The Note

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

—9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —10:00 am: House of Representatives convenes for legislative business —11:00 am: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan delivers the Fed's semiannual report on monetary policy to the House Financial Services Committee —11:45 am: Gov. Howard Dean attends an event at the Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee, Wis. —12:00 pm: President Bush attends the Republican National Convention luncheon, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: Sen. John Edwards meets with voters at Janesville Labor Council, Janesville, Wis. —12:00 pm: Rep. Dennis Kucinich attends a taping from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —1:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich greets the Latino Caucus Labor Council, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio —2:00 pm: Joint session of the Massachusetts Legislature meets, Boston, Mass. —2:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a town hall meeting with Local 50 Labor Union, Toledo, Ohio —2:30 pm: President Bush delivers remarks on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction at National Defense University, Washington, D.C. —3:00 pm: Gen. Clark announces he will drop out of the race at the Peabody Hotel, Little Rock, Ark. —3:00 pm: Sen. Edwards attends a rally at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, Wis. —4:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a community meeting at the East Toledo Family Center, Toledo, Ohio —5:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich canvasses at the Wyler Homes Projects, Toledo, Ohio —7:15 pm: Sen. Edwards attends a rally at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, Wis. —8:15 pm: Rep. Kucinich delivers a speech from Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio —11:00 pm: RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie appears on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show.

NEWS SUMMARY

President Bush's biggest problem right now is ____________ (noun).

He is still quite popular with the Republican base, but it would be nice of the economy would create, say, ____________ (number) jobs before he faces the voters.

Dan Bartlett's television appearances in the last few days make us think of a ____________ (barnyard or circus animal), but Scott McClellan's ____________ (adjective) daily briefing yesterday gave us ____________ (involuntary, violent action).

"Strong Leadership in Times of Change" is a fantastic campaign slogan because it ______________________________ (long, wonky but clever explanation).

BC04 spokesgal Nicole Devenish's position that the Bush campaign took their ad-like video off of the campaign Web site after NBC complained about the use of "Meet" footage because "it's important to have good relationships with the people who are going to cover us this year" would be best taken to heart by ____________________________ (Kerry staffer who should know better).

Sen. Kerry now has ____________ (big number, size depending on which network you trust) delegates, which is around 1/4 of the total he needs to ____________ (verb) the nomination.

The thing most Democrats say Kerry lacks in order to put himself in a position to beat George Bush is a ____________ (noun), while others think he requires a ____________ (adjectival noun or body part) transplant.

Lucky for him, he will have the ____________ (adjective) David Wade with him on the road to help figure all this out.

Although Dean and Edwards will continue their campaigns until ____________ (cliché), ____________ (number exceedingly close to 500) of the Gang of 500 will now turn their focus to the Bush-Kerry match-up.

But ____________ (member of Gang of 500) thinks that a candidate who chooses to stay in the race "after the lights have gone out" shares the logic of ____________ (favorite children's book character).

Bush-Kerry will make the archive of the Yale Daily News ____________ (adjective), and the Bumiller-Betts relationship ____________ (adjective).

Garry Trudeau, on the other hand, will now become ____________ (mysterious adjective).

General Wesley Clark's campaign can be best summed up as ____________ (song title). Sen. Kerry's campaign can be best summed up as ____________ (movie title).

Maureen Dowd will say that Kerry is a ____________ (brand of car). The discussions within the Kerry campaign about how much access to give MoDo to Sen. Kerry will be ________________________ (adjective) and ___________________ (more intense adjective).

When asked about his military service in the 1970s, President Bush has replied ____________ (adv.) that he was in ____________ (name of desirable place).

Democrats now think that the Administration has ____________ (verb) jobs to ____________ (name of desirable place).

The 1972 Alabama National Guard has moved ____________ (proper noun) to ____________ (violent verb).

John Edwards' ____________ (noun) has moved ____________ (plural noun) to ____________ (soothing verb).

President Bush will tell his staff that ____________ (noun or man's name) would have to ____________ (verb) ____________ (adverb/pronoun) before he would agree to let the Commission on Presidential Debates dictate the terms and number of fall debates -- in fact, he will agree to just ____________ (very low prime number).

As for Kerry, to prepare for the debates, he will study tapes of Al Gore debating Bush, and resolve never to ____________ (verb other than "sigh").

