The Note

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

—8:30 am: The Labor Department releases January employment figures —8:35 am: Sen. Kerry attends a prayer breakfast with Detroit ministers at the Second Ebenezer Baptist Church, Detroit, Mich. —9:00 am: Sen. Edwards speaks about jobs at the Virginia Tech University Campus, Blacksburg, Va. —9:00 am: Gen. Clark has breakfast at Swett's Restaurant, Nashville, Tenn. —10:00 am: Off-camera press gaggle by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan —10:00 am: Sen. Kerry receives the endorsement of Rep. Richard Gephardt at DeCarlo's Banquet and Convention Center, Warren, Mich. —11:30 am: Sen. Edwards speaks about jobs at George Wyth High School, Wythenille, Va. —12:00 pm: Gen. Clark speaks with students at Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tenn. —12:00 pm: On-camera press briefing by Press Secretary McClellan —12:15 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at People's Church, Kalamazoo, Mich. —1:45 pm: Sen. Kerry takes a tour of the M-Tec Regional Technological Center, Flint, Mich. —2:00 pm: Sen. Edwards speaks about jobs at the YWCA, Bristol, Tenn. —2:25 pm: President Bush visits and tours the National Targeting Center, Reston, Va. —2:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at Muskegon Community College, Muskegon, Mich. —2:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a rally with Genesee County Democrats at the M-Tec Workshop Hanger, Flint, Mich. —3:45 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at UAW local 137 Hall, Greenville, Mich. —4:00 pm: Gen. Clark holds a roundtable with Knoxville community leaders and clergy, Knoxville, Tenn. —4:00 pm: Gov. Dean holds a roundtable with faculty and students, Lakeshore Technical College, Cleveland, Wis. —5:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at Flint Township Senior Center, Flint, Mich. —6:30 pm: Gen. Clark has dinner with Tennessee and Virginia voters at the State Line Bar and Grill, Bristol, Tenn. —7:00 pm: Sen. Edwards speaks about jobs at the Riverside Tavern, Knoxville, Tenn. —7:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at the Monument of Faith Baptist Church, Pontiac, Mich. —8:15 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at the Detroit Mercy University, Detroit, Mich. —7:00 pm: Rev. Sharpton attends the tenth annual Sit-In Movement banquet, Greensboro, N.C. —7:00 pm: Gov. Pataki delivers the keynote address at the Vermont GOP Lincoln Day Dinner, Killington Grand Resort & Hotel, Kilington, Vt. —7:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a rally with Davidson County Democrats, Nashville, Tenn.


In re the Democratic presidential nomination battle, here's how the Gang of 500 sees the upcoming weekend:

(Remember: the Gang is never in doubt, but not always correct…)

-- John Kerry gets mega Michigan Friday coverage on the strength of Gephardt and Dingell endorsements, as a gateway to major union support in the coming days;

-- Kerry wins big in three caucus states -- Michigan, Washington, and Maine -- that just happen to be general election battlegrounds, getting more mega coverage;

-- Kerry's most professional advance and press advance team allow him to dominate the Old Dominion's J-J dinner Saturday night, as the results roll in;

-- Ladies' Home Journal, O The Oprah Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Good Housekeeping try to figure out how to get timely Mary Beth Cahill profiles written, given their wretched, months-long lead times;

-- Teen, CosmoGirl, Seventeen, and YM try to figure out how to get timely Stephanie Cutter profiles written, given their wretched, months-long lead times;

-- Every political reporter in America is asked to match today's must-read Washington Post story about how Democrats are feeling revitalized -- and Republicans nervous -- over the state of presidential political play. Reportorial calls to Ray LaHood, Scott Reed, Peter King, Gary Bauer, John McCain, and Republican Party state chairs from squishy Blue states will go out in force.

There is nothing in the world quite as pleasurable as a Harris-Allen Washington Post byline conjoining the best of reporting from the Democratic and Republican worlds.

Today, the two bundle the dynamic energies of the past few weeks into a static conclusion, the opposite, we'd Note, of what the Wall Street Journal concluded yesterday: all this hacking at President Bush and all the stirred up blood pressure of Democrats has actually moved the party into a better position to take on Mr. Bush.

And the White House isn't sure what's going on -- whether this is the normal course of events, whether SOTU went poorly, whether large-scale but submerged questions about Mr. Bush's credibility are now part of the national conversation, whether the liberal media is perpetuating its own desires about a strong Democratic nominee. But check out the blind quotes.

And this:

"As the Democratic presidential race enters its closing phase, the party finds itself facing prospects for the fall election that are vastly improved from just two months ago. At the same time, for reasons that are partly related and partly coincidence, President Bush is weaker than his strategists expected, spreading alarm in the White House and Republican circles, GOP sources said." LINK


--lackluster SOTU (Mars and steroids don't seem to be pumping people up…);

--conservative grumbling about spending priorities;

--questions about his National Guard service;

--David Kay;

--an energized Democratic Party.

