The Note

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

—8:30 am: The Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims report —9:00 am: The Intelligence Policy and National Security Subcommittee holds a closed meeting on global intelligence —9:20 am: Tom Brokaw, Joe Klein, Paul Gigot and Dee Dee Myers speak at "The Road to the White House: Covering the 2004 Election" sponsored by the Newhouse School and The New Yorker, New York, N.Y. —9:30 am: Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at a breakfast for Congressman Roscoe Bartlett at the Four Points Sheraton, Hagerstown, Md. —10:00 am: The House of Representatives convenes for legislative business —10:00 am: Secretary of State Collin Powell testifies at a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the President's international affairs budget for FY2005 —10:15 a.m.: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Washington, D.C. —10:45 am: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference, Washington, D.C. —10:50 am: President Bush participates in a conversation on the economy at ISCO Industries, Louisville, Ky. —11:30 am: Ralph Nader gives a press conference at the Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas —12:00 pm: Sen. John Edwards holds a rally at the Delancy Street Center, San Francisco, Calif. —12:30 pm: Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at a luncheon for Rep. Tim Murphy at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Latrobe, Pa. —12:35 pm: President Bush attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser luncheon at the Galt House Hotel, Louisville, Ky. —1:00 pm: Mrs. Cheney speaks at the Association of American Publishers' (AAP) general annual meeting luncheon, Washington, D.C. —1:30 pm: House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, House Majority Whip Roy Blunt and Rep. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.), hold a news conference to urge passage of "Laci and Conner's Law," a measure that would make it a federal crime to kill or injure a fetus in an attack on a pregnant woman. —2:00 pm: The Federal Election Committee meets —2:00 pm: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) hold a news conference to discuss gun industry immunity legislation currently under consideration in the Senate —2:45 pm: President Bush participates in a meeting on the economy, Charlotte, N.C. —3:00 pm: Ralph Nader gives a speech at Richland Community College, Dallas, Texas —3:00 pm: National Security Advisor Rice delivers Reagan Lecture at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Simi Valley, Calif. —4:00 pm: Sen. Kerry meets with striking grocery workers at Vons Supermarket, Santa Monica, Calif. —4:30 pm: The Federal Reserve releases weekly reports on aggregate reserves and the monetary base, factors affecting bank reserves and money supply —6:00 pm: Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a reception for Bush-Cheney '04 Maverick fundraisers at the King Plow Arts Center, Atlanta, Ga. —6:00 pm: Singer Carol King rallies for Sen. Kerry, Hastings, N.Y. —6:05 pm: President Bush attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser reception at the Convention Center, Charlotte, N.C. —8:00 pm: Gov. Howard Dean addresses a "volunteer appreciation dinner" at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, Conn. —9:00 pm: The remaining candidates participate in the CNN/Los Angeles Times Democratic presidential candidate debate —10:45 pm: Sen. Edwards drops by a debate watch party at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif. —10:45 pm: Rep. Dennis Kucinich attends a rally at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif. —11:30 pm: Sen. Kerry drops by debate watch party and rally at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park, Los Angeles, Calif.


It is a truism among strategists of both major political parties that there are enough things to worry about in a campaign that you CAN control that it is folly to spend even a second worrying about those things that you CAN'T control.

And -- let's face it -- John Kerry is not the worrying kind.

Still, if he WERE inclined to worry, just what would be on his mind?

(And, as a Note bonus quiz, put a check mark next to the items that he (and his campaign) can control (or, at least, influence).)

1. John Edwards coming across in tonight's CNN/Los Angeles Times debate (9:00 pm ET) as more of an Everyman than Larry King and more of a policy wonk than Ron Brownstein.

2. Kerry's Sunday debate encounter with WCBS's Andrew Kirtzman producing the same revealing results as their previous meeting. LINK and LINK

3. Edwards "winning" Georgia, Minnesota, and Ohio and getting to go forward.

4. The release of the pending study by two MIT linguists textually comparing Kerry's statements on gay marriage with his statements explaining his "support" for the war against Iraq. LINK

5. The death penalty.

6. The $90 million worth of "I'm President George Bush, and I approved this message because America can't afford the biggest says-one-thing-does-another president ever, who is also a Franco-Massachusetts big-government liberal."