The Bush-Kerry battle will also be fought over the airwaves, with both candidates making appearances on unconventional television show, with the President guest-staring on ____________ (WB or UPN program), and Kerry making a cameo on ____________ (second-rate reality show).

The press will begin to speculate about things such as the Kerry summer White House in ____________ (exotic place), and which one of them will somehow get into print the next off-the-record Bill Clinton dinner party talk about Kerry, with an emphasis on Kerry's ____________ (noun).

For Kerry, the campaign will be all about ____________ (noun), ____________ (noun), and Bob Shrum's ____________ (noun).

For Bush, it will be all about ____________ (noun), ____________ (noun), and Maverick Media's ____________ (adjective) ____________ (noun).

Bob Shrum has written ____________ (number) speeches in the last year. His best was delivered by ____________ (name of presidential, gubernatorial, or senatorial candidate).

Shrum, Devine, Donilon, would ____________ (adverb) beat the Glover Park Group at "It's Academic," but the folks at GPG would ____________ (verb) Shrum, Devine, Donilon at __________________ (intense competitive physical activity).

Both Bush and Kerry will trot out cross-party supporters -- besides Zell Miller -- with Kerry bagging ____________ (prominent left-leaning Republican) and the President winning over the support of ____________ (more prominent centrist Democrat).

"90210" is to ____________ (name of current primetime "drama") as 527s are to ____________ (noun).

Rep. Kucinich is so ____________! (name of favorite soap star).

Karl Rove is so ____________! (name of adult cartoon character).

The ____________ (adjective) Republican convention will be held in ____________ (adjective) New York, where the press will focus on _______________ (colorful metaphor). The ____________ (adjective) convention will be held in ____________ (adjective) Boston, where the press will focus on _____________________ (noun).

The Yankees will ____________ (verb) this season's World Series.

Sen. Kerry's eventual running mate will say the Red Sox and the Yankees are ____________ (plural noun /expletive).

On election day voters will base their decisions on ____________ (noun) and discount ____________, ____________ and ____________ (nouns).

Voters will come to see that the trait the two men running for President share above all else is ____________ (shocking noun).

On to the delegate tote board!

John Kerry showed some Southern charm Tuesday as he scooped up a couple more big victories in the race for the Democratic nomination. Kerry won a majority of the 151 delegates at stake, adding to his commanding lead in the ABC News delegate estimate.

Overall, Kerry has now won roughly 24 percent of the 2,161 total delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Kerry, with 512 overall delegates, has nearly three times as many delegates as Howard Dean, who places second in our estimate with 179 delegates. This total includes both pledged delegates who are allocated according to their home state's primary and caucus results as well as "unpledged" delegates, known as "superdelegates," made up of state party leaders and activists, Democratic governors, members of congress, former presidents, vice-presidents, and national party chairmen.

Here are the current totals in the ABC News Delegate Estimate.

Sen. Kerry is down today in Washington, D.C.

Gen. Clark is in Little Rock, Ark., to announce that he will drop out of the race.

Sen. Edwards is in Wisconsin today, as is Gov. Dean.

Rep. Kucinich is in Ohio today.

President Bush is in Washington, D.C., and delivers remarks on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction at National Defense University.

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

Washington Post's Allen and Cooperman report that President Bush will endorse a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The amendment would ban gay marriage but would not prevent states from allowing civil unions.

The Post duo Notes the political motivations and implications of the decision:

"Republican officials said Bush's decision to proceed now was driven partly by his desire to start the general election campaign on a fresh issue, at a time when his credibility has been battered by questions about prewar warnings of unconventional weapons in Iraq, as well as doubts raised by Democrats about his National Guard service." LINK

Joe Allbaugh about his friend George Bush on FNC this morning: "He's not in campaign mode."

He called Harold Ford "a good man" and the National Guard matter "a non-issue for every person in America."

And in another sign of a general election perhaps well underway, Bush advisor Tucker Eskew was on CNN's American Morning chiding Sen. John Kerry for his Senate record.

Eskew said that Kerry may have a "band of brothers" from his days in Vietnam but that he was "a solo act" in the Senate when it came to supporting drastic cuts in military and intelligence spending.