And then, if it's Sunday:

-- "When did you realize that your Administration's cost estimates for the Medicare prescription drug law were wildly underestimated, and how did you react to that news?"

-- "How will you ensure that voters enter the polls with no unanswered questions about prewar intelligence?"

-- "David Kay offered this blunt assessment: 'We were all wrong.' Why were we all wrong?"

-- "Let me show you an exchange you had with Diane Sawyer in an interview she conducted with you in December, and then I would like you to react."

DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still --

PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?


PRESIDENT BUSH: The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That's, that's what I'm trying to explain to you. A gathering threat, after 9/11, is a threat that needed to be de - dealt with, and it was done after 12 long years of the world saying the man's a danger. And so we got rid of him and there's no doubt the world is a safer, freer place as a result of Saddam being gone.

-- "How many American troops will be in Iraq on election day in November? And why did you describe this question from Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times as a 'trick' question: 'Can you promise a year from now that you will have reduced the number of troops in Iraq?'"?

-- "And why did you describe this question from Stretch as a 'trick' question: 'Can you rule out the possibility of further tax cut proposals next year?'?"

-- "Besides tax cuts, what is the Bush plan for restoring manufacturing jobs to states such as Michigan?"

-- "At the end of your term, how many Americans will lack health insurance, and how does that compared to the number who lacked health insurance when you took office?"

-- "Tell us in as much detail as you recall how you spent your weekends in 1972 and 1973."

-- "Do you know who the Valerie Plame leakers are? Have you thought much about it? Will you keep your word to hold accountable those responsible for the leak, no matter how high their post?"

-- "What is the difference between your view of civil unions for same-sex couples and the views of Howard Dean and John Kerry?"

-- "Michael Powell, your chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has announced there will be an investigation into the Super Bowl halftime show. You have said you didn't see the show -- didn't see the nudity or the other parts of the performance that raised concerns-- but you heard about what happened. Should this be a priority for the FCC? And what kind of punishment do you think would be appropriate for CBS?"

-- "A strong majority of Americans believe the federal deficit is a 'very serious' or 'somewhat serious' problem. And members of your own party are increasingly angry about your budget spending proposals and the historic deficits your Administration is posting. Economists say that your often-repeated claim to cut the deficit in half is, in fact, impossible. How do you answer those critics?"

Suggested Bush responses (pretty much work for any of the questions above): LINK

"You invited me to come here and talk about -- I thought -- the whole record."

"Everybody's admitted mistakes. I've admitted mistakes. And you want to dwell on them, and I want to talk about the values we believe in and experience and the integrity that goes with all of this, and what's -- I'm going to do about education, and you're...there's nothing new here. I thought this was a news program. What is new?"

"I have respect for you, but I don't have respect for what you're doing here today."

"Well, I want to be judged on the whole record, and you're not giving an opportunity."

"I don't think it's fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iraq. How would you like it if I judged your career by those times you talked obsessively about the Bills on the set in New York?"

Anyway, about that Democratic nomination fight:

Some political observers have suggested that the dynamics of the current Democratic intraparty battle could be hurting frontrunner John Kerry.

The reality is that Kerry is having a pretty easy time of things -- easier, as has been pointed out, than any frontrunner EVER after Iowa and New Hampshire.

There has been no negative paid media against him; the free media coverage nationally and state-by-state is boffo; the candidate attacks on him are mild; and he is getting to take relatively free shots at the President in a lot of general election battleground states.

In terms of keeping things going and making sure he doesn't stub his toe or worse, the best thing for John Kerry is for there to be multiple, relatively weak opponents in the race through Wisconsin and Super Tuesday.

If too many people drop out too fast, Kerry faces a potential one-on-one matchup and possible buyer's-remorse-fueled losses. With a field of this size, however, Kerry can rack up "big" wins with 35-45 percent of the vote.

Imagine this past/future timeline of mythical headlines playing out:

Feb. 3 -- Kerry Wins, Strong Democratic Turnout!

Feb. 7 -- Kerry Wins Again, Repeats Vow to Kick Lying Bush out of White House!

Feb. 10 - Edwards Wins (Tennessee, maybe) and Kerry Wins-- in the South (Virginia) !

Feb. 17 -- Another Win for Big John Kerry -- Edwards Bows Out Pledging Strong Support!

March 2 -- Kerry Wins H-U-G-E!

Not much wrong with that picture for Kerry.

Now, it's not as if Kerry is making any overt moves to prop up Clark, Edwards, and/or Dean. But it takes luck -- among other things -- to win the nomination and the White House, and the sequencing of this just might by chance be very good for Kerry.

