The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:00 am: Gen. Wesley Clark discusses childhood education, Rochester Child Center, Rochester, N.H. —10:30 am: RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie addresses Plymouth High School students and speaks to the media, Plymouth, N.H. —10:40 am: President Bush signs the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, D.C. —12:30 pm: Chairman Gillespie speaks at a luncheon for the Vesta Roy Excellence in Public Service Series, Concord, N.H. —12:30 pm: Sen. John Edwards meets with Shelby County Democratic activists, Harlan, Iowa —12:30 pm: Sen. Joe Lieberman unveils a family-related policy proposal, Manchester, N.H. —12:30 pm: Rep. Dennis Kucinich attends a luncheon with supporters, Houston —1:00 pm: Gen. Clark meets with supporters, Portland, Maine —1:30 pm: Chairman Gillespie holds a press conference about the New Hampshire primary, Concord, N.H. —1:45 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Audobon County Democratic activists, Audobon, Iowa —2:00 pm: Sen. John Kerry speaks and takes questions at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City —2:10 pm: President Bush signs the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, White House —3:00 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Cass County Democratic activists, Atlantic, Iowa —3:15 pm: Sen. Lieberman attends town hall meeting, New England College, Henniker, N.H. —3:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich speaks to college journalists, Houston —4:30 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Adair County Democratic activists, Greenfield, Iowa —4:45 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a rally and speaks to the press, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Houston —5:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a fundraiser at Jean-Luc, New York City —5:45 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Guthrie County Democratic activists, Guthrie Center, Iowa —6:00 pm: Sen. Lieberman attends town hall meeting, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H. —6:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends reception and speaks to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, Houston —6:15 pm: Gen. Clark attends a house party, Exeter, N.H. —6:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a fundraiser at a private residence, New York, N.Y. —7:00 pm: Chairman Gillespie gives a speech titled "A Preview to the 2004 Elections," St. Anselm's College Institute of Politics, Goffstown, N.H. —7:30 pm: Gen. Clark speaks with members of the community at Philips Exeter Academy, N.H. —8:00 pm: Sen. Edwards speaks as part of Iowa State University's Presidential Caucus Lecture Series, Ames, Iowa —8:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich dines with supporters, Mykonos Restaurant, Houston —9:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a fundraiser at a private residence with Al Franken and Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., New York City


As President Bush gets ready to sign Medicare reform into law on Monday, anticipates Friday's employment figures, faces another EPA flap over mercury rules, and grapples with the jaws of steel, the Democrats who want his job and the political press continue to tangle with — Howard Brush Dean.

From Walter Shapiro to Rush Limbaugh to John Harris' brother-in-law to the Boston Globe to Zach Jones — from fundraising, to sealed records, to candidate-on-candidate contact — it's another day dominated by The Former Governor of a Small, Rural State.

Just today, Joe Lieberman has a new plan for paid family leave; John Edwards is trying to limit the role of special interests; John Kerry goes into the world's stuffiest room to lay out (again) his foreign policy vision; Wes Clark does early childhood development; Dick Gephardt basks in the glory of a major boffo "Tonight Show" appearance during which he looked relaxed and presidential; and more.

But scan the papers and the strategies, and (trot out that Baltimorean Classic yet again), it's Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean.

And leading up to this Tuesday's Dust-up in Durham — the year's final debate among the Democratic presidential candidates, at 7 pm ET in Durham, N.H. and featured on that night's Nightline on ABC and airing live on WMUR in the Granite State and on C-SPAN — the questions about what can stop Dean's momentum remain as big and bold and unanswerable as they have always been.

While Ron Fournier offers his must-read take on the Feb. 3 contests, LINK, let's face it: New Hampshire will do much more than any other state to determine the nominee because of the political press' obsession with process and winnowing and tradition.

The Note has long opposed the determinative "X-must-exceed-expectations in a particular state" standard, or asking candidates who don't do well in New Hampshire only different variations of the same one question ("When are you getting out of the race?").

But having a waged a two-year campaign to get Ron Faucheux, Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato, David Yepsen, and every academic and political consultant under the sun to stop perpetuating this culture that deprives later-voting states from having a say in the determination of the major party nominees, we give up.

We vowed that if we couldn't win this fight by December 1 of 2003, we would surrender — so this is our white flag.

So while "stopping" Howard Dean in Iowa is important to keeping him from the nomination, stopping him in New Hampshire is vital.

(And, yes, Burlington, we realize you will raise $100,000 on the web on that last sentence alone — there's nothing we can do about that.)

As Walter Shapiro brilliantly points out today in a USA Today total must-read, the "Dean conundrum" has him as "a front-runner with many vulnerabilities but no obvious Achilles heel." LINK

Nothing (nothing beyond sluggish fundraising … ) has so annoyed the other Democratic campaigns than the seeming free ride Dean has gotten on a range of issues large and small.