A video message sent to more than 6 million Bush-Cheney '04 online supporters was removed from the campaign's Web site last night after NBC News complained about the use of clips from the President's appearance on Meet the Press. LINK and LINK and LINK

It's too bad in a sense, because it is a beautifully produced spot. If Maverick spent all that money they have been paid so far on this piece of creative, it was well worth every penny.

Republicans say President Bush is in a "cynical news slump" while Democrats hope that his troubles "signal a decline that will end with an election loss." No matter how you spin it, President Bush might be relieved to turn the conversation to nuclear proliferation today, USA Today's Keen Notes. LINK

President Bush in a speech today will call on governments to "block transfers of nuclear components to nations that are not already equipped with enrichment and reprocessing facilities," going against the Non-Proliferation Treaty, "which permits enrichment for peaceful purposes." LINK

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is vowing to block a Bush Administration plan to drill for gas in New Mexico, Los Angeles Times' Cart reports. "Richardson's decision to champion the protection of Otero Mesa is a sign that the Bush energy policy could emerge as a campaign issue in the Mountain West as Democrats rail against Republican special interests." LINK

In his "In the Loop" Al Kamen ponders why the President would choose Altoona, Wis. over Altoona, Pa. to visit next week. LINK

David Kay yesterday urged the independent intelligence commission to study how the Administration used pre-war intelligence. LINK

Vice President Cheney introduced Irving Kristol award winner and columnist Charles Krauthammer last night at the American Enterprise Institute's annual dinner at the Washington Hilton.

Cheney stayed away from politics, Iraq, the National Guard, and the leak investigation and focused on praising Krauthammer's writings and intelligence, especially in the post-9/11 world. "I spent much of last three decades in and around this city…You get used to shifting attention and passing enthusiasm that characterizes so much of our political commentary," Cheney said. "You learn to take it all in and select out well considered judgments of serious thinkers. You begin to listen through the course in search of that one clear note and so often that clear note is the commentary of Charles Krauthammer."

Krauthammer returned the praise with a bit of sarcasm, saying that he was honored by the Vice President's presence, especially during duck hunting season. "If Hamlet had borne half the slings and arrows you have, it would have been a very short play," the columnist said to Cheney.

President Bush and the National Guard:

The White House yesterday released documents on President Bush's National Guard record and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan got pelted with questions from reporters on the issue at his afternoon briefing.

Boston Globe's Robinson and Rezendes report that while the new documents show that President Bush "attended some Air National Guard training between mid-1972 and mid-1973 and was paid for it," the same records also show that Bush "may not have met the minimum-service requirement expected of most Guard members." LINK

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller Notes that White House press secretary "would not say, under repeated questioning at a contentious White House briefing that the records definitively prove that Mr. Bush reported for duty on those dates." LINK

More coverage of the National Guard records: Washington Post: LINK Los Angeles' Times: LINK USA Today: LINK

And the Washington Times has closed the book on this issue, running this headline today: "Bush's drills with the Alabama Guard confirmed." LINK

The New York Times ed board says the issue is not whether President Bush went into the National Guard to avoid service, but whether he fulfilled his Guard duties "bears on presidential character." LINK

In a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, Thomas Lipscomb calls the press lax for its investigations of President Bush's military service, failing to uncover the basic documents outlining his service and treating as new ground that's been covered before. LINK

The economy:

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports that Democrats "lit into" President Bush's chief economist yesterday after he lauded the movement of United States jobs abroad. LINK

The New York Times' Andrews on same. LINK

ABC 2004: The Democratic nomination fight:

AP's Ron Fournier declares Kerry "all but unstoppable." LINK

But . . .

USA Today gets former President Clinton to suggest there are reasons for Sen. John Edwards to stay in the race.

In the newspaper's hard copy, Clinton is quoted as saying: "A lot of times things happen late in the race" that sometimes make a difference and sometimes don't.

In the Web-based version of the story, Clinton cites the late surge experienced by Jerry Brown in 1992. Clinton is quoted saying that "Lagging candidates sometimes surge as voters in later states take second looks at front-runners." LINK

Clinton added: "look at the elections of the last 30 years. And ask yourself, is this election the same or different?"

It's unclear who conducted the interview. The story simply says that a USA Today reporter following former president Bill Clinton for a day asked him Tuesday whether Edwards should stay in the race. The reporter MIGHT be Martha T. Moore, who is identified as contributing from New York.

