The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—8:45 am: Sen. Joe Lieberman receives endorsements from state officials and local leaders, Yolanda's Restaurant, Bronx, N.Y. —9:00 am: Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaks at the University of Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa —9:35 am: Off-camera White House gaggle with Press Secretary Scott McClellan —11:15 am: Gov. Dean discusses the economy and rural America, Mason City, Iowa —11:20 am: President Bush speaks at the Fort McHenry National Monument, Baltimore, Md. —11:30 am: Rep. Dennis Kucinich attends a rally at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa —12:15 pm: President Bush speaks at a Bush-Cheney '04 fundraiser, Baltimore, Md. —12:15 pm: Sen. John Kerry speaks about education with Mayor Bob Baines, Central High School, Manchester, N.H. —1:00 pm: Gen. Wesley Clark receives the endorsement of Rep. Lincoln Davis, McMinnville, Tenn. —1:15 pm: President Bush speaks about the economy, Home Depot, Halethorpe, Md. —1:30 pm: Vice President Cheney introduces Congressman John Sullivan, The Adam's Mark Hotel, Tulsa, Okla. —1:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a public meeting at the Two Brothers Restaurant, Oelwein, Iowa —2:30 pm: Gov. Dean speaks with Hamilton County residents, RSVP Senior Center, Webster City, Iowa —3:00 pm: Sen. Kerry boards the "Real Deal Express" and makes retail stops in Dover, N.H., and Portsmouth, N.H. —3:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally, Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa —4:00 pm: Gov. Dean meets with Webster county residents, Fort Dodge, Iowa —4:30 pm: Former President George H.W. Bush headlines a Bush-Cheney '04 fundraiser, Hyatt Regency, Coral Gables, Fla. —4:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa —5:45 pm: Gov. Dean meets with Boone county residents at Des Moines Area Community College, Boone, Iowa —6:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a fundraiser hosted by Rep. Marty Meehan and Jeanne Shaheen, Seabrook Beach, N.H. —6:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends the Minority Leadership Meeting, Waterloo, Iowa —7:15 pm: Gov. Dean meets with Dallas county residents, Perry Elementary School, Perry, Iowa —7:30 pm: Vice President Cheney introduces Congressman Randy Neugebauer, The Abilene Civic Center, Abilene, Texas —8:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich meets with the Unitarian Universalist Society of Black Hawk County, Cedar Falls, Iowa


Joe Trippi asks "Are we fighting the primary or the general" election?

That's a good question, Joe.

We've been wondering that ourselves.

Particularly since we are veritably on the eve of next Tuesday's ABC News/WMUR 7 pm ET Dust-up in Durham Democratic debate, for which the candidates are chomping at the bit, getting ready to reach vast Granite State and North American viewing audiences to ply their wares.

With some new mixed-bag unemployment numbers out this morning; the president targeting a Home Depot after some Balmer fundraising; and Karl Rove escaping virtually Scott (McClellan) free from the steel stories, it's another day when the noose tightens around the collective necks of five Democratic presidential candidates still struggling to convince Joe Klein, Mark Barabak, John Mercurio, donors, and Ron Fournier that they have the January/February narrative that will make them the Dean Alternative.

By some standards, it is shaping up to be a bad day for Dr. Dean — attacked by a Club for Growth ad on tax-and-spend; savaged by the deeply, cosmically influential New York Times and Boston Globe ed boards for the sealed gubernatorial records; and psychoanalyzed by his fellow doctor — Dr. Krauthammer — who hides his attack inside a diagnosis. LINK

But in other ways, The Doctor remains very much in … … line to enter the New Year quite strong.

For instance, all in the swirl of 48 hours or so, Chris Peterson, Bruce Babbitt, and Paul Simon all stand up and get counted for Howard Dean's 15 percent threshold reach.

If you don't know who Chris Peterson is, your name is not "Bill Bradley." LINK

And the New York Times ' Adam Nagourney lets Karl Rove in on a little secret — Karen Hicks has captured lightning in a bottle in New Hampshire for Dr. Dean. LINK

Speaking of Rove, as we suggested, his name floats above (or is it "below"?) almost all those steel tariff stories.

But the Wall Street Journal 's Hamburger and Hitt say the Bush-Rove White House plays tough.

Meanwhile, the men who want to elevate their games and elbow past everyone else towards Dean are grabbing at every reed they can.

Behind Dean in sketchy public polling in the Granite State by 35 points?

Trumpet it as great success!!!! So go Joe Lieberman and Wes Clark.

John Kerry gets an para-obit must-read from Dan Balz in the Washington Post LINK, and/but the endorsement of Manchester (NH) Mayor Baines, and he goes up with a new spot.

And who is pulling a 3/5 Ginsberg this Sunday?

None other than FFLOTUS/Senator Hillary R. Clinton, who still could, in theory, waltz in and have the nomination if she wanted it. But that is just a theory.

Consider it a reminder that it's time for your annual check of the batteries in your smoke detector at home, with New York's Junior Senator appearing on not one, not two, but three network Sunday shows. (The Googling monkeys are still checking on when someone last pulled this off from the Hill.)

Despite the implied gravity of this impressive logistical trifecta, we're assured that the H(RC)-bomb will be not be dropped, and that this was borne in large part by all the shows' anxiousness to talk to her post-road trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.

We are also assured that it is not a veiled attempt to skyrocket past Senate Armed Service colleague Carl Levin on Roll Call 's coveted Face Time chart.

Still unclear is whether she will bring slides.