Unless he stumbles and starts to lose contests, Kerry is getting the most and most favorable coverage he is likely to get until the convention this summer. And he is getting a chance to appeal to independents and Republicans with an economic message that just might have general election appeal. And he gets to do it in the context of looking like a winner -- with wall-to-wall local TV news and newspaper coverage.


The Washington Post's new e-mail registration is almost as annoying as, say,'s believing that reporting on candidate wardrobe changes is beneath the contempt of its hoity-toity readers.

President Bush ventures into the Virginia suburbs today.

Sen. Kerry is in Michigan, where he will receive the endorsement of Rep. Gephardt and Congressman Dingell. He is in Nashville in the evening. He spends the weekend in Virginia and Tennessee.

Sen. Edwards is in Virginia and Tennessee today. He spends Saturday in Virginia and Wisconsin.

Gen. Clark is in Tennessee. He campaigns in Virginia on Saturday, including at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, and in Wisconsin and Tennessee on Sunday.

Gov. Dean is in Wisconsin today. He is down in Vermont on Saturday and in Maine on Sunday.

Rep. Kucinich is in Michigan today, in Michigan and California tomorrow, and in Maine on Sunday.

Rev. Sharpton is in North Carolina today.

The economy:

ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim reports that the Labor Department has announced its annual revisions of monthly numbers for the past year. The numbers show that the economy added 112,000 jobs in January, which is below expectations, but still the biggest increase in a year.

Schindelheim reports that economists had been looking for an increase of 170,000 jobs. In January, manufacturing jobs decreased by another 11,000. Additionally, December was revised upward from the previously-reported 1,000 jobs created to 16,000 new jobs.

The Wall Street Journal's Rebello and Derby write that "U.S. productivity growth slowed in the fourth quarter, signaling that employers may have to begin hiring more people to meet the demands of the resurging economy."

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

USA Today's Benedetto and Keen Note that Bush's trip to South Carolina "was part of a retooling of his political strategy. His poll ratings are dropping. Democrats who want his job are hammering him and shoving him off news broadcasts and front pages. His advisers want him to counter critics more aggressively in hopes of improving his standing as voters begin to focus on November's election." LINK

And for all of the same reasons, the President will sit down with Tim Russert this weekend to "'directly discuss with the American people his thinking about the war on terror'" according to a spokesman. LINK

Howie Kurtz has the Meet scoop. Apparently, the White House still can't find someone better than Adam Levine to play Russert in the rehearsals . . . LINK

(Note to Adam: that's a joke.)

The Boston Globe's Wayne Washington reports that the President may use his Sunday show appearance to call on Congress "to pass and send to the states a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman." LINK

Yesterday in South Carolina, President Bush defended his decision to go to war with Iraq and talked about the need to step-up security at the nations' ports, The State reports. LINK

The New York Times' Stout writes that President Bush "used a trip to the politically friendly state of South Carolina today to defend the American-led military campaign in Iraq and the intelligence that led up to it." LINK

In the Wall Street Journal, Bob Dole picks up the line of argument that Sen. Kerry is allegedly bashing the National Guard by questioning President Bush's service there.

"Sen. Kerry did make a judgment, in 1992, when Bill Clinton -- who did not serve -- was running against Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Vietnam veteran. After Bob Kerrey criticized Gov. Clinton, John Kerry said, 'We do not need to divide America over who served and how.' He should stick to his previous position by acknowledging the honorable service of President Bush and the hundreds of thousands of other National Guard members defending America every day. The president piloted an F-102 in the National Guard and received an honorable discharge when his requirements were met."

Who has the tick tock on how that piece got written and placed?

Salon's Boehlert looks at the President's military record. LINK

The Democratic presidential candidates are not just going after President Bush - attacks on Vice President Cheney represent "novel political attacks on a vice president" the Boston Globe's Washington reports.

Cheney is often depicted by the candidates as "a sinister operator behind the curtain of the Bush administration, secretly meeting with oil executives to formulate energy policy and intimidating intelligence officials into bolstering the case for overthrowing Saddam Hussein." LINK

Jackie Calmes in Washington Wire teases that Bush "opens up" at that GOP retreat.

"'We cannot cut and run' in Iraq, but that's what Iraqis fear, he said at last weekend's Philadelphia meeting, according to an attendee's notes. Bush argued that because some Iraqis think the first President Bush 'cut and ran' from Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf war, they figure he will too, since 'I'm of the same gene pool.' Spokesman Trent Duffy confirms the message but denies Bush said his father 'cut and ran.'"

