The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—7:05 am: Rev. Al Sharpton appears on CBS's "The Early Show" —9:00 am: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks (9/11 Commission) holds its sixth public hearing, Capitol Hill. —9:15 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan —9:30 am: House convenes for legislative business —9:35 am: Rev. Sharpton appears live on Fox News Channel —10:00 am: Supreme Court convenes, Capitol Hill —11:10 am: President Bush signs the Medicare bill at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, D.C. —12:00 pm: Gov. Howard Dean attends a campaign fundraiser at The Foundry, Queens, N.Y. —12:30 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —1:00 pm: Gen. Wesley Clark speaks about leadership and his plan to increase family income levels, Contoocook, N.H. —1:00 pm: League of Conservation Voters holds press conference to unveil 2004 presidential candidate profiles, Concord, N.H —2:00 pm: President Bush and Mrs. Bush attend a children's Christmas reception, White House —2:00 pm: Gov. Dean receives endorsements from New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and other local Democrats, New York City —3:00 pm: Sen. John Kerry unveils a job creation and technological investment plan, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. —4:30 pm: Rev. Sharpton appears live on CNN's "Crossfire" —5:30 pm: Rep. Dennis Kucinich receives the endorsement of Dr. Patch Adams, D.C. —6:45 pm: Sen. John Edwards hosts a town hall meeting to discuss education at Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma City, Okla. —7:00 pm: Gen. Clark appears MSNBC's "Hardball: Battle for the White House" —7:00 pm: Ambassador Moseley Braun attends a campaign fundraiser, Chicago —7:45 pm: Rob Reiner hosts a roast of Howard Dean at Metropolitan Pavilion, New York City —8:00 pm: Sen. Lieberman attends a private campaign fundraiser, New York City —9:00 pm: Gov. Dean attends a reception with celebrity comedians, including Janeane Garofalo, at Metropolitan Pavilion North, New York City —9:00 pm: Sen. Lieberman attends a fundraiser at private residence, New York City —10:00 pm: Downtown Dean Fundraiser at the Roseland Ballroom, New York City —10:20 pm: Rev. Sharpton appears on FNC's "On the Record with Greta Van-Susteren"


The dirtiest little secret of the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination is that the pros running Dean's campaign know full well that the criticisms of The Doctor being made by the press and his opponents are often spot on.

They know he is regularly careless, volcanic, dismissive, self-important, mercurial, hypocritical, patronizing, and politically tone deaf.

(Even Bad Santa Joe Trippi wouldn't object to that. Neither would Trish, we bet.)

George Will turns in a must-read look at what he sees as Dean's maddening intellectual inconsistency. LINK

Tomorrow night's ABC News/WMUR debate in Durham, New Hampshire (featured on an hour-long Nightline and shown live on WMUR and on C-SPAN at 7:00 pm ET) is the last big-time 2003 chance for Dean's rivals to try to convince Democratic voters that they have a better vision for America, that they can beat George Bush, and, well, that Dean is careless, volcanic, dismissive, self-important, mercurial, hypocritical, patronizing, and politically tone deaf.

But, as yet another 72 hours of Dean coverage makes clear, nothing continues to succeed like success, and Dean's rapid-response TV ad strategy, fundraising, anti-Bush message, endorsements, and overall aggressiveness continue to bear fruit — and get lots of press.

All those things are catnip to the Dean base, and they also impress political reporters, who are suckers for campaigns that are doing well — magnifying every victory and minimizing setbacks (and flashes of unattractive candidate traits).

Time has a classic of the genre, mentioning Dean's past and future speed bumps, but mostly being blown away by how agile the campaign continues to be.

And now, ABC News' George Stephanopoulos has learned that the New Hampshire NEA, a major force in Granite State Democratic politics, will give their nod to The Doctor on the very day of the Dust-up.

And the Daily News welcomes Dean to a monster day of fundraising in New York with a piece about how deft his money machine has been. LINK

Greg Sargent of New York magazine got a hold of an e-mail sent by Howard Dean New York fundraiser Linsay Lewis about today's Big Apple day. LINK

"'As many of you know, December 8th is a very important fund-raising day for this campaign,' Lewis wrote last week in a private e-mail to big-money supporters. 'We are poised to raise more money than any Democratic primary candidate ever has in a single day — a truly historic day that only New York can do!'"

