The Note

The Wall Street Journal's Jacke Calmes and John McKinnon write that the huge federal deficit could crimp President Bush's election year legislative agenda.

The Wall Streeet Journal's Greg Hitt reports that while President Bush will espouse big themes this election year, Vice President Cheney will be defending his role in going to war with Iraq.

The New York Times and Washington Post report that the Medicare bill will cost a third more than originally planned. LINK AND LINK

The Washington Post's Al Kamen picks up on the President of Poland seriously annoying President Bush by violating the sacred rules of White House photo ops. LINK

Sen. John McCain yesterday called for the removal of a presidential space commission member to eliminate any conflict of interest. LINK

The additional 30,000 troops called up by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could remain in the army five years or longer, the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb reports. LINK

From ABC News Bush-Cheney campaign reporter Karen Travers:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 - Sen. John Kerry's status as the Democratic frontrunner is clear whenever the Republican leadership is talking about his record in the Senate and position on issues like national security, tax cuts, and defense spending.

Following up on last Friday's rallying speech to the party's conservative base, RNC chairman Ed Gillespie gave the party leaders a laundry list of votes that Kerry cast on defense spending, intelligence spending and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Gillespie acknowledged Kerry's time served in Vietnam but quickly turned a critical eye to the senator's 19-year history of yeas and nays.

"John Kerry's record of service in our military is honorable. But his long record in the Senate is one of advocating policies that would weaken our national security," Gillespie said.

Today at noon at the Capitol Hilton, just a block from the White House, BC04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman will continue many of the same themes of Gillespie's speech when he previews this year's presidential race.

Senator John Kerry will again be a focus. Mehlman is expected to point out the philosophical differences between the Democrats and Republicans and paint Kerry as part of the "old, backward-looking Democratic Party," while highlighting President Bush's "forward-looking agenda," a senior campaign official said.

The speech will lay out more of Sen. Kerry's voting record, and based on Chairman Gillespie's speech today at the same meeting, it will likely focus on defense spending and intelligence spending.

According to the campaign official: "It is hard to square Kerry's defense record with the reality we face after 9/11."

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