The Note

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

—8:30 am: C-Change co-chairs former President George Bush and Sen. Dianne Feinstein announce a partnership to "dramatically reduce cancer cases and deaths by the year 2010," Washington, D.C. —8:45 am: House Speaker Dennis Hastert receives the Boy Scouts annual report to Congress at the Capitol, Washington, D.C. —8:45 am: Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks on proposed changes in U.S. manufacturing, research, tax and trade policy to the Center for American Progress at the Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C. —9:00 am: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and African American and Hispanic leaders of the Alliance of Marriage speak to the press, Washington, D.C. —9:00 am: Republican House Leaders speak to the press about Sen. John Kerry outside RNC headquarters, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: The House of Representatives convenes for legislative business —10:00 am: The Supreme Court meets to hear arguments —11:30 am: Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle speaks to the press about tax breaks for U.S. exporters, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other supporters of the assault weapons ban speak to the press, Washington, D.C. —12:15 pm: Sen. John Kerry receives the endorsement of Sen. Bob Graham at the Plaza Theatre, Orlando, Fla. —12:40 pm: Rep. Dennis Kucinich attends a presentation at Royalty Theater, Clearwater, Fla. —1:00 pm: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hosts a reception honoring Mary McGrory, Washington, D.C. —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC NEWS LIVE and AOL —2:00 pm: Federal Reserve Board releases the Beige Book —2:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a presentation at St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg, Fla. —2:45 pm: Sen. Clinton holds a conference call on the effort to preserve overtime pay for military veterans —3:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich meets with community religious leaders at the Word of Life Fellowship, St. Petersburg, Fla. —4:00 pm: Sen. John Edwards announces that he is dropping out of the presidential race at Broughton High School, Raleigh, N.C. —4:30 am: Treasury Secretary John Snow delivers the 24th Annual Manuel Cohen Memorial Lecture at George Washington law school, Washington, D.C. —5:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich walks to his campaign office, St. Petersburg, Fla. —5:00 pm: President Bush speaks at the 11th Regional White House Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, Calif. —5:00 pm: Sens. Frist and Daschle co-host the Bread for the World reception, Washington, D.C. —5:45 pm: House Speaker Hastert, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton speak about the 9/11 Commission, Washington, D.C. —7:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a forum at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla. —8:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a reception for student leaders at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla. —8:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a reception for the African Studies Program at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla. —8:35 pm: President Bush attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, Calif. —9:10 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a fundraiser and rally at the Skippers Smokehouse, Tampa, Fla. —9:15 pm: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger meets with President Bush at a private reception, Los Angeles, Calif. —10:00 pm: President Bush speaks at the Republican National Committee Victory 2004 Dinner, Los Angeles, Calif.


Get ready, America.

The Republican and Democratic Parties proudly present — Bush versus Kerry!!!!

Much has been written and said about the president's political strengths and weaknesses, but here's where we see Senator Kerry at this writing.

Kerry advantages:

1. Democratic Party (relatively) united and determined to beat Bush

2. emerges with no significant character questions/problems to fix (think Gore/lying liberal '00 and Clinton/womanizer/draft dodger '92)

3. strong favorable/unfavorable ratings

4. grew stronger through nomination process, while Bush grew weaker (as if Bush had the nomination challenge and Kerry didn't)

5. can raise unlimited money because he didn't accept the federal campaign matching funds

6. didn't get forced (much) to the left by the nomination process

7. the overlay of the job loss and electoral college battleground maps

8. no major conflicts with liberals, labor, African-Americans, or the congressional wing of the party

9. newly elected, politically savvy governors in many of the battleground states

10. a distinguished war record running against two men who didn't see combat

Kerry disadvantages:

1. will have to spend a lot of time raising money in the spring

2. the president's unprecedented campaign cash — more than $100 million in the bank and counting

3. despite his momentum, has yet to put any Bush "red states" play, leaving the president with a big Electoral College base

4. a long record of votes in Congress to pick over, with lots of liberal votes and statements (all catalogued already by BCRNC)

5. still struggles to regularly perform effectively on the stump — especially in driving a positive economic message

6. Bush in-roads with Hispanics and Jews

7. Bush overwhelming support among men

8. no deep personal connection with the American people — with his base or the broader electorate

9. the never-gonna-fully-go-away "likeability" questions

10. easy nomination means he and his team haven't been forced to be disciplined and consistent in message and organization

Two more things about Kerry:

ABC News has learned that the person considered the leading and most likely candidate to head the Kerry Veep selection process is Democratic wise man Jim Johnson.