Note Note to Philippe: skip the CBS breakfast and hold out for the perfectly cooked bacon in the ABC green room.

Those scoring at home remember that it's been nearly 15 months since her last Sunday show.

Check her out on "This Week," "Face," and "Meet."

And we are certain that the national political press corps won't let this little thing overshadow the actual Democratic presidential candidates appearing serially before Florida's Democratic Party activists over the weekend.

President Bush speaks at a fundraiser and about the economy in Maryland today. He is in Washington, D.C. over the weekend.

Former President George H.W. Bush headlines a Coral Gables, Fla., fundraiser for his son's re-election campaign today.

Vice President Cheney introduces two congressmen in Tulsa and Abilene, Texas, today. He is in Washington, D.C. over the weekend.

Gov. Dean discusses the economy and rural American in Iowa today. He addresses the Florida Democratic Party tomorrow and campaigns with Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. in South Carolina on Sunday.

Gen. Clark meets with supporters in Tennessee this morning. He attends the Florida convention tomorrow and campaigns in Virginia on Sunday morning.

Senator Lieberman receives endorsements in the Bronx this morning and attends the Florida convention on Sunday morning.

Senator Kerry campaigns in New Hampshire today, speaks to the Florida Democratic Party tomorrow and attends fundraisers in California on Sunday.

Rep. Gephardt, Senator Edwards, Rev. Sharpton, and Ambassador Moseley Braun have no public events today.

Rep. Kucinich campaigns in Iowa today. He attends the Florida convention tomorrow and campaigns in New York on Saturday.

Rep. Gephardt attends the Florida convention and holds a press conference with the Ohio steelworkers union tomorrow and campaigns in Iowa on Sunday.

Senator Edwards attends the Florida convention tomorrow and has no public events on Sunday.

Rev. Sharpton hosts "Saturday Night Live" this weekend and is in South Carolina and Washington, D.C. on Sunday.

Ambassador Moseley Braun will not attend the Florida Democratic Party Convention and has no public events this weekend.

She is a woman who is taking Durham prep VERY seriously.

The Dust-up in Durham:

As the excitement over the Dust-up in Durham builds to a fever pitch so high it could ("will," actually) melt snow, it's time to remind you again:

Highlights of the debate will air next Tuesday night on a special, one-hour edition of Nightline.

In addition, the debate will air live on monster powerhouse WMUR and on Brian Lamb's gift to the world (C-SPAN, which will have special coverage of the Dust-up before and after the 7 pm ET event).

Additional coverage can be found on ABC News Live (streaming video like you wouldn't believe) and ABC News Radio.

Today at 11:30 am ET, ABC News and WMUR will hold a press conference call for our colleagues in the media to go over the logistics, format, and other details of the debate.

If you are a fully credentialed member of the media (No, Jim Dyke, people on your staff don't count simply because they blog and write phony letters to the editor … ), send an e-mail to to receive the dial-in information.

The call will feature Nightline's legendary Executive Producer Leroy Sievers, WMUR General Manager Jeff Bartlett, and ABC News' Political Director, whose name escapes us.

Ten-year New Hampshire resident and former Orangeman, Scott Spradling of WMUR, is preparing for Tuesday's big Dust-up in Durham, but he was kind enough to carve out a few minutes to chat exclusively with The Note.

Spradling with join ABC News' Ted Koppel in questioning the candidates.

New Hampshire tips from Scott to his colleagues who are about to descend en masse into the Granite State:

1. Wear layers.

2. If you want to see a candidate within 15 minutes of any given time, go to the Merrimack Restaurant.

3. Keep an eye on local supporters. You don't always get your best stories from the candidates' mouths.

Spradling fully expects Granite Staters to tune in. "Given the number of undecided voters in New Hampshire who say they are going to go to the polls, I think you are going to see a lot of people very interested in what this debate looks like and what these nine people look like," he said.

On the battle to become the Dean Alternative: "I'm very interested to see what the Edwards, Kerry, Lieberman, Clark, strategy will be in terms of positioning themselves as the one other guy."

"I think there will be every opportunity for someone to do that."

And, because, as we told you, we are suckers for history, here is a fun matching game that reviews some past debate stuff.

In each case, pick from the lettered list to choose which journalist/questioner asked this questions from this year's earlier Democratic presidential candidate debates:

1. "I want to ask you, Senator Lieberman, how do you separate the good guys from the bad guys?"

2. "Lady and gentlemen, I have one question to ask all of you, and I don't want to mess up the format of this debate, so please answer very quickly. This is for the Gen X crowd, and it's very personal. What's your favorite song?"

3. " … it's not quite boxers or briefs, but Macs or PCs?"

For each, was it:

A Maria Elena Salinas (Univision) B. Huel Perkins (WJBK TV, Fox 2 News) C. Carl Cameron (Fox News) D. Farai Chideya ( Or E. Alexandra Trustman (Brown University)

Food For Thought — a preview:

Attention Note readers trying to stay slim in spite of the holidays:

On Monday night, our esteemed ABC News colleague Peter Jennings (who rumor has it reads The Note on occasion) takes a hard primetime look at the reasons that Americans keep getting fatter that have nothing to do with lack of self-control (although we at The Note acknowledge late at night we are often tempted by just one more scoop of Haagen Dazs). Peter points to the role the food industry and the government play in America's obesity epidemic.

Peter goes where few on the Hill have been willing to travel — down the road of farm subsidies. With tough questions to some familiar Washington faces, including Secretary Thompson and Senator Lincoln, Peter finds that despite concerns over the implications of Americans growing girth, no one in Washington is making the connection between the billions of agriculture dollars Congress hands out and the battle to control the nation's bulge.

