The Note

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

— 7:30 am: Sen. John Kerry calls into MSNBC's "Imus in the Morning" — 9:20 am: Off-camera gaggle by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan — 9:45 am: Sen. John Edwards attends a roundtable at the Smith Steel Workers Hall, Milwaukee, Wis. — 10:00 am: President Bush meets with a Delegation of Governors returned from Iraq, the White House — 10:00 am: ABC's Cokie Roberts moderates a Glamour Magazine event with Liz Cheney, Catherine Edwards, Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry, Rebecca Lieberman and Corinne Quayle, New York, N.Y. — 10:00 am: Gov. Howard Dean tours the Anibas Family Farm, Eau Claire, Wis. — 10:00 am: Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Sens. Bob Graham and Ron Wyden speak to the press about President Bush's 2005 budget for veterans, Washington, D.C. — 10:00 am: The National Press Club hosts a roundtable discussion about Sen. Kerry's ability to beat President Bush featuring Joe Lockhart, Scott Reed, Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg, Washington, D.C. — 10:30 am: Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack speaks about the economy at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. — 11:30 am: Sen. Kerry receives the endorsement of Gen. Wesley Clark at the Armory and Gymnasium, Madison, Wis. — 11:30 am: Gov. Dean attends a rally at the State Theater, Eau Claire, Wis. — 12:00 pm: Sen. John Kerry attends a forum with Gov. Jim Doyle at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis. — 12:15 pm: On-camera press briefing by Press Secretary McClellan — 1:00 pm: Politics Live on and AOL — 1:45 pm: President Bush participates in a conversation on choosing schools, Washington, D.C. — 3:00 pm: Gov. Dean holds a roundtable discussion at Lake Shore Technical College, Cleveland, Wis. — 6:00 pm: RNC Chairman CEO Bill Harris addresses members of the Pan Asian American Leadership Caucus, New York, N.Y. — 6:45 pm: Gov. Dean attends a fish fry at American Servian Memorial Hall, Milwaukee, Wis. — 11:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a rally at Valley High School, Las Vegas, Nev. — 11:30 pm: Sen. Edwards appears on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Los Angeles, Calif.


President Bush's political team is under tremendous pressure to aggressively counter John Kerry's rise.

Republican Party and elected officials are, like their Democratic counterparts, the first to panic at the sign of negative poll numbers, and the President -- despite the State of the Union and "Meet the Press" -- is still routinely seeing public polling representing a bad trend -- such as the just-out ABC News/Washington Post poll (more on that below).

Kerry's favorable media coverage and the lingering press' focus on the President's National Guard history are also of concern to Republicans -- who are asking the White House to step things up.

See, for example, this passage from today's Mike Allen/Lois Romano Washington Post opus: LINK

"Republican lawmakers have been growing increasingly concerned about the fallout from the dispute over Bush's Guard service. GOP aides on Capitol Hill, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the White House had put the party on the defensive on an issue related to national security, which is traditionally a GOP strength, as Bush prepares to face.... Kerry..."

"' We will never win the debate over who was the better soldier,' said a Republican leadership aide. 'This has to be about who would be a better commander in chief, and we let the Democrats shift the terms of the debate. Who would have thought Bush would get caught in the quagmire of Vietnam?'"

Although November's election is far away for most normal Americans, both the Bush and Kerry campaigns see this as a critical time in the race -- particularly on the matter of defining Sen. Kerry for a public who still barely has heard of him.

So -- through surrogate speeches and TV appearances, as well as bushels of e-mails -- the Republicans are trying to paint a picture of a soft-on-defense, hypocritical, special-interest-coddling liberal. They want the daily negative political stories to start being about Kerry, and stop being about Bush.

See, for example, Ed Gillespie's Thursday sleight-of-hand speech in Nevada, in which he pulls every possible and imaginable newspaper quote to "demonstrate" that the Kerry campaign will be historically rough and negative in going after the President, and simultaneously goes after Kerry! LINK

And see also the Boston Globe's Susan Milligan on the planned attacks on Kerry's record on national security -- in which she Notes that "Kerry said he was prepared for the anticipated Republican attacks and predicted he would not be defeated because of them." LINK

There's also the new, unwithdrawn BC04 anti-Kerry video that attempts to suggest two of the GOP's other new favorite themes: Kerry is a captive of special interests and Kerry is a Gore-like say-one-thing-do-another hypocrite. LINK

Democrats, of course, have been hammering the President for months, and there isn't any reason for the media to pass judgment on the merits of attacks on Kerry or the methods by which they are being delivered.