Johnson is the vice chairman of Perseus, L.L.C., a merchant banking and private equity firm, and chairman of both Brookings' board of trustees and the John F. Kennedy Center.

He was Vice President Walter Mondale's executive assistant from 1977 until 1981, when he founded Public Strategies, which advised corporations on "strategic issues," to say the least.

He joined Lehman Brothers as a managing director in the mid 1980s and in 1991 became the chairman and CEO (and "$7 million man") of Fannie Mae. [Mickey Kaus once called him "Washington's equivalent of Michael Eisner."] He lives with his wife and son in Washington, D.C.

And various Democratic sources tell us that the Kerry high command, including campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, have some pretty specific ideas about the role the Democratic National Committee should be playing — and let's just say that we might see some visible and not-so-visible DNC players with diminished roles in the days and weeks ahead. (Over to you, Jim VandeHei — what with Rick Berke out of the writing game.)

ABC News' Bush-Cheney campaign reporter Karen Travers, who always hangs out with the cool kids, reports that the place to be at 9:30 am ET today is actually across the Potomac River and straight up Wilson Boulevard to the BC04 campaign headquarters, where the campaign leadership and media team will unveil the first ads of the general election. The BC04 ads in airable form will be made available to the media at 1:00 pm ET today.

Campaign manger Ken Mehlman, chief strategist Matt Dowd, and media guru Mark McKinnon will brief reporters.

The campaign plans to spend over $4.5 million on this first round of ads which will feature at two English language ads (one 60-second spot and two 30-second spots) and one 30-second Spanish language ad (that will be the Spanish version of one of the English spots), with the potential for more.

The Bush team has done its usual remarkable job of keeping things that can be kept secret a secret. Some details of the ad buy can't be close hold, because, well, the cable systems and stations talk, but no one has gotten a whiff of what is in the (term of art alert!) creative.

We liked the shot of the little running girl in the first BC04 Web video, and we hope she makes a return cameo in these.

Kerry campaign spokesgal Stephanie Cutter (who made her own triumphal return to The Hill yesterday) gave The Note this exclusive pre-buttal, which, to be clear, was given before she was able to see the ads or even read scripts:

"Here's the bottom line: George Bush can't rewrite history with $150 million. George Bush is going to spend more on this election than any candidate in the nation's history to help whitewash over all his broken promises on jobs, health care, education and national security. The real story here is what's NOT in the new Bush ads, because this president acts as though the last three and a half years never happened."

John Kerry's incredibly impressive Super Tuesday performance not only added an additional nine nomination contest victories to his total (27 of 30 for you counting at home) but also allowed him to pick up the great majority of delegates at stake on this delegate-rich day.

We have been able to allocate 72 percent of the delegates at stake yesterday as of this writing.

As you know, the delegate estimate is just that — an estimate.

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

Kerry 1292 (roughly 60% of the total delegates needed to secure the nomination)

Edwards 425

Sharpton 23

Kucinich 19

Delegates needed to win the nomination: 2,162

Delegates at stake March 2: 1,151

How Tuesday's delegates have been allocated thus far: (72% of the delegates at stake today have been allocated)

Kerry 578

Edwards 226

Dean 9

Kucinich 9

Sharpton 8

A total of 321 delegates have yet to be allocated from California, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

*The totals in the "delegates so far" estimate 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.

President Bush is in California today, talking about faith-based and community initiatives in Los Angeles, where he will also attend a fundraiser and address the Republican National Committee Victory 2004 dinner.

Senator Kerry is in Florida.

Senator Edwards is in Raleigh, North Carolina and is expected to announce that he is dropping out.

Rep. Kucinich is in Florida.

Rev. Sharpton is in New York.

ABC News Vote 2004: Super Tuesday: Here's a state-by-state roundup of results from all of the nominating contests to date:LINK

The New York Times ' Kit Seelye and Janet Elder writes that a "broad cross section of the Democratic electorate" helped Kerry in his victories Tuesday night. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Brownstein writes Kerry won every key group handily — except independents. LINK

At the polls, Democrats talk of beating Bush in November, writes Rick Lyman of the New York Times . LINK

Jeff Zeleny of the Chicago Tribune rounds up yesterday's contests, reporting on Kerry's commanding wins, Dean's surprising victory in his home state, and Edwards step-aside to clear the way for Kerry in the upcoming general election. LINK

How many synonymous phrases can reporters come up with to describe a candidate who's accumulated enough delegates to force out his opponents and effectively assume the Democratic presidential nomination? Let's take a look . . . .