"Democratic National Committee officials believe that the current record may be $2 million raised on one day in 1996 by Bill Clinton. Associates of Lewis say he has privately said the campaign is on track to beat that sum on December 8. But Dean spokesman Eric Schmeltzer — perhaps dampening expectations — denies Lewis made the prediction."

As for the other Democrats, Wes Clark is enjoying some good clips, while John Kerry continues to take some hits. Joe Lieberman is getting quantities of coverage, mostly mixed.

So even as Dean says arguably silly things about the president and 9/11, about the Soviet Union (sic), and about his sealed records (and check out Newsweek's exclusive about some stuff that is allegedly in there), he keeps flying high, all the way into Durham tomorrow.

Of course, it's hard to overstate the confidence of a campaign that takes refuge in a Judicial Watch suit as the path to justice.

Speaking of Dean and confidence, the campaign is turning the latest TV attack on him in Iowa by some anonymous wily Brothers in Arms on guns into a brilliant "you've got the power" response ad.

But we are shocked and horrified at the lack of outrage by Democrats outside of Burlington to a Demo-on-Dem attack ad by a group whose leaders have Harkin and Gephardt ties and unclear backers (We'll hold off on our guess … ..).

And we are shocked and disappointed that Fournier et al didn't seem to advance this "whodunnit?" over the weekend.

Ron Brownstein watched the beginning of the ad wars last week, and concludes that fierce anger on both ends of the spectrum is what's feeding the fire and filling the coffers of the parties and the independent groups. And forget about a mandate in 2004. LINK

"In this environment, subtlety isn't likely to be a big winner next year. More likely, the next 11 months will look a lot like the last seven days, with polarization providing the resources and the rationale for unrestrained political warfare that divides the country even further."

And our final bit of self-flagellating press criticism for today:

Having given up trying to convince our colleagues in the political press to stop creating "must-win" states for the candidates, we are on the precipice of giving up trying to stop all coverage from being framed by the latest horserace polling data, regardless of the quality of the poll's methodology or, well, anything else.

As President Bush signs Medicare today, more conservative restiveness (in Washington, at least) about increased federal spending driven by the man who beat Al Gore.

Dana Milbank had a clear-eyed view of it over the weekend, although he didn't break the tie between the two spinning sides. LINK

President Bush does indeed sign the Medicare bill this morning and attends a children's reception this afternoon. His portrait will be unveiled tonight at the Yale Club in New York City.

Gov. Dean receives New York City Council endorsements this morning and holds those fundraisers tonight.

Senator Kerry unveils a job creation and technological investment plan at Stanford.

Gen. Clark speaks about family income levels this morning and appears on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" tonight.

Senator Edwards discusses education at a town hall meeting in Oklahoma City today.

Senator Lieberman attends New York City fundraisers tonight.

Rep. Gephardt has no public events today.

Rev. Sharpton has four TV appearances today.

Rep. Kucinich receives an endorsement from activist and Dr. Patch Adams in Washington, D.C. today.

Ambassador Moseley Braun hosts a fundraiser in Chicago tonight.

The Dust-up in Durham:

Two key debate Notes:

In a freakish coincidence that The Note can't explain, Tuesday is also the 25th birthday of's James "Jimmy" Pindell, making him eligible to run for Congress. He logs on to today at 1:00 pm ET to talk about all things politics in New Hampshire — be sure to quiz him about the Dust-up in Durham. LINK

Rumor has it that Tuesday night will mark a rare joint appearance in Durham of what the politico-media cognoscenti call "the two JZ's," who are, of course, Jill Zuckman and Jeff "Rhymes with Felony" Zeleny, both of the Chicago Tribune.

The AP's Holly Ramer writes up a UNH poll done for WMUR stating, "54 percent of likely voters in the Jan. 27 Democratic primary consider debates either somewhat or very important to their decisions. More than a third said they have watched at least one of the several debates that have brought the nine Democratic candidates together." LINK

More Food For Thought:

If you're anything like The Note, you adhere closely to the nutritional guidelines put out by our friends at USDA. And if you, like The Note, pay close attention to the billions in farm subsidies passed by Congress each year, you've probably noticed there is no correlation.