Part of this has been based on the failure of the press corps to hold Dean to a standard befitting the front runner (or, in fact, befitting any serious candidate).

Part of it is the rejection by Dean's core supporters of the normal rules of the fallout from political gaffes and inconsistency. And that is the part that most scares Dean's opponents, because while the first part will likely change by January, the second might NEVER change.

In fact, the January attacks might counter-intuitively make Dean stronger, as his supporters rally against the Establishment and the media with hard work and donations.

(Yes, another $100,000.)

Just consider the last 24 hours:

A. Dean's stammering, inconsistent, error-filled performance in Iowa regarding what he will do (and has done) about his sealed records barely made it to even cable TV, although the newspaper accounts — even from the ultra-fair Dan Balz — are dripping with skepticism. LINK And the Wilmington Star hits him for it too. LINK

B. Michael O'Hanlon's must-read Wall Street Journal op-ed on Dean's Iraq position is spot on regarding Dean's pre-war rhetoric — both inconsistent and flawed — although his characterization of Dean's views on the $87 billion is a bit off base.

C. Mark Jurkowitz's inside-the-Hardball-production Boston Globe piece is awesome for its media tick tock (Who knew Phil Griffin was the second coming of Don Hewitt?), but it also lays bare some of Dean's more absurd answers from Monday's show. LINK

D. As Rush Limbaugh and at least one Democratic campaign have pointed out, Dean's present-tense usage of "Soviet Union" in that Hardball appearance would not have been tolerated by the media if George Bush or John Kerry had done it.

E. Variety looks at Dean's somewhat wild statements about media ownership from the same appearance.

F. The Boston Globe 's Scott Lehigh has a must-read column on Dean's absolute hypocrisy, dissembling, and hedging regarding not adhering voluntarily to the state spending caps:

" … what we have here is Dean using the reaction to his own decision to justify a possible further violation of the spirit of fair primary play … .If the Vermonter does spend more than the Iowa cap, as seems likely, we'll have learned something important about him … .Namely, he's not really a no-nonsense country doctor. He just plays one on TV." LINK

And yet, look no further than the same Boston Globe edition to find out that the Walter Shapiro worldview on this holds sway for now:

Eileen McNamara's must-read trip with Dr. Dean to a Wolfeboro, New Hampshire event is so over-the-top glowing it could go straight on the deanforamerica blog, but it also captures quite nicely how and why Dean does a better job connecting with audiences than anyone else running. LINK

And the hard-working Brian Mooney chronicles how tough the money raising slog is this month for Gephardt and Kerry. LINK

In addition, while most of the other eight candidates rarely miss an opportunity to attack Dean, they are also spending a lot of their time attacking each other, to try to make sure that no one else can emerge as the Dean Alternative nationally or in a key state.

And, of course, as Howie Kurtz cleverly suggests today, every moment spent attacking someone BESIDES Dean gives The Doctor something of a breather. LINK

Konichi wa, General Clark.

All this makes the Dust-up in Durham — the year's final debate that will set the table for the January Madness — exceedingly important.

If you don't believe us, ask the people of New Hampshire, who are already getting excited about WMUR's extensive pre-debate coverage; the people of the University of New Hampshire, who are way nice; and the nation's major news organizations, who are already engaged in war-gaming about how they plan to cover what by any objective standard amounts to the Super Bowl of Democratic presidential debates.

Of course, the ABC News name will need to be, per usual, pristine, going into this event, representing the highest journalistic standards, and thus we must finish off today's summary with a longish look at what amount to a weeks' worth (and it is only Wednesday!!!) of CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFCATIONS.

Don't read anything into the order we put them in; each error is like a dagger to our hearts.


1. In some editions of Monday's Note clip 'n' save, we cited a list of political factors that will be key over the next few weeks, and in the third paragraph we wrote this:

"In parentheses after each item, we list those people who should be Noting more carefully what's going on out there; in brackets are those who are already paying quite a bit of attention."

Seemed pretty straight-forward to us.

But not since the Jim Jordan memo have we had such a clear and chilling window into the, uhm, reading comprehension abilities of at least some of our readers.

Apparently, this part caused a mini-stir:

"Watch the quiet (and not so quiet) battle between those Democratic elected officials/super delegates who move towards public support of Howard Dean and those who implicitly or explicitly join the Stop Dean movement."

"John Breaux's shot across the Burlington bow on "This Week" yesterday was not the first time you will hear anti-Dean boogeyman stuff like that, and Gina Glantz isn't the last person getting on the Dean bandwagon. — in fact, some intriguing B-I-G names have already secretly signed up. (Daschle; Teresa Vilmain; Steve Rosenthal) [Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman, Tom Davis, Tom Reynolds]"

Did this mean that Daschle, Vilmain, and Rosenthal are secretly supporting Dean? NO. It meant that they should be paying more attention than they are to the people who ARE secretly signed up and what it might mean to them.