The Washington Post 's Dan Balz reports "Senator John F. Kerry put a lock on the Democratic presidential nomination last night with a series of lopsided Super Tuesday victories in New York, Ohio, Maryland and elsewhere that ended Senator John Edwards's slender hopes of keeping the race alive." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Kornblut writes that Kerry "cleared a straight path" to the nomination. LINK

The AP's Fournier writes that Kerry "cemented" the nomination. LINK

The Boston Herald's Guarino says Kerry "locked his grip" on it. LINK

Knight Ridder's Thomma writes that Kerry "clinched" it. LINK

USA Today 's Welch gives state-by-state recaps. LINK

The Daily News says New York was Kerry Country Tuesday. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Healy recounts Kerry's long journey to the nomination. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Canellos writes that, for voters, "it was all about the resume." LINK

USA Today 's Welch reports from Kerry's election night party. LINK

Last night as the returns were coming in and the polls were just about to close in three states, President Bush put a call out Senator Kerry and told him that he had an impressive victory, Bush-Cheney '04 press secretary Scott Stanzel confirmed last night. The president said that Kerry won the nomination against a tough field and that he was looking forward to a spirited race.

This marks the first call from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to a Democratic contender this nomination season.

New York Post 's Orin Notes that it's not standard practice for a sitting president to extend this sort of call: "'I'm not aware of this happening in the past,' said [BC04 spokesman Terry] Holt. 'I think you can take it at face value. This is, in many ways, the beginning of the election season and I think [Bush] wanted to extend his hand across the aisle.'" LINK

The Boston Herald's Miga and Straub recount the phone call from the president and Kerry campaign's agenda for the near future. LINK

USA Today reports the president told Kerry, "'I'm thinking about you.'" LINK

"Because the country remains almost mathematically balanced between the parties and because neither man shed blood in securing the nomination, they enter the general election on unexpectedly even terms," writes The Washington Post 's David Broder of the general election. LINK

Michael Tackett of the Chicago Tribune Notes the sharp choices voters will face in November between two diametrically opposed candidates. LINK

Roll Call 's Cillizza and Kane report that "party strategists expressed a mixture of relief and trepidation Tuesday about [Kerry's] potential effect on Senate and House races around the country."

The Washington Post 's Howard Kurtz writes that "the pundits couldn't wait to hustle John Edwards off the stage." LINK

The Washington Post 's editorial board thinks that the primary system worked quite well for the Democratic Party. LINK

The New York Observer says Terry gets his day! And now it's all about the cash. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: President Bush heads out to California as part of a six-day trip out of Washington, stopping first in Los Angeles today for a speech and fundraisers for the BC04 campaign and the RNC.

Los Angeles Times' Anderson and Chen look at the president's trip to the Sunshine State, where he is having little trouble raising money. LINK

President Bush will attend five fundraisers in six days, reports AP's Loven. LINK

"On the busiest primary day of the election year for the Democrats, Vice President Dick Cheney sat for three nationally televised cable interviews on Tuesday, an unusual schedule for an official who does not often take questions from national reporters," writes Michael Janofsky of the New York Times . LINK

The Vice President was pressed on the issue of gay marriage but did not say whether he personally supported the amendment endorsed by the president, saying "He makes the decisions. He sets policy for the administration. And I support him and the administration."

Mr. Cheney did address the questions about him remaining on the ticket in November and said there was "no doubt" in his mind it would still be a Bush-Cheney ticket.

The Washington Post 's Mike Allen reports that to mark the beginning of the campaign, the White House held an Oval Office session "designed to show Bush as eager to campaign and fight back against Kerry, and to portray the president as engaged in the issues of the day." LINK

The Washington Post 's Milbank and Wright suggest that in order for him to do well in the general election,"Bush needs to show by this fall that democracy is waxing in Iraq and violence is waning." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson looks at the financial advantage the Bush campaign has, sitting on a $100 million war chest.LINK

Today, Ed Gillespie will unveil the RNC's new 18-wheeler, "Reggie the Rig," that will travel across the country next week for voter registration drives.

