The Note

"The disclosure is the first firm indication of corruption involving U.S.-funded projects in Iraq and raises new questions about Halliburton's dealings there. The company's work already is being scrutinized because of accusations that the U.S. government was overcharged for gasoline under another controversial contract."

And so begins the day.

President Bush speaks to the U.S. Conference of Mayors and meets with the Florida Marlins today in Washington, D.C. He is in D.C. over the weekend.

Vice President Cheney is in Davos, Switzerland and Rome this weekend to speak to the World Economic Forum and the Italian Senate. He meets with Pope John Paul II on Tuesday.

BC'04 campaign manager Mehlman and RNC Chairman Gillespie both speak to the CPAC conference today.

Sens. Kerry and Lieberman, Gov. Dean, Gen. Clark and Rep. Kucinich are in New Hampshire today and through the weekend. Sen. Kennedy will campaign with Sen. Kerry this weekend, and Sen. Kerry will appear on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday night.

Sen. Edwards is in New Hampshire this morning and this weekend but is visiting South Carolina this afternoon. Go, Tiger, go.

Rev. Al Sharpton has no public events today or over the weekend.

The Debate:

The Washington Post's Broder and Balz write up the debate, highlighting the Kerry and Dean electability arguments and their accentuation of the positive. LINK

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Kit Seelye Note Kerry's and Dean's eagerness to fight the GOP on taxes and social issues in the general election. LINK

The New York Times' Robin Toner writes on the newfound amiability on display among the candidates last night and points to John Kerry as its leading beneficiary. LINK

The New York Times' John Tierney writes of the scrutiny Dean faced in the debate, Noting the candidate came out better for the wear, looking "humbler" than he had in "months." LINK

Howie Kurtz writes in the Washington Post on what precipitated Brit Hume's on-air correction last night (Dean walking over to Hume during a commercial -- "The most interesting moment" of the debate.") LINK

The AP's Calvin Woodward reports that stories were "not fully told" in last night's debate as he scrutinizes Clark on his Democratic credentials, Kerry on whether he camped out on the Mall and on whether the Medicare reform bill pushes seniors into HMOs, Edwards on the Defense of Marriage Act, and Dean on whether there was a middle-class tax cut. LINK

Al Hunt writes that the Democratic contenders were too worried about looking negative to actually go negative -- or to shake things up -- in last night's debate.

"The bottom line: there probably still is enough fluidity to shake up this crucial electorate before voters go to the polls in four days."

The Nashua Telegraph's Kevin Landrigan writes up last night's "civil debate" and Notes that Kerry (and Edwards) "passed on the chance to hit back at Dean's only shot at him…. Dean said" Kerry, Edwards and Lieberman "were in part responsible for the 500 dead and 2,200 wounded American soldiers by voting to authorize Bush to attack Iraq." LINK

The Boston Globe op-ed page is totally torn about the performances last night. Columnist Joan Vennochi thinks Sen. Edwards seems to be auditioning for vice president and asks whether a Kerry-Edwards ticket is already in the works. LINK

But then Scot Lehigh writes that Sen. Edwards was the best performer of the night. LINK

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