Mark Barabak and Maria La Ganga of the Los Angeles Times are two of many reporters who quotes folks (like Anita Dunn!) wondering if the Dems still "need an alternative," while Noting that Kerry's wins Tuesday hurt the Edwards/Clark argument that a Southerner is the one who has the best chance of beating the President in that part of the country. LINK

Ron Brownstein focuses on the "growing demands" on the other (read: non-Kerry) guys to end their candidacies as he examines exit polls that show the Kerry's "growing strength." James Carville for one says there's "no stomach to continue" this nomination battle. LINK

The Macker will love this sentence from USA Today's Page and Lawrence: "Starting with a crowded field and a rapid-fire series of contests, the Democrats have apparently settled on a presidential nominee sooner than either party has in a contested race for three decades." LINK

AP's Tom Raum talked to Democratic heavy hitters Leon Panetta and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and concludes that party leaders and advisers are ready to call "uncle" on this whole nomination business. LINK

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Scott Shepard got Panetta on the phone too, and quotes: "At some point, perhaps sooner rather than later, I think Democrats need to unify behind John Kerry and refocus on winning in November." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny, Rick Pearson, and Kristen Scharnberg round up yesterday's increased tailwind for Kerry, and Note a recent poll that found Dean is the candidate most Democrats DON'T want to see as the nominee. LINK

Howard Kurtz: "Media to Democratic also-rans: Time's up!... Fox and MSNBC, apparently, are already bored with the race" LINK

Feb. 10:

The Boston Globe's Kornblut and Healy wrap up Kerry's big Tuesday, Noting that, "increasingly, the race appears to be Kerry's to lose." LINK

Walter Shapiro looks at the carnage from Tuesday and this might be his best sentence: "But at least Edwards could go to bed Tuesday thankful that he was not Dean or Wesley Clark." LINK

Knight Ridder's Hutcheson wraps up the action. LINK

The Boston Herald's Guarino and Miga wrap the day, and Miga writes about why Kerry has Democrats excited. LINK

The Raleigh News & Observer's Rob Christensen says that Edwards is damaged by losing two Southern states with a campaign based on the idea that he can win in the South. LINK

Kary Booher of the Jackson Sun reports on voter turnout in western Tennessee, where Kerry claimed 12 of 13 counties. LINK

Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports on Kerry's Southern sweep, Noting the individual Dems' approaches to reaching voters at the polls. LINK

Jeff E. Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes on the back-to-the-future elements of yesterday's Virginia primary, striking eerie similarities between Kerry's recent win and Bush's sweep of the state in the 2000 election, with Virginia serving as the state validating and sealing the nomination for both. LINK

Wisconsin:

Johnny Apple writes that Wisconsin, a state that likes its underdogs fierce and its politics quirky, will play an important role next week to "either confirm Senator John Kerry as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee or keep the race going, at least until the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses on March 2." LINK

Scott Wilfred from the Wisconsin State Journal announces that Kerry will ignore the state no longer. LINK

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Kerry is "being non-committal" about its debate planned for the 15th. All five other candidates have committed. LINK

The Boston Globe's Johnson doesn't see any reason for anybody but Kerry to be optimistic in Wisconsin. LINK

The AP's Nedra Pickler presents a similar case. LINK

Steve Schultze at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Notes that the Kerry campaign recently fired a Wisconsin company that was intended to make robocalls throughout the state upon learning that the company routed that calls through Canada. LINK

The Charlotte Observer's Mark Johnson Notes that John Edwards may have a chance in Wisconsin's open primary, given his past support by independents and Republicans. LINK

WISC interviews a Madison business owner: "'The economy is much worse off than it was four years ago, but it's better off than last year...At a minimum, they'll say, 'Well, [Bush] didn't screw it up.' And it is possible to screw it up.'" LINK

Susan Lampsert Smith at the Wisconsin State Journal has some helpful advice for the candidates winging her way: don't try and pronounce the names of the cities ("Oconomowoc" and "Chequamegon" spring to mind) and make sure to kick the snirt off your tires. LINK

Kerry:

The New York Times' Toner writes that Kerry has strengthened "his position as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination and [dealt] a serious blow to his two Southern rivals." (We'd Note that Gov. Richardson was much less emphatic about the others getting out of the race Tuesday afternoon . . . ) LINK