2. Another mistake that The Note made yesterday wasn't severe enough to cause chaos in the Democratic Party or a rupture in the space-time continuum, but it did damage our comedic flux capacitors enough that we must correct ourselves.

Thanks go to Jeremy Cluchey, a fellow at the Partnership for Public Service in D.C., for pointing out to us that it was in fact George McFly, and not Marty McFly, who had the "destiny" line in the original "Back to the Future."


3. Also yesterday, we cited an opinion piece in the Yale Daily News by student Zach Jones about Howard Dean's alleged vulnerabilities as a general election candidate.

First off, we spelled Zach Jones' given name wrong.

Second, although Rush Limbaugh, in citing Jones and The Note, claimed that Jones is a supporter of Dean, Jones is in fact a leader for the Kerry campaign on the quaint New Haven campus, a fact we did not know and failed to Note but do so now.

However, in an exclusive e-mail interview, Jones (whose 15 minutes of fame is far from over, since Rush will almost certainly talk about him again today … .) tells us:

" … (P)lease be aware that I did not write the piece at the behest or with the permission of the campaign, and did not inform anyone at the campaign of my intentions to write the piece. I wrote purely in my capacity as an independent contributing columnist to the YDN and as a concerned Democrat."


4. Yesterday, we referred to Edwards' New Hampshire staffer Mike Palamuso as, simply, "Mike Palamuso." That description was incomplete, as anyone who is anyone in Granite State politics knows. We should have refered to him as "Mike Palamuso, one half of the Note Twins."

With the corrections and clarifications taken care of, here's the rest of your day.

President Bush signs forest- and nanotechnology-related acts in Washington today.

Gov. Howard Dean, Rep. Dick Gephardt and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun have no public events today.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie speaks to Republican groups throughout New Hampshire today.

Gen. Clark campaigns in New Hampshire and meets with supporters in Maine.

Senator Kerry speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations and attends fundraisers in New York City.

Senator Edwards campaigns in Iowa today.

Senator Lieberman speaks about balancing work and family throughout New Hampshire today.

Rep. Kucinich campaigns in Houston today.

Rev. Al Sharpton is in New York rehearsing for Saturday Night Live.

The Dust-up in Durham:

Perhaps we forgot to mention: on Dec. 9 at 7 pm ET, ABC News and WMUR will host a debate in Durham, N.H., on the campus of the University of New Hampshire, with all nine Democratic presidential candidates.

For those politicos and reporters who have been more Iowa focused lately and plan to head to New Hampshire for this Tuesday's debate, The Note has a little secret for you:

It's become cold in the Granite State.

In the grand Note tradition of obtaining secret memos, here is one more helpful than scandalous, that went just this morning from the New Hampshire staff of a leading Democratic presidential campaign to the national headquarters:


to: those who have not spent a winter in the North from: those from the Arctic subject: dressing for NH winter date: 12/3/2003


Wear layers!

LAYER #1: Long Johns: Contrary to popular belief, New Hampshire is NOT really the Arctic so we are going to skip the high-wicking briefs and go straight for these. Note on the Long Johns: stay far, far away from cotton. Concentrate on Long Johns made from polyester, which are sold under a variety of trade names such as Capaline, Thermax, MicroClimate, REI's "M.T.S." fabric, CoolMax, ThermaStat and others. They make tops and bottoms … don't forget to buy both.

LAYER #2: Fleece or Wool: Fleece is the really soft stuff, wool is the heavy, sometimes scratchy material, but it's still an excellent insulating fabric and worthy of consideration as dependable outerwear.

LAYER #3: Windproof and waterproof! Gore-tex is still considered by many to be the best.

SUPPLEMENTAL LAYERS: Consider more polyester fleece, a sweatshirt or something of that nature.

GLOVES/MITTENS: Again, gonna have to go with polyester fleece. Mittens are always warmer, although gloves tend to make life simpler (none of that having to bite them off with your teeth stuff).

BOOTS & SOCKS: Waterproof boots with traction that go past your ankles. Polyester socks, similar to your Long Johns will do the trick. Wool socks are also suitable for NH winters, but tend to be rather thick and limit circulation to your toes. Buy your boots with your socks in mind or vise versa.

HEAD GEAR: (campaign) hats of course.

NECK GEAR: Scarves or neck warmers will do the trick, as you can wrap them around your face as well. Just keep tissues in your pocket for the inevitable runny nose.

GENERAL NOTES: Water, enemy #1 during winter, can appear in the form of snow, sleet, or rain, or generated by your body as perspiration. While high-wicking fabrics will help move moisture to the outer parts of your clothing, there are a few things you can do to help. One is to follow the practice of layering, and the other is "venting" … sounds kind of fancy, but really just means zipping and unzipping your jacket as necessary.