It gives new meaning to the term "fat cat lobbyist."

Tune in to "Peter Jennings Reporting: How to Get Fat Without Really Trying" on Monday at 8:00pm ET and see how the government and the food industry are helping to make us fat.

The economy:

According to ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim, economists had forecast an increase of 150,000 or more jobs for November. The Labor Department reported the economy added just 57,000, a very disappointing number. This is still below the 200,000-plus a month needed to make a significant dent in the unemployment.

Manufacturing lost jobs for the 40th consecutive month, but the rate of job loss has slowed.

Manufacturing lost 17,000 in November and 14,000 in October.

Per the AP:

"The nation's unemployment rate slipped to 5.9 percent in November, the lowest level in eight months, as employers added new jobs for a fourth-straight month."

"The Labor Department reported Friday that the rate fell from 6 percent in October. The last time it was lower was in March, at 5.8 percent."

"U.S. companies added 57,000 new jobs in November, boosting payrolls by 328,000 during the past four months following a half-year hiring drought."

"The positive hiring news was tempered by the still-weak level of hiring. Economists had predicted that about 150,000 new jobs would be added in November, and are looking for monthly payroll gains of 200,000 to 300,000 to significantly lower the unemployment rate and sustain a labor market recovery."

Secretary Snow writes into USA Today to let everyone know: "The U.S. economy is getting stronger every day." LINK

First-time unemployment claims rose last week, the Wall Street Journal 's Joseph Rebello reports. The total claims number, up 11,000, was a three-week high of 365,000, but it remained below the 400,000 mark for the ninth straight week. The Labor Department is expected to report a November increase of 150,000 non-farm jobs.

More, according to Schindelheim: The holiday shopping season "got off to a moderate start," according to a closely watched report on sales at the nation's chain stores. The Bank of Mitsubishi-Tokyo reported sales at 74 chain stores increased 3.6% in November, as compared to November 2002 sales — slightly lower than expected. Consumers spent on, though, laying out $54.4 billion, compared to $52.6 billion last year.

Something to keep in mind while you're buttoning up your overcoat today: Schindelheim also reports that wholesale prices for natural gas, heating oil and crude oil prices rose Thursday.

The prices won't be passed on to consumers right away, but inventories are tight and bills could end up higher. The Energy Department estimated in October a rise of 5 percent for natural gas bills and a drop of 8 percent for heating oil bills if it's a normal winter. If it's a cold winter, bills will rise, the estimate said.

Big Casino state budget politics: The Note literally sat on the edge of its seat Thursday (because the lady behind us kept kicking the chair) for the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers to release their biannual report of the fiscal status of the states.

In short, the news is this: the states' economies are only sluggishly improving revenue collections and they continue to make large cuts to try to get out of the hole.

NGA Director Raymond Scheppach said the states have "bottomed out." It was the third straight year of virtually no spending growth, which NASBO Director Scott Pattison pointed out is really unprecedented.

Vicki Kemper of the Los Angeles Times pored through the fiscal report card and writes, "After three years of combining severe budget cuts with moderate tax increases, state governments are beginning to climb out of the hole created by a weak national economy, skyrocketing health care expenses and cuts in capital gains taxes … " LINK

" … The semiannual report of the governors' association and the National Assn. of State Budget Officers predicted that budget pressures would continue to force governors and state legislators to make tortured political choices. 'Unfortunately, it's still a very difficult time for the states,' said Scott Pattison, executive director of the budget officers' group."

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

President Bush has a pretty nice little Friday planned today in Maryland, with a visit to a Home Depot in Halethorpe and a BC04 fundraiser in Baltimore. (Maybe he'll stop at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, but we're not sure if he'll have enough time.)

The Baltimore Sun looks at the president's re-election bid and even gets Pikesville, Md., native Ken Mehlman on the record on the BC04 strategy and to downplay expectations:

"We are going to be very aggressive," Mehlman said. He added that the country is "very divided politically" and that "we are going to be behind at key points."

"But Reagan was behind, and he won," he said. "Clinton was behind, and he won." LINK

The Washington Post 's Allen and Sawyer report that some Bush Administration officials, led by senior adviser Karl Rove, are looking for that "Kennedy moment" and are considering several big ideas for the Bush agenda in 2004, including a new space exploration program.

The Post reports from an Administration official that "Bush's closest aides are promoting big initiatives on the theory that they contribute to Bush's image as a decisive leader even if people disagree with some of the specifics. 'Iraq was big. AIDS is big,' the official said. 'Big works. Big grabs attention.'" LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Tom Hamburger and Greg Hitt turn in a gem about the White House's penchant for political hardball — and not just against Democratic opponents — despite President Bush's vow in 2000 to change the tone in Washington.

"Even some Republican stalwarts contend they have felt the sting after crossing Mr. Bush politically. Conservative economic analyst Stephen Moore says he was tracked down by telephone at a dinner party and excoriated by Mr. Rove for backing Republican primary challengers to White House-backed incumbents. Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo says Mr. Rove told him 'never to darken the door of the White House again' after he told a newspaper that the administration's immigration policy could lead to another terrorist attack."

A new poll from the Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times finds that voters in Florida are concerned about casualties in Iraq and the president's handling of the situation there.