Kerry "has not been challenged regarding his strong support of NAFTA" and many Wisconsin analysts state that his "success here may hinge on the issue," WMTV Madison reports. LINK

The Boston Globe's Healy writes about Kerry's increasingly apparent rock star status. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan pulls a fun piece of oppo off the Web -- a 1970 photo taken at a Labor Day rally in Valley Forge, Pa., with Jane Fonda in the foreground and John Kerry in the background. LINK

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

FAIRFAX, VA., Feb. 10 -- When Sen. Kerry enters a room advanced by his skilled team of television-friendly stage makers, scene setters and banner hangers, the crowd roars as Springsteen rocks and "Real Deal" ovals wave.

But as the front-running candidate walked into Bob's Barksdale Restaurant in Memphis, Tenn., an eerily appropriate and utterly non-advanced song played overhead.

Kerry gripped and grinned as Don Henley's Eagles sang:

"Somebody's gonna hurt someone Before the night is through Somebody's gonna come undone. There's nothin' we can do."

As the Massachusetts Senator worked the Southern crowd, the refrain echoed softly:

"There's gonna be a heartache tonight, A heartache tonight, I know. There's gonna be a heartache tonight, I know. Lord, I know."

Indeed, by Tuesday night Kerry's nomination fight had successfully made its way through the one region of the country that had yet to cast its ballots for him.

In the wake of overwhelming Kerry wins in Tennessee and Virginia, Gen. Wesley Clark decided to bow to the Lieutenant -- or his campaign, anyway, leaving only two major candidates in contention.

And the Kerry campaign strategy against Edwards and Dean at this point seems to ignore the fact that they are still in the race. In his victory speech on the campus of George Mason University, Kerry positioned himself as President Bush's challenger, stating, "Our opponents say they want to campaign on national security," using an inclusive pronoun while neglecting Dean and Edwards entirely.

The Senator, who has hardly mentioned a Democratic opponent by name since New Hampshire, will take two down days in Washington to strategize, organize, and fundraise, while his rivals campaign in Wisconsin.

He leads by double digits in what few polls are available in the Badger State, and continues to rotate two ads there -- one focused on his service in Vietnam, the other on "special interests," will make his first trip to Wisconsin since this summer on Friday.

The campaign will also make a one-day trip to Nevada prior to the state's Valentine's Day primary, keeping in line with Kerry's pledge to "fight for every vote" in each primary and caucus state.

On the eve of Kerry's Southern sweep, a local Virginia television reporter queried, "Do you prefer the comparisons to Kennedy or Dukakis?"

Kerry replied without hesitation, "I prefer being John Kerry."

Read more from the trail with Kerry on abcnews.com: LINK

Clark:

Mr. Jennifer Steinhauer (a.k.a. Mr. Wyatt) of the New York Times on the final day of this Clark campaign, Noting that "aides said he would support the eventual Democratic nominee and would be willing to campaign on his behalf in the South and elsewhere." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Slater on the end of the Clark candidacy. LINK

The Boston Globe's Joanna Weiss reports on The General's exit strategy. LINK

USA Today's Andrea Stone looks at Clark's last step and some missteps he's had along the way. LINK

The AP's Mike Glover Notes that "the decision to quit was hard for a candidate described by aides as competitive and reluctant to admit defeat." LINK

Jill Zuckman with the Chicago Tribune blames Gen. Clark's political inexperience for his failed campaign. LINK

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

MEMPHIS, TENN., Feb. 10 -- Gen. Clark's presidential campaign ended on Tuesday night just one week short of the five-month mark, making it the shortest run of all the Democratic hopefuls. And, just as Clark left press and supporters guessing last September whether he would or wouldn't run, he kept people guessing whether he would or wouldn't drop out.

After delivering a "neither here nor there" speech to a group consisting mostly of Little Rock, Ark., staffers and supporters who migrated into Memphis, Tenn., Clark shook a few hands and headed for the door. Confused by the situation I asked Clark, "Are we still going to Wisconsin tomorrow?" His answer said what we'd later confirm was true: "We'll talk about everything tomorrow."

And tomorrow it is. At 3:00 pm ET, Clark will speak at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Ark. and say what staffers confirmed the night before -- that his stint in this race has ended.