But we do want to highlight one textbook case of how the right cleverly uses the modern media conveyer belt to produce sound and fury about Democrats who they want to take down.

The sequencing is pretty basic: they start by handing something to one or more right-leaning Web sites.

That begets talk radio, which begets cable TV (usually FNC first), which begets a Washington Times story, which leads to other newspaper stories, and then, finally -- pay dirt -- network television coverage.

On Monday, the conservative website ran a 1970 photo of John Kerry with Jane Fonda. Kerry seems for weeks to have gotten positive mileage in his paid and free media on his Vietnam-era personae, and whoever put the photo out there was clearly hoping to dirty that up with some Hanoi Jane stuff.

And after passing through all the steps above, the picture yesterday found some morning show traction.

Corbis -- who owns the rights to the picture -- tells ABC News that it is a huge seller right now, to the media and others.

The New York Times Sheryl Gay Stolberg even says today that there is ANOTHER Fonda-Kerry photo, showing them even CLOSER together!!! LINK

This general phenomenon is one worth watching for the next eight months, along with the methods the left will use to try to damage the President's image.

The left is in fact trying to follow the right, using and John Podesta's Center for American Progress to try to create its own echo chamber. The resuscitation of the Guard story is a good example of their fairly swift learning curve.

As for Sen. Kerry: he is in Wisconsin and Nevada today. He will be in Nevada and Wisconsin on Saturday and Wisconsin on Sunday for the debate, to be aired on MSNBC.

This morning, per ABC News Kerry campaign reporter/superstar Ed O'Keefe:

While the reporters and crews of ABC, CBS, and Fox were arguing with the Kerry press staff on the plane about shooting Kerry boarding his plane, the Senator quickly boarded and sat down in his seat -- which means there is no video of Kerry boarding his plane.

Shortly thereafter, Kerry walked back and talk with the press, off camera for some idle, quick chitchat.

He said he took 20 minutes out of his day yesterday to buy his wife Theresa a Valentine's Day present.

When asked what he bought her, Kerry responded, "I won't say. You'll have to ask her."

When asked what she bought him, Kerry smiled and said, "I don't think you want to know."

Kerry's mood is light. He looks and sounds much healthier than he did before he took two days off, and his cough has diminished significantly.

Kerry and press are heading to Wisconsin, where he will receive the endorsement of Gen. Wesley Clark.

It is not yet clear whether there will be a press availability either before or after the endorsement.

Kerry will be in Nevada and Wisconsin on Saturday and Wisconsin on Sunday.

This weekend in Wisconsin there is the J-J dinner Saturday in Milwaukee, where Sens. Kerry and Edwards and Rep. Kucinich will speak. Gov. Dean will join them at the debate sponsored by MSNBC at Marquette University in Milwaukee Sunday night.

Sen. Edwards is in Wisconsin today and appears on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" tonight in California. He will be in Wisconsin through the weekend.

Gov. Dean is in Wisconsin today and through the weekend (although returns to Vermont on Saturday night).

Rep. Kucinich is in California today. He will campaign in Wisconsin through the weekend.

President Bush is in Washington, D.C. today, talking with governors who visited Iraq and a group on school choice. He will attend the opening ceremony of the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

Monday is one of The Note's favorite holidays -- so we will next publish on Tuesday. Enjoy your weekends!!!

ABC News/Washington Post poll:

ABC News' Polling Director Gary Langer analyzes the latest poll figures on

Writes Langer, "President Bush is at a low point in public approval, his popularity depressed by questions about the Iraq war, continued economic frustration and public interest in his leading Democratic rival. Bush's overall job approval rating has fallen to 50 percent, a career low. His rating for honesty and trustworthiness is likewise at a new low. "

Langer continues by Noting that "context is critical" as "these results come at the zenith of the Democratic primary season, after a period of intense and positive coverage of Kerry; and they follow a slump for Bush extending from his poorly reviewed State of the Union address through his admission that Iraq might not have had weapons of mass destruction after all." LINK

The Washington Post leads thusly, "A majority of Americans believe President Bush either lied or deliberately exaggerated evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in order to justify war, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll."