The economy:

William Safire warns of our "animal spirits" and argues for some sobriety, writing, "If the market keeps going up and the 'wealth effect' further boosts consumer confidence, if economic figures continue to dance with Rosie Scenario, and if government mindlessly continues to stimulate with heavy domestic spending an economy that no longer needs stimulation — then all bets on the coming boom are off." LINK

Boosted by steep discounts, American automakers report sales higher than anticipated in November, the Wall Street Journal 's Karen Lundegaard reports. And they're looking at reports of economic improvement as a sign that they can raise prices next year. Luxury cars, SUVs and pickup trucks were the most popular sellers, comprising just over 55 percent of vehicles sold in November.

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

AP's Ron Fournier reports on the daunting seven-state challenge for Democratic contenders in 2004, and that there is, in fact, life after Iowa and New Hampshire. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Robert Kuttner surveys the scene on both sides, Noting that it's a "race against the clock" for all interested parties. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman looks at the importance of the grassroots movement to the Democratic hopefuls. LINK

The Washington Post 's Linton Weeks gives a Seussian run through of all of the candidate books that have come out so far. LINK

Rush and Molloy dish up which Hollywood celebs are backing which Democratic candidates. LINK

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

The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein (along with colleague Anne-Marie O'Connor) is still dining out on his bread and butter of the fact that Hollywood has always tried to mix showbizness with politics, with a great chronicle of yesterday's big meeting among Harold Ickes, Ellen Malcolm, and celebrities of all stripes who hate the president's policies. LINK

And they use it as a peg to look at the role of outside groups in general this cycle. A must-read.

ABC News' Gayle Tzemach reports the New Democrat Network is set to go up Thursday with two new Spanish language ads on Spanish language stations in Orlando and Las Vegas Thursday. The "saturation-level" buy is said to break the $100,000 mark.

One script, just to give you a taste:

Cuando quiso llegar a la Casa Blanca, George Bush prometió ser amigo de la comunidad latina y hacer lo mejor por nuestros niños.

(When he wanted to reach the White House, George Bush promised to be a friend of the Latino community and do what's best for our children.)

Pero como Presidente, no ha cumplido sus promesas.

(But as President, he has not kept his promises.)

Nos prometió invertir 18 mil millones de dolares en las escuelas mas pobres.

(He promised us he would invest 18 billion dollars for the poorest schools.)

Pero ahora quiere gastar miles de millones menos.

(But now he wants to spend billions less.)

Escríbale a la Casa Blanca y dígale al Presidente que los amigos cumplen su palabra.

(Write the White House and tell the president that friends keep their word.)

Presidente Bush, ¿por qué ha roto su promesa?

Note that the New Dems vow this is just the start of a "permanent campaign" for the Hearts and Minds of Hispanic voters that will be "robust" throughout the cycle.

The Orlando Sentinel looks at the new NDN spots through the lens of the Battle for Central Florida. LINK

Meanwhile intrepidly following up on our own reporting, we Note that and pollster-to-the-stars Stan Greenberg will host a conference call this morning unveiling the group's latest ad tackling President Bush for the $87 billion Iraq supplemental.


Will he or won't he?

Following up on her own reporting, Jodi Wilgoren reports Dean may indeed unseal his own gubernatorial records. LINK

The Washington Post 's Dan Balz and Mike Allen report on Dean's decision to look into maybe unsealing the gubernatorial records if that's possible. LINK

Walter Shapiro has an extraordinary column (even for him) in which he declares, "Dean seems in many ways to be the first Teflon-coated Democrat." LINK

The Boston Globe has a trio of Dean stories today: McNamara has a first-hand account of a Dean rally LINK; Mooney Notes how Kerry and Gephardt "are scrambling for funds in an effort to avoid being overwhelmed" by Dean LINK; and Lehigh writes (somewhat miffed) about how Dean is on track to bust the state spending caps in Iowa. LINK.

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont reports that Dean's plan to help Rep. Boswell has no strings attached. "The presidential candidate says he does not expect the Iowan to endorse him." LINK

Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu thinks that what Dean has done in this campaign is "nothing short of remarkable." LINK

Slate's Saletan writes of Dean's recent attacks on the president's national security policy. "Democrats learned the hard way that when it comes to politics, if not war, Bush has no shame and takes no prisoners. Now Republicans will learn the same about Dean." LINK

On the Wall Street Journal 's editorial page, Michael O'Hanlon attacks Dean's Iraq position and finds "they may spell big political trouble for the governor come next summer and fall, should he be the Democratic nominee at that point."

As for us, we love any piece that contains the sentence, "This position does not hold water."

We guarantee this one will be read by Democratic opponents and RNC Oppo Shop-pers alike, although, again, O'Hanlon hurts himself with some weak moments.