Gillespie will speak to reporters and then give a tour of his new wheels.

(Note to Katie — and Blaise — thanks!!)

Will Jim Dyke pull an Ashton and don the trucker hat for an episode of MTV's "Pimp My Ride?"

Link for those not glued to the Real World on Super Tuesday at 10:00 pm ET: LINK

The show, which pledges to "blow your doors off when we show you how to transform your tired old hatchback into a full-fledged, fully-loaded pimp chariot," premieres on Thursday night — coincidence?

And so many suggestions for the Chairman's CB handle, we couldn't print them all — but thanks for playing and we hope that you will hear one of the following on the highway soon:

The Tusk (suggested by multiple readers)

GOPUS — GOP + US, pronounced go-pus

RuCUS — Republican Chairman of the US, pronounced ruckus

Cardinal Ed — in honor of Mr. Gillespie's alma mater

Cornelius — in honor of the elephant who serves as Babar's counselor

Jaberwocky (we're not really sure what this means either in this context . . .)

In a speech yesterday marking first anniversary of the Homeland Security Department, President "Bush cast the renewal of the law, the USA Patriot Act, as essential to protecting the United States from terrorist attacks" writes Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times . LINK

President Bush is among those nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. LINK

Kerry: ABC News' Kate Snow reports that Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.) will attend Senator John Kerry's 12:15 pm ET event in Orlando to endorse the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Graham, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, is also expected to criticize the administration's homeland security efforts. The Kerry campaign fully expects that Graham, popular in Florida (although somewhat less so now than he was before he ran for president), will help Kerry in the general election with the all important Florida voters.

Kerry will not change his message in any dramatic way today, continuing his stump speech that has, for the last few weeks or so, ignored his Democratic rivals and kept President Bush in the crosshairs.

In addition, Snow reports, the Kerry campaign is "contemplating" going on the air with ads this week to face off against the Bush-Cheney ad offensive. They're waiting to see the Bush ads when they're unveiled, but they're scoping out various markets — including in the March 9 states — Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

Stephanie Cutter tells Snow that the campaign is trying to decide whether to go on the air in Florida and Louisiana, depending on what they see in the Bush-Cheney spots. "We're ready to go, but we haven't made the decision of whether it's worth it," Cutter said. "We've got so much free media right now."

The Associated Press reported yesterday that the Kerry camp is looking at going up in Northern Virginia, but Snow reports that campaign aides say such a buy is unlikely, given the expense-to-benefit ratio. An Internet ad, however, is on the table as a possibility, and they welcome the spots soon to hit the airwaves from the Voter Fund, which will take some of the pressure off of them.

Meanwhile, Snow Notes, the Kerry camp is looking at new office space (an empty law firm) this morning in downtown Washington — that is five times as big as their old offices.

The New York Times ' Nagourney writes that Kerry has "effectively" won the Democratic nomination, but plans to campaign through Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida next Tuesday. LINK

John Kerry won the sprint to the nomination, but now he faces a marathon to November, writes Todd Purdum of the New York Times . LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Barabak and Martelle writes Kerry faces a tougher fight in the general. LINK

Jill Zuckman of the Tribune reports on Kerry's next moves as he lays out a game plan for the general-election battle, Noting the immediate challenges he faces as a national candidate. LINK

The Washington Post 's VandeHei Notes that Senator John Kerry "is poised to emerge from the presidential nominating process not only victorious but also in stronger shape than few Democrats — or Republicans — ever imagined." LINK

William Safire writes of the various Kerry's he's seen, and looks ahead to the next phase(s) of the campaign. LINK

Don Hudson of the Charlotte Observer Notes that, though Kerry is riding high on waves of early contest momentum, Bush retains the home field, incumbency advantage with control over may factors that could make or break the potential for a Kerry surge. LINK

Andy Kanengiser of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger Notes that a group of 28 Mississippi lawmakers endorsed Kerry for president, claiming he "has a better shot than anybody else" of claming the nomination. But, according to many, the state still overwhelmingly remains Bush country. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' La Ganga looks ahead to the race to define Kerry — by both sides. LINK

The Boston Globe 's columnists all sound off on the results with key points of focus on Kerry:

-Jackson — heart LINK

-Oliphant — spending LINK

-Vennochi — ambition LINK

-Lehigh — Edwards LINK

-Jacoby — substance LINK

The Hill's Dealey looks at the funds Kerry has received from those now-infamous "Benedict Arnold CEOs." LINK

From ABC News' Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe:

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 2 — As Senator John F. Kerry waited to celebrate his newly earned, statistically official title of Democratic presidential nominee at an 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue party, an operator five blocks down the street prepared a call from President George W. Bush.