"The survey results, which also show declining support for the war in Iraq and for Bush's leadership in general, indicate the public is increasingly questioning the president's truthfulness -- a concern for Bush's political advisers as his reelection bid gets underway." LINK

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

The New York Times' Ruttenberg reports that Republicans have begun a series of attacks against Kerry, beginning with Ed Gillespie's speech and RNC e-mails and continuing with a Bush video ad. LINK

From a BC04 release: "To date, John Kerry has harshly attacked President Bush with 15 ads that have aired 9,712 times and cost $4.9 million."

"After millions of dollars spent by John Kerry's campaign attacking the President, this web video provides our supporters an opportunity to see how Senator John Kerry's angry rhetoric does not match his record," BC04 spokesman Scott Stanzel said. "It's part of our effort to communicate with supporters on Senator Kerry's hypocrisy."

So when will the campaign takes it message beyond it's "e-supporters" and to the larger voting public?

"We are anxious for the time this becomes a two-person race," Stanzel said. "And we are rapidly approaching that period."

The AP's Lindlaw reports on the new BC04 video bashing Kerry's alleged special interest ties (and it's not an ad…wink wink). LINK

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie yesterday essentially called the press patsies in the game of dirty politics that the Democrats are mounting during this presidential election, the Washington Times Ralph Z. Hallow reports. LINK

In a speech in battleground state Pennsylvania yesterday, President Bush backed away from comments by one of his economic advisers on jobs moving overseas, the Washington Post Milbank reports. In the Keystone State for the 25th time since taking office, the President told a crowd at a high school "We need to act to make sure there are more jobs at home, and people are more likely to retain a job." LINK

The New York Times' Bumiller reports that President Bush attempted to assure a crowd that he was "concerned about the loss of American jobs to other countries, an increasingly potent issue in the 2004 campaign" and Notes: "Here in a state that has lost about 84,000 jobs during his presidency, [President Bush] pushed his job-training and education programs, and said one solution to jobs' moving overseas was to train Americans for higher-paying work at home." LINK

The independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks announced that it would seek public testimony from President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney resulting in another "showdown" between the commission and the White House, reports Philip Shenon of the New York Times. LINK

Funny: if people watched The Newshour" on PBS, they would have known this two days ago!!!

In a move that "could add to the White House's political troubles as it tries to keep questions about the war from becoming a drag on Bush's reelection campaign," the Los Angeles Times reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee is planning to investigate whether White House officials "exaggerated the Iraq threat or pressured analysts to tailor their assessments of Baghdad's weapons programs to bolster the case for war." LINK

The New York Times reports that the Bush Administration may lend support to Israel's plan for a unilateral withdraw from the parts of West Bank and Gaza and would send three senior aides to Israel next week to look for answers to some questions. LINK

President Bush and the National Guard:

The Washington Post's team of Allen and Romano report that White House aides went through "an inch-thick file" of the President's Texas National Guard records and though they do not plan to release more from that batch, more documents are on the way. LINK

"Talk about making a mountain out of a molar," Notes the Washington Post's Dana Milbank as he writes about the White House's exuberance over the President's dental records. LINK

USA Today looks at the significance of President Bush's driving records in the context of his military career in the National Guard. "At the time Bush enlisted in the Texas National Guard, the Air Force typically would have had to issue a waiver for an applicant who had multiple arrests or driving violations. LINK

The New York Times' Bumiller states that the White House released the portion of Bush's National Guard file that had previously been blacked out, indicating that the President had been convicted of a misdemeanor, which was ultimately dismissed. LINK

Serrano and Chen of the Los Angeles Times Note: "The disclosure marked the third time this week that the White House had provided new details about Bush's service in the Guard in Texas and Alabama during the Vietnam War. The details came after Bush pledged on national television Sunday to 'absolutely' release all his records in an effort to end speculation that he did not fully complete his military obligation." LINK

The New York Times' Barstow reports that "at the Montgomery headquarters of the Alabama National Guard, officials have responded to growing scrutiny of President Bush's military record by searching through records for proof of his service". LINK

New York Daily News' DeFrank writes that a "downbeat political week for the President was made worse" as White House officials disregarded the cardinal rule of damage control: "If there's nothing to hide, don't behave as if there were." LINK

The economy:

The U.S. trade deficit hit a record $489.4 billion high in 2003, ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim reports. Schindelheim Notes that economists say the number, while higher than expected, could be reflecting the strengthening global economy. The deficit is 17.1 percent higher than in 2002.