House Republicans gave Karl Rove an earful at the same retreat, the Washington Times reports. Some lawmakers are "stunned by the intensity of their constituents' displeasure at some of Mr. Bush's key domestic policies," including immigration and spending. LINK

The New York Times takes up the Scalia/Cheney/ducks/recusal issue. LINK

The Bush twins might accompany Dad in "what may be their father's last campaign." LINK

But Former President George H.W. Bush said yesterday that he is trying to stay out of politics and let his sons have their turn. I had my chance. ... I just sit there and do what I vowed I would never do -- talk back to the television," Bush said in a Q&A session at University of Texas-Pan-American. LINK

The Chicago Tribune reports that many Muslims are voting for the first time "to defeat President Bush....and seek to mobilize a potential electorate of 3 million." LINK

Last month the AP found President Bush's approval ratings dip for the "first two years...among older voters, political independents and people in the Midwest" but BC04 reassures us that his "approach of lower taxes, less lawsuits and less regulation will resonate with voters." LINK

From the Washington Post's Dan Morgan: "The Bush administration's plan to cut the deficit in half within five years envisions an unprecedented long-term spending clampdown that would continue well beyond 2005 for hundreds of popular domestic programs, according to an unpublished White House budget document." LINK

ABC 2004: The Democratic nomination fight:

Al Hunt has a nice column on the differences between Sen. Edwards and Sen. Kerry. And he has an interesting bullet point:

"Prominent Democrats note a future for the major contenders, even if John Kerry gets the nomination. John Edwards is likely to either be a running mate or a contender four years from now; Wesley Clark will be a major voice in the party's defense views; and Howard Dean, with his huge base of donors, will be an important force whether the party professionals like him or not. Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman win points for their graceful exits and will be cabinet candidates in any Democratic administration. The one clear loser, top politicians say: Al Gore; the former vice president endorsed Howard Dean, who then began his precipitous fall."

The AP's Liz Sidoti reports on Gephardt's endorsement today and all of the maneuverings by campaigns (everywhere but Michigan it seems). LINK

Jim Barnes writes in this week's National Journal about why Kerry has momentum, why Clark and Edwards can't afford to split Tennessee and Virginia, and why Dean might in the end be right about the importance of Wisconsin.

The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports that in the fervor of this race for the Democratic nomination, some Republicans and independents in that crazy state of Florida are changing party affiliation in order to vote in state's March 9 primary.

"About twice as many people switched their party affiliations to register as Democrats this year as in a similar period before registration closed in 2000, according to an informal survey by the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office. " LINK

Weekend action:

From Saturday through next Tuesday, there are five Democratic presidential contests that will almost certainly winnow the field a bit more and set the stage for the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, Feb. 17 that will itself almost definitely reshape things -- or could even effectively end the race.

This weekend brings three events that are caucuses (not primaries) by designation, although the event in Michigan allows for ballots to be cast in several ways, including by Internet voting. The other two contests are more traditional caucuses -- with rules and procedures much like what we are all used to by now from Iowa.

There are NO network/AP exit or entrance polls in these races.

Michigan Democratic caucuses (Saturday -- 128 delegates)

Polls/caucus sites open: 10:00 am ET; polls/caucus sites close: 4:00 pm ET.

Results will be known around 8:00 pm.

The Michigan Democratic caucuses are not "typical" caucuses, like the Iowa caucuses. Michigan voters go to the caucus sites and cast their ballots in what's known as a "firehouse primary." The state party calls it a caucus, but for our purposes, it's a primary.

There are absentee ballots and a system to vote online, in addition to more than 590 precinct caucuses across the state. Given that Michigan is a big state, a total of 590 precincts isn't very many. In some places, people have to drive more than 70 miles if they want to cast a ballot in person.

Mail-in ballots are due to county Democratic Party offices by 10:00 am ET Saturday; Internet voting ends at 4:00 pm ET Saturday.

At the caucuses, anyone who affirms that he or she is a Democrat can participate. (South Carolina got rid of its "loyalty oath" on Feb. 2). People go into the caucus room, affirm their identity and status, and cast ballots (either in English or Spanish).

Results are tabulated at a central location for each congressional district. Each caucus chair phones the results into the tabulation center, which is located at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Online and mail-in ballots will be counted by 4:30 pm ET.

Final results will be processed by 8:00 pm ET. The AP will station stringers in each congressional district counting room and should be able to tabulate results somewhat more quickly.

The party will NOT allocate delegates on Saturday, though they assume that news organizations will use the results to calculate the allocations themselves. Delegates will be allocated by a series of conventions in March and April.

About 120,000 mail-in ballots have been requested. Highest turnout for a Democratic presidential primary: 1988, when more than 212,000 people voted.

Washington State Democratic caucuses (Saturday -- 76 delegates)

Caucus begin no earlier than 1:00 pm ET; caucuses end no later than 3:00 pm ET.

