegates are needed to secure the Republican nomination.

Bush 325 (roughly 26% of the delegates needed to secure the nomination)

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

The long-awaited Bush-Cheney '04 ad campaign begins on Thursday and the place to be tomorrow morning will be the Courthouse Metro stop. The campaign will rollout the spots in a media preview at the BC04 headquarters and will make the ads available sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Set your TiVo!

Vice President Cheney is sitting down for rare interviews with all three cable networks today. Cheney will be on Lester Holt Live on MSNBC at 4pm, Wolf Blitzer Reports at 5pm, and Special Report with Brit Hume at 6pm. The interviews will be taped and highlights of all three will be airing throughout the day.

AP's Lindlaw looks at the lines of communication between the White House and the Bush-Cheney '04 office and Notes that ground zero is Karl Rove's second-floor office in the West Wing.

President Bush is requesting up to $1 million in transition funds to be used to train top officials who would join his Administration for a second term — the "first time a president has sought to use public transition funds to prepare officials to enter a re-elected administration," AP reports. LINK Apply the "what if Bill Clinton had done this … " rule to this one … .

Lindlaw reports on the president's involvement in campaign planning — he "gives direction to subordinates on long-range planning, meets with re-election campaign officials on advertising and seeks updates on the political environment in states he plans to visit." LINK

The RNC is hitting the open road in "Reggie the Registration Rig," an 18-wheeler equipped with computers, TVs and multimedia equipment, as part of its efforts to register 3 million new voters this year.

LINK The rig, which will travel around the country next week with the goal of registering 1 million new voters, will be introduced at a media event in Washington tomorrow.

Before then, The Note wants to hear your suggestions for Ed Gillespie's handle (Elephant? The Chairman?) — send them along to politicalunit@abcnews.com LINK

The Washington Post 's Weisman reports that faced with widening deficit forecasts, some Republican senators are drafting legislation that would scale back some of the Bush tax cuts by the end of the decade. LINK Some good news. The Wall Street Journal 's Hagerty and Hilsenrath report "after more than three years of declines in factory jobs, U.S. manufacturers say they are finally starting to hire again as orders rebound, exports perk up and inventories shrink." Even a "tentative" pick-up in the manufacturing sector "could help the Bush administration make a case that the recovery is finally benefiting ordinary Americans, not just corporate profits."

Boston Globe 's Washington looks at how nation building — a word "akin to an expletive" four years ago — is now a defining feature of the Bush Administration.

Administration officials "argue that the Post -Sept. 11 world, where poverty and hopelessness spawn terror and terror threatens US and world security, requires the United States to act to promote freedom and democracy." LINK

While the Washington Post 's Robert Kagan posits that "if there is a substantive critique of Bush foreign policy beyond mere Bush-hatred, it is the administration's failure to win broad international support for the war and for other major policies." LINK The Supreme Court Justices will let Justice Scalia decide whether he should sit on the case involving his hunting partner Dick Cheney's energy policy task force, Washington Post 's Lane reports. LINK With the possibility of a deadlock in the Senate vote on the assault weapons ban today, Democrats were lobbying Vice President Cheney in case he has to cast the deciding votes, AP's Holland reports. LINK

Kerry on The Morning Shows:

Senator John Kerry toured the morning newscasts this morning and was asked a total of about six questions from Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Harry Smith and Brian Kilmeade.

Asked during each appearance about his relationship with John Edwards, Kerry described stories (including in today's New York Times ) that depicted their relationship as frosty as "fiction," "fictional," a "myth," and "mythological."

"I hear there's a story today — I have not seen it. But I think it's fictional to suggest that John and I don't have a relationship," Kerry told ABC's Diane Sawyer, saying that he and Edwards sit next to each other on the floor of the Senate and talk to each other before and after each debate. "It's just a myth if you write anything else."

To Fox News' Brian Kilmeade, Kerry added that he and Edwards barely get to see anybody — "even close friends" — given their schedule, but that "I like him, I respect him, and we will work together in one way or another."

Asked about the votes he planned to make today, Kerry told NBC's Katie Couric that it's "not difficult" to interrupt his campaign to vote on certain bills. "I promised Tom Daschle and my constituents that if there was ever a close vote I'd immediately go back" to DC, Kerry said.