Jim Morrill of the Charlotte Observer Notes the Dems attacks on Bush over outsourcing jobs overseas, offering comments from economic advisors and a laundry list of where each candidate stands on the issue. LINK

The Washington Times' Patrice Hill reports on the testimony yesterday by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, in which he said he supports renewing President Bush's tax cuts as long as spending is cut by $1 trillion. Congress should bring back the budget rules that required spending cuts to offset tax breaks but expired in 2002, Greenspan said. LINK

Big casino budget politics:

The New York Times reports that "a senior House Republican and several ranking House Democrats warned top Pentagon officials on Thursday that the military's proposed budget for next year faced a tough fight on Capitol Hill." LINK

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calf.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee's Defense subcommittee, "predicted yesterday that pressure to cut defense spending will grow this year in the House, warning Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that "people will be targeting our budget in a serious way," reports the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb. LINK

The Washington Post's Christopher Lee reports that the Senate approved a $318 billion transportation bill yesterday, but the legislation faces White House opposition over its price tag, and it differs from a costlier bill pending in the House. LINK

The Wall Street Journal reports "The Senate, defying the White House, approved a $318 billion highway and transit bill that has provoked a remarkable election-year fight between Republican lawmakers and President Bush over budget priorities and job creation," Noting that "Sen. John McCain tore into his party for abandoning its legacy as the 'party of fiscal sanity, the party of smaller government.'"

ABC 2004: The Democratic nomination fight:

Dan Balz and Vanessa Willliams of the Washington Post report that Gen. Clark will endorse Sen. Kerry today because, "the former NATO commander values Kerry's experience in the Vietnam War… and his years of work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Those factors, they said, outweighed the issues on which Clark had criticized Kerry during the campaign." LINK

The Los Angeles Times reports that a Democratic source calls Clark's scheduled Kerry endorsement "'a clear signal that Democrats are coalescing around the Kerry candidacy.'" LINK

The AP's Pickler reports on the expected endorsement from Gen. Clark. LINK

The Boston Herald's David Guarino reports on the expected Clark nod and the nice words (but no endorsement) from Gov. Doyle in Wisconsin. LINK

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quotes Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.): "I do believe that with a Kerry-Edwards ticket, we can sweep this nation and bring the South along with it" and Jesse Jackson. "To many people, it's a dream ticket." LINK

Feb. 14:

The AP's Brendan Riley previews this weekend's Nevada and D.C. contests. LINK

The Boston Globe's Steve Friess writes that "if the [Nevada] contest tomorrow seems inconsequential and predictable, appearances in the state by both Kerry and Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie in the days leading into it reflect that the nation's fastest-growing state is poised to play its most significant role ever in a presidential election." LINK


The Boston Globe's Mishra and Johnson talk to Wisconsinites who wonder whether their primary votes really matter. LINK

USA Today's Kasindorf reports on the Dean and Edwards campaigns' hopes for the Badger State and their opinions that the Wisconsin voters do matter. LINK

David Callender at the Capital Times Notes Wisconsin veterans defending John Kerry from Republican attacks on his role in VVAW. LINK

Kirsten Scharnberg, Rick Pearson, and Jill Zuckman at the Chicago Tribune report that while Kerry rested in Washington yesterday, he will return to Wisconsin today in triumph to collect the endorsement of Gen. Clark. LINK

John Dipko at the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that 1.17 million Wisconsin voters will be watching "Shrek" on Sunday night after their local NBC affiliates decided to show the green ogre's adventures over the presidential debate being held in Madison. LINK


The AP's Ron Fournier offers must-read mini-profiles of the Kerry campaign's senior staff. LINK

The New York Daily News keys off a Quinnipiac survey for a story reporting "Sen. John Kerry is the runaway favorite of New York Democrats and also would trounce President Bush here, a new poll showed yesterday."