At 7:50 pm ET, the president congratulated his challenger in what Kerry described as "a very nice conversation."

Then Kerry, who more often invoked Bush than any of his Democratic rivals on the stump, said, "I hope we have a great debate about the issues before the country."

In essence, Kerry has already commenced that "great debate," framing himself as Bush's central foe throughout the nomination process. Even in celebrating a victory a hard-fought year in the making, a senior Kerry aide cheered with political overtones, "We're going to Disneyland, in every way, shape, and form."

And indeed, Kerry will make his first post-Super Tuesday stop in the 2000 battleground state of Florida (Granted, home of Disney World, not Disneyland.).

Kerry will rest his voice on Thursday in Boston, and the campaign will not change his schedule, heading to each of the remaining March 9 states — Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas — through the weekend.

But as Bush-Cheney '04 goes up with $4.5 million in strategically placed ads, the Kerry camp will immediately feel the pinch of a contested nomination contest.

Senior Kerry aides estimate his coffers are filled with no more than $3 million (while the Bush-Cheney team holds 33 times that amount). But, Kerry communications director Stephanie Cutter pledges the candidate will head to fundraisers "everywhere," including drilling for cash in the president's home state of Texas.

The Democratic National Committee, with $15 million already armed and ready, will also hold a fundraiser for Kerry on March 25.

And, looking way down the road with tea leaves in hand, it's worth Noting that Kerry spent the first four minutes of his 19-minute victory speech praising former rivals Senator John Edwards and Gov. Howard Dean.

Kerry effusively praised Edwards for a "gracious" and "powerful" campaign, while thanking Dean for the "unprecedented contribution that he has made to our party and our country."

Earlier in the evening, Kerry spent 10 to 15 minutes talking with Edwards about the direction of the Democratic campaign, and the two congratulated each other on their respective campaigns. In the end, Edwards reached out to Kerry for a private meeting some time in the near future.

One group, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, has already reached out to Kerry. The legal group, long committed to Edwards, will meet with campaign officials Wednesday. Kate Snow also reports that Edwards, in a 10-15 minute phone conversation with Kerry yesterday, pledged to raise money for him.

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK

Edwards: USA Today 's Lawrence writes that Edwards started the race "as an asterisk and ends it with a national reputation." LINK

In a separate piece, Lawrence goes over the differences between Edwards and Kerry to determine why Kerry won. LINK

The Washington Post 's Harris Notes "for all the positive things people said about {Senator Edwards} and the positive message he ran on, he could not persuade most Democratic voters that he was the party's most plausible nominee against President Bush this fall." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Martelle on Edwards as Democratic "star" after this first presidential bid. LINK

Randal Archibold of the New York Times writes that Edwards will announce his departure from the presidential race at the high school his late son Wade attended. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Mishra reports on Edwards' kind words for Kerry and his exit today. LINK

And lots of Edwards nostalgia from North Carolina today:

Jim Morrill and Tim Funk of the Charlotte Observer report on Edwards bow out of the race for the Democratic nomination, Noting that he even offered supporters in last night's speech a eulogy for his own efforts on the campaign trail. LINK

John Wagner and Dan Kane of the Raleigh News and Observer report on the withdraw of Edwards from the competition, marking the end of an improbable campaign for the presidency that swept many up with its message of positivism, eliminating poverty, bettering race relations and fighting for civil rights. LINK

John Wagner of the Raleigh News and Observer reports on Edwards travel to Raleigh, where he is expected to officially announce his withdraw from the race. LINK

Rob Christensen of the Raleigh News and Observer Notes Edwards rise out of political oblivion to assuming a leading role as a contender for the nomination, Noting that — though he stopped short of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — while on the campaign trail he impressed voters with a fresh face, optimistic voice, and promising message. LINK

Lynn Bonner of the Raleigh News and Observer Notes that Edwards supporters have been slow to concede their candidate is leaving the contest. LINK

The waiting is over. Now that his campaign has come to an end, the Raleigh News & Observer has learned that Edwards' Secret Service code name was "Speedway." LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

ATLANTA, March 2 — They were, like the candidate they believe in, disciplined as all get out.