Our colleague Peter Jennings is taking this issue head-on in a one-hour primetime special on America's obesity epidemic. His report examines why if some notables in Washington are so concerned about Americans getting fat, they don't get together with other notables in Washington to ensure the money's going to healthy places.

Note the following exchange:

PETER JENNINGS: I'm suggesting that there is a possibility that government subsidizes more food which you would say as the country's leading health officer is bad for us and subsidizes less those foods which you would tell us are good for us and we should eat.

SECRETARY TOMMY THOMPSON: And that is also been throughout the ages, and Congress has made those decisions, and they're political ones, as you know, Peter, and I don't think you're gonna change the political arena as far as subsidizing agriculture in America in the near future.

Want to see more? Tune in to "Peter Jennings Reporting: How to Get Fat Without Really Trying" on Monday at 8:00 pm ET

Weekend round-up:

Adam Nagourney's New York Times valentine to 2/3; Note the Gephardt and Kerry sideswipes, Lockhart semi-trashing Dean, and Lehane pretending they serve biscuits in the Bay Area. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Kranish was skeptical of Dean's tax-cutting boasts; Yepsen was bullish on his chances in Iowa. LINK and LINK

The Globe's Glen Johnson had some great string collected from the Dean bubble. LINK

And the Globe's Johanna Weiss saw Clark rising in New Hampshire. LINK

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

The Dallas Morning News' Hillman looks at President Bush's no-nonsense fundraising appearances, which are "carefully planned to make maximum use of his time — and to maximize his exposure … he prefers lunches and early-evening receptions. Even then, he's in and out, rarely stopping for a bite or lingering very long after his speeches. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Hitt reports that Bush's re-election campaign seeks to define rallying points that can be paired with the administration's record on Medicare, tax cuts, and the war in Iraq.

"The search means the coming federal budget will be as much a blueprint for Mr. Bush's re-election as it is a traditional statement of the nation's fiscal priorities. The State of the Union address in late January — and the budget submission to Congress that follows it — also will a provide a big opportunity for the president to put his stamp on the election year."

When President Bush signs Medicare legislation today, he will enact "the most far-reaching changes in Medicare since the program's inception nearly 40 years ago, checking off another priority amid questions about its fiscal wisdom," AP's Lindlaw reports. LINK

USA Today 's Welch calls the Medicare legislation "a big gamble for Bush and the congressional Republicans who wrote it, a double bet that it will work and that politically active seniors will like it." LINK

Philadelphia Inquirer's Hutcheson looks at the Bush Administration's spending habits that have resulted in a 16 percent increase in overall spending and a $374.2 billion deficit. LINK

While US News' Michael Barone writes that President Bush has "redefined" conservatism. "It is now not the process of cutting government and devolving powers; it is the process of installing choice and accountability into government even at the cost of allowing it to grow." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

Howie Kurtz looks at the issue of the Bush tax cuts in the Democrats' television ads in a very well-researched piece. LINK

Candidates and staffers will want to read this USA Today article about how tourism bureaus are wooing gay and lesbian vacationers. LINK

House of Labor:

Is the National Education Association's New Hampshire affiliate on the verge of endorsing? (Or "recommending," as they say in NEA-speak!)

Sources familiar with the union's deliberations tells ABC the NEA's Granite State folks will endorse Howard Dean before tomorrow's ABC News/WMUR presidential debate.

It is no secret that the Dean folks have exerted heaps of energy wooing the board, which was expected to issue its candidate verdict this week. Dean was the first candidate to visit with the union's leaders and returned on repeated occasions. He spoke to a group of 400 at the union's annual meeting in March and, we are told, was very well received.

This is BIG NEWS for Team Dean as NEA NH brings with it 14,000 members as the largest education association in the state.

Speaking of Dean and endorsements, lots of bad blood in the House of Labor as Teamsters Pres. James Hoffa has answered AFSCME's McEntee and SEIU's Stern's letter demanding the firing of Gephardt aide Joyce Aboussie with his own letter that gets personal.