"The Quinnipiac University survey showed Bush, a Republican whose aides once hoped could win New York on his post-9/11 popularity, getting pasted here, with 88% saying they would vote for Kerry if the election were today. Only 7% said they would vote for Bush." LINK

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Steve Neal writes that Kerry's success -- despite the monikers the press and his opponents have stuck on him -- proves that voters have minds of their own. LINK

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes that Edwards has a new message and it is a "warning to free-traders: Guys, you'd better wake up. There's rebellion in the country, a justified revolt by workers who cannot understand why the economic recovery has produced so few new jobs." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Anderson and Rosenblatt report on Edwards' sunny campaigning in the Golden State as the candidate worked to "rally voters and replenish his campaign treasury in a lightning detour from his intense appeal for votes in a critical presidential primary next week in Wisconsin." LINK

Mark Johnson of the Charlotte Observer reports on Edwards' second place spot, Noting that it is both a help and hindrance for the Democratic candidate. LINK

Dan Kane of the Raleigh News & Observer reports on the vice presidential talk surrounding Edwards. LINK

The Raleigh News & Observer's John Wagner reports on Edwards two-state push in Wisconsin and California in anticipation of the states' upcoming primaries. LINK

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


Walter Shapiro writes that Dean may be down, but he's not acting like he's out. LINK

The New York Times' Wilgoren reports that "as General Clark made plans to endorse Mr. Kerry, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Howard Dean made a direct appeal to Clark supporters." LINK

Dr. Judy makes a house call on the Dean campaign in Wisconsin, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Graeme Zielinski. LINK

Rick Pearson and Tim Jones with the Chicago Tribune visited the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh with Dean. He remarked "I feel like singing, this is such a beautiful place. But I won't. CNN would probably play it 633 times." And he met Howard the Ghost, who alledgedly haunts the opera house. LINK

Dave Umhoffer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asks if Dean's latest statements about John Kerry's fundraising mean that he is a "principled fighter" or a "spoiler and sore loser"? You decide. LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Reena Singh:

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN., Feb. 13 -- It makes sense that the campaign that changes course often also changes airplanes on a regular basis. Within the past couple of weeks the Dean campaign has flown on Pearl Jam I, Pearl Jam II, Cheese Head I and an unnamed Gulf Stream. Then Thursday afternoon in Madison, Wis., the press corps boarded a 40-passenger DC-9, which was once owned by Kenny Rogers. Inspiration struck as soon as the previous owner's name was uttered: Gambler I. After all, "you better know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," is good counsel for the Governor, who is placing all his bets on one state. And, some of the press corps noted, Dean's favorite musician Wyclef Jean once did a remix of the Rogers classic.

Though his pile of chips may be dwindling, Dean is still receiving some backing. At the Minneapolis Convention Center approximately $90,000 was raised from the 360 people who paid for $100 or $1000 tickets to sip punch and savor pastries at a two-tiered fundraiser for the Governor. One of those people was travel agent Maggie Dolan, who has never donated to a campaign before and secured a coveted spot on the receiving line. When Dean stopped before her, Dolan says she shook his hand and pleaded him not to quit. "He looked me right in the eye and he said, 'I am not going to give up'," recalls Dolan. "I'll vote for Atilla the Hun to get rid of Bush, but I don't want to vote for Kerry.'"

Financial aid is also coming in the form of radio ads. A band of supporters under the label of has created two radio spots that will hit the Wisconsin airwaves today. The ads point out the differences between Dean and Kerry, and showcase the Governor's executive experience. The independent 527 organization put up a couple of ads in Washington just before the state's caucus.

Of course, cash is not the only resource keeping the campaign afloat. People Powered Howard's headquarters is leaner but still has a healthy stock of diehards, including Zephyr and Nicco. Just two weeks ago when the chips were down, the duo found a way to materialize a supporter's idea for a campaign-run radio station. Now the DJs of Democracy host an Internet radio show weeknights at 9:00 pm and weekends at 4:00 pm. WDFA (Dean for America) Radio is actually run off laptops in a small room at the Burlington ranch with wires dropping from the ceiling and a pair of headphones Scotch taped to a telephone. Total cost: Mixer for $150, microphone for $89, microphone stand for $89 and cables for $100. Cost of eternal hope in the face of crushing defeats and polls: Priceless.

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


Jean Edward Smith writes in the New York Times editorial page of Clark as part of the legacy of "generals who became political also-rans." LINK

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

New York, Feb. 13 -- In what can only be described as perhaps the most bizarre episode yet in the 2004 presidential campaign (which is saying a lot when the candidate in question has been known to participate in collective meditation rituals at fundraisers), Rep. Kucinich stopped by the Tonight Show Thursday night and participated in a spoof of "The Dating Game."

The image of a presidential candidate standing next to Jay Leno on a retro psychadelic game show set was surreal enough, but the contestants' fame and racy answers made it downright Fellini-esque. The participants included Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Tilly, the lithe blonde Republican/radio megastar consultant Kim Serafin, and actress Cybil Shepherd.