Not 10 minutes before Senator John Edwards was to take the stage in Atlanta, spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri maintained the campaign was "goin' to Dallas!" She even said it with half a smile.

But in looking at the scrum of reporters around her, there were few familiar faces from the travel press — a sign that those who were in the know … knew. There would be no plane to Dallas for the Edwards campaign the night of Super Tuesday. Despite guarantees from senior aides on down, despite a released schedule that outlined the rest of the week with stops throughout Louisiana and Mississippi, the John Edwards 2004 campaign would effectively end on March 2.

Some would say there have been surprises along the way. Others would say everything has gone according to a disciplined plan. Everyone will agree, at the last minute Edwards got out at a well-timed moment. Had the travel press embarked en route to Texas, the next day's stories would have been brutal. Now that they've landed in Raleigh, the stories will say it was a well-timed final bow, reaping the benefits of a fine-tuned exit.

There was a seemingly endless moment of slightly uncomfortable pause in the ballroom as reporters, supporters and staff waited for Edwards to take the stage. And when he did, delivering a short laudatory speech praising Senator Kerry and vowing to fight for Democratic ideals, there was less of the press sprint for Blackberry pagers and cell phones and more of ambling around looking for signs of what next. In the meandering crowd one voice rang out. "Only one dollar!" yelled a man selling 'Edwards for President' buttons. "They used to be five, now one dollar!"

For six months, this reporter has observed a candidate's journey from who-does-he-think-he-is to who-is-one-of-two-still-standing-now? From the moment the campaign first caught wind of the Des Moines Register endorsement in freezing January Iowa temperatures and sped down the highway with a brief stop of celebration at Wendy's, to three-overflow room events in Minnesota full of former Dean supporters who carried the potential promise of a grassroots movement moving to Edwards. The potential of promise, in the end undelivered but still established. For now, or four years hence.

However dire any campaign is on the day it realizes the end, the Edwards campaign carried an air of success even on the way to Raleigh. Edwards was smiling, and there were few tears — at least among the traveling staff. Although it is hard to let go of that at times intangible sense of possibility, this campaign has done so with grace. As hard as it was to see a clear path out once Kerry established his lead, the campaign pressed on until they reaped the outside benefits. The Edwards campaign will be remembered for its positive message, for speaking of poverty and for a charismatic candidate at ease on the trail as much as anywhere else.

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK

Veepstakes: On "Good Morning America" today, ABC News' Claire Shipman looked at the "sexiest" parlor game in Washington: Who will Kerry pick as his running mate?

Shipman looked at the strengths and weaknesses of three possible contenders: Senator John Edwards, Rep. Dick Gephardt and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Her regional candidate? Senator Bob Graham of Florida. Her two wild cards? Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Senator John McCain.

The New York Times ed board expresses disapproval of the "irrational" nomination schedule and says Edwards is an "excellent prospect for a running mate." LINK

The Los Angeles Times says Edwards is no shoo-in for No. 2. LINK

In the New York Times opinion page, NYU Prof. Stephen Gillers weighs in on veepstakes possibles — and argues for one Bill Clinton. LINK

The New York Post 's Orin runs through a list of veep prospects. LINK

Dean: The New York Times ' Jodi Wilgoren writes of Dr. Dean's continued winning ways in Vermont. LINK

Sharpton: The New York Times ' Slackman and Connelly write about Rev. Sharpton's "single-digit showings" and where he goes from here. LINK

The New York Post on what it calls Sharpton's "abysmal" New York showing. LINK

From ABC News Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

NEW YORK, March 2 — Rev. Al Sharpton, despite a lackluster finish in his home state, is still in the race, but his tone has changed. Departing from his constant assurance that he is in it until the convention, Sharpton said he is willing to negotiate.

He said he would be willing to drop out and endorse John Kerry if the DNC and/or Kerry agrees to support his urban agenda. But for now, he still has issues to address.

Awaiting his nearly two-hour late arrival at Jimmy's Uptown in Harlem, a swarm of press (many nervous about their 11:00 pm ET show times) gathered, twiddling thumbs, while about 30 supporters sipped cocktails and a few danced to Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." One lively supporter exclaimed, "If they didn't have all these cameras and radio and newspapers, Rev. Sharpton would be leading this race."