Hoffa begins by commending the two union leaders' "stand for the rights of public sector employees" and then goes on to say that "Instead of attacking a longtime friend of labor … you may want to demand from your candidate a public renunciation of the concrete positions he has taken against the interests of public employees"

And closes with this zinger showing just how deeply the House is divided:

"I believe it's pointless for the family of labor to waste its valuable resources this election season merely to put a pro-privatization President in the White House. We've already got one."

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

We still know precious little about just who the Americans for Jobs, Healthcare & Progressive Values really are … but the Dean-bashing ad did get some fine free media over the weekend. LINK

Lots of familiar names floating around in connection to the group but still no hard info as to who these folks, who filed with the IRS just last month with one David Jones of M Street NW listed as the treasurer. This is, we believe, the same Mr. Jones who U.S. News once called "a professional fundraiser who is close to Gephardt."

Meanwhile the Craig Shirley folks heading up the 527 "Americans for a Better Country" (ABC — not to be confused with our own humble network) tell us their request for an FEC Advisery Opinion has been granted. In the group's November 18 letter to the FEC, ABC wrote it was seeking the opinion "as to the permissibility" of various fundraising and political activities, including voter registration and get-out-the-vote. (That's gotta sound familiar to the tenants of 888 16th St.) "In particular," the letter asked for clarification of the legality of the "use of non-federal dollars (also known as 'soft' or 'state' dollars) raised outside the source and amount limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act."

Look for the opinion to be issued come February. Stay tuned, folks. We know all those trying to decipher BCRA (we confess we find it more challenging than translating Greenspan-speak) will indeed.


Newsweek's Isikoff, Bailey and Wolffe look at the hunt for "skeletons" in Dean's closet and report that "among the papers under lock and key, NEWSWEEK has learned, are the records of Dean's meetings with utility executives about the controversial sale of a Vermont nuclear plant to Entergy Corp." LINK

Time magazine's Karen Tumulty writes up Dean's strategy to look beyond Iowa and New Hampshire but also Notes that Dean "emboldened" his critics with his "I'll unseal mine if he'll unseal all of his" comment on ABC's "Good Morning America." LINK

Just making sure that everyone heard Imus this morning say that it sounds like Chris Matthews has gone to work for the Dean campaign — or perhaps he was just reflecting perfectly the CW view of the Gang of 500.

The New York Times ' Jodi Wilgoren reports on a chastened Dean's multiracial appeal in the South with a story full of details such as this one: "Dr. Dean has struggled to attract support from black voters, who make up half of this state's Democratic primary electorate; the 'African Americans for Dean' placard in the back of the hotel ballroom on Sunday was held by a white man." LINK

The Washington Post 's Jim VandeHei reports on Dean and the three G's in the South — with a can't miss even-some-of-Dean's-supporters paragraph near the end. LINK

The State's Aaron Gould Sheinin reports that despite his absence in the Palmetto State, (Note: his last visit to Columbia was for the Collision), Dean insisted to South Carolina Democrats that he has not forgotten the South. LINK

So does the Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer. LINK

Eric Slater of the Los Angeles Times placed Dean's South Carolina visit in the context of his Confederate flag comments which Dean only addressed once. LINK

"'I have learned my lesson, and you will never hear those words cross my lips again,' the former Vermont governor said."

Mark Silva of the Orlando Sentinel Notes that Florida voters have similar concerns as much of the rest of the country. While Howard Dean gets a huge "show of force" and has the "energy to motivate," many insist "Democrats need a more moderate champion to compete with the president in a state where both Bush and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, have a strong following and deep financial wells." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny reports on Rep. Jackson's Dean endorsement. LINK

In USA Today , Alan Webber writes about why Dean's supporters think the campaign's Web site is nifty. LINK

Webber gives a quick run through of the other campaigns' sites too. LINK

The AP's Mike Glover profiles Joe Trippi. LINK

More Trippi biographical details, courtesy of the AP. LINK

Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News writes up the Dean fundraising machine and has Joe Trippi predicting that $200 million will be collected by next summer. LINK

"'There are millions of people that are for us right now,' he said. 'We're positive we get to 2 million as people become convinced it's us versus Bush.'"

Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza reports, "After raising more than $50,000 for [Boswell] in less than 24 hours last week, [Dean's]campaign is weighing a similar effort in Kentucky's 6th district, where a special election to replace Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R) is expected to be held in late January."

CORRECTION: The Note mistakenly reported on Friday that Rep. Boswell had "respectfully declined" Dean's pledge to raise money for him. That is incorrect. It was Rep. Bishop who had previously declined Dean's offer of fundraising assistance.

Profiling possible first lady Judy Steinberg Dean, Salon writes she "cares about medicine, not politics, and she shows no signs of shifting her concentration, even for the sake of her husband's bid for the country's highest office." Says Hank Sheinkopf (and, to a lesser extent, Howard Wolfson … ) of Dr. Dean's trail aversion, "keeping her medical practice is a good thing. Not participating in the campaign is not such a good thing." LINK

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


The Boston Globe 's Patrick Healy reports that the Kerry campaign now thinks that New Hampshire might not be a must-win after all. Healy also works in the Senator using naughty words in Rolling Stone. LINK

John Kerry drops the F bomb. LINK

The Boston Herald's David Guarino has our best nomination for witty headline of the day: "Kerry camp swears he won't apologize." LINK

The New York Post has Kerry's Rolling Stone profanity and Andy Card's request for an apology, which doesn't look likely. LINK

"'John Kerry saw combat up close [in Vietnam], and he doesn't mince words when it comes to politicians who put ideological recklessness ahead of American troops,' said campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter."

Healy also has a brief on some people being fired up about Bob Shrum helping some tangential Kennedy win office out West. LINK

No need if you are in the know to dust for fingerprints on this one.

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


On Sunday, the Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont reported on Gephardt pushing his deficit plan, including a rundown of some of the "I'm right, you're wrong" exchanges Gephardt and Dean have shared on the topic. LINK

Read more from the trail with Gephardt on LINK


Mike Glover of the AP reports that on a conference call with reporters, Gen. Clark previewed parts of domestic policy "Turnaround for America" tour saying he will raise family income by $3,000 a year and provide health care coverage to 30 million more people. LINK

Time magazine's Joe Klein acknowledges a "little spark" of life in the Wesley Clark campaign. LINK

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette's Paul Barton quotes political observers as saying "new estimates showing Wesley Clark raising at least $10 million to $12 million in the fourth quarter will give his presidential campaign significant new muscle to flex" and Earl Black as saying "'one of the most interesting things to look at in Clark's upcoming Federal Election Commission report will be the amount of financial overlap between Clark and longtime supporters of former President Clinton.'" LINK

The New York Times ' Edward Wyatt on Clark's coming domestic policy rollout, "part of the campaign's effort to portray General Clark's military career as having prepared him to lead the country and are an effort to compensate for his lack of an easily identifiable record on domestic policy." LINK

Clark's new "turnaround" plan gets some Manchester Union Leader play including this week's new ad accompanying the plan. LINK

"The advertisement, which will begin to air tonight or tomorrow morning, will focus specifically on the issue of leadership. The commercial emphasizes Clark's leadership ability and says that President Bush has not offered a similar record of accountability. The Clark campaign will spend about $75,000 a week on the ad in New Hampshire."'

The AP's Sonja Barisic says Clark's first campaign stop in Virginia focused on a military theme. LINK

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

It's no surprise that Gen. Clark only wants to talk about New Hampshire.

Within the last week, Clark has had a good amount of encouragement from the polls. He has a third TV ad going up in New Hampshire outlets as early as today. As a result of spending quite a bit of time in the Granite State, the mere mention of Clark's name is no longer followed by a "who?"

But it's not just in New Hampshire that Clark wants to talk about New Hampshire. It's in Virginia, Florida, and D.C. too.

Yesterday in Norfolk, Va., Clark spoke to a small group of supporters who followed him to a veteran's cemetery where he laid a wreath to honor those killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. One woman told Clark how she drove to Norfolk from Richmond just to see him.