Beginning at approximately 4:30 pm ET, the state party will begin sending results in half-hour increments.

The party hopes to have "the bulk" of the vote in by 7:00 pm ET.

The party expects to report final results by 9:00 pm ET.

Washington state is the place where former front-runner Howard Dean hopes to make a stand and get back into the thick of the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination. Gov. Dean does have the endorsement of the state party chairman and Rep. Jim McDermott. However, John Kerry recently picked up backing by the state's popular Gov. Gary Locke and junior Sen. Maria Cantwell. Kerry also has the remaining five House members on his side.

With its significant latte-drinking Pacific Northwest liberal populace, Dean sees Washington state as target rich for his campaign. He's undoubtedly hoping to cash in on some of that Nader vote from 2000.

There has not been much recent credible polling to speak of in this race. Both Kerry and Dean immediately looked beyond the Feb. 3 contests to this state, as they were both on the ground campaigning in the Seattle area when the Feb. 3 returns began coming in.

Anyone who is registered as a Democrat or signs a statement indicating they are publicly willing to be considered a Democrat can attend and participate in the caucuses.

Upon arriving, a caucus participant is required to fill out a piece of paper and mark his/her presidential preference. This process will occur from 1:00 pm ET - 1:30 pm ET. The caucus chair will tally up the "votes" and determine which candidates have met the viability threshold (15 percent) to move forward.

Then the process becomes a bit like we saw in Iowa. From 1:30 pm ET - 2:00 pm ET, participants are given the opportunity to cajole, organize, and woo people to support their candidate. At about 2:00 pm ET, the caucus chair will take a headcount and determine the size of each presidential preference group. Once it has been determined that each group is viable, (by meeting the 15 percent threshold) the caucus chair will perform a mathematical equation to determine the number of delegates (to the state convention) awarded.

The caucus chair will call that information into the county chair, who will then compile all the vote totals for that particular county and call it into the state party headquarters.

The state party will release (beginning at 4:30 pm ET) statewide vote totals and percentages of the overall vote in an incremental fashion until 100 percent of the precincts have reported.

Maine Democratic caucuses (Sunday -- 24 delegates)

Caucuses begin: no earlier than 1:00 pm ET; caucuses end: no later than 8:00 pm ET.

The Maine Democratic Party will begin releasing results at 9:00 pm ET, with final results expected by 11:00 pm ET.

There will be roughly 400 operational caucus sites in Maine. Caucuses last anywhere from one to two hours, and municipal chairs can decide what time they want to have their caucuses. Caucus chairs will count the vote by hand and call in the totals to Maine Democratic Party headquarters.

Even though some caucuses will conclude in the afternoon, the party does not plan to begin releasing any results until after the final deadline for caucuses at 8:00 pm ET.

National Journal describes Maine as "contrary-minded, almost bullheaded, [and] rough-hewn." That synopsis may well explain why the Kucinich campaign expects to compete for a possible third-place finish there. Kucinich has spent a lot of time in the state, and he was even there campaigning on the day of the New Hampshire primary. He expects to tap into the many independent registered voters in Maine.

Regardless of Kucinich's potential showing, Kerry and Dean are expected to lead the field here, though there hasn't been any polling done whatsoever in Maine to get a good sense of where things stand.

Much of Kerry's vaunted New Hampshire operation has apparently crossed the border, however.

All Democrats are welcome to participate in the caucuses. Voters not enrolled in a party can register to vote and file as Democrats at the caucus site. Roughly 38 percent of Maine voters are registered independents, and so they can register as Democrats on caucus day. However, voters enrolled in a different party had to change their registration to Democrat by Jan. 23.

There is absentee balloting in the Maine caucuses. Any registered Democrat in Maine can vote by mail if the Maine Democratic Party's headquarters in Augusta received their ballot by 5:00 pm ET on Wednesday, Feb. 4. On caucus day, participants in a caucus will not know the vote totals of absentee votes in their particular caucus until they have all been counted.


Paul Tsongas, Jesse Jackson, and Gary Hart all made strong showings in Washington and Howard Dean hopes that bodes well for his candidacy in the Evergreen State. The Los Angeles Times has a preview to tomorrow's caucuses. LINK

"Washington, with its liberal politics, antiwar fervor and plugged-in community, has long been considered Dean country, even by his rivals. If there was any place in the country where the former Vermont governor could count on winning a contest in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, it was supposed to be here."

"The state, after all, has long shown a knack for favoring "maverick" politicians, which seems to play in Dean's favor."

