The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:00 am: Rep. Dick Gephardt meets with local law enforcement, Cedar Rapids, Iowa —9:45 am: Gen. Wesley Clark speaks about AIDS policy, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. —10:00 am: The Supreme Court meets to hear arguments. —10:30 am: Rep. Gephardt speaks about homeland security, Cedar Rapids, Iowa —11:00 am: Sen. John Kerry attends an event featuring Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Iowa City, Iowa —11:00 am: Senators Clinton and Reed hold a press conference to discuss their visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, Capitol Hill. —12:00 pm: President Bush speaks at a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser, Dearborn, Mich. —1:00 pm Sen. Kerry attends a Women for Kerry event, Cedar Rapids, Iowa —1:20 pm: President Bush speaks about the economy at Dynamic Metal Treating International, Canton, Mich. —1:30 pm: Sen. John Edwards meets with Scott County Democratic activists, Davenport, Iowa —1:30 pm: Sen. Joe Lieberman speaks about his families-related policy, Manchester, N.H. —2:00 pm: Rep. Dennis Kucinich meets with small business owners, Cleveland, Ohio —2:30 pm: Gen. Clark speaks with Jewish community members, Delray Beach, Fla. —3:35 pm: Sen. Lieberman discusses families-related policy, Concord, N.H. —3:45 pm: Sen. Kerry visits students from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa —4:00 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Muscatine County Democratic activists, Muscatine, Iowa —4:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a reception at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio —5:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich speaks about foreign policy, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio —5:15 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Louisa County Democratic activists, Columbus Junction, Iowa —5:30 pm: Sen. Lieberman attends town hall meeting, Plymouth, N.H. —6:10 pm: President Bush speaks to at a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser, Whippany, N.J. —6:30 pm: Gen. Clark appears on "Noticiero Univision." —6:45 pm: Rep. Gephardt speaks to the press, McCarran International Airport Las Vegas, Nev. —6:45 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Des Moines County Democratic activists, Burlington, Iowa —7:00 pm: Gov. Howard Dean tapes "Hardball with Chris Matthews," Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Cambridge, Mass. —7:00 pm Sen. Kerry delivers 'End of Ashcroft Era' address, Ames, Iowa —7:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich holds a fundraiser, Cleveland, Ohio —8:00 pm: Sen. Lieberman attends a house party, Whitefield, N.H. —8:30 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Van Buren County Democratic activists, Keosauqua, Iowa —9:15 pm: Gen. Clark attends Meet Up, West Palm Beach, Fla. —11:00 pm: Gen. Clark appears on the "BET Nightly News."


Try to remember and if you remember … … *

Here's a Note clip 'n' save for between the holidays, and into next year.

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.

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1. The Dust-up in Durham, the year's final Democratic presidential candidate debate on Tuesday, Dec. 9, in Durham, New Hampshire is certain to be the most watched Democratic debate yet.

And it will certainly have the most impact on the Democrats and independents of the Granite State, who have the biggest say in determining the party's nominee. More on the December Debate below, in its own new section. (Robert C. Wright; Josh Wachs) [Judy Reardon; all Googling monkeys; James Pindell]

2. If you needed any more evidence of the Gang of 500's unique and overriding obsession with process stories, ask yourself how many real Americans care where Mike Allen was standing when it began to dawn on him that he wouldn't be spending Thanksgiving with his nephews; about the color of the floor of the Air Force One hangar at Andrews; or about the swapping out of the Fox crew for the CNN crew in the pool. (Howard Dean; Tom Daschle; Hillary Clinton) [Dan Bartlett; Trish Enright]

(Look!!! The Note agrees with The Pod!!! LINK)

3. With the State of the Union coming one day after the Iowa caucuses, will that take any anchors away from Des Moines, or simply lead to a mass charter from Fleur Drive to Reagan? And will the Hawkeye winner(s) get all the bounce of a dead cat? (Steve Murphy; Jim Demers; Miles Lackey; Elizabeth Edwards; Monica Fischer) [Phil Alongi; Tony Podesta; Al From; Doug Sosnik]