The New York Observer's Ben Smith explores Howard Dean's youthful days in New York City and chatted with 12 of his 21 classmates from The Browning School. LINK

"It could be that Dr. Dean, whose campaign has been fueled by clever organizing, clear ideas and pure anger, doesn't need a story. Particularly if the story-of old money and WASP values-doesn't particularly fit the insurgent image. Still, it's striking to see how little he makes of his New York roots."

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


The ever-prolific Fournier reports that Kerry is now vowing to reverse President Bush's foreign policies, outlining new plans to stem "a widespread and widening network of terrorists." LINK

The Boston Herald's Ellen Silberman has Kerry stumping at Boston University. LINK

The Massachusetts Senator sees youth activism as key, and is urging students to travel to New Hampshire and Iowa over their winter breaks, emulating students in the 1960s, reports the AP. LINK

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

In 1968, Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy, an anti-war upstart, led a grassroots campaign featuring hundreds of students known as the "Peanut Butter & Jelly Brigade" in New Hampshire. That effort rattled sitting President Lyndon Johnson sufficiently enough to run the Democratic frontrunner out the race.

More than 30 years later at a Boston University rally, Senator Kerry called a new generation of PB&J Brigaders to duty, imploring them to volunteer for "winternships" aimed at securing the Democratic nomination for the once-favored Kerry and denying it to the insurgent former Gov. Howard Dean.

Speaking before 500 Beantown faithful in the George Sherman Auditorium, Kerry delivered his "Real Deal" stump speech, which contrasted sharply with his prepared remarks.

In the prepared text sent to the press, the Senator was written to say, "I couldn't have come this far without all of you … Already, all of you Terriers out there have contributed 2,700 volunteer hours to our effort. You've gone to Faneuil Hall and given us the largest crowds we've ever had. You've gone to Maine and braved the cold. And twice a month you go to New Hampshire to pound the pavement … "

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


The Miami Herald 's Peter Wallsten takes Note of Gen. Wesley Clark hinting at how, as president, he would explore easing the trade embargo with Cuba. We're sitting on pins and needles waiting for him to do more than "hint" at his policies. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Joanna Weiss previews Clark's education plan. LINK

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

Gen. Clark's 60-second biographical ad that previewed in New Hampshire two weeks ago will begin airing this week in three states with Feb. 3 primaries — South Carolina, Oklahoma and Arizona.

A line from this commercial that sparked a question at a Tuesday evening campaign event. The deep announcer's voice says about Clark: "He speaks four languages, but his actions speak more eloquently than words."

A woman in the crowd asked Clark — which four languages do you speak?

"I debated this really hard about these four languages," General Clark replied, implying his uncertainty about putting the line in the commercial. "I know a little bit of Russian," said Clark, "a little bit of German, and a pequito Espanol."

Despite spokesman Jamal Simmon's "perfectionist" protestations, we confess we wonder what's considered "fluent."

The General offered his own criteria: "Where I am right now is I can still read a Spanish newspaper, and I can give a speech in German if it's written out. And with two vodkas, I can still talk sports in Russian."

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


Steve Murphy talks primary strategy at the Breakfast Formerly Known as Sperling and calls Feb. 3 the "Achilles' heel of the Dean strategy." Do see his comments on Camp Kerry! LINK

Liz Halloran of the Hartford Courant wonders if Dick Gephardt's insider status is a potential weakness. LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence profiles Gephardt, and the beginning of the sixth paragraph says it all: "Gephardt, the plodding party workhorse, wants to be the alternative to Howard Dean … " LINK

Lawrence also has a sidebar talking about the candidates, Gephardt included, talking about tragedy in their lives. LINK

From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

Lucky for Rep. Gephardt, a very gorgeous but very boring Naomi Watts preceded him on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" Tuesday night. Not usually regarded as the life of the party, the Congressman seemed to bring relief to an otherwise dragging show.

Gephardt had the crowd laughing out loud with the standard stump jokes that Iowans have chuckled at for months. Before getting serious with stories about his daughter Chrissy coming out of the closet and his son Matt's battle with childhood cancer, he told Leno he's often recognized in public but sometimes is mistaken for Dan Quayle, or a "guy who sold an insurance policy in Denver," or a "weatherman on CNN."

Leno seemed surprised when Gephardt swung hard at President Bush, with the Congressman saying, "If you had met with him every week since 9/11, you'd be running for President."