While Clark spent the morning of his last day on the trail campaigning around Memphis, stopping cars in the street to yell, "I need your help," Clark's traveling staff spent the last day with cameras in hand, snapping last-minute shots. And then there was the press, who spent the day guessing whether the next stop on the Wes Express was The Rock or Wisconsin.

The Clark communications staff spent most of the day under wraps, leaving press without a chaperone for a three-hour bus ride, as well as before and after Clark's speech. To find out what was going on after a blasé speech by Clark, reporters decided to congregate outside the hotel suite where communications staff sat. At least 20 journalists, including those from CBS, CNN, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and the Washington Post, stood waiting for somebody to tell them something. Twenty-five minutes later they got communications director Matt Bennett, who ultimately broke the news.

For Clark, who spent late Tuesday evening at dinner in Memphis with his wife, Gert, and son, Wes II, the experience has been one he surely won't forget. But while Clark became schooled the ways of politics and the stump speech, there are some things he never learn, like facing the cameras in press avails. Whether he comes back as a running mate is still unknown, according to Bennett.

Read more from the trail with Clark on abcnews.com: LINK

Edwards:

The New York Times' Archibold reports on Sen. Edwards' shifting language on his expectations for Virginia and Tennessee. LINK

The Boston Globe's Mishra reports on how the Edwards' camp interprets the numbers and the second-place finishes. LINK

Alice Gregory at the Charlotte Observer sees the invaluable assistance North Carolina retired schoolteacher Betsy Wells has given to the Edwards campaign, traveling to New Hampshire and using her experiences and accent to recruit Tennessee and Virginia voters. LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

MILWAUKEE, WIS., Feb. 10 -- And then there were two. Or so the Edwards campaign would very much like to believe. As news of Gen. Clark's retreat from the field of Democratic candidates trickled through the Edwards ranks, one senior staffer was overheard saying, "Exactly as I planned."

The question now is, how will that plan play out?

The Tennessee results were just about thistooclose for comfort, but a win is a win (as Clark demonstrated in Oklahoma). Therefore the Edwards strategy of coming in second before proceeding to Wisconsin has come to fruition, in the minds of those in the Edwards camp, and the next few days will be spent trying to figure out how best to replicate Iowa magic in the Badger State.

Initially the campaign had planned to head to California and went so far as to release a preliminary press schedule outlining plans for Thursday and Friday events. No more -- too much time in California at the cost of golden Wisconsin hours. Instead the Senator will criss cross coasts, fitting in fundraisers and retail politics.

Read more from the trail with Edwards on abcnews.com: LINK

Dean:

The New York Times' Ruttenberg reports that Gov. Dean has released his first new ad since New Hampshire on Tuesday in Wisconsin, which implores voters not to be a 'rubber stamp' for the selection of Kerry as the nominee. LINK

Rick Pearson at the Chicago Tribune reports that Dean spent the day discussing dog urine with middle schoolers. A scream for help? LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Reena Singh:

MILWAUKEE, WIS., Feb. 11 -- When the Dean press corps was reunited with colleagues returning from a few days off the trail, stories of yoga classes and lazy days in pajamas sparked flames of envy in the light of the Governor's promise to remain in the race for the long haul.

Of course, the long haul is only four weeks away at the most, which takes us to March 9. So little time, and yet so many strategies.

First there is the umbrella Wisconsin strategy, and under that the rubber stamp sub-strategy. The Governor is calling on Wisconsinites to be independent-minded and chose him over He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-In-This-Report. Here's how it works: "The media claims this contest is over. They say your voice and your vote don't count. They expect you to rubber stamp the choice of others. But you don't have to listen to them. Wisconsin: You have the power to keep this debate alive. You have the power to choose the strongest candidate to beat George W. Bush."

Sidebar: The above brings us to the "Kill the Traveling Press" strategy, shown in Dean's jabs at the "establishment media" from the stump. Increasingly, members of the traveling press are being approached by irate and sometimes violent-looking Deaniacs demanding more favorable campaign coverage and inquiring why we've been so unfair to their leader. (If I had a nickel for every time a Deaniac asked me if I thought the "scream" was overplayed, I…well, I'd be writing this note from the Four Seasons Bali wearing an oversized bathrobe instead of from the Milwaukee Hilton sans robe.