7. The Federal Election Commission rendering the left-leaning 527s virtually useless.

8. Al Sharpton beginning to ask how many African-Americans served in Kerry's cabinet.

9. Bill Clinton's book.

10. Al Gore's endorsement.

11. John Sasso's vacation schedule.

12. Bob Shrum's vacation schedule.

13. Union, press facilities, and Romney v. Menino problems at the convention.

14. Blurting out during his final-night speech at the Boston confab: "J'accepte votre nomination pour le President des Etats-Unis."

15. The Olympics.

16. Being snookered in the debate about debates.

As for your Note exclusives, see our reporting on Howard Dean's opening act in New Haven today.

As for your must-reads, see:

1. The gifted Ron Fournier of the Family Wire explaining why Ohio is so key now and in November. Fournier's bigger-than-life lead: "Florida is so passe. This year's must-have state is Ohio." LINK

2. The Boston Globe's Healy and Phillips report that "Kerry told the Globe that he would support a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would prohibit gay marriage so long as, while outlawing gay marriage, it also ensured that same-sex couples have access to all legal rights that married couples receive." LINK

3. Diamond Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post says that Sen. John Kerry has accepted campaign donations from top executives associated with companies which have outsourced jobs to other countries. For those keeping track, these are the same chief executives (sort of) Kerry frequently calls "Benedict Arnolds" on the campaign trail. LINK

4. The Los Angeles Times' ultra-talented La Ganga and Hooks do more with one story than Jim Dyke could do in a month to plant the "John Kerry exaggerates like Al Gore" seed, looking at his stump claims of senatorial accomplishment.

They say "while a review of his record shows he has a rightful claim to leadership in many . . . areas, it also finds that in some cases he exaggerates his role." LINK

5. Allowing the Bay Stater to dodge a bullet, the New York Times endorses Kerry for President, calling him the "the real comeback star this year." LINK

Few things might keep a passel of weary Googling monkeys up at night -- but the chance to see Larry King, Ron Brownstein and Janet Clayton question the Democrats vying for the presidential nomination is one of them. Tonight's 90-minute debate, hosted by CNN and the Los Angeles Times at the University of Southern California, begins at 9:00 pm ET.

President Bush is in Kentucky and in North Carolina for fundraisers.

Sens. Kerry and Edwards are in California today, and will participate with Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rev. Al Sharpton in tonight's action.

Ralph Nader is in Texas.


Gov. Howard Dean will address a "volunteer appreciation dinner" tomorrow night at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, Conn., at 8:00 pm ET.

It's open to the press.

Dean is not writing a speech for the occasion, but he's expected to comment on the state of the presidential race and discuss the status of the transformation of his debt-ridden campaign into a lean, mean organizing machine for progressive candidates. The "campaign," or whatever you want to call it, already has a list of several dozen candidates for state local office it will support in some form or another.

Dean has spoken within the past few days to former campaign manager Joe Trippi. Mr. Trippi has set up a "bat" on his Web site ( to help Dean retire his debt.

Though Gov. Dean has recently spoken with Sens. Kerry and Edwards, and though he remains quite impressed with Sen. Edwards' political skills, he has no plans to endorse him, several aides stress.

"No plans," caution Dean aides, means "no plans."

The more savvy speculation (we think) on the Dean blog says this: if the conditions on the ground change, and if there appears to be a groundswell of visible, public support for Edwards in states like Minnesota, Georgia and Ohio, Dean could very well decide that his endorsement would help the North Carolina Senator cross the threshold. Dean likes Edwards more than Kerry, thinks Edwards would be a more effective nominee, and wants him to win.

But he's more politically cautious than normally thought and does not want to hurt Sen. Kerry's chances in the fall by a premature endorsement of the anti-Kerry alternative.

There is little in the exit polls to suggest that Dean voters would necessarily or automatically support Edwards, though the small, hard-core Deaniacs who post to the blogs like Edwards much more than they like Kerry, whom they consider a tool of the Washington establishment and all other things evil.