Some highlights (or, one could argue, lowlights):

* Jennifer Tilly asking in her best Betty Boop voice "How's your hanging chad?" * Cybil Shepherd screaming "I'm ready for a wardrobe malfunction!" after which she lifted up her dress to reveal satin pink underwear. * Shepherd towering over Kucinich and trying to make out with him after not being picked, then reprising the skrit-lifting to make sure Kucinich had the chance to see it. * Serafin, in what's safe to call a politically incorrect answer, claiming that if she were First Lady and the Chinese president came to the White House, she assumes he'd be bringing take-out so would order the number 4.

Kucinich ended up choosing Bachelorette number 1, Jennifer Tilly, and seemed genuinely shocked and delighted a the contestants' true identities. One can only assume he would have preferred to stay and have a real interview with Jay before heading out, but instead the vegan and his date were sent to dinner on the show at the raw food eatery Raw.

Read more from the trail with Kucinich on LINK

ABC Vote 2004: The Veepstakes obsession begins!:

Ms. Calmes of the Wall Street Journal writes of the Kerry camp's Veepstakes chatter in this week's Washington Wire. Says the piece, "Edwards' campaign skills make him an early favorite, but the odds against his carrying home-state North Carolina hurt his prospects. Missouri's 11 electoral votes give native son Gephardt appeal; he also might help in Ohio. Other candidates: Florida Sen. Graham, Govs. Vilsack of Iowa and Richardson of New Mexico."

So when will Kerry, if he becomes the nominee, make a pick? Some "strategists outside the Kerry campaign expect he will pick soon," with Bill Carrick finding the arguments in favor of this tack "compelling." But the paper wonders: whither the post-convention bounce if this happens?

The AP's McDonough takes a historical tour of vice presidents who at some point said they had no interest in being vice president. LINK

And Knight Ridder's Morrill writes that some people really would like Edwards to be able to take the job if it's offered eventually -- at the very least so that some enthusiastic (though possibly premature) Kerry-Edwards 2004 bumper stickers don't go to waste. LINK

In National Journal's Insiders Poll, the mag went for Kerry's veep rather than the experts' choices for no. 1. And guess who won? Yup. John Edwards, followed by Gephardt, Richardson, and two other gents who ran for president . . .

Christina Bellatoni of the Washington Times reports on speculation that Virginia Gov. Mark Warner is on Kerry's "short list." LINK

The results are in . . .

As Noted yesterday, Fred Hochberg's 3rd Annual Valentine's Day luncheon at the Gramercy Park restaurant Craft surveyed a who's who of Democratic women on who they would want as a vice presidential candidate and who they thought would be selected.

Just as in the 2004 primaries and caucuses thus far, these ladies came out in record numbers. Seventy-three women were surveyed and as promised, these are the results.

1. Who do you want for vice president?

The Utterly Fabulous Fred Hochberg 25 Sen. John Edwards* 17 Rep. Dick Gephardt 8 Sen. Hillary Clinton 7 Gov. Bill Richardson 6 New School President Bob Kerrey 1 Former Gov. Ann Richards 1 Gen. Wesley Clark 0 Sen. Evan Bayh 0

2. Who do you think will be selected?

Sen. John Edwards* 43 Gov. Bill Richardson 4 Sen. Even Bayh 4 Rep. Dick Gephardt 3 Gen. Wesley Clark 3 Sen. Hillary Clinton 2 New School President Bob Kerrey 0 Fmr. Gov. Ann Richards 0 The Utterly Fabulous Fred Hochberg 0

Margin of error: +/- a Craft cocktail or two

*Note: Sen. John Edwards is indeed still running for president.

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

The AP's Sharon Theimer counts all the soft money that's racking up on both sides and "likely to influence this year's elections." LINK

And here's an AP rundown of the Notable groups and their numbers. LINK

This morning Gov. Vilsack of Iowa comes to town to talk tough about the President's economic policies at a Georgetown University speech sponsored by John Podesta's Center for American Progress.

The Note offers you, dear reader, a preview of the Iowan's-eye view of the current economic situation:

"I am here to talk about the state of our economy and the future of our country. For I believe we are in a slow-motion crisis -- a crisis that was preventable, predictable, and reversible."

"These policies are bad enough. What's worse is that the administration has so consistently failed to level with the public about their costs and consequences. Rarely have we seen economic policy so driven by politics."