Taking the stage amid many of his local endorsers, Sharpton stopped short of declaring his March 2 showing a glowing victory. He thanked his supporters, his campaign staff, and his family. He said that he beat the pundits who said he wouldn't get over 5 percent in New York and ignored those that said a less than 15 percent showing is a failure. He took pride in "winning half the black vote in New York City."

In response to reports about Edwards' departure, Sharpton said, "I guess he was more concerned with running for the office than affecting the race."

The Reverend maintains that, given the odds, his campaign has been a success, but the demeanor of his staff told a different story. There was both a sense of disappointment and relief (that, perhaps, the end is in sight).

For the first time since the beginning of his campaign, Sharpton said he wouldn't predict his role at the convention, whereas in the past he has said, "I'll either speak inside the convention or outside in the parking lot."

Still, the Reverend told the press that he is both heading to Florida to campaign and continuing to monitor the situation in Haiti.

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK

California: The Los Angeles Times' Finnegan says the Governator got a vote of confidence Tuesday as his ballot measures won the day. LINK

Schwarzenegger scores a win as his fiscal plan passes, reports the New York Times ' Broder. LINK

Georgia: The New York Times on the year-old flag's win in Georgia. LINK

Democratic National Convention: The Boston Globe 's Andrea Estes reports that less "than five months before the Democratic National Convention comes to town, organizers yesterday said they are $7.5 million shy of their fund-raising goal of $39.5 million." LINK

The Boston Herald's David Guarino reports that Kerry has tapped Boston-based consultant Jack Corrigan to be his point man to the Democratic National Convention. LINK

Big Casino budget politics: Senator Nickles will introduce a budget resolution trimming the president's defense spending request, reports the New York Times . LINK

The Washington Post 's Edward Walsh reports that "leaders of veterans' organizations and a union that represents VA workers are voicing strong criticism of Bush's fiscal 2005 budget plan." LINK

The economy: The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip writes on Alan Greenspan's comments that "interest rates are too low for long-term economic stability and will have to rise at some point."

Politics: The Washington Post 's Helen Dewar writes "Senate sponsors of legislation to shield the firearms industry from lawsuits yesterday abruptly killed their own bill after it was amended to renew an expiring ban on assault weapons and to require background checks for gun show purchases." LINK

The New York Times ' Stolberg on the demise of a measure to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. LINK

The Hill's Earle reports CAFTA is suffering from a political hangover brought on by NAFTA as Dems split on the measure. LINK

The politics of national security: Philip Shenon of the New York Times reports the Sept. 11 investigation commission is wrestling with White House interview restrictions and wants Condoleezza Rice to testify in public. LINK

The politics of gay marriage: The Washington Post 's Rene Sanchez reports "California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a national television audience Monday night that he would not object if state law were changed to allow gay marriage and that he strongly opposes President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment barring such unions." LINK

In a Washington Post op-ed, Steven Waldman of Beliefnet suggests "President Bush's endorsement of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage could prove to be a great moment for gay rights" because of his decision to "support the rights of states to provide various partnership benefits, including civil unions." LINK

The New York Times ' Jacobs reports that in Georgia, black lawmakers have helped block an amendment banning gay marriages. LINK

The AP reports gay marriages are to begin in Oregon. LINK

Salon finds some uneasiness about the same-sex marriage fight in Massachusetts' gay community. LINK

Gabriel Wasserman of the Poughkeepsie Journal reports on the case of New Paltz Mayor Jason West, who faces 19 counts of ''solemnizing a marriage without a license,'' a misdemeanor, for marrying gay couples in his city on Friday. LINK

A year of celebrating humor in the James S. Brady Press Room: A year ago today, now 18-year-old Henry Seltzer created a Web site with the intention of showcasing what he considered Ari Fleischer's (remember him?) "underreported humor." LINK

At the time, Seltzer told The Note that he was hoping for an on-the-record response from his subject. He settled for a year of White House humor.

Note: the site now documents the funnies of the new Mr. Personality (a.k.a. press secretary) of the White House, Mr. Scott McClellan.

Seltzer, who keeps a seating chart of the White House briefing room in his wallet, hopes to intern with C-SPAN this summer.