Some of you have asked:

What does Dean do all day?

He sleeps in, but still gets up obscenely early. He reads the New York Times at the breakfast table . Spends time with his children. He chats with advisers (Roy Neel, Bob Rogan, Stephanie Schriock, Kate O'Connor, others) and family members. He comes in to the DFA office about once a day -- but spends a good deal of time there. He writes thank you letters. Makes phone calls to donors asking for help retiring his debt. He does not watch television. Smiles a lot and laughs his throaty laugh.

Lucky him.

Incidentally, the blogosphere is buzzing about an allegation from Mike Ford, a former senior adviser to Gov. Dean, that Ralph Nader had lots to say about the vice presidency when he visited Dean for America a few months back. LINK

"Bout three months ago Ralph Nader and his entourage walked into our Vermont headquarters off the street to 'dialogue.' He was quite impressive intellectually and the firmness of his vision was also impressive. At the time of the visit, Howard was still the front runner and the Nader entourage made a blatant pitch for a Nader Vice Presidential nomination."

ABC News' Erik Olsen reached Theresa Amato, Nader's campaign manager, who called the story is a "complete fabrication." She said she read the story today and spoke to Nader directly about it.

She says Ralph and some associates (couldn't say how many or who) did visit Dean HQ at about this time during a trip to Vermont to visit other Nader supporters. That he "dropped in to say hello," and that they had a "casual conversation" about who should be Dean's VP. "Clark's name was brought up," by Nader, but no recommendation was made. Ralph made no pitch "whatsoever" for himself. She does not know if Mike Ford was present at the meeting, she said.

Several Dean aides recalled that Nader had paid a visit, but said they did not recall the contents of his meeting with campaign officials.

Politics of national security:

Get ready to rumble!

The Hill's Bolton reports Senate Republicans "plan to stage a lengthy Senate debate on Iraq today to respond to intensifying Democratic attacks on President Bush over his conduct of the war and its turbulent aftermath. The debate, is meant to catch the Democrats off-guard, will be led by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. Jon Kyl. It is expected to last close to six hours and could extend into tomorrow. The leadership initiative provides further evidence of close tactical coordination with the White House at a time when Sen. John Kerry has surged ahead of Bush in the presidential popularity polls." Do see the Kyl and Santorum quotes. LINK

Bob Novak writes that Iraq reconstruction is getting held up by Washington "infighting," according to a "5,000 word" piece written by "Charles A. Krohn, the U.S. Army's top civilian public affairs officer" who has returned to the Pentagon after three months in Baghdad."

Says Novak, the Krohn "article exposes the bureaucratic infighting over American taxpayer money to rebuild Iraq" and the "deeper problem" that "the Bush administration's fetish for secrecy is most pronounced in the Pentagon and especially Iraq.'' LINK

The New York Times' Phillip Shenon reports that Bush and Cheney have placed limits on their testimonies to the independent commission investigating 9/11. LINK

House Speaker Dennis Hastert has decided not to give an extension to the independent commission studying the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, even though the leaders and the White House, at least publicly, have supported an extension, reports Dan Eggen of the Washington Post. LINK

Richard Perle announced that he would take one for the team and resigned on Feb. 18 from the Defense Policy Board in an effort "to avoid being a lightning rod for criticism of the administration during a presidential election year," the Washington Post's Bradley Graham reports. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan writes up Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech at Brookings yesterday, in which she said the Bush Administration's foreign policy is built on a "'bedrock of fear'" that sometimes seems as though the White House is deliberately trying to tick off other nations. She also pushed for more resources for homeland security and said a review of the military is needed (i.e., more troops in Afghanistan and Iraq). LINK

The politics of gay marriage:

The Los Angeles Times reports the Log Cabin Republicans are ready to go to war against the White House on the marriage amendment, "laying the groundwork for a campaign against the proposal in swing states, such as Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Ohio, that are critical to the president's reelection" and "exploring options from grass-roots voter mobilization efforts to television and radio ads" that are "designed to convince fellow conservatives, as well as moderates and independents, that the White House is 'playing politics' with the Constitution." (We wonder what Kevin Ivers thinks now...) LINK

Boston Globe's Kornblut and Denniston write that President Bush is leaning more on the "conservative" part of his message than the "compassionate," a shift from his campaign stance in 2000.