In Washington state, candidates are gone, but volunteers soldier on their behalf. LINK

Danced with Dean, Snuggled with Kerry: LINK


The Detroit News' Ryan and Plungis write that Kerry's positions on fuel efficiency standards may rub some auto industry folks the wrong way. LINK

The Detroit Free Press' Bailey Notes that Kerry is not the only candidate to raise concerns on the fuel efficiency issue. LINK

Here's the UAW's take on the issue and the candidates' specific statements. LINK

The Detroit News' explains why Kerry is the only one campaigning in Michigan today. LINK

The Washington Post looks at online voting in Michigan. LINK

Feb. 10:

The Boston Globe's Mishra and Schlesinger write about the Clark and Edwards cravings for Tennessee and Virginia. LINK

The Richmond Times-Dispatch writes of Edwards' "Two Americas," Clark's cutting back his bus tour, and Kerry's ad campaign. LINK

Reports Jackie Calmes in Washington Wire: "Ahead of two primaries in their native South on Tuesday, Clark pulls Virginia TV ads and stakes his candidacy on Tennessee. After spending nearly $1 million on spots there, he leads Edwards in polls and draws nearer to Kerry. Edwards rises to second in Virginia, behind Kerry, but can't afford TV ads in the state's vote-rich Washington suburbs."

There are a lot of surprising things about the Virginia primary, including the fact that the International Association of Firefighters has a noticeable presence in the state. LINK

Local electeds are getting the Lou D'Allesandro treatment from the presidentials. LINK

The Tennessean looks at why Al Gore's endorsement hasn't helped Howard Dean much in Tennessee. The paper also provides all the details for Sunday night's Tennessee Democratic Party dinner honoring Gore. LINK

Super Tuesday:

Appearing somewhat depressed that he will likely not have a competitive California presidential primary to cover, Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times writes up the opportunity for a Democratic presidential candidate to campaign in the Golden State to ensure California's position as a Blue state in November. LINK


AP's Ron Fournier writes that political strategists say "Kerry seems to have settled comfortably into the front-runner's seat, reaping all the benefits and, for now, avoiding the pitfalls." LINK

The New York Times' Halbfinger writes that Gephardt's endorsement of Kerry will give "the senator a powerful boost with the industrial unions and blue-collar workers important in the Michigan Caucuses tomorrow." LINK

The AP has yet another story on Kerry's decisions and donations. And then there's the Cutter response. LINK and LINK

Deirdre Shesgreen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on Gephardt's return to the campaign trail, this time to endorse and stump for Kerry on the eve of the Michigan caucuses. LINK

The Torch -- who showed up at the Hilton last night -- wants it known he's fundraising for John Kerry (and not that fella Gov. McGreevey endorsed). The former Garden State Senator also thinks a $1 million New Jersey fundraiser could be possible before Super Tuesday. LINK

The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan reports on the state of the Kerry campaign, including the gay marriage questions and the Gephardt endorsement. LINK

Josh Benson of says that despite the early date and jumping the gun, "in ways so obscure that they are almost subliminal, the VP courtship dance has already begun" for Sen. Kerry. LINK

Kerry, campaigning in Maine in advance of Sunday's Democratic caucuses..., stepped gingerly around the potentially explosive issue of gay marriage," the Washington Post's Harris and Balz write. "He said he is opposed to the Wednesday ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which said that nothing short of marriage would guarantee gay couples their full constitutional rights. He did not rule out backing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, a step the Massachusetts legislature is considering." LINK

And check out this blind paraphrase: "A senior Edwards adviser said beating Clark in the coming week is a higher priority than stopping Kerry."

USA Today's William Welch writes up Republican plans to attack Kerry over his vote against the Defense of Marriage Act. LINK

The Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh Notes that "the thornier issue is one Kerry declined to address. Given his opposition to gay marriage, would he now support amending the state constitution to prohibit homosexual unions? Asked that question, Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said the senator would wait to see what the Legislature does before commenting further." LINK

The Chicago Tribune sums up Kerry's defense on the gay marriage issue, "'Big deal for the Republicans if they want to choose a wedge issue and distort my position. I will fight back.'" LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Zuckman has Kerry basking in the glow of checks. LINK

With Joe Lieberman's departure from the race, New York pols Sheldon Silver, Alan Hevesi, and Betsy Gotbaum were free to endorse John Kerry for president yesterday. LINK

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

NEW YORK, Feb. 5, -- Sen. John Kerry moved sluggishly into the 16-passenger Gulfstream II waiting on the "Million Air" tarmac in Teterboro, N.J.

Kerry, who mounted a comeback campaign by rallying against "special interests," was welcomed for landing at Teterboro despite having occasionally cited the corporate-friendly airstrip as a symbol of excess in his stump speech.

At Sister Sarah's Restaurant in Algona, Iowa, shortly before the turn of the New Year, Kerry railed, "I can't tell you, I mean, you can go to Teterboro airport in New Jersey on a Friday night, and watch a whole bunch of corporate executives getting into corporate jets, flying to their corporate-paid-for homes, who are going to play golf at corporate paid-for-golf club memberships, after they've been to the theater at corporate-paid-for tickets, all of which (is tax) deducted, all of which you're paying for."