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


John Wagner of the Raleigh News & Observer looks at Senator Edwards' Iraq votes — one authorizing the war, one denying the $87 billion supplemental — and how it's playing on the road. That second vote, on the losing side, has helped change the tenor of discussion about Iraq at Edwards' campaign stops, and allows him to distance himself from the president and try to appeal to voters who strongly identify with Howard Dean's anti-war stance. LINK

Edwards pens an article for Newsweek calling civil juries "democracy in action." LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

Edwards' arrival experience in the Magic Kingdom this weekend had his traveling staff laughing out loud. Edwards was Pelosi'd. As in Alexandra Pelosi.

This is not a bad thing since Pelosi is gathering tape to make a big HBO movie with groovy video and those unguarded moments that made "Journeys With George" special. You'd worry if you were running for president and Pelosi walked right by you while you had half a ham sandwich in one hand and a Dean voodoo doll in the other.

Edwards had neither; he simply made his way from his car to a private event in a hotel room. And Pelosi was there for the entire walk, at his side camera in hand and attempting to engage Edwards in some laid-back off-the-cuff conversation.

"What do you think of the Magic Kingdom?" Pelosi yelled above the chanting, "Edwards! Edwards!" behind him. "I can't hear you!!" Edwards looked like he was leaning in to try to hear her, a big grin on his face. Pelosi tried a few more times over the chanting, but Edwards continued to smile, say things like, "Oh, it's great! I'm sorry, what?"

Afterwards Pelosi laughed over the exchange but said she really didn't think she got anything great. Although the Senator had been entirely cordial, and may not have known on immediate sight that the woman smiling and yelling at him was the one currently under contract to HBO to do just that. She could have been one of the omni-present Dean staffers tracking Edwards in Iowa last week.

But it does shows that this is a candidate who does not drop his guard or his character for a moment. He will smile and give you an answer, but he is not going to eat crackers with his mouth open or dispense life advice.

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


The New York Times goes A1 with a Lieberman profile, calling him a centrist fighting for votes in an extremist era. LINK

David Lightman reports on Senator Lieberman's Florida speech and observes that the nomination may be tied up before its March 9 primary, when Lieberman could potentially cash in on his bond with the state. LINK

AP's Brendan Farrington heard the speech too. LINK

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post chronicles Lieberman's battle with the entertainment industry. LINK

From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

Senator Lieberman's Sunday morning address to the Florida Democratic Convention was reminiscent of the South Carolina sermons Lieberman hears so often when he visits the state.

The audience roared when Lieberman said of the recount, "We got mad didn't we? Now, let's get even!"

A pledge that generally receives a tepid response on the trail, Lieberman's vow to end restrictions on stem cell research when he takes office, received a standing ovation.

Rousing as it was, the sermon, complete with an amen corner, is likely to be left in Florida. Senator Lieberman resists using anger over the Florida 2000 recount as a tool on the campaign trail. He tells crowds that "life is about second chances" and that "America needs a fresh start."

Read more from the trail with Lieberman on LINK


The AP covers Kucinich's fundraiser in New York Sunday and his visit to the Waterloo area on Friday: LINK and LINK

The Plain Dealer says Kucinich isn't threatened by Nader's possible run and has Nader bashing the Democrats (surprise!) over their handling of the 2000 election: "The Democrats should stop their chronic whining, look at themselves first and foremost, and go after the thieves and blunderers." LINK

Turns out the hacker who "bombed" Google by linking the words "miserable failure" to the White House Web page actually prefers Kucinich to Gephardt: LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

At the Florida convention Saturday, Kucinich had the dubious distinction of not only being the last speaker at an all-day event running an hour and a half late, but also following a rousing speech by Howard Dean. Like a rock concert audience after the stadium lights have finally come up and the encores have finished, the crowd (and the media) filed out in droves as soon as Dean had left the room.

The crowd that was left, about a fourth of the original size and full of Kucinich supporters and several attendees wearing Dean T-shirts, gave him a raucous and excited reception. The Kucinitzens stood out as usual as the most creatively dressed supporters at these group events (well, Howard Dean's scrub-wearing fans may have beat them this time). Many sported brightly colored feather boas and cut-out paper masks with Kucinich's likeness on them, and one excitedly clanged away on a washboard with Kucinich' picture on top.