"At this stage of seeking reelection, Bush is clearly focused more on Republicans than the narrow slice of the electorate that is up for grabs -- a distinct shift from his approach in 2000." LINK

The New York Times' Carl Hulse indicates that some Republicans in Congress wish to be more cautious about amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. LINK

And New York Daily News' Bazinet reports that even though the President urged Congress to act promptly, there isn't enough support in either chamber to quickly move through an amendment. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' ed board writes: "President Bush's announcement that he favors a constitutional ban on gay marriage makes political if not numerical or moral sense." LINK

University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein writes in today's Los Angeles Times that President Bush's endorsement of the gay marriage ban is "radically inconsistent with the nation's traditions" and not conservative. LINK

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson thinks that the President's latest move is a family trait: "This is the way that Bushes run for president when they fall behind: They plunge us into culture wars." LINK

The New York Times' Robin Toner reports that with regard to same-sex marriage "Democratic and other analysts said both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards had staked out a middle ground acceptable to much of the electorate." Needless to say, Mr. Gillespie has a different view. LINK

USA Today's Hampson and Peterson report on exactly how Americans think marriage is special. LINK

The Globe's Milligan reports that the Massachusetts congressional delegation is unanimously opposed to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. LINK

USA Today's Stone writes that prospects for passage of an amendment this year are "dim." LINK

Pataki is one GOP Gov who just says "no" to the ban idea. LINK

The Daily News' ed board doesn't much like the idea, either. LINK

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

The President will get a chance to test his new political stump speech on the road when he travels to Kentucky and North Carolina today for official events and BC04 fundraisers.

AP's Reichman writes that the President's economic forecast is "a hard sell in states that have lost thousands of jobs since he took office." LINK

And The Charlotte Observer reports on the different economic environment that the President is facing in North Carolina, which has lost 200,000 since he took office.

But the folks at the BC04 office shouldn't sweat too much -- "The Carolinas are still Bush country and likely to stay that way." LINK

David Jackson of the Dallas Morning News asks, can Gov. Schwarzenegger give the Bush-Cheney campaign a boost in California -- enough to win the state's 55 electoral votes? LINK

"The White House is opposing addition of gun show and assault weapons restrictions to a bill shielding firearms makers and dealers from lawsuits, prompting angry complaints from Democrats that President Bush is reneging on earlier support for the two proposals," writes the Washington Post's Helen Dewar. LINK

Washington Times' DeBose looks how the President's stance on this issue is another move "to solidify his political base" before the election. LINK

The New York Times' Robert Pear writes "hoping to mollify its critics, the Bush administration said Wednesday that it would conduct a yearlong study of how prescription drugs might be safely imported from Canada." LINK

A statehouse dispute -- and good old-fashioned politicking -- may make it a little tougher for President Bush to get on the Illinois ballot this fall, report Dave McKinney and Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times. LINK

And it's true -- Garry Trudeau really is offering a $10,000 reward for any witness who can back up the President's record in the National Guard, reports the Washington Post's Leiby. LINK

The economy:

Boy, Greenspan sure juiced up the Democrats yesterday!!

The Washington Post's Nell Henderson reports that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan testified yesterday to the House Budget Committee that the federal government is "overcommitted" in its pledge to provide retirement benefits, and suggested that Congress consider cutting Social Security benefits to future retirees. Greenspan maintained his support for making the Bush tax cuts permanent, said spending needs to be cut to continue to maintain benefits. LINK

The New York Times' Andrews reports "Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, told lawmakers on Wednesday that Congress should rein in the federal deficit through reductions in spending -- including cuts in entitlement programs like Social Security -- rather than through tax increases." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip reports "Alan Greenspan sided with President Bush by strongly opposing any tax increases to contain the spiraling budget deficit, instead proposing that the government scale back Social Security and Medicare benefit."