Back to the rubber stamp sub-strategy, which has its own ad that went up last night in Wisconsin -- titled "Rubber Stamp."

Last night at a rally in Milwaukee Dean announced the "Back to Bean Town" offense. Self-inspired by a line from his stump speech that offers the President a one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas, the Governor generously decided to extend a vacation to the front-runner when he said, "Maybe we should send someone back to Boston, Massachusetts, too."

The hiccup in that plan, as one astute reporter observed, is that Boston is the site of this summer's Democratic Party Convention. When this tiny detail was brought up to the Governor behind stage at his last event, he explained that he was simply being a "party unifier."

Perhaps, the most forward-thinking component of the Dean ground war is the youth outreach. On Tuesday Dean visited two schools to speak with young folk who will most likely vote in 2008 or 2012. He presided over a history class as a guest teacher and even offered his expertise on water purification when he walked into room 102 at Longfellow Middle School in La Crosse where students were examining water samples under a microscope. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom from Dr. Dean:

HD: Which do you think is safer, to drink water from your toilet or from the river? It's true.

STUDENT: I'd rather drink from the toilet.

HD: That's right.

The class went onto discuss "dog pee." The Governor asked, "Which has more bacteria, dog pee or river water?" The class went with "dog pee."

"I do not recommend drinking urine, but if you drink water straight from the river you have a greater chance of getting an infection that if you drink urine," said Dean to students who were now laughing uncontrollably.

Dean was a hit in classroom 102 and most likely he'll make a splash in the homes of these students as well. Can you hear it at the dinner table now? "Honey, what did you learn in school today?"

"Howard Dean taught us that it's safe to drink pee out of the toilet."

Oh dear -- appealing to junior voters is indeed a dangerous strategy.

Speaking of children, the Governor flies home tomorrow afternoon to watch his son's hockey game. Most of the press will travel to Burlington with him, but not on Pearl Jam I, Pearl Jam II or Cheese Head I. (Cheese Head I replaced Pearl Jam I as the press corps began to dwindle. The seven-passenger Diamond Jet is eerily reminiscent of the early Dean campaign days.) Instead it will be back to the old Gulf Stream tomorrow.

On the way to Vermont, perhaps the Dean senior staff will mull over a plan that has been subtly recommended by the traveling press. It's the Hawaiian Island Strategy.

Read more from the trail with Dean on abcnews.com: LINK

Nader:

Humorist Andy Borowitz pokes fun at Ralph Nader's presidential aspirations...and his devious plot against readers of the Da Vinci code: LINK

From the outside:

The group that ran the anti-Dean Osama bin Laden ad earlier this cycle, Americans for Jobs, Healthcare and Progressive Values is coming clean with its donor list. The AP reports the group raised and spent just over $600,000, money that came from a group that included a number of Gephardt donors -- and some Dean ones -- as well as labor unions and the Torch! LINK

While the Osama ads were the ones that gathered the most attention, it seems the spot was only a $15,000 buy -- which went on to generate a heap of free media. Nearly $500,000 went to spots on Dean's record on Medicare, NAFTA, and his past support from the NRA.

David Jones, the Democratic fundraiser with past Gephardt ties who raised money for the group, spoke with The Note this morning about his organization's issue ad effort, denying he had worked with or on behalf of any of the other Democratic contenders.

"There was no coordination with any of the presidential campaigns," said Jones. "They were issue ads."

Continued Jones, "I think what we did was bring up critical issues and point out that Howard Dean had zero foreign policy experience in a year where foreign policy experience is going to be the number one issue."

"Our efforts were obviously a major success. Howard Dean is now running a desperate, dying campaign, and our goals were accomplished," he said.

Jim VandeHei picks up on the Torch story as well. LINK

House of Labor:

More moves in the House of Labor as the Circle 'Round Kerry grows more certain.

ABC News' Gayle Tzemach reports the presidents of the formerly Gephardt-backing unions in the Alliance for Economic Justice will meet on a conference call this very afternoon to talk endorsements. The union leaders says they were waiting to see how Tuesday's races finished and to speak with their membership before taking the plunge for Kerry.

Sources close to the discussions say they expect the unions will indeed agree to back the Massachusetts Senator after gauging strong support for his candidacy among their members. Said one union leader familiar with the endorsement discussions, "George Bush has done something that nobody else has been able to do, and that is bring the Democrats together."