Read more from the trail with Gephardt on LINK


Writing up the "streamlined" Edwards stump speech, the New York Times ' Randal C. Archibold Notes "it remains to be seen if he is getting through to voters." LINK

The Senator will take on lobbyists and the "culture of Washington" today from, of all places, Ames, Iowa, and Ron Brownstein got a peek at the speech. LINK

The Raleigh News & Observer 's John Wagner reports that Edwards is seeking stringent disclosure requirements for lobbyists, effectively barring them from moving directly into government jobs where they can help former colleagues. LINK

More from the AP's Mike Glover. LINK

Howie Kurtz writes about Edwards campaign staffers taking on The General. LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

Cover Boy Number One: At 8:45 pm in Glenwood, on a black street under a pelting icy rain, Edwards' rental van pulled up to a corner coffee shop. Edwards hopped out and ducked in to talk to the crowd.

Converse to the predominate behavior of the press corps and staff (yawns all around), Edwards was up and animated, lingering to shake hands and pitch his book as he had all day. "If you see this book in a store, please buy it," he told one crowd. "That nice guy on the cover? That's me."

Cover Boy Number Two: Hunter Pruette, Edwards' field director of travel, a.k.a. "Body Man," has seemingly had some sight issues of late. Fortunately for Edwards, who depends on Pruette to read the lengthy daily schedules faxed to his hotel, Pruette had heretofore unseen spectacles at the ready. No wire rim, slightly smudged and altogether academic-looking.

Not bad if one wants to promote a serious and loyal, knowledgeable and trustworthy image. Coincidentally, a CNN crew is shooting a profile of Hunter on this trip.

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


New York Times ' Diane Cardwell previews Senator Lieberman's plan to offer paid family leave with a well-placed exclusive, and says the Senator "is taking a page from Mr. Clinton's efforts to stake out an agenda on family issues as a way to reach out to moderates." LINK

The AP carries Lieberman's announcement that he will move to New Hampshire in January. LINK

So does the Concord Monitor. LINK

AP's Kate McCann writes that Lieberman called for the U.S. military to improve its peacekeeping skills. LINK

From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

Still nearly two months from the first primary, Sen. Lieberman is already thinking about his cabinet. Following his town hall meeting at the Elk's Club in Rochester, Sen. Lieberman sat down for a live two-way with C-SPAN's Steve Scully, where he reiterated his desire to have John McCain serve as his Secretary of Defense. Lieberman said he "can't wait" to have the opportunity to try to bring McCain on his team.

Al Gore is another candidate for a Lieberman cabinet. Lieberman said if he were president, he would ask Gore to hold "some high office in my administration."

Read more from the trail with Lieberman on LINK


From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

Rep. Kucinich had a smile on his face as he took a bite out of the Big Apple Tuesday, and for a brief moment the campaign took on the more mainstream feel of the operations his top-tier rivals are running as he tried to woo New York voters, in contrast to the hippie vibe that permeates most Kucinich events elsewhere in the country.

Flanked by local labor leaders at his speech at the "Just Voices" studio in midtown, Kucinich (whose hair was mussed with parts sticking straight up after delivering an impassioned speech on Iraq) tried to deflect attention from the fact that many of the major unions had endorsed Gephardt and Dean over him, despite his having the most labor-friendly policies by far with his plans to cancel NAFTA and the WTO and to provide universal health care.

At a press conference after the event Kucinich told ABC News sarcastically, "It's a real credit to [Gephardt and Dean] that notwithstanding their being for the WTO and against universal health care, they still got the endorsements." But Kucinich, refusing to say whether he was passed over because of a perceived lack of electability, made a point to refer to those endorsements as the results of decisions made by labor leaders and not the rank and file, whom he insists support him and his platform wholeheartedly.

Read more from the trail with Kucinich on LINK


The Christian Science Monitor's profile Notes Sharpton's stubborn manner and his colorful past.

"And then there's the Sharpton baggage. He's the only candidate who's been indicted for tax evasion and fraud, then acquitted; who's been taped by the FBI in an alleged drug deal; and who's been stabbed for leading a protest in a predominantly white and Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Some dismiss him even before he opens his mouth." LINK

The Village Voice dissects the Sharpton campaign, sizing it up against Jesse Jackson, Sr.'s.

"But pundits say a variety of factors have come together to prevent Sharpton from landing with the impact Jackson enjoyed in the 1980s. For starters, merely by being the first black person to launch a viable presidential campaign, Jackson was awarded the sort of cachet that Sharpton can never get." LINK

The Fresno Bee's profile proves that it is impossible to write a Sharpton profile without mentioning the controversies and Rev. Jackson.

"Not in the least, Sharpton has been furiously recasting himself. Once known mostly for his controversial causes, his exuberant hair and his rap sheet, Sharpton has projected a more mainstream image in the course of the campaign. He's getting, in particular, the kind of attention formerly lavished on his one-time mentor, the Rev. Jesse Jackson." LINK

The Boston Globe has a fascinating piece on the potential political power of hip-hop.