USA Today's Kirchhoff writes about Greenspan's suggestion that Social Security and Medicare benefits be cut to help deal with deficits. LINK

The Herald's Miga reports that Kerry didn't like the sound of that. LINK

The Department of Labor reported this morning that the number of first-time unemployment claims rose last week by 6,000 to 350,000, showing the labor market still lagging behind the recovering economy. The week before, AP reports, claims declined by 24,000. The four-week unemployment average rose to a two-month high of 354,750, but overall initial jobless claims remain under the 400,000 threshold economists say indicates a growing labor market, AP reports.

ABC News Vote 2004: the race for the nomination:

The New York Times' Halbfinger and Nagourney on the candidates' California and Ohio swings, Noting "the Democratic campaign's focus on the jobless and poor came a day after Mr. Kerry won new victories in the Utah, Idaho and Hawaii primaries." LINK

In describing the two candidates, the New York Times' Nagourney Notes "for all their efforts to discover space between them, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Kerry hold strikingly similar views of the world's problems and what to do about them. But they have different views of each other's political appeal and strength as a Democratic opponent to Mr. Bush." (Nagourney also does a nice job of capturing a Kerry relapse into "Washingtonese," while Noting "there were times Mr. Edwards seemed caught off guard by fairly standard questions.") LINK

John Kerry and John Edwards took turns yesterday beating up on the President's record on jobs and the economy, write Dan Balz and Paul Farhi of the Washington Post. LINK

USA Today's Kasindorf and Lawrence offer a bonanza of Super Tuesday wisdom, and write, "Edwards trails Kerry in primary victories and delegates, leading some to question why he's spending three days in California. Super Tuesday next week includes contests in 10 states. Edwards does not appear to be competitive here." LINK

The duo also separately offers remedial profiles of Edwards and Kerry on the stump, respectively. LINK and LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board sees little to like in the Dems' trade talk, writing "the Democrats' main economic message for 2004 is that free trade is immoral and unpatriotic." Calling this "rare and remarkable," the ed board Notes "the last Democrat to make this case was Walter Mondale in 1984, while the last candidate to win on a protectionist platform was Republican Herbert Hoover in 1928."

Knight Ridder's Moritsugu leads with an authoritative conclusion: "Tough trade policies promised by the leading Democratic presidential candidates offer little for American workers." LINK

Cox News' Shepard and Hershey write about the shared economic concerns of New York, California and Ohio voters, and how Kerry is appealing to all three. LINK


Pat Healy of the Boston Globe writes about yesterday's "dueling conference calls and e-mails" from the Kerry and Bush camps. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny Notes that in Ohio yesterday, Kerry said U.S. companies should give their employees three months' notice before shipping their jobs overseas. Playing to that Midwestern manufacturing base, Kerry also defended his position on NAFTA to Kathy Miller of AK-ISG Steel Coating Co. in Cleveland. LINK

Note to Gene Sperling: you don't need to shout on the conference calls.

The New York Times' Stolberg profiles Max Cleland's emergence "as a symbol for veterans and Democrats" this cycle, writing "Mr. Cleland is on an apparent mission of revenge, collecting what he calls a 'band of brothers' along the way to help Senator Kerry, of Massachusetts, defeat President Bush." LINK

The Baltimore Sun's Susan Baer reports that Kerry's votes on Iraq and Afghanistan offer plenty for his rivals to pick apart. LINK

The Boston Globe's Glen Johnson shares anonymous rebuttals from Kerry campaign sources over the flap about how much the Louisburg Square appraisal should be. LINK

Meanwhile, the Boston Herald's Silberman and Meyers report that the mortgage "will put [Kerry] in a financial bind this summer -- just as Democrats are preparing to face-off against the well-funded Bush campaign." LINK

Roll Call's Mark Preston reports on how the debate over Vietnam-era service has quietly seeped into the Senate, starting with remarks by Sen. Lautenberg on Tuesday.

Preston writes, "Sitting outside the Senate chamber Wednesday, Lautenberg referenced Cleland's loss several times in explaining why he chose the Senate floor as his stage to defend Kerry. Lautenberg said he told the Kerry campaign of his plan in advance, but described it as an 'independent action.'"