"Just more than four in 10 respondents said they would vote for Bush if the election were held now, while they were evenly divided on whether the country was headed in the right direction. Seven in 10 Florida voters feel Bush has not clearly explained when the troops will come home, and voters are evenly split on Bush's overall approach to the war." LINK

The politics of steel:

As expected yesterday, the Bush Administration rolled back steel tariffs on imported steel, avoiding a trade war with Europe and Asia but potentially sparking political backlash in several key states.

The Washington Post 's Weisman reports that the decision by the White House "marked a rare about-face for an administration not noted for reversing course. And it brought angry reactions from labor unions and executives in the steel-producing states of West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all of which were closely contested in the 2000 presidential election and are expected to be battlefields in 2004." LINK

New York Times ' Stevenson and Becker on the steel tariffs:

"Whatever effect Mr. Bush's decision has on his re-election campaign in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, it provided him with at least one political victory. By showing that he was willing to use trade barriers to help an industry hurt by global competition, it helped persuade Congress last year to give Mr. Bush the authority to negotiate trade agreements with little interference from Congress, a power that President Bill Clinton had sought for years but failed to get." LINK

Commerce Secretary Don Evans puts a positive spin on the administration's action yesterday and writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that lifting steel tariffs is "a sound decision for the American economy, its companies, and workers."

"This president and his administration remain committed to America's steel industry and its workers," Evans writes. "The successful efforts the industry has made in regaining its international competitiveness need to continue … President Bush's temporary safeguard measures have successfully led to a revamped U.S. steel industry. America's steelworkers can be confident that they are part of a vibrant industry."

The New York Times ' Sanger analyzes the impact that the tariff decision will have on the administration and the WTO, crediting the trade organization that "pinpointed textile mills in the Carolinas and farmers in the Midwest and California with a precision that Karl Rove, the president's political adviser, must have grudgingly admired." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Kornblut looks at the electoral map and writes that the administration's decision on steel tariffs makes sense politically, weighing the 46 electoral votes of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, battleground and steel producing states that would benefit from the tariffs, with the 67 electoral votes of Florida, the Carolinas and Michigan, states that would have been hurt by export taxes in a trade war with Europe. LINK

More from:

The Boston Globe 's Washington: LINK

USA Today 's Cox: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Chen and Simon: LINK

The Democratic presidential candidates jumped on the steel issue in order to gain an edge in the steel-producing states that are angry with President Bush's decision, Los Angeles Times' Gold reports. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's ed board thinks that the president "deserves applause" for lifting the tariffs to avoid what might have become the biggest trade battle since the Trade Federation invaded Naboo.

"As for the politics, the justification for the tariffs was that they'd help win Mr. Bush points in steel-sensitive states like Pennsylvania. But those votes were always going to have to be weighed against political fallout elsewhere. Higher steel prices cost tens of thousands of American jobs, many in heavy manufacturing (and electoral rich) states like Michigan. Not-so-big steel employs only about 180,000 workers."

The Los Angeles Times' Veith looks at what drove President Bush to his decision on steel:

"Faced with growing opposition from domestic steel consumers and imminent retaliation by foreign trading partners, Bush declared his mission — strengthening the industry — accomplished and lifted the tariffs 15 months ahead of schedule.

Yet to some industry insiders and analysts, the president's announcement sounded more like an admission of defeat, a view shared by several workers in Cleveland, the steel-making center of Ohio." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

Walter Shapiro writes about how the U.S. deficit seems to carry little weight with voters (with great quotes from Dean and Clinton). LINK

In his online Campaign Journal, Al Hunt declares James Carville a Democratic political oracle, and the two handicap the odds of winning for the Democratic presidential contenders. Their verdict: Dean is the leader with 2 to 1 odds, followed by Gephardt with 4 to 1, and Kerry with 9 to 2 — and so on.

It ain't Vegas — or even National Journal's weekly survey by players — but a candidate could do worse.

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

The Chicago Tribune's Paul Singer reports that a collection of former Clinton environmental officials has created a new campaign organization with the sole purpose of attacking President Bush and other Republicans on environmental issues in key states in the 2004 election. LINK

In our effort to serve our Note readers ever better than we did yesterday, and offer them the words "saddened and outraged" in one sentence, we offer a cameo from one such former official leading the left's 527 environmental effort, former EPA Administrator Carol Browner.

The Note: Why did you decide to get involved with Environment 2004?

Browner: I decided to get involved in Environment2004 because the Bush Administration is the most anti-environmental administration ever. The United States has made a lot of progress cleaning up and protecting its health and resources over the last 30 years. I am saddened and outraged that this progress is threatened by an Administration that allows big polluters to evade environmental laws with impunity.

The Note: What states are going to be the most important focus of your effort?

Browner: In a handful of states, Environment2004 will educate and mobilize voters who care about the protection of our environment. We expect the states to be chosen from among the following: my home state of Florida, Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Note: How do you distinguish your group from the other outside groups getting involved in the '04 cycle?

Browner: Environment2004 is the only Democratic pro-environment 527 organization, and the first one to begin its issue advocacy campaign. Our board and members include very prominent environmentalists from government, business, and the conservation community. These people are ideal messengers to set the facts straight about the record of Bush and his allies, and highlight the local damage and threats from this agenda in important places. We also plan to serve as a resource to Democratic candidates and the national media. Finally, Environment2004 will support nationally recognized environmental leaders and experts in speaking out on the stakes in the 2004 elections.

Meanwhile Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center have joined to ask the IRS to deny tax-free status to "a charity that offers donors a chance to spend time with Representative Tom DeLay of Texas at the Republican National Convention and to have part of their donations help abused children." LINK

The Washington Times reports that Craig Shirley & Co. thinks the Beverly Hilton gathering on Tuesday could be illegal.