"That love could blossom if the hip-hop community becomes a political force. But before this group becomes the 21st-century version of the soccer moms politicians courted in the 1990s, local organizing committees must develop, and community organizations have to participate." LINK

The Washington Post 's piece on the candidates' books has a great excerpt from "Al on America" — a story about James Brown. LINK

The AP's Chaka Ferguson tells Sharpton's life story. LINK

The National Review Online knits all of Sharpton's criticisms into one tight, artistic package.

"Fringe candidates can have their place. Ralph Nader added something to the 2000 election. But Sharpton has no memorable policy proposals, no distinctive ideological position, nothing but himself and his resume."LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

Rev. Sharpton's campaign schedule has dwindled to non-existent this week as he rehearsals for his "Saturday Night Live" debut.

And it's not a done deal, but Sharpton may send a surrogate to the Florida State Democratic convention on Saturday, since the jaunt to Florida would cut it too close to showtime. It's odd. Reverend Sharpton missed one debate completely, was late to another, landed in Des Moines 30 minutes prior to the last debate … but "SNL" trumps a State Democratic convention.

On the cash front, the campaign expects to collect a check for $100,000 in the first installment of public matching funds. Campaign manager Charles Halloran says much of this will be used to pay outstanding debts — including the money owed to Frank Watkins. So, Frank … the check is in the mail.

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK

Moseley Braun:

From ABC News' Moseley Braun campaign reporter Monica Ackerman:

At Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill, Tuesday, an African-American man in the audience disrupted what had been a low-key campaign stop when he told Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun that she and Rev. Sharpton had betrayed voters.

"Both you and Sharpton strongly support gay marriage and partial birth abortion," he said. "You two have betrayed voters like myself who have always supported you. I know for a fact that if you make gay marriage legal, there won't be a single African-American church that will marry them."

Moseley Braun and Sharpton have both called gay marriage a civil rights issue, likening it to interracial marriages that used to be illegal. Moseley Braun responded that for her, the issue is guided by the same kind of philosophy that freed African-Americans from slavery. Before handlers asked him to step aside, the man stood up with a picture of his family, pointing out that his wife is white and saying he was offended that she would compare his family to a homosexual union.

Read more from the trail with Moseley Braun on LINK


Nick Anderson of the Los Angeles Times explores the latest Nader movements.


"Theresa Amato, Nader's 2000 campaign manager and a director of his new committee, said Nader expected to make a decision by early next year."

"'Calls are being made,' Amato said. 'A fund-raising effort has just started for the purpose of testing the waters.'"


The AP reports that according to a poll released Tuesday night, Dean and Gephardt are continuing to battle for the lead in Iowa. LINK

For the latest in the New York Times vs. Iowa face-off, do watch the Gray Lady take on ethanol on the editorial page. LINK

Republican National Convention:

In the end, Stuart Roy was simply no competition for one Ed Skyler. (Okay, all those political lessons Mr. Cunningham received from Sen. Moynihan may have helped too.)

"The Republican luxury liner 'booze cruise' idea floated for next year's GOP convention was sunk last night before it ever got anywhere near New York's harbor … " LINK

" … The decision to nix the controversial proposal came after Mayor Bloomberg spoke to DeLay yesterday and convinced him to drop the idea … "

The New York Times ' Slackman also looks at the demise of the convention cruise ship. LINK

"In New York, there was a sense of bewilderment among Democrats and Republicans that Mr. DeLay let the dispute go on as long as he did, and that he seemed not to understand how it would appear if the Republican delegation and their guests slept, dined and relaxed on a cruise ship instead of in a hotel."

The New York Daily News' Michael Saul and Maggie Haberman (a double byline we'd like to see more of, by the way) also have the sinking of the GOP boat. LINK

"DeLay 'obviously fights for what he believes in, but where we have an event at the Republican convention is not something that we particularly care about,' said Stuart Roy, spokesman for the Texas congressman."

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

USA Today 's Richard Benedetto looks at Vice President Cheney's quick fund-raising trips and reports that side issues like traffic, security costs and protesters often make the local headlines along with Cheney's speeches.

Benedetto writes: "He rarely makes time to meet voters outside the fundraisers, which often results in news reports and commentary that suggest he's indifferent to the people and problems of the cities he visits … But unlike President Bush, who often combines fundraising with a stop at a school, senior center, factory or military base, Cheney sticks to raising money." LINK

Broder looks at President Bush's Baghdad trip and how it puts him in the "catbird seat politically": "Because he is the head of state, the man who speaks and acts for all Americans in his ceremonial role, he has a claim on the voters' emotions that no challenger can match." LINK

Not surprisingly, Dean Broder is spot on with his analysis of the trip.

A new poll by the National Annenberg Election Survey finds that President Bush received a bump in approval after his surprise trip to Iraq on Thanksgiving, the Washington Times reports. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood writes that hidden in Bush's Medicare victory is a big political setback, making a revamp of Social Security with private accounts that much harder. The tone of the Medicare brawl leaves only "a thin veneer" of bipartisanship, AARP opposes the Bush Social Security plan even though they endorsed the Medicare overhaul, and the political capital spent on getting Medicare passed all stack the odds against a victory lap over Social Security, Harwood argues.