Slate's Fred Kaplan does the Kerry campaign's work and goes through all of the defense and intelligence spending votes that the RNC has criticized the senator: "Are there votes in Kerry's 20-year record as a senator that might look embarrassing in retrospect? Probably. But these are not the ones." LINK

From ABC News Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe:

St. Paul, MINN., Feb. 25 -- In Minnesota, the 13-car storm, including three black-tinted vehicles, two minivans, three buses and a host of highway patrol cars, did not need to worry about the early evening rush. As the motorcade made its way from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, at almost every intersection, cross-street, or turn, traffic pulled aside and waited, watching the spectacle pass.

The positive North Star vibe continued for Sen. Kerry as he brought more than 2,000 people repeatedly to their feet at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

Kerry recently weathered two tipsy days in Ohio, where he took a hit from the local and national press for holding a closed-to-the-public event with manufacturing workers in Struthers, Ohio, and for meeting with three locked-out union workers at a mill which closed in 1984 as opposed to visiting a mass of workers on the picket line only 12 miles away.

But where Kerry struggled in Ohio to connect with union voters, Minnesotans at Macalester, a private liberal arts school of about 1,800 undergraduate students, lined up during a 32-degree dusk just to catch a glimpse of the frontrunner.

Despite nearly falling off stage twice and taunting devout Vikings fans with a mention of the Super Bowl champion Patriots, Kerry held the crowd with his strictest recitation of the "Real Deal" stump speech in weeks.

In ad news, Kerry remains up with ads in Ohio, Georgia, and upstate New York, at a cost of more than $1 million for the week leading up to Super Tuesday. The final ad, which features former Sen. Max Cleland, hit airwaves for the first time in Georgia Wednesday.

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


Hey -- Stephanie Cutter -- the other guy is trying to move the goal posts!!

John Edwards tells the New York Daily News "he doesn't need to win a single Super Tuesday primary to stay in the Democratic hunt, and won't drop out if he loses every March 2 contest to John Kerry." (We bet Mr. McAuliffe sees things differently!) "'What I have to do is win a substantial number of delegates' in the 10 states that vote next Tuesday, Edwards said." LINK

The New York Times' Crampton writes on Elizabeth Edwards' visit to New York on behalf of her husband. Two key words here: Southern charm. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Hook examines the Edwards record and finds the Senator has made his mark "more by talking than doing," Noting Edwards' "voting record is brief and fairly predictable. But he is a standout in his ability to question and persuade people -- a skill he honed in the courtroom and in Senate hearings and which is perhaps his major asset in his bid to overcome Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in the Democratic presidential race." (Note the Gordon Smith quotes here!) LINK

In a piece about campaigning in California, the Los Angeles Times captures this: "On Wednesday, Edwards reiterated his personal opposition to gay marriage and support for civil unions, but declined to elaborate on his views regarding gay marriage. Speaking tersely, he said, 'I'm done with that question.'" LINK

The Boston Globe's Raja Mishra reports on Edwards dealing with gay marriage questions in California yesterday and offers this kicker sentence: "The gay marriage issue has been tricky for Edwards. Often he seeks to change the subject." LINK

The AP's Raum reports that Edwards hopes for a strong debate performance tonight. LINK

[Note Note: Isn't that always the case for all candidates?]

Knight Ridder's Thomma writes, "It's put up or shut up time for John Edwards." LINK

Jim Morrill of the Charlotte Observer Notes that Edwards, when stacked against Bush and Kerry, touts a relative lack of international experience for a prospective president -- an issue that may hurt him in his fight for the Democratic nomination. LINK

From California, Charles Hurt of the Washington Times calls Edwards a long shot and Notes, "Republicans have all but written off Mr. Edwards." LINK

Lynn Bonner of the Raleigh News and Observer Notes the paradox of political campaigning for a candidate still in the Senate, as Edwards had to miss yesterday's voting on the bill that would shield gun makers from lawsuits stemming from gun crimes, a proposal he was against. Some of his Tarheel supporters hoped that Edwards' effective debating techniques would have been helpful in deciding the final outcome. LINK

Joseph Spector at the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. endorsed John Edwards for president yesterday, citing Edwards' stance on trade and jobs issues. Johnson had formerly supported Howard Dean for president. LINK


The Washington Post's David Broder says Nader's claim that his candidacy will have greater impact on Bush than the Democratic nominee is "malarkey," and that Nader's potential inclusion in the debates could work to Bush's advantage. LINK

Writing in the Wall Street Journal's opinion page, Karenna Gore Schiff urges Nader to "get out" of the presidential contest, calling his candidacy an "awful idea."