When asked if supports gun licensing, Kerry said no and Noted that "I'm a gun owner Katie and I'm also a hunter, and with the ownership of guns comes a responsibility, so I will vote for the assault weapons ban." He added that Bush is "siding against the police officers of America."

Kerry said there ought to be an "investigation" into the administration's involvement with Haiti, but did so when explicitly asked by Couric where there should be a "Congressional investigation." "I don't know the truth. I really don't," Kerry said. "But I think I need that it needs to be explored." To Sawyer, he repeated his argument that the administration gave the Haitian insurgents "veto power" and argued that "I think the real story is the disengagement of this administration over a long period of time."

On Imus, Kerry sought to clarify his position on a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts banning gay marriage.

Imus said to Kerry: "You said you were for a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts," and Kerry responded by saying: "That's not exactly what I said."

"I'm trying to avoid speculating about what an amendment in Massachusetts may or may not say. It's not up to me to define it," he said. "My position is that marriage is between a man and a woman." Kerry said he also supports civil unions and anti-discrimination measures with the implication being that his support for a Massachusetts amendment is contingent on those protections remaining available.

Kerry has made this point before. But this was a chance for him to tamp down the declarative tone of a recent front-page story in the Boston Globe that made it sound like Kerry was going to support a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts irrespective of its effect on civil unions.

And the award for best question (and response to a Kerry answer) of the morning goes to Fox's Kilmeade, who asked whether his staff was letting him win in the orange bowling contests they hold on his charter plane. "Undoubtedly," Kerry said. "There's no question about it. They're all sucking up to me." Kilmeade's response: "Well it's OK! A win is a win!"

ABC News Vote 2004: Super Tuesday:

The Washington Post 's VandeHei and Harris wrap up the events of Senators Kerry and Edwards the day before the crucial Super Tuesday contests. LINK "Edwards said he plans to stay in the race regardless of Tuesday's results, but he acknowledged the reality that soon he must begin to win primaries, not simply exceed expectations or make the contests close. 'At some point I've got to start getting more delegates, or I'm not going to be the nominee,' he said."

The Los Angeles Times' La Ganga and Martelle write that a "Kerry sweep of today's 10 primaries and caucuses would move the Massachusetts senator within striking distance of the 2,162 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination, while significantly increasing the pressure on Edwards to end his bid." Do check out Kerry's comments on his record as compared to the Senator from North Carolina's, and the section on who has spent what on ads of late. LINK

Sens. Kerry and Edwards "planned to take a break from the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to vote to extend the ban" on "military-style assault weapons," writes Carl Hulse of the New York Times . LINK The Washington Post 's John Harris suggests that the abbreviated nomination schedule "put a greater-than-ever premium on the ephemeral — and some say irrational — phenomenon of political 'momentum'" and may put a candidate like Edwards at a disadvantage. LINK The Washington Post 's Wiggins reports on the new voting equipment in place for Maryland voters today. LINK The Boston Globe 's Raja Mishra writes that Edwards is "facing electoral odds so daunting that even some of his own supporters concede he is in deep trouble if he doesn't win one or more state primaries" today. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Pat Healy reports that Kerry "offered an unusually pointed critique yesterday" of Edwards. LINK

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times profiles the allegedly not-so-close personal relationship of John Kerry and John Edwards. (Check out the Olives cameo and the Bayh weigh-in!) LINK So: in the space of three days, Kerry has attacked the Washington Post AND the New York Times . Attaboy!!!

The New York Times ' David Halbfinger and Randall Archibold focus on Kerry's and Edwards' final hours on the trail before Super Tuesday — Edwards focusing on votes while Kerry focuses on Bush. One sentence guaranteed not to delight Team Edwards: "But unlike in earlier contests in which Mr. Edwards came on strong at the end, the crowds on Monday were meager, the polls discouraging and the endorsements from major newspapers missing." LINK Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times Notes that the Edwards campaign is playing the same ad focusing on jobs in Ohio as it did in South Carolina — except the factory worker in the Ohio spot is white. "Mr. Edwards's media adviser, David Axelrod, said the photograph was switched because of the quality of the picture, not the race of the worker." LINK

In a separate piece about Kerry's likeability, Healy has this Notable paragraph: "From union workers in Ohio and antiwar activists in Georgia to African-American Democrats in California and young New Yorkers like Paulson, dozens of voters interviewed over the last week said they were just starting to search for reasons to like Kerry." LINK

In Roll Call , Donna Brazile offers Kerry some advice: "Build on your primary victories, reach out beyond the people who brought you here, and make sure you have an integrated (and I mean that in all respects) team of regional and national surrogates. Most importantly, make sure you define yourself before you are defined."