White House political adviser Karl Rove made a cameo in Florida yesterday where he joined fundraisers and party leaders in Tampa and Jacksonville to discuss strategy and grassroots planning, the St. Petersburg Times reports. LINK

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:

In a meeting with reporters at the end of his two day visit to the land of pommes frites, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "'We've got very good allied support in Iraq'" and "most, if not all" allies "'have pledged'" to "'sustain their contributions, and to not be dissuaded by the fact that there have been some high-profile casualties that have been taken by some of the coalition countries.'" LINK

Meanwhile, embarking upon his own five-nation, four-day journey, Secretary of State Colin Powell is "hoping to mend fences with Europeans upset by the American strategy in Iraq and to stiffen the resolve of North African nations rattled by terror attacks to continue to fight Islamic militants," reports the New York Times . LINK

The Washington Post reports "U.S. civilian and military leadership in Iraq has decided to form a paramilitary unit composed of militiamen from the country's five largest political parties to identify and pursue insurgents who have eluded American troops and Iraqi police officers," an acknowledgement that "the Bush administration's strategy of relying on Iraqi police officers and civil defense forces has been insufficient to restore security." LINK

Glenn Kessler and Robin Wright examine the realities versus the rhetoric of the Bush Administration's promotion of democracy in the Middle East. LINK

Speaking of democracy, the Los Angeles Times reports the "American opposition to the religious Shiites' agenda puts the U.S. in the odd position of resisting what is arguably the most democratic of processes: a free election. They also worry that the Americans have not carefully considered the worst-case scenarios." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Glenn Simpson looks at the military's dearth of Arabic speakers, finding "the Pentagon never recruited and trained Islamic language and cultural experts with the same determination it used to understand the Soviet Union."

Nearby, the Journal's ed board raises the specter of a "crisis" in the Strait of Taiwan should the president accept "a proposal being floated inside his foreign policy team" that would "change U.S. policy on Taiwan independence from one of neutral 'non-support' to active and presumably public 'opposition.'"

Big Casino budget politics: Medicare:

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers looks at the way "well-placed lawmakers" such as Senator Specter (R-Pa.) are working the Medicare research budget to funnel money to fund hospital staffs in their states.

We are going to start a new soap opera: "As the Door Revolves."

Robert Pear reports Medicare's architect, Thomas Scully, is the "object of a bidding war among five firms hoping to hire him to advise clients affected by the measure." LINK

However, the Wall Street Journal reports, Scully cannot lobby either the Department of Health and Human Services or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for one year. For those of you who are betting, the Journal also provides a short list of possible successors.

Big Casino budget politics:

The House will vote soon on a $373 billion measure that finances the bulk of the government's domestic agencies, reports the AP's Alan Fram. LINK

Big casino state budget politics:

After months of justifiable hand-wringing over budget shortfalls and fiscal crises in the states, recovery is at hand, the Wall Street Journal 's editorial board writes.

The take by state and local governments has improved along with the national economy, helped by increased federal aid and spending cuts. Never mind the staggering budget deficits prompting calls for tax increases; states should keep spending down and enjoy the economic ride, they argue.

We look forward to reading the State Fiscal Report released tomorrow by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers to see if that logic holds up.

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

The Washington Post 's Eric Pianin reports that the White House "is working to undo regulations that would force power plants to sharply reduce mercury emissions and other toxic pollutants, according to a government document and interviews with officials." LINK

The Leavitt era at the EPA began in earnest yesterday with his first big speech to agency employees. LINK

"Leavitt said he would unveil his 500-day plan for cleaning the air "very soon." Hours later, after a draft of his plan to regulate mercury pollution from power plants was leaked to reporters, Leavitt provided the first glimpse of how he would pursue this agenda."

"He said his market-based approach to reducing mercury would work faster than traditional regulation. But environmentalists disagreed, calling the proposal a squandered opportunity to protect public health."


The New York Times picks up on a report for the state of Ohio finding "electronic voting machines from the four biggest companies in the field have serious security flaws, but they can — and must — be fixed." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' P.J. Huffstutter takes a look at the "emotional first day of testimony" and the "phantom white car" at the Janklow trial. LINK

Testimony in the trial of Rep. Bill Janklow clashes with the defendant's story, reports the Chicago Tribune. LINK

Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle welcomes Rosario Marin to the California Senate race. LINK

" … Marin's compelling personal story and Latino roots could pose a particular challenge to Boxer, especially since the former treasurer is perceived to have support from the White House."

USA Today 's John Ritter previews the San Francisco mayoral run-off where — GASP! — a Green might really have a chance. LINK