Summarizing his lengthy riff, the Senator concluded, "There's too much money loose in the American political system."

But as Gotham's night lights began to glow, Teterboro airport represented something much less rotten to the Kerry campaign.

At a gathering of the Senator's national fundraising team, his New York heavies announced they raked in over $750,000 mostly post-Iowa dollars -- an amazing figure, considering only five weeks ago an anonymous fundraiser confessed to Patrick Healy of the Boston Globe, "I'm dying out there. There was so much excitement about John Kerry early on, and now there's none."

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and former State Comptroller H. Carl McCall joined uber-fundraisers including Steven Rattner and Orin Kramer for a buffet of pasta, roast sirloin and green…vegetables.

And many of the 70-some guests sported a new fashion trend: round blue buttons with white script reading "4JKB4IA" which translated from DMVanese means "For John Kerry Before Iowa."

(Note Note: neither Steve Elmendorf nor Matthew Hiltzik were --- appropriately -- wearing such buttons.)

The Kerry campaign also announced they have raised $5 million since the first of the year, with all but $500,000 of that figure pouring in post-Iowa. In other words, Kerry's coffers have filled at a clip of $1.5 million per week since earning the first-place caucus crown.

On Thursday, Kerry also greeted the prominent endorsements of Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and, from his hospital bed in which he's suffering from a recently broken rib, Maine's Gov. John Baldacci.

Most significantly, on Friday, the Senator's one-time nomination rival Rep. Dick Gephardt will endorse Kerry in Warren, Mich. Given Dean's perceived retreat from Michigan and the labor union-cueing endorsement from Gephardt, the Kerry campaign will spend only one day in Michigan before turning their focus to Virginia and Tennessee.

In those Tuesday contest states, Kerry will attempt to accomplish the one task that has thus far eluded him in the nomination process: win in the South.

Of his chief competition in the region, Sen. Edwards, former Gephardt campaign manager and newly acquired Kerry guru Steve Elmendorf poked, "(Edwards) hasn't moved beyond a regional candidate. If he were a national candidate, he'd be in Maine or Washington competing. He won South Carolina (because) he focused an incredible amount of attention on it."

Kerry continues to rotate two veterans-oriented ads in Virginia (including Washington, D.C. stations) and Tennessee. There are no plans to go on the air in Michigan, Washington, or Maine, while Wisconsin seems less a question of if but when.

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


The return of Mudcat!!!!! The Raleigh News & Observer reports that David "Mudcat" Saunders is back working for John Edwards on an unpaid basis in Virginia. It also Notes that Edwards insists that he will compete in Wisconsin even if he loses in both Tennessee and Virginia. He has begun to run ads in Wisconsin. LINK

The New York Times' Glen Justice on Sen. Edwards' "struggle" to keep up with the fund-raising efforts of Kerry and Dean. But Nick gets credit for being frugal!! LINK

John Wagner with the Raleigh News & Observer Notes that John Edwards "wasted no time" ripping into trade issues at Tennessee State University yesterday. LINK

Scott Martelle of the Los Angeles Times Notes Jennifer Palmieri's battling with The General. LINK

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


The Boston Globe's Glen Johnson ways it all in his lead, "The once-soaring presidential campaign of Howard Dean, still searching for its first win, sent an e-mail to supporters yesterday seeking donations and saying that a loss in the Feb. 17 Wisconsin primary would effectively end his candidacy for the Democratic nomination." LINK

The New York Times' Wilgoren and Nagourney report that Howard Dean will quit the race for the nomination if does not win the Wisconsin primary, "bowing to the reality of the collapse of a candidacy that had once seemed so far advanced that his aides had discussed who his running mate might be." LINK

Meanwhile, the New York Times' Kershaw reports from Seattle that "a growing number of Democrats say if [Dean] cannot win the Washington caucuses here on Saturday, he should take that as a cue and bow out." LINK

USA Today's Kasindorf and Kiely Note that Dean softened the implications of his e-mail to supporters in a conference call with reporters yesterday afternoon. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Pearson and Jones report, "Campaign officials denied that they were throwing in the towel in Michigan, a state Dean had already predicted he would not win. But the move angered Detroit officials who said they felt Dean was showing disrespect by leaving." LINK

Walter Shapiro thinks that Dean "may have sealed his fate last fall by believing too passionately in the fundraising power of the Internet and yielding to financial hubris." LINK

Hannah Rosin on the hard-core Deaniacs, fighting to the bitter end, in Seattle. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's article on the decline of Dean-dom has good detail, including: "There was no one on stage translating the speech into sign language for deaf attendees, no microphone for audience questions."