Reports the Times , "the Virginia-based conservative watchdog group sent letters yesterday to leading Democratic donors, urging them to ask the Federal Election Commission to clarify the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, and ensure that their activities are legal. 'As fellow donors and leaders of new "soft money" section 527 committees, we are concerned about the legal gray areas and traps set by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act for our contemplated activities,' the group noted in its letter, signed by Republican strategists George Terwilliger, Frank Donatelli and Craig Shirley." LINK


The AP reports that former Arizona Governor, Interior Secretary, presidential candidate, and current 527 pit boss Bruce Babbitt plans to endorse Dean. LINK

The New York Daily News' Helen Kennedy writes up the Club for Growth's latest ad attacking Howard Dean's fiscal record while examining the Governor's poll numbers. LINK

"As Howard Dean opened a commanding 30-point lead in New Hampshire, his campaign claimed yesterday that a new Republican anti-Dean attack ad shows the GOP is running scared."

We wonder if like Joe Trippi,, Helen Kennedy will be hearing from Jennifer Palmieri today.

Howie Kurtz writes up the Club for Growth ad and Dean's Club for Truth response. LINK

The New York Times ' Adam Nagourney reports "with little notice, the Dean campaign will, sometime this week, log its 1,000th neighborhood meeting" in a "show of organizing prowess" that is "a tribute to the past and a nod to the future. These are the same methods that were used to organize farm workers in California 25 years ago." LINK

However …

What if there was Meetup and nobody came? The Chicago Tribune's Flynn McRoberts and Jeff Zeleny look at the snafu in the Dean campaign's grand 99-county Meetup plan in Iowa Wednesday night, when 1,500 Iowans who were to gather across the state to demonstrate failed to show. Enthusiasm and dedicated supporters aside, the duo Note, organizing Iowa is no cakewalk. LINK

And the Sunday New York Times magazine looks at the convergence of the grass-roots politicking, the Internet, the and the "responsiveness" of The Dean Community. Writes Samantha Shapiro, "Long before Howard Dean was considered a plausible candidate for president, he seemed to emit some sort of secret call that made people, many of them previously apolitical, drop everything and devote themselves to his campaign."

… "By organizing its national network of Yogis, Howards, Dykes and Disney Employees for Dean, the campaign built an alternative to institutions like the D.L.C. Dean has raised $25 million, mostly through small checks — the average donation is $77 — and those checks have placed Dean at the top of the Democratic fund-raising pack."

You've read The Making of the president, now watch The Unfolding of a Story.

The New York Times ' ed board says "there is no good explanation for why Howard Dean's office sought to have nearly half of his gubernatorial records sealed away in Vermont" and calls for the immediate opening of The Dean Files. LINK

The Washington Post 's Al Kamen has at least one example of stuff he thinks might be hiding in the sealed Dean files. LINK

The Boston Globe 's ed board says open up the boxes, Governor. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer quotes Trippi asking on Thursday: "Are we fighting the primary or the general?" LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Kathie Obradovich reports on what's going on with Dean's pledge to raise money for Rep. Boswell. LINK

Michael Blood reports in the New York Daily News that Howard Dean is doing very well with New York Democrats. However, Blood stresses that Senator Clinton is still "on the fence." "Clinton is said to be fearful that Dean is too dovish to take on President Bush," writes Blood. LINK

Former Illinois Senator Paul Simon's endorsement — from his hospital bed awaiting open-heart surgery — could be read as by some as a slap at Moseley Braun and Gephardt, writes John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. LINK

The Chicago Sun Times reports that Jesse Jackson, Jr. will travel to Columbia, S.C. on Sunday to make his "official" endorsement of Howard Dean.

"Jackson was born in South Carolina, and his appearance for Dean is likely to trigger another round of musings about the relationship between Dem candidate Al Sharpton and the Jacksons." LINK

Charles Krauthammer thinks The Doctor is delusional. LINK

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


The folks up in New Hampshire (yes, The Note is excited to see you too!) Note today that Rep. Gephardt has been a little neglectful of them … though they are kind enough to be sympathetic to his needs to be in Iowa. LINK

From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

"I've got South Carolina on my mind Remembering all those sunshine Summertimes, And the Autumns in the Smokies when the leaves turn to gold Touches my heart and thrills my soul to have South Carolina on my mind" --from the state song written by Hank Martin and Buzz Arledge

Rep. Gephardt went up with his first ad in the Palmetto State on Thursday. The 30-second bio, entitled "Struggle," is now running in Iowa and is likely to go up in other early primary states after campaign coffers are fattened up with federal funds after the New Year.

While Gephardt's next campaign trip to South Carolina is more than a week away, they are gearing up for big news there — the long-awaited endorsement from Rep. Jim Clyburn.

Two campaign sources told ABC News that a Clyburn endorsement for Gephardt is all but certain and is likely to be announced next weekend as the campaign embarks on a state-wide bus tour. While he has not been leading there in the polls, even placing behind Rev. Sharpton in one poll, an endorsement from one of the most influential politicians in the state will likely be a huge boost. Also looking good for Gephardt is the lack of the Howard Dean factor, since Dean has been focusing his time and money in other early primary states.