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence writes about the doubts surrounding any inevitability of a Kerry-Edwards ticket. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The race for the nomination:

The Washington Post 's Thomas Edsall writes on the new rules established by the Federal Election Commission and Notes that these rules "would threaten plans by Democratic strategists to build a 'shadow party' to mobilize voters and run ads this year, according to lawyers and political operatives." LINK Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune reports on Kerry's courting of the black vote, Noting that their support may be key to beating Bush in the November election. Today's Super Tuesday contests are a dry run for the Senator for motivating black voters to cast their ballots in the general election. LINK

Georgia:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Tom Baxter writes that Georgia might be Edwards' "best chance" for a win or a close finish. LINK USA Today 's Larry Copeland writes about the flag referendum in Georgia today, Noting that "the state's flag is not stirring the usual passions. That's partly because Georgia has been changing flags like a diva switching dresses, and partly because the flag that sparked so much controversy in the first place is not even one of today's choices." LINK

Ohio

The Boston Globe 's Peter Canellos writes that Kerry doesn't have to win in Ohio, "but a weaker-than-expected showing here would carry serious implications for the general election." LINK

Minnesota:

On the same day that Marc Racicot visits Minnesota, Bill Salisbury of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that a local marketing firm primarily patronized by the RNC is fending off accusations from the Kerry camp in a press release that they are calling DFL voters and telling them Kerry cost the state jobs.

Ken Martin, Kerry's state director, called it "the dirtiest kind of Republican political trick." David James, RNC spokesman, denied the allegations.

Also, the GOP has asked Minnesota's AG to bar the Kerry campaign from making automated calls to voters without an operator obtaining the recipient's consent. LINK

Bill Salisbury also gets the lowdown on the state's caucus procedure from Secretary of State Mara Kiffmeyer. LINK

Sharon Shmickle and Dane Smith Note from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that DFL party leaders are projecting double the 2000 and 2002 caucus attendance, putting today's optimistic assessment at 24,000 attendees. LINK

New York:

New York voters are focused on sending a message to President Bush, reports Michael Slackman of the New York Times , who writes that "it has become a cliché this primary season to say that Democrats are looking for anyone who can beat Mr. Bush. But many, in fact, say they are, and polls show that they are turning to Mr. Kerry.". LINK

Massachusetts:

The Boston Globe 's Matthew Rodriguez reports that turnout for Kerry's home state crowd is expected to be about 700,000 in the Democratic primary, which is slightly fewer than how many turned out in 1988. LINK

The Globe's ed board reminds Bay Staters that it shouldn't be "Super Snoozeday, even in Massachusetts," where Kerry may have it locked up because it is "still important to vote." LINK

Rhode Island:

The Providence Journal's Scott MacKay writes that Rhode Islanders will vote today in a contest "that has generated no candidate visits, little visible excitement or interest, and that [Kerry] is expected to win comfortably." LINK

California knows how to party:

ABC's Jake Tapper is on California watch and filed this report:

Gov. Schwarzenegger made one of the final stops in his barnstorming tour of the Golden State on behalf of his ballot initiatives for a $15 billion bond to fend off debt (Prop. 57) and to rewrite the constitution to require balanced budgets (Prop. 58) on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night.

There he was joined by an unlikely ally: the man whose political career he ended just 5 months ago, Gray Davis.

With polls indicating Democratic voters are split on Prop. 57, Davis was just the latest big-name state Democrat to give props to Schwarzenegger's Props; Sen Dianne Feinstein is the highest-profile, appearing in TV ads on their behalf; the co-chair of Schwarzenegger's Props campaign is the Democrat state comptroller. Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 1.4 million here in the Golden State.

