The Note

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

Bob Novak goes atomic and must-read, writing that that this whole past week, "worried Republicans buzzed about George W. Bush's Sunday interview on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' " LINK

Novak is buzzing himself as he writes that what "flabbergasted" Bush's supporters "was the absence of any plan to use this event to stop being the target as the 2004 campaign began."

Novak calls the interview "Strike Two" -- Strike One being the President's State of the Union address.

Check out this Novackian sentence: "The suspicion is that his 2004 campaign organization, a fund-raising juggernaut, is otherwise inadequate."

Novak also doesn't like that Bush didn't try to "capitalize" on the gay marriage issue, writing the President "was informed in advance that Russert had no plans to bring it up but that the president, of course, could raise this important social issue. He did not."

We bet lots of folks at 1600 will be buzzing unhappily at the last sentence of this one.

President Bush heads to the Keystone State today -- his 25th trip to Pennsylvania since taking office. Bush is set to talk about education policies and jobs at a high school in the state capital of Harrisburg, AP's Reichman reports. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Gregg Hitt reports that President Bush is revving up his re-election campaign to peak "in early March, when officials plan to tap into the campaign's unprecedentedly large war chest -- which may be $200 million by then -- and let loose a salvo of television ads in battleground states."

The attacks by Kerry and the Democrats have forces the Bush Administration to change its plan to stay above the political fray, fighting back "after passively enduring political shots for weeks," the Washington Times reports. LINK

Speaker Hastert says he's not too keen on what Mr. Mankiw had to say on the benefits of American jobs' movement overseas. LINK

The Washington Post's Mike Allen writes up Hastert's scolding as well. LINK

The New York Times' Stevenson and Johnston look at life in the White House, as the leak investigation gets more intense and Administration officials are called before a grand jury. "At a White House that has largely avoided scandal -- and one that has been distinguished by remarkable internal cohesion -- the escalating investigation has brought unusual personal stress and the uncertainties that afflict anyone caught up in a full-scale criminal inquiry." LINK

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie speaks at the Washoe County Lincoln Day Dinner in Reno, Nev., today and the gloves come off again, with regards to Sen. Kerry.

The Note has a preview:

"One of Senator Kerry's campaign consultants was recently quoted in the New York Times saying, 'Everything is on the table…Everything.'

"We know that 'everything' means taking slanderous charges against the President of the United States, funneling money to shadow organizations in voter suppression tactics, and spreading lies on the Internet."

"It's only February and they have made it clear they intend to run the direct the dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics. This is because they don't want a debate on the issues, and they don't want to run on Sen. Kerry's record. I guess I can't blame them for that."

"We as a party can not sink to their level. We must stick to the truth in this race."

Reminds us of the Bush campaign's interest in those Donna Brazile "kitchen" remarks from 2000 . . .

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