The Note

RNC Chair Ed Gillespie went to Vermont yesterday and criticized Dean for "his stance on the war, comments about military pay and refusal to open his records," the AP's Will Lester reports. LINK

RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke issued the following wager to loyal Note readers after Gillespie's foray into Vermont:

"And even with about 5 years of his files hidden in a warehouse, unavailable to the public, if you go to Vermont you can still learn a few things about Howard Dean. Chairman Gillespie was there yesterday, and if he learned anything about Howard Dean you can bet he will share it. Wanna bet?"

We are still trying to figure out the over/under on that one.

Gillespie continues his travels today in New Hampshire where he meets with some Granite State GOP heavyweights — RNC Committeeman Tom Rath, NHGOP Chair Jayne Millerick and RNC Committeewoman Nancy Merrill — and gives a speech at St. Anselm's College previewing the 2004 election. LINK

The Dallas Morning News looks at an in vogue voting demographic, "NASCAR Dads," after President Bush met with several NASCAR championship drivers yesterday at the White House. LINK

Knight Ridder's Douglas on the NASCAR dads: LINK

Columnist Byron York writes in The Hill that the time is now for President Bush to begin an ad campaign and backs up his opinion with support from none other than Dick Morris. LINK

The politics of steel:

In the it ain't quite over 'til it's over department, the Wall Street Journal 's Neil King and Tom Hamburger report that President Bush lent an ear to steel executives yesterday after his Pittsburgh fundraiser (hosted by U.S. Steel chairman and CEO Thomas Usher) to talk about whether or not to drop steel tariffs.

Vice President Cheney, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Trade Representative Robert Zoellick were in on the talks too, which King and Hamburger Note, "suggest the White House may be trying to craft a package to benefit U.S. steelmakers in other ways, such as providing companies with pension relief and a monitoring effort against a resurgence of imports."

And the national political reporters look at while President Bush was hit from all sides on the steel issue, he did not utter the "T" word in public while in Pittsburgh yesterday …

New York Times ' Stevenson writes about the conversation between Usher and Bush:

"'I asked him point blank what was going on,' Mr. Usher said later in a telephone interview. Mr. Bush listened attentively, saying that he was looking at various options and that he had not yet decided what to do, Mr. Usher said."

"'He didn't indicate timing or which way he was leaning," Mr. Usher said. "He's a good poker player.'" LINK

The Washington Post 's Goldstein on the trip and tariffs: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Reynolds and Simon: LINK

USA Today 's Cox: LINK

AP's Loven notes that the trip to Steel City marks President Bush's 23rd visit as president to the battleground state of Pennsylvania. "We're laying the foundation for what is going to be a victory in Pennsylvania in 2004," President Bush said. LINK

The politics of national security:

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