Davis is also on something of an image rehab, appearing last night on the CBS sitcom "Yes, Dear."

That Davis's co-starring appearance next to the legendary Tim Conway would be not be his last network TV appearance of the night was made clear when he walked out onto Leno's Burbank studios in the middle of the lantern-jawed host's interview with the governor whose campaign he did so much to help.

"I hope you are here plugging my Proposition 57 and 58," Schwarzenegger yukked.

"I am for 57 and 58," Davis rejoined. "But if you think this is a surprise, wait until Gary Coleman comes out here."

Adding that Schwarzenegger has helped with his acting, "particularly with my pronunciation," Davis did the signature Schwarzenegger line "I'll be back" from "Terminator."

"You have to do it with the Terminator glasses," Schwarzenegger said.

Davis also said he thought "Arnold" was "off to a good start." Referencing a particularly cringe-inducing slice of Schwarzenegger cinema from days gone past, Davis said his replacement was "certainly doing a better job than he did in 'Hercules in New York."'

But with San Fran Mayor Gavin Newsom permitting thousands of gay and lesbian couples to marry in ostensible violation of state law, much of the Leno interview focused on same-sex marriage. (He did so a little more coherently this time than during his pre-election interview when he said "gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.")

The conversation started a bit oddly. After Leno asked him about gay marriage, Schwarzenegger said, "Are you trying to ask me something?"

Leno denied any ulterior motive.

Kerry:

The Washington Post 's Babington and VandeHei Note "Republicans plan to use Congress to pull Senator John F. Kerry and vulnerable Democrats into the cultural wars over gay rights, abortion and guns, envisioning a series of debates and votes that will highlight the candidates' positions on divisive issues, according to congressional aides and GOP officials." LINK From ABC News Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe:

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 2--Senator John Kerry's day leading up to Super Tuesday felt more like a busy general election campaign swing rather than the continuing drama of a two-person nomination contest. In fact, to hear Kerry's trio of stump speeches delivered Monday in Maryland, Ohio, and Georgia, one might believe the only two-man race in the Senator's mind is against President George W. Bush.

In a 35-minute rally cry in which Senator Kerry never once even mentioned Senator Edwards, the Massachusetts Senator instead focused on President Bush, promising, "This is going to be a campaign different from campaigns in the past. This isn't going to be some kind of, you know, we're like them, they're like us, wishy-washy, mealy-mouth, you can't tell the difference deal. This is going to be something where we're giving America a real choice."

But even as Kerry gave glimpse of the anticipated fall campaign to come to in his "Real Deal" spiel at Ohio State University, a young boy in the audience had had enough. Slipping from his mother's grasp, his sneakers plunked to the ground and he began a silent protest.

Cupping a hand over each ear, the young boy paced along the rear security barrier, finally realizing only a direct plea would win his mother's attention. Standing at her waist, the boy looked up and cried, "No más! No más! No más!"

Fortunately for Senator Kerry, the boy did not represent the feelings of the nearly 500 gathered to see the frontrunner on his third trip to Ohio in twelve days.

It is clear, however, the Kerry camp hopes the Junior Senator from Massachusetts racks up big wins on delegate-rich Super Tuesday, forcing the Senior Senator from North Carolina to do his best Roberto Duran in acknowledging either the statistical inevitability or stark reality of Kerry's nomination crown.

In some part, the Kerry camp would like to conclude the nomination phase of the election for all the expected reasons. Facing a $4.5 million onslaught of BC04 ads, now is not the time for any potential Democratic nominee to be draining near-empty coffers of precious resources on the battle when the war is yet to come.

But, it's also a question of energy. Senator Kerry has been campaigning at a near constant pace since December of 2002, hardly even taking a break to recover from prostate cancer surgery early the next year.

Kerry, a meticulous and articulate speaker, tires more easily and is beginning to make small mistakes on the trail.

In Dayton, Ohio last week, the Senator twice referred to Ohio as Iowa and on Monday he ruffled some Buckeyes when beginning his remarks, "We're here at Iowa State, Ohio State. I've got to get it out right."