Read more from the trail with Gephardt on LINK


The Washington Post 's Dan Balz reports, "If [Kerry] was looking for a sign that he has turned around his struggling presidential campaign, he got the opposite in New Hampshire on Thursday." LINK

The New York Post 's Deborah Orin sees a whole lot of trouble for Senator Kerry in the ARG and Zogby poll numbers out of New Hampshire. LINK

As does the Boston Herald's David Guarino. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Patrick Healy reports on the Kerry campaign's fundraising tactics and how they aim to tap his rivals' donors. LINK

Healy puts a pretty positive spin on the Kerry fundraising machine.

Orin reports Democratic money man Robert Zimmerman is backing Kerry. Says Zimmerman: "I share the anger of Democrats around the country about beating Bush, but this isn't about group therapy. Anger isn't going to win." LINK

Mickey Kaus uses his spot on the Web to start a "Kerry Withdrawal Contest," urging readers to "help him drop out now and avoid humiliation." LINK

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

ABC News has learned that Senator Kerry will pick up an endorsement from Manchester, N.H. Mayor Bob Baines today.

A senior Kerry adviser told ABC News, "Baines is beloved among the voters who really start paying attention a month before the race and are searching for a candidate. Baines throwing his good name behind Kerry sends a message to them about the kind of president John Kerry will be, a chief executive with answers not just anger."

Baines ranks 27th on's list of 105 politicos essential to garnering the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary delegates. In November, the Mayor won nearly 70 percent of the vote in all 12 of Manch Vegas' wards, making him yet another solid addition to the Kerry-Shaheen New Hampshire machine.

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


Gen. Clark says he has a plan for Iraq … but "refused to specify when he would bring troops home or how many more soldiers might be needed to stabilize Iraq," says the New York Times . LINK

That plan occupied Senator Lieberman this morning on Imus, who tweaked The General for his secrecy.

Clark accused the Bush Administration Thursday of misleading the American people with "the greatest, most wasteful, disastrous bait-and-switch" by invading Iraq in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, reports the Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman. LINK

Do see the New York Times ' Sunday magazine piece on Clark's half-brother, Dr Kennard Clark.

Says Dr. Clark in the piece, "I am glad to know I have a brother. I'm certainly glad he is who he is. He's not a horse thief or something like that. I would have hated to find out I had a brother who hadn't made much of a success of his life."

Clark has been trying to "hang with" and solicit votes from the D.C. locals. LINK

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

As the band Better than Ezra sang last night at a fundraiser for The General — "Aha, it was good."

It was a good day for Gen. Clark yesterday on the campaign trail. "I never pay attention to polls," Clark told supporters at a fundraiser hosted by the campaign's C-Company at a D.C. club last night, "unless they're favorable."

Earlier in the day, a Clark campaign staffer passed around his BlackBerry to press covering a "Conversation with Clark" in Nashua that showed the latest American Research Group poll showing Clark a close third in New Hampshire behind Dean and Kerry.

And more from New Hampshire: "The Zogby poll shows me at 9 percent, it shows Kerry falling to, I don't know, 14 or something [Mrs. Clark, standing behind her husband on the stage corrects him saying, "12."] … and then the ABC poll has me at a statistical dead-heat with John Kerry for second place," said Clark. ABC News questioned what ABC poll Clark was referring to and found out from press secretary Jamal Simmons that Clark actually meant to say the ARG poll.

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


In a small "Inside the Beltway" snippet, the Washington Times acknowledges that Senator John Edwards — '60s flashback style — wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate possible FBI surveillance of antiwar demonstrators. LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

John Edwards made his fifth campaign visit to New Mexico Thursday, talking about job loss and health care to a crowd of approximately 65 after a day that started in Iowa as he reached his goal of visiting all 90 of Iowa's counties.

The Senator was asked directly what he made of the fact that both Lieberman and Kerry missed the vote on Medicare. Ever a seeker of the peace, Edwards pointed out that Kerry had participated in the debate but campaign obligations demand a lot from one person, so he understood how a candidate could miss a vote.

A new anti-Bush line emerged in Santa Fe, as Edwards was discussing how he would take on Bush.

"When they come out to hit us," he said, "We have to make sure they come back missing a hand."

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


David Lightman of the Hartford Courant takes a good long look at how New Hampshire independent voters are responding to Senator Lieberman's candidacy since the Senator seems to be putting a lot of his eggs into their basket. LINK

"Dick Bennett, the research group president, didn't think much of Lieberman's strategy. 'He's saying what a losing candidate always says, that he can get the independents,' Bennett said."

"He and other pollsters note that candidates who are generally favored by undeclared voters usually win with voters in their own parties, then pad their margins with the independents. McCain, for instance, beat George W. Bush by 8 percentage points among Republicans, but 42 points among undeclareds."

The Washington Post 's Jonathan Finer has a tough look at Lieberman's Granite State status, including one really telling paragraph: "And some said [Lieberman's] low-energy disposition may explain why his campaign has yet to take off. 'I like his views, but I like the way Dean excites a room,' said David Wagner, a Dartmouth graduate student." LINK

Today the Miami Herald Notes a major issues facing Senator Joseph Lieberman's campaign: despite how close the Gore/Lieberman ticket came in the fateful state of Florida, Gov. Howard Dean and Gen. Wesley Clark are closing in on all of his footholds. LINK

Read more from the trail with Lieberman on LINK


The AP's Hoffman covers Kucinich's day in Michigan, and has Kucinich trying to turn Nader's potential run into a reason to nominate him: "It makes it inevitable that the Democrats will have to nominate someone who has the ability to attract the Greens. And I do. This is the argument why I should be the nominee of the party." LINK

The San Antonio Current's Wolff also tackles the Nader/Kucinich conundrum: "Dennis Kucinich's candidacy has also stolen some of the fire from a third party candidacy. Mahajan says it's probably the main reason Nader has not yet decided to run. 'In some ways,' Mahajan argues, 'Kucinich looks better than Nader, especially when it comes to the war in Iraq.'" LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich had an action-packed day in Michigan and Wisconsin Thursday, hopscotching from Ann Arbor to East Lansing to Detroit to Milwaukee. Kucinich's Michigan staff was thrilled with the higher than expected turnouts at the events despite cold weather and impending finals at the universities.