"That is where President Bush has failed -- not because we had tough times under his watch . . . but because he has chosen policies that are so shortsighted they took a challenging situation and made it a dire situation."

The politics of gay marriage:

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein reports that the Massachusetts legislators will try it again in March. LINK

The Boston Globe's Frank Phillips reports on Gov. Romney's regular contact with the White House and the RNC. LINK

The Christian Science Monitor's Noel Paul calls Wednesday's debate over gay marriage by Massachusetts lawmakers a "decisive phase." LINK

The politics of national security:

The Wall Street Journal's Chris Cooper reports that "two former managers at a Halliburton Co. subsidiary say their bosses urged them to drive up costs on a U.S. military contract in Iraq because higher bills meant fatter profits," according to a letter from two Democratic congressmen sent to the Pentagon Thursday.

The New York Times' Jehl reports that prior to the war with Iraq, American intelligence officials were not told that much of the information that linked Iraq to WMDs came from defectors. LINK

USA Today's John Diamond reports, "A classified U.S. intelligence study done three months before the war in Iraq predicted a problem now confronting the Bush administration: the possibility that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction might never be found." LINK

The politics of the judiciary:

The Washington Post's Helen Dewar reports that "several Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans joined Democrats yesterday in supporting an investigation into the infiltration of Democratic files on judicial nominations by GOP committee staffers." LINK

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt recounts the strong words by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee denouncing staffers who allegedly accessed the computer files of committee Democrats. LINK


The New York Times' Lichtblau reports that "Attorney General John Ashcroft rebuffed calls from Congressional Democrats and abortion rights groups to drop the Justice Department's demands for abortion records from a half-dozen hospitals," stating that the records were necessary for the courtroom defense of partial birth abortions. LINK

Ashcroft "defended efforts by the Justice Department to obtain the confidential medical records of patients who have undergone a type of late-term abortion, saying yesterday that attorneys representing the government in a lawsuit need the documents to determine if the procedures were medically necessary," reports the Washington Post's Dan Eggen. "Ashcroft said patient privacy would be protected because "identifying characteristics" would be removed from the documents before they are turned over to the Justice Department." LINK

Congress will not lift repeal an export-tax subsidy declared illegal by the World Trade Organization by the March 1 deadline because some Republicans consider a trade war less politically risky than making themselves vulnerable to Democratic charges that they are deepening an already huge budget deficit, reports Shailagh Murray of the Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times' Clemetson reports on the issues that are important to Asian-American voters, such as poverty, hate crimes, and immigration changes, and the plan for a "coalition of organizations that represent Asian-Americans" to create a "unified platform intended to increase politicians' involvement with the ethnic group." LINK

The Governator takes to the the New York Times writes that "in little more than three months in office, despite no experience in politics, he has proved himself an effective negotiator." LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times' Scott Fornek opens with a fantastic pun in a story about the Republican Senate bid of ice cream tycoon Jim Oberweis and the complaint filed against him by Democrats accusing him of illegally using his dairy to campaign. 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 Beth Loyd, in Charleston, W.Va.:

QUOTES OF THE DAY: "This call better not be about switching hotels" -- David Reiter, after we called him five times about switching to a hotel more centrally located in Louisville.

"Hey, give us a ride, give us a ride" -- About 20 middle-school students from Southern Leadership Academy when we tried to close the door and leave after doing a survey for our visit tomorrow morning.

"Please keep your hands off the bus…we have to go" -- Bus driver Steve Hoker trying in vain to get the kids to back away from our bus

RUMORS FROM THE ROAD: We here that the Bus Hall of Fame is trying to track Big Red down to schedule our induction ceremony. A bronze cast of Big Red will be on permanent display at their Hall in Wabash, Indiana. Go Big Red.

From ABC News Blue Bus producer Matthew Frucci, in Milwaukee, Wis.:

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "What? You've never been to a Wal-Mart?" -- Wal-Mart check-out clerk in disgust after learning that bus producer Michael Kreisel had never been to a Wal-Mart before this day.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY: Watching eight, yes, EIGHT episodes of Dawson's Creek on our day-long trip from Nashville to Milwaukee. In Tennessee, Dawson and Jen were dating. By the time we made it to Kentucky, Dawson and Jen had split and Dawson was now linked to Joey. In Illinois, Joey started gravitating towards Jack, much to the dismay of Dawson. And it all came to a head at the Homecoming Dance as we steamed into Wisconsin. We traveled many miles indeed.