Says Gore Schiff, "Ralph Nader's main message is a cynical one, more about tearing down than building up. So for those who believe in a progressive agenda, let's not allow the imperfect be the enemy of the good. For those who don't, let's work toward a clear and honest debate about our differences. And in the end, let's recognize the plain truth: A vote for Ralph Nader is not a vote for some Utopian principle. It is a vote for George W. Bush."

At Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio yesterday Ralph Nader defended his right to run for president, saying, "There's never a time to sit out the struggle for justice in our country," reports Rebecca Rodriguez of the San Antonio Express-News. LINK

Not satisfied with merely questioning his run, some papers are now psychoanalyzing Ralph to divine his intentions.

Tina Brown in the Washington Post says that given the likelihood of nine months of Kerry on our TV sets, Nader may add some spice to the race. But, of Nader, she notes that "crazy alpha-men in their waning years have a miserable time out of the limelight. One can only imagine the extent of Nader's simmering rage as he watched the rise of Dean on the flickering black-and-white TV in his Spartan apartment."

She throws in the best one-liner yet about the Nader run, coming from former Clinton speechwriter Mark Katz: "Nader suffers from attention-getting deficit disorder." LINK

The Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh says Nader is out to erase his mistakes of 2000: LINK

The Orlando Sentinel's Kathleen Parker calls Nader "the Saddest man in the world." LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet says that the Nader effort does not pass the "pragmatists smell test." LINK

The AP's Kristen Hays on the start Nader's Texas tour. LINK

Correction: On yesterday's chart showing key battleground states we showed where the Greens have or do not have ballot access so far this year. According to Ballot Access news, the Green Party has NOT yet managed to gain ballot access to the following states:

Arizona Arkansas Illinois Iowa Louisiana Missouri New Hampshire Ohio Pennsylvania Tennessee Washington West Virginia


The Boston Globe's Jurkowitz writes about Kucinich's thoughts on the media. LINK


The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers writes on the high stakes Buckeye State contest for Kerry: "He must defeat John Edwards in Tuesday's Democratic primary while using the contest to introduce himself to a state that will be a decisive battleground with President Bush in November."

Especially important for Kerry in Ohio is the trade issue, says Rogers. "Instead of the reserved manner and flat pitch of recent days, he must project a "can do" spirit that offers the hope of a brighter future and deliver a positive message that assures workers he will stand up for their rights in trade talks."

Knight Ridder's Kuhnhenn writes, "Unemployed workers, union members and closed, rusted-out plants have become props for Democrats in this campaign. Ohio has plenty of each." LINK

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Dean's ex-leader in Ohio is "touched a nerve with some Dean folks with his quick move to Edwards." LINK


The Washington Post's Evelyn Nieves writes that while the Golden State is the big prize in population (35 million) and delegates (370) on Tuesday, and in electoral votes in the fall, California voters are more focused on Propositions 57 and 58, on gay marriage, and . . . getting on with the general election already.

And -- Oh that wacky Art Torres. LINK

The New York Times' Broder Notes that even with an earlier than usual primary, California will still likely play only a small part in nominating a candidate. LINK

The Boston Globe's Leonard reports on how gay marriage will play on Super Tuesday in the Golden State, Noting the Field Poll yesterday showing that among registered California voters, Kerry leads with 60 percent, Edwards has 19 percent, Kucinich has 3 percent, and Sharpton has 2 percent. Eleven percent of Democrats and 15 percent of independents said they were undecided. "The Field Poll also showed Bush's approval rating among California voters at 43 percent, the lowest in his presidency and down from 52 percent a month ago." LINK

Many foreign-born in California want to hear more about immigration, reports the Los Angeles Times. "But minority groups comprise a smaller portion of the state's electorate than its overall population, and candidates generally shy away from trumpeting policies perceived as pro-immigrant that could create a backlash." LINK