State Coordinator Bob Alexander claims his candidate has such a far-reaching Michigan organization that the Dean campaign is reacting by organizing more vigilantly recently. But despite Alexander's dedication and enthusiasm, Kucinich may have cause for concern about his track record. Of the primary campaigns Alexander has worked for since 1975, only Michael Dukakis actually went on to become the nominee.

Read more from the trail with Kucinich on LINK


The New York Times ' Slackman profiles the Reverend in a perfectly balanced mix of the positive and negative, today and yesterday — creating the analogy of Sharpton as a D.J.

"But while performers are busy mixing James Brown into their music, Mr. Sharpton is sampling a bit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a touch of the hip-hop impresario Sean Combs, who also goes by the name P. Diddy."

Slackman also examines the attention factor.

"If recognition is indeed what Mr. Sharpton craves, then stepping into the media klieg lights of a national race has provided him with an easy means of attaining it. In fact, his profile has risen so high lately that he was chosen as this week's host of 'Saturday Night Live' — a vehicle that, while not a proven vote getter, certainly brings him nationwide attention. He spent this week rehearsing for the show — a strong hint that this kind of limelight is more important to him than a hard week on the campaign trail." LINK The Washington Post 's sleeve-rolling article has an nice chunk on "Casual Al." LINK

Rush Limbaugh calls Donna Brazile a "kook" and claims that she drafted Carol Moseley Braun to run as to prohibit Sharpton's chances. LINK

The Reverend makes the New York Daily News gossip page two days in a row — this time because Paris Hilton may join him on SNL for a surprise visit. LINK examines the NBC affiliate problem with equal time and Saturday Night Live — particularly in California, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington, D.C. — where Sharpton is on the ballot. LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

Reverend Al Sharpton's debut on Saturday Night Live will be unforgettable. Here's what you can expect:

Sharpton will be wearing wigs, safari garb and maybe even a dress.

He will, of course, play himself in a number of skits, but he'll also attempt a Johnnie Cochran impression and he'll play Michael Jackson's father.

AND (drum roll) … a "Hardball" skit with Rev. Sharpton playing Rev. Jackson!

Sharpton strolled onto the set of Saturday Night Live to rehearse on Thursday looking mighty fine. He's relatively svelte — he's dropped at least 10 pounds in the last two weeks. His hair is the shortest it's been since birth and slicked WAY back (perhaps to accommodate those wigs). His teeth are a new sparkling shade of white.

And while the other cast members rehearsed in sweats and jeans, Sharpton was decked out, as always, in that three-piece suit — joking with cast members between takes and asking, "How many takes did Al Gore do?" And, for the first time in quite some time, the Reverend had to take direction.

Sharpton stood alongside Jimmy Fallon and cut some promos for the show, poking fun at himself for being desperate for votes; hence, his appearance on SNL.

Fallon: "It's almost Christmas, Reverend, what do you want?"

Sharpton: "Iowa, Jimmy, Iowa."

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK


The Des Moines Register 's Rob Borsellino takes a look at the busy, busy life of Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Gordon Fischer. LINK

New Hampshire:

The Manchester Union Leader's John DiStaso breaks down the numbers of the ARG and Zogby polls and includes this analysis from ARG pollster Dick Bennet. LINK

"'Because of the nature of this race, I don't think his lead is becoming too large,' said Bennett. 'Part of his strength is the collective weakness of the other candidates.'"

DiStaso also has his own reporting that Manchester Mayor Robert Baines is set to endorse Senator Kerry.


In the face of this weekend's Florida convention at the wonderful world of Disney (we should Note, ABC's parent company), the Orlando Sentinel showcases the distinct challenge the Democratic presidential hopefuls face in this hugely contested state.

"'This is the real scary thing for any of us who are on-the-ground activists in Florida,' said Doug Head, chairman of Orange County's Democratic Party. 'This is not a state that is going to be won if there is not an effort. I am terrified that one of these nominees will look at the numbers and say, 'Florida is too big.'" LINK

The Daytona News-Journal also addresses the Florida Dems' concerns, adding that this convention will also tribute the presidential campaign drop-out, but favored Florida Democrat, Senator Bob Graham. LINK

The St. Petersburg Times/ Miami Herald straw poll illustrates the now-expected Florida confusion (tough rap to beat, Florida voters) with numbers. LINK

But the Florida "political junkies" — yes, that term makes us flinch — are ready! LINK

Democratic National Convention:

The Boston Globe 's Rick Klein and Yvonne Abraham report, "Amid signals that their fund-raising is lagging, national Democrats yesterday put an upbeat spin on their convention in Boston next summer, entertaining reporters from across the country with a flashy ice show and saying their planning is ahead of schedule." LINK

Page Six has a media walk-through wrapup Noting the not quite firm plans on workspace for the press. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers reports that the White House is pushing Senate Republicans to get a budget vote done, and a key concern is the hangup of the time-sensitive AIDS budget.