Read more from the trail with Kucinich on LINK


Newsday's Noel Holston wasn't impressed by SNL's writing. LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

After an intense evening of live television and SNL after-parties, it was time for Rev. Sharpton to join the celebration of the Godfather of Soul. In an attempt to avoid airport delays and make it to Washington on time for the Kennedy Center Honors, Sharpton, entourage in tow, decided to take the train. Caroline Kennedy had the same idea.

Just south of Trenton, N.J., there was a bit of a problem. An unidentified bird flew into the engine of the train, subsequently destroying the engine … and the bird.

They were stranded.

"Not so fast," said the Reverend, who then, acting as the mouthpiece of the dignitaries on board, insisted on another train. So, the Reverend and his crew, Caroline Kennedy and her entourage, the other first class passengers, and one very slick 20/20 producer boarded the "rescue train" as it pulled alongside.

While Sharpton and Kennedy made it to Washington and hit the red carpet, the remaining passengers sat there … waiting. Damn bird.

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK

Moseley Braun:'s Jessica Lyons mentions Carol Moseley Braun in her article titled "The Politics of Hair"

"Her hair's cropped close to her head, it's not typically feminine, and it's the ultimate no-nonsense cut. It would be interesting to see how the public would react." LINK

Read more from the trail with Moseley Braun on LINK


Steve Miller of the Washington Times reports of a certain Green Party candidate "testing the waters" with a $100-a-head fundraiser in New Jersey this Thursday. Ralph Nader is expected to make a decision about joining the presidential race next month, but he has started an exploratory committee as well as a fundraising Web site. Very curious. LINK

South Carolina:

Roll Call 's Cillizza writes that the South Carolina primary is "shaping up as a test of whether a clear alternative to Howard Dean's candidacy will emerge."


The uncertainty over a Democratic nominee in Florida is palpable, despite a strong showing by all of the Democratic presidential candidates at the Florida convention this weekend. Even the candidates themselves felt it. Peter Wallsten of the Miami Herald reports. LINK

The Tallahassee Democrat addressed the same issue.

"The applause-o-meter goes to Dean, but there was something in every speech for every delegate to find something they could agree with," [Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida political science professor] said. "I sense there's a lot of determination to defeat this president and keep that Senate seat in the Democrat column." LINK

On thing is for certain, though. The Democrats have one common enemy. As reported by the Florida Times-Union, the attacks aimed at President Bush's Iraq policy were "blistering." LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The New York Times on the "competing pressures" facing Bill Frist as he tries to get the spending bill passed. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Nick Anderson explores the art of the earmark and how many Republicans have changed their views on the use of legislative pork. LINK

Bob Novak compares the United States Congress to the Polish Diet, writing "Congressional lust for pork, never before so insatiable, collides with the growing antipathy to sustained work … senators refuse to alter their plans for travel, golf, hunting and fishing in order to be on hand in Washington to consider their special spending. They would rather defer pork than leisure." LINK

Big Casino budget politics: Medicare:

USA Today 's William Welch writes, "The Medicare overhaul that President Bush signs into law today is a major political achievement for his party and promises long-awaited help with prescription-drug costs for millions of seniors and the disabled." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Stephen Glain reports that some AARP members are mighty miffed about the group's support for the bill. LINK

The politics of national security:

Lots of criticism of the administration's Iraq policy on the Sunday shows this week. LINK

And lots from one Very Notable Junior Senator from New York, who said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that the administration seems now to be altering its plans for an Iraqi government in hopes of securing "'some kind of exit strategy, some kind of transition before our elections.'" LINK

Newsweek leads with a piece on "dissent in the bunker," with Defense Policy Board member Newt Gingrich saying, "'I am very proud of what [Operation Iraqi Freedom commander Gen.] Tommy Franks did-up to the moment of deciding how to transfer power to the Iraqis. Then … we go off a cliff.'"Says Gingrich, "'The real key here is not how many enemy do I kill. The real key is how many allies do I grow … And that is a very important metric that they just don't get.'" LINK