The Los Angeles Times' Glionna and Rainey on the "Wisconsin or Bust" move. LINK

"…Dean's failure to win Iowa and New Hampshire, along with weak finishes in seven state contests Tuesday, have led to an on-the-run strategy reassessment."

The New Republic's Ryan Lizza has an excellent, sad, detail-laden dispatch from the new Burlington. LINK

Dean supporters in Palm Beach County are not giving up hope on their fearless leader. The Palm Beach Post talks to a few loyal Deaniacs who are worried, but not done fighting. LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Reena Singh:

MILWAUKEE, WIS., Feb. 6, 2004 -- The local weather report for the Milwaukee area is snow, snow and more snow from today through next Thursday. The outlook, however, for the Dean campaign is not as predictable.

The author of Thursday's "Wisconsin or Bust" e-mail, which put the Governor in a foul mood, remains unidentified, although staffers from the Burlington ranch admit that new campaign manager Roy Neel was involved in the process. The e-mail drew a strong line in the snow with the words "anything less than a win in Wisconsin" would put his campaign "out of the race" and set off a flurry of events including conference calls, a press avail and a impromptu flight from Michigan, where Dean is lagging in the polls by more than 40 points, to the Badger State. By the end of the day the Governor seemed to accept the strategy, calling it a "brilliant ploy."

Perhaps Dean's resignation is due to the money raised as a result of the e-mail. As of this morning, the Win Wisconsin bat has snowballed in $787, 840.41 for new ads and a new challenge has been raised: Double the amount to $1.4 million.

Dean continues to campaign in what he described as a "must-win" state today. This morning he is said to be joined by SEIU President Andy Stern and mid-afternoon Pearl Jam I and II will be wheels up heading to Vermont for a down day on Saturday. That night the Governor will attend his son's last high school hockey game.

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


Gen. Clark campaigned in Lebanon, Tenn., yesterday, News Channel 5 in Nashville reports. Clark lived in Lebanon where he attended Castle Heights Military Academy as a teenager. They also Note that John Edwards practiced law and lived in Tennessee briefly before moving to NC. LINK

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


Page Six reports Jesse Jackson, Jr. was distributing copies of a Village Voice article concerning Sharpton's Republican ties to members of the black caucus on the House floor. LINK

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

The Los Angeles Times looks at the postponed FEC 527 discussion. LINK

Lloyd Grove has the lowdown on Russell Simmons' "diatribe" about Laurie David's crowd not being all that inclusive. LINK

Democratic National Convention:

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein introduces us to the team who will produce the show inside of the FleetCenter. LINK

The politics of gay marriage:

The Los Angeles Times follows up on Tom DeFrank's story indicating the gay marriage issue could prove tricky for the President. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Elizabeth Mehren provides a preview to next week's constitutional debate in Massachusetts and to the potential "legal chaos" to dominate the Bay State for the next two years. LINK

Politics Live:

In honor of President Ronald Reagan turning the big 9-3 today, does Politics Live have a special show for you! Live to talk about her memories of the Great Communicator will be Sheila Tate, First Lady Nancy Reagan's former press secretary.

Then to touch on the subject as well as continue the discussion of all things political, This Week Anchor and ABC News Political Analyst George Stephanopoulos will stop in and appear on that big huge television at the Crossroads of the World -- that's right, the Times Square Jumbotron.

To watch a clip of yesterday's interview with Norman Ornstein, click this link. LINK

AOL subscribers, don't you worry, you can watch it too.

But you can't tell the players without a program -- which means ya gotta sign up to have ABC News Live delivered right to your desktop. We don't underestimate the power of customer service around here. LINK

ABC 2004: The Campaign Bus Logs:

As the campaigns go national, so do our campaign buses. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at their daily logs.

From ABC News Red Bus producer Sean Smith, in Richmond, Va.:

QUOTES OF THE DAY: "This bus is really cool" -- Edwards press secretary Jennifer Palmieri. We told her if she drops off the Edwards campaign, she's more than welcome to join the Big Red team. She declined . . . for the moment.

"I hate to use the word genius, but…" -- Replacement driver Billy Alcorn after getting us lost on the way to set up for the Edwards live shot, and miraculously turned around and got off a random exit that was 500 yards from our Edwards location.

RUMORS FROM THE ROAD: Our quest to make Big Red the meanest, baddest mobile luxury studio on the road has reached a feverish pitch with a contract ready to be signed to outfit Big Red with chrome tailpipes, hooker headers, 75 inch fat chrome wheels, custom paint and a liquid cooled turbo injector to make Big Red achieve prominence in the fast lane. Just need the okay from NY and we're a go…we are in the land of NASCAR, by the way.