4. In the State of the Union, what will President Bush say about:

a. Social Security personal retirement accounts? Sunday's Los Angeles Times had Brownstein and Chen IN SEPARATE PIECES (!!!) on how the White House might push off of Medicare for this … . LINK and LINK, and today the Wall Street Journal ed board says proper Social Security reform should be aggressively pursued by the president as penitence for his liberal cave in on Medicare.

b. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden?

c. The deficit? See Ron Brownstein's column today for a to-the-woodshed-Mr.-President take on the Bush-Cheney-Snow deficits. LINK

(Nancy Pelosi's communication staff; any Democrat asked to sit in the First Lady's box)

[Mike Gerson — still the most underrated member of the Bush White House, particularly now that Joe Hagin had blown his cover with the whole Iraq thing]

5. Speaking of the State of the Union, that will be a good time for the president and the nation to review how he is doing on his core campaign promises. Sure, his critics might quibble about whether the "done" things are actually "done," but, as POTUS talking points, what is done is done.

Done: education reform, tax cuts, Medicare reform, a prescription drug benefit, vast increases in military spending, restoring honor and dignity to the Oval Office

Pending: Social Security reform, tort reform, energy policy

Not so much: a changed tone in Washington, a humble foreign policy, reduction in the size of the federal government

6. Watch the quiet (and not so quiet) battle between those Democratic elected officials/super delegates who move toward 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]

7. With no winner-take-all events and no one with a real clue as to how the Big Media will weight the results of the various February contests, don't be surprised to see a muddy field going into March, unless Dean sweeps Iowa and New Hampshire. Check out Kevin Phillips' math and Gore scenario from yesterday's Los Angeles Times!!! LINK

(Wachs; Terry McAuliffe; Alongi; the McAuliffe children) [David Axelrod; Craig Smith; Nick Baldick; Steve Murphy; Paul Johnson; Mary Beth Cahill]

8. Watch Democratic fundraising in the fourth quarter. If Wes Clark really raises over $10 million, and Dean raises around $15 (give or take several million), what does that do to everyone else's buys in January and February? (station owners in major markets; Bill Carrick) [Jamie Whitehead; Eli Segal]

9. The Note was snookered by Burlington when we previously bought into the notion that Busta Caps was being done almost exclusively as a bet on the come to have money in the spring and early summer to compete with President Bush. Turns out, it is a LOT about flooding the zone in Iowa and New Hampshire. (Laura Capps; John Lapp; Bill Burton) [Joe Trippi; Joe Trippi; Steve McMahon; Joe Trippi]

Adam Nagourney of the New York Times took us to school over the holiday weekend on this. A true must-read. LINK

10. We have yet to see if the new Team Kerry can turn things around, or how much of his own money the Senator will plow into this deal, but both are key open questions. LINK

See Glen Johnson's wicked good Sunday Boston Globe profile of Michael Whouley — an excellent piece except for the glaring omission of the words "corporate clients." LINK (Karen Hicks; Reardon; the Shaheens) [Cam Kerry; DSG corporate clients]

11. When are the Bill-Frist-turn-around stories going to start? (Bill Frist) [Bill Frist]

12. All December, White House and Cabinet policy aides will be working on the budget, to be unveiled in January amidst the huge new deficit figures.

And all December, White House and Cabinet communications aides will be working on a sequencing plan for how to do approved leaks of different aspects of the budget for maximum political effect and to take advantage of the laziness of the press corps. (the DNC communications and research shops; Cabinet secretaries; bored Wall Street Journal reporters) [Robert Pear; Judy Keen]

13. How should we square Wes Clark's stated unwillingness to attack his Democratic rivals with his attack on Howard Dean's post-collegiate skiing? (Gert; the volunteers; the RNC research folks) [Mark Fabiani; Chris Lehane; Kym Spell]

14. What's going on with those two criminal investigations with political potential — the DOJ look at the Edwards' campaign fundraiser at that Little Rock law firm and the DOJ look at the Wilson leak? (Jennifer Palmieri; Andy Card; Tom Edsall) [Tab Turner; The Davids]

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President Bush speaks about the economy in Dearborn, Mich., and speaks at two