A memo obtained by Newsweek suggests that Vice President Cheney's top foreign policy aides were receiving direct intelligence from the Iraqi National Congress last year on Iraq's WMDs and ties to terrorism. LINK

Is Colin Powell headed to the World Bank? LINK

The New York Times reports a deal on North Korea is in the works, Noting "inside the administration, there is active debate over how much time is available to Mr. Bush for negotiations. Many American officials suspect that North Korea is dragging out the talks, perhaps hoping Mr. Bush will not be re-elected. But more likely, they say, North Korea wants to build as many nuclear weapons as possible now, perhaps betting that at least some can be hidden from inspectors." LINK

The economy:

ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim Notes that even the Bureau of Labor Statistics called last week's report about falling unemployment inconsequential, saying unemployment "was essentially unchanged from October." The job creation and loss numbers, which come from a better survey, asking businesses about payroll gains and losses, is considered more reliable.

The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip looks at the disappointing-though-touted unemployment statistics, and predicts that as a result, the Fed will likely keep the Federal funds rate to 1 percent, though whether interest rates remain low is still a mystery.

The Wall Street Journal ed board argues that extending unemployment benefits, which House Democrats are pushing for, would only provide a disincentive to take the jobs that will be created by the recovering economy, keeping the jobless rate artificially high.

The politics of steel:

"The elimination of U.S. steel tariffs could have an impact on global talks aimed at cutting world-wide industry subsidies and overcapacity, say U.S. steelmakers and others watching the negotiations," the Wall Street Journal 's Tejada reports.

In an op-ed column in today's Wall Street Journal , Pascal Lamy, the EU trade commissioner looks at the ramifications of the Bush Administration's tariffs on steel: "The sad fact is that this abuse has undermined the case for trade defense measures, such as safeguards. As the name implies, properly and transparently used, they are a vital safety valve for the system. And surely the EU and U.S. are the parties with the strongest interest in having effective disciplines ensuring free and fair trade around the world!"

A steel mill closing in Cleveland is being torn down and sent to China, the Journal reports, solving problems on both sides of the Pacific: "In the U.S., there are too many steel mills. In other countries, there aren't enough."

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

The Washington Post 's Alan Cooperman reports, "H. James Towey, director of the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, has stirred up a pot of trouble by suggesting that pagans don't care about the poor." LINK

ABC News Vote 2003: The city by the bay:

The San Francisco Chronicle has a look at the dueling rallies at City Hall leading up to tomorrow's mayoral election. LINK

Including a drop-in by President Clinton. LINK

John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle writes about the importance of the absentee vote in Tuesday's election which could be as high as 30 — 40% and significantly favor Newsom. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

In her three-fifths of a full Ginsberg, Senator Rodham Hillary Clinton was asked about a wide-range of subject on the Sunday shows. LINK

The Boston Herald's David Guarino confirms that Senator Clinton asserted on three broadcast networks in one morning that she's not running in 2004. LINK

Vince Morris of the New York Post writes up the Hillary and Newt show but strangely doesn't include the former Speaker's near endorsement for the Senator's potential future presidential run. LINK

James Gordon Meek of the Daily News dedicated a story unto itself to Gingrich's glowing remarks about Senator Clinton and his forecasting of the 2008 presidential contest. LINK

Meek also looks at Senator Clinton's Sunday tour leading with her response to the nomination question. LINK

"'No, no. I've said no. I've said no, no, no, no,' the New York Democrat told NBC's "Meet the Press," when asked if she would accept her party's nomination in 2004."

Meek also included her exchange with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."

"In a new twist, ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to President Bill Clinton, asked the senator to imagine a nominee begging her to join the ticket as veep."

"'That is not going to happen, George,' Clinton said. 'That is so far out of … the realm of the possible.'"

"'That is not a no! It could happen!' Stephanopoulos chirped."

William Safire says Conservatives of the World Unite with devotees of "congenital hawk" Hillary Rodham Clinton to keep Bush in '04, thus clearing the way for HRC in '08. LINK

Bill Maher may not get invited to the Chappaqua home anytime soon. LINK