The Senator is also reverting back to an old habit of stepping on or rushing signature lines, causing events to quickly fall flat.

And new material is sloppy such as when the Senator, in attempt to make an Oscar connection, joked, "Did you see Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings? (It) cleaned up, obviously. I learned that Peter Jackson used 25,000 extras (to make the film). He's created more jobs than George Bush has, ladies and gentlemen."

Unfortunately, a majority of those 25,000 jobs were created in New Zealand where the "outsourced" trilogy filmed.

Nevertheless, the Senator proved he's still quick on his feet. At an otherwise lackluster early morning rally in Baltimore, Senator Kerry introduced his youngest daughter Vanessa Kerry, receiving a rowdy chorus of baritone cheers in response to the 27-year-old Harvard Medical School student's wave.

The Senator, appearing for a moment more like a father than a presidential candidate, warned, "Hey, guys, you gotta talk to me first."

At Kerry's final event at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia, Kerry's voice was noticeably cracking, his throat strained from the most aggressive multi-stop, single day of campaigning in some time.

On Super Tuesday, Senator Kerry will be in the last place the potential Democratic presidential nominee wants to be: Washington, DC. Kerry returns to Capitol Hill, a place at which the 4-term Senator has worked countless days over the last 19 years, but one which he has not seen much of lately.

Kerry has not appeared on the floor of the Senate since Nov. 24, 2003, when he participated in the Medicare prescription drug debate. This time, Senator Kerry heads to the Hill, Secret Service detail in tow, on 1,151-delegate rich Super Tuesday to vote on gun liability legislation.

On Wednesday, Kerry heads to Florida, a 3/9 primary state and, obviously, an important general election state as well.

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

LINK The Boston Herald's Miga speculates on the veepstakes for Kerry, tossing around the usual suspects. LINK

The Herald's Jonathan Wells takes Kerry to task for missing some Senate votes last year, and he puts a little heat on Edwards and Lieberman too but most of it is for Kerry. LINK

Donald Lambro of the Washington Times reports on the recent request Kerry's critics posed to the Senator to make public all documents involving the emergency $6.4 million bank loan he secured on his Boston house late last year to finance his then-struggling campaign. His critics argue that he violated, or at least stretched, campaign finance laws by loaning more to his campaign than his assets justified. LINK The editorial board of the Washington Times Notes Kerry's liberal score on the National Journal's liberal-conservative continuum congressional voting ratings, where the Senator scored a 96.5 — the highest in the Senate. LINK

Edwards:

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria "Please Don't Go Away" Riviera:

ATLANTA, Georgia March 2--Way back before it all started, this whoa-nelly-we-are-a-national campaign (!), and Senator Edwards made his inaugural visit back to reporters' quarters on the campaign plane, the visits were few and far between. He walked slowly down the aisle and often did not make it halfway before heading back to his sequestered section up front. Despite the fact that many of the reporters had been on the trail for months and were on a first name basis with the Senator, he was slightly stilted in navigating the casual, off the record environment. "How are you," he'd ask. "You guys doin' alright?" Maybe the reporters held back as well, unsure of exactly how to go from inter-acting with an ultra-disciplined, always on message candidate to the newly renovated, laid backwards Edwards.

It is stilted no more. Edwards has been back and forth on just about every leg of every trip in the run up to Super Tuesday. Instead of cautious questions that yield cautious answers, reporters and candidate (sometimes) chat with something approaching candor. While it might pale in comparison when veteran campaign reporters spin lore of candidates past, for example there are no nicknames doled out a la Bush, it is significant in another way. Edwards has learned a thing or two along the way, and in no small part that lesson has included press-candidate etiquette 101.

To provide an illustration of how far things have come from sequestered, silent candidate to now: Sunday Edwards' two young children were on board the plane. As Body Man Hunter Pruette put it, three-year-old Jack Edwards has never seen a camera he does not like. In fact he took a real liking to MSNBC embed Dugald McConnell's DV camera, sitting on McConnell's lap as Edward plopped down across from him and settled in for a chat as Jack commandeered the lens. Edwards introduced five-year-old Emma Claire to Dugald as well. This would be the Dugald whose first piece on the campaign was entitled, "Go Away Duglad" because it featured campaign staffers from the candidate on down (Elizabeth Edwards included) saying (not without reason) straight to camera, "Go Away Dugald!" What did Emma Claire have to say upon meeting the famous Dugald? Her eyes widened, "Duuu-gaaalllddd?? Your name is Duuu-gaaalllddd?" Apparently she had not heard that one before.