"Year-end budget fights are always messy, but what makes this omnibus bill so striking is the contrast between Washington's often self-centered politics and the real-life consequences in the AIDS war. After the 2002 elections, Republicans vowed they would end the gridlock of divided government. But two months into the fiscal year, they have boxed themselves into another mammoth spending bill covering 12 cabinet-level departments and exposing divisions in the party."

Big Casino budget politics: Medicare:

The New York Times focuses on the disincentives to do better under the Medicare program, reporting "the Medicare legislation that President Bush is expected to sign on Monday calls for studies and a few pilot programs on quality improvement, but experts say that it does little to reverse financial disincentives to improving care." LINK

USA Today 's William Welch and Andrea Stone report that Democrats want inquiry into reports of a Medicare vote for campaign cash bribe. LINK

The Washington Times talks to a number of congressmen who say the Medicare bill is already a problem for their pending re-election campaigns. LINK

The politics of national security:

The White House announced this morning that former Sec. of State and all-around GOP fixer James A. Baker III will go around the world seeking debt relief for Iraq as the president's envoy.

(Does this mean he is a better or worse bet for President Kerry's Administration?)

The AP reports out of Baghdad this morning that a "bomb exploded near a Baghdad mosque as a U.S. military convoy passed by Friday, killing an American soldier and two Iraqis." LINK

As for the state of insurgency, the New York Times reports "American commanders say the people fighting them appear more brazen recently, and in recent weeks they have even circulated leaflets in Hawija asking all Iraqis to join them." LINK

As intended, the last paragraph of this piece is likely to prove chilling for American readers.

Secretary Powell became the second Administration official this week to put out the appeal from Brussels for more allied assistance in Iraq, reports the New York Times . The remarks, writes the Times , indicate "the strength" of the administration's "intent to find help in handling the costs and sacrifices of rebuilding Iraq with international partners." LINK

Meanwhile as the effort to stabilize and reconstruct continues, the New York Times reports the Sheraton in Arlington hosted a "marketplace of sorts," bringing together "more than 400 people from 30 countries" for a "conference focusing on how to rebuild Iraq and get a piece of the $18.3 billion Congress has authorized for the effort." In attendance: "bankers, architects, lawyers, engineers, real estate developers, insurance agents, construction specialists, transportation experts, communication company owners, investment counselors and more than 40 Iraqi officials working with the Coalition Provisional Authority." LINK

The New York Times ' Eric Schmitt writes on the stealth resurrection of the thwarted Pentagon Office of Strategic Influence, reporting "a couple of months ago, the Pentagon quietly awarded a $300,000 contract to SAIC, a major defense consultant, to study how the Defense Department could design an 'effective strategic influence' campaign to combat global terror." LINK

The UK's Independent reports this morning that "pressure is mounting on the United States military to support its claim to have killed 54 Iraqi guerrillas in the biggest battle since George Bush declared an end to major combat seven months ago. Scepticism about the US's version of the death toll has been expressed within upper echelons of the occupation authorities."

The Los Angeles Times reports "a former senior Israeli military intelligence official asserted Thursday that the nation's spy agencies were a 'full partner' to the United States and Britain in producing flawed prewar assessments of Iraq's ability to mount attacks with weapons of mass destruction." LINK

The president and Jordan's King Abdullah talked Middle East peace Thursday, with the president confirming "that despite Israeli objections, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell would meet on Friday with self-appointed Palestinian and Israeli negotiators who have worked out an unofficial peace agreement announced in Geneva this week." LINK

The St. Petersburg Times reports its poll shows "Florida voters have a nuanced view of Iraq. Fifty-six percent said the president had made the United States safer from another terrorist attack, and nearly two-thirds rejected comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam. But nearly 70 percent of voters said Bush has not clearly explained how long American troops will have to remain in Iraq, and 55 percent said the current level of casualties there are unacceptable for achieving U.S. goals." LINK

Do see the Clark section for the New York Times ' take on The General's detail-free Iraq plan. Joe Lieberman picked up on the story this morning on Imus and we bet he won't be the only one …

The New York Times reports Max Cleland is expected to leave the commission investigating the attacks of Sept. 11, a development that "has created concern among victims' family groups, because Mr. Cleland has been one of the commission's most outspoken members and has joined with advocates for the families in their criticism of the Bush administration." LINK

Re-map flap:

Good morning, you liberals who now understand what gerrymandering is all about, writes the Wall Street Journal 's editorial board. Welcome to the party.

Politics: We're not at the point of a section called "The politics of air traffic control" yet, but here's Dana Milbank's take on the latest reports on what happened with London Tower on Thanksgiving. LINK

Duf Sundheim's fundraising has become a little easier now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is governor. LINK

Former Rep. Bob Dornan plans to mount a primary challenge against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. LINK

According to his attorneys, the fate of Rep. Bill Janklow may now rest on whether jurors in his manslaughter trial believe that he left Minervas restaurant without eating an Eye Opener breakfast, reports the Chicago Tribune. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's John Kass writes that there are now 800,000 ways to prove that Illinois is a one-party state. LINK


The "Re-Leiby" Source?

Not our joke, we swear. The Washington Post has at long last selected its new Reliable Source: Richard Leiby of the Style section.

A 12-year veteran of the Post , Leiby has covered the FBI for the National section, written for Outlook and did a great stint in Kuwait and Iraq this year. And how many journalists can say they've profiled both Mrs. Wilson and Elvis Costello? Watching the detectives, indeed.

"It's a big change for me," Leiby told The Note. "It's a totally different thing, and change is good for a middle-aged hack."

We are delighted to report that the glorious Anne Schroeder will continue to work on the column.