It's morning again in California! The Los Angeles Times finds the Governator is "wildly popular," writing that Schwarzenegger, "now California's most popular politician, scores favorable job ratings from a robust 65 percent of the state's voters." LINK

New York:

The New York Times' Joyce Purnick discusses the unusually calm atmosphere in New York days before the primary. LINK


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Matthew Quinn reports that Kerry leads Edwards 39 percent to 23 percent in a new poll conducted by the paper and a local television station, but "Kerry appears to be losing ground fast and could well forfeit the state if the North Carolina senator follows his pattern in other primaries of coming on strong in the closing days of the campaign, analysts said." LINK

Nick Baldick, MSNBC executives, and students of John Zogby will laugh and laugh and laugh at the Great Man's quote.


John Welsh and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Pioneer Press Note that 80-100 percent of Minnesota schools will fail the standards outlined in the "No Child Left Behind Act" this year. Almost certainly a resonant issue on the trail today. LINK

Bill Salisbury at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Kerry had overflow crowds yesterday at his Macalester College event, outdrawing Edwards' event the previous day. LINK

Sharon Schmickle from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune saw a cow-suited protestor outside Kerry's Macalester college event holding a sign that read, "Kerry Wants to Milk Minnesota Taxpayers." LINK


Edwards cancels his Baltimore trip. LINK


The St. Petersburg Times' Adam Smith writes about the optimism of Edwards' supporters in Florida. LINK


Soccer moms and NASCAR dads, anyone? Suburban voters in Cook County are gaining on those in the city of Chicago, the Sun-Times' Steve Patterson reports. LINK


Carl Leubsdorf of the Dallas Morning News reports American's focus on the top of the ticket at the expense of the vice presidential nomination, Noting the qualities the Dems should look for in their eventual political partner nominations. LINK

Democratic National Convention:

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein reports that Gov. Romney swiftly dismissed Mayor Menino's proposal to have the state share tax revenue from the convention. LINK

Legislative agenda:

The Los Angeles Times on the Democratic "fear"ful retreat from the gun control positions they once emphasized. LINK

SCOTUS -- will it matter to POTUS?:

The New York Times' Greenhouse reports "the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states that subsidize secular study at the college level may withhold the scholarships from students preparing for the ministry." LINK


Janet Elliott and R.G. Ratcliffe of the Houston Chronicle report that nearly fifty subpoenas have been issued by Travis County prosecutors (including one subpoena to DeLay's daughter Danielle Ferro) to determine how deeply DeLay's PAC was involved in the criminal misuse of corporate funds in the 2002 election. LINK

The Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi ponders God's role in politics, but doesn't give an indication of whether we can expect a God exclusive on Larry King Live or Hannity and Colmes. LINK


Picture a West Wing (the Burbank variety) table read merging with a 92nd Street Y kind of a crowd. Now throw in a free continental breakfast and you will begin to understand the colossal event happening smack in the middle of Gotham this morning.

You can rarely find a power breakfast as powerful. Tom Brokaw, Paul Gigot, Joe Klein (filling in for Howard Fineman, who had been filling in for Ron Brownstein), and Dee Dee Myers will partake in a panel moderated by the esteemed Mr. Ken Auletta. "The Road to the White House: Covering the 2004 Election" is this morning's topic at the Newhouse School in New York/The New Yorker forum taking place at the Bryant Park Grill.

ABC News is covering every conceivable angle of this learned discussion and will bring you a full report right here in tomorrow's Note.

Some news now about that new Showtime show, American Candidate, or as we like to call it "where more executive producers get their news from The Note than any other source." Younger voters, anyone?

The program's producers announced that they're lowering the eligibility requirement for potential presidents to anyone who's an American citizen and over 18 years of age.

George Will might not approve, but then again, Showtime needs/wants younger viewers and probably figured that younger candidates would attract them. (That darn Nielsen category of 18 to 35-year-olds wasn't anticipated by Madison.)

The deadline for applicants has been extended. Wannabes . . . you have until April 9. LINK