If all goes as planned and the unions vote to endorse, we are told to look for an event on Feb. 17 in Wisconsin, perhaps in Milwaukee. Stay tuned as discussions on the details continue . . .

Big casino budget politics:

The Washington Post editorial board thinks there was only one problem with the President's statement that Clinton's discretionary spending rose 15 percent and his own has steadily declined: "It was wrong." LINK

The OMB calls 13 programs failures and plans to cut them. LINK

Robert Samuelson thinks the Administration's budget talk is "dishonest." LINK

The politics of national security:

The New York Times' Shenon reports that the commission on the Sept. 11 attacks has found no "smoking gun" to suggests the "President Bush and senior White House aides fumbled intelligence warning of the possibility of a terrorist strike before the attacks." LINK

The 9/11 commission backs down from its "threatened legal showdown" with the White House. LINK

The New York Post says the Sept. 11 commission is pressing folks at the White House for documents, asking the White House to "turn over notes taken on classified briefing papers or face a subpoena." LINK

The New York Times' Schmitt writes that the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force's top officers are questioning how the Bush Administration will pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan after the financing ends in September. LINK

The politics of gay marriage:

The New York Times' Belluck reports that state lawmakers in Massachusetts have created a "compromise" which would "define marriage as a heterosexual institution but allow same-sex couples to join in civil unions." LINK

The Boston Globe's Phillips and Lewis report that "the Massachusetts Legislature will consider today a new version of a state constitutional amendment that would restrict marriage to heterosexuals beginning in 2006 and reclassify same-sex marriages that take place over the next two years as civil unions." LINK

The Globe's Lehigh explains why and how the options being considered are important for Sen. Kerry. LINK

USA Today's Fred Bayles has the potential tick-tock of what could happen. LINK

Politics:

Senate Republicans agree to give up on the energy bill. LINK

The New York Times' Dao reports that the "United States is violating international law by refusing to give residents of the nation's capital the power to elect members of Congress." LINK

Amtrak asks Congress for $1.8 billion. LINK

The Governator raises Gotham funds for himself and the Empire State's Party. 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 Fairfax, Va.:

QUOTES OF THE DAY: "What if the hokey pokey is what it's all about?" -- A bumper sticker our phenomenal engineer "Oz" bought in Roanoke.

"You're perty, I like you. You get a big discount." -- the greeting from a pawn shop owner in Roanoke to an unnamed ABC producer. (ABC producer immediately left said pawn shop without taking advantage of the discount.)

"The #%*% lady in the box is fired." -- Sean Smith to the guys in the sat truck after the GPS (the lady in the box) instructed us to take a six-mile detour to the highway, rather than to take a right and a left for a total of 300 yards to reach the very same highway.

BONUS FEATURE: As the BIG RED BUS scrambled to find parking in Roanoke, there was a small P.R. challenge. One of the store owners along "Jefferson Street" didn't appreciate the bus blocking her signage or the "exhaust that was blowing" into her store, so, as a responsible ABC producer would do…. We compromised, and turned off the engine but kept the sat truck running, which emits more carbon monoxide than the bus…who knew?

From ABC News Blue Bus producer Matthew Frucci, in Nashville, Tenn..:

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Michael sent me. Michael sent me. Michael sent me. Oh Lordie! Michael sent me." - The longest serving worker at the Nashville information center breathlessly asking to see the bus after Michael Kreisel told her she could.

PAINFUL CONVERSATION OF THE DAY: "I don't eat barbeque." -- Waitress at Rippy's BBQ when asked how the BBQ was

"I don't eat sandwiches." -- Same waitress at Rippy's when asked how the sandwiches were

LOCAL FLAVOR: Right outside our liveshot location, at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, tickets are on sale now for next week's Michael Flatley "Lord of the Dance" concert. Please contact the Blue Bus with ticket requests.

From ABC News White Bus producer Marni Harriman, in Los Angeles, Calif.:

QUOTES OF THE DAY: "I think I need a paper bag to breathe in...I'm a candidate for road rage." -- Bill Comton said after sitting in painful, stand-still traffic for hours

"God, I am in so in love with myself." -- Al Ramos said after seeing a picture taken of him in front of the bus

CELEBRITY SPOTTINGS TO DATE: Gary Shandling