In fact, on and off the campaign plane, Edwards appears relaxed. It is as if he is fully enjoying this run up to Super Tuesday, despite the daunting polls and the once and for all end of the honeymoon with the national press. Tuesday he canvassed Ohio from Toldeo to Cleveland to Dayton. Attendance was between 200 and 400 at Monday's events, culminating with a Hootie and the Blowfish concert in Macon, Georgia. The concert was held in a massive hanger space, which was just about half-filled what with equipment and staff and a less than elbow-to-elbow audience.

Senator Edwards has been here before, a primary day that could make or break his campaign. But this time it has come down to two. Though the vertical on the uphill battle against Senator Kerry is clear, his stump speech reminds audiences of the hills he has climbed thus far in his life; getting to college, becoming a lawyer and "taking on the Jesse Helms political machine" when he ran for Senate.

He seems the picture of confidence. Perhaps he knows something the rest of us don't. Or perhaps he is satisfied he has already achieved what he set out to do, and it is simple. He has run a national campaign that ostensibly reached the goals he set out for himself at the outset; establishing him as a powerful force of potential within the party and having no small amount of fun along the way. No matter what happens on Super Tuesday, that much is done.

Read more from the trail with Edwards on abcnews.com: LINK The Los Angeles Times runs the AP story on Edwards accepting lobbyist money. LINK

The Hill reports on a loan John Edwards gave to a federal judge. Jonathan Turley says the arrangement "presented a 'compelling case of conflict of interest.'" Kim Rubey says "Edwards made the loan to help Leonard while he was going through a divorce. She said Leonard needed the loan because his assets were tied up in joint accounts." We bet we see more on this, if the campaign goes on … LINK

David Brooks takes the opportunity to praise John Edwards for talking about poverty on the trail, but finds fault in the way he views it, writing, "Edwards is right to talk about poverty, but by resorting to crude, populist rhetoric, he is leading in the wrong direction." LINK John Wagner of the Raleigh News and Observer reports on the same, Noting the modest crowds, dispiriting poll numbers and audience members wondering if his presidential bid was about to end who showed up for yesterday's string of stump speeches. LINK

Jim Morrill of the Charlotte Observer reports on the unlikely coalition of supporters Edwards has forged — from NASCAR fans to Deaniacs to lesbians to angry Bush voters — an eclectic group of supporters the Senator needs to keep his campaign alive and moving beyond Super Tuesday. LINK

Kucinich:

Sometimes party-gal Jennifer 8. Lee of the New York Times looks at Dennis Kucinich's prospects back home, finding some who "share the view that Mr. Kucinich's continuing candidacy is embarrassing a city that has historically worried about its image." LINK

Sharpton:

The New York Post 's Orin writes, "Democratic strategists say (Al) Sharpton has no chance of getting a prime-time TV speech at July's Boston convention. And he certainly won't have an evening devoted to celebrating his family as (Jesse) Jackson did in 1988." LINK He's not going to Haiti, by the way.

Comedy In Politics:

The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, sponsored by HBO, will be hitting the slopes in Aspen this week (Weds. — Fri.) with a special feature called "Who's Funnier — The Left or the Right?" LINK

(Why the binary opposition, guys? Centrists are a hoot, too!)

According to the USCAF press release, this feature "will explore how comedy is the intersection of entertainment and politics," which you may have seen illustrated in Sunday's debate.

Moderated by that other network's Campbell Brown, the panel will include John Podesta (his Center for American Progress is sponsoring the event), Janeane Garofalo, Mike Murphy, Gary Trudeau, Matt Cooper, Stephen Colbert of The Daily Show, and Phil Hendrie of talk radio fame. Aren't you laughing just thinking about it?

The state of political satire will be discussed among the editors and staff of that laugh-out-loud publication known as The Onion. LINK

The Onion Live! will be moderated by CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Democratic National Convention:

The Boston Globe 's Joan Vennochi writes that "civic pride seems to be taking a back seat to more-traditional Boston concerns such as political turf wars, nailing contracts for friends of the mayor, and using the upcoming convention as leverage in union negotiations." LINK

Politics:

In a piece that is sure to make the DNC folks smile ear-to-ear, the Wall Street Journal reports that business is benefitting from the Medicare drug bill passed last year, writing the measure "is having a healthy effect on the outlook for corporate finances."

Education Secretary Rod Paige apologized again yesterday for calling the National Education Association a "terrorist organization" after meeting with 50 of America's top teachers, reports Sam Dillon of the New York Times . Last year's National Teacher of the Year says she doesn't think teachers will ever forget "'his insulting remark.'" LINK The New York Times ' ed board pleads with Democrats to stop bashing No Child Left Behind, but rather come up with solid reforms to make it work. LINK The Wall Street Journal 's Alan Murray says there's no place for a "raging moderate" like himself to go this campaign cycle, as each party plays to its base.

The Economy:

The Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen offers a really must-read on the economy as Rorschach Test (LINK) or Faulkner novel (Come to think of it, maybe they are the same thing?)

Writes Chen, the economy's recent "mixed signals have allowed the president and his rivals to paint vastly different — yet plausible — pictures of the U.S. workforce and its prospects." LINK

Those are fightin' words indeed —

"'He's so square, he's hip.'" The New York Times ' Seeyle goes back to the well and profiles Bob Dole, the new political night pundit. LINK

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

The Wall Street Journal 's Jeanne Cummings reports the Federal Election Commission begins debating "regulation of new political groups created after the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law," writing that "final action isn't expected until May, which means any new rules would only apply to the last six months of the 2004 campaign. But the stakes are huge, especially for Democrats, since the new regulations will define how active a role the groups can play."

Do look at Cummings' smartly broken-down explanation of the "four key issues" the FEC must now "resolve" when it comes to the groups.

The Hill reports the FEC Office of General Counsel "yesterday proposed a tough set of rules to regulate independent groups that plan to spend tens of millions of dollars in soft money in this election year." LINK

Our friends from the right at Human Events does a "who's who" at America Coming Together! LINK

The Associated Press reports on the FEC's expected decision soon on spending by interest groups. LINK

The Clintons Of Chappaqua

Barbra still loves Bill, reports Liz! LINK

You gotta read La Liz's chronicle of a Pacific Palisades gathering for Senator Boxer last week.

Politics Of Gay Marriage:

The Washington Post 's Dionne suggests that when its comes to same-sex marriage "the paradox is that the Democratic muddle may be closer to the public's view than Bush's embrace of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage." LINK The comparisons of the fight for gay marriage to the civil rights movement is not sitting well with some black African Americans, "who are offended that their struggle for equal rights is being associated with the dismantling of what they consider a divinely inspired and socially essential institution," the Washington Times reports.

LINK

House Of Labor:

Hot off the presses for some of our favorite Note readers: A look at the AFL-CIO's upcoming Bal Harbour hoe-down. Things sure have quieted down in the House of Labor — but we bet there will be at least a few sparks when the the family comes together next week in the Sunshine State.

Some highlights of the Mar. 9 — 11 gathering:

A Tuesday morning talk from Rep. Nancy Pelosi and John Podesta on America's "economic crisis."

A Wednesday morning appearance by Rep. Dick Gephardt, who is slated to talk about workers' rights to organize.

And a Wednesday afternoon newser with AFL-CIO Pres. John Sweeney and AFL-CIO Political Director Karen Ackerman on the Labor 2004 voter mobilization program.

We hear that one Candidate Kerry might be making a cameo — or at least a speech — at the labor family reunion, but no date yet announced for that one.

And in the Note's latest segment of "Where's Howard," ABC's Gayle Tzemach reports this Tuesday morning that Kerry's former frontrunning rival Gov. Dean is expected to stop by SEIU headquarters Friday to meet with Andy Stern and thank the folks on L St. No word yet on whether the Stern crew will be joining in the 527 fun the Governor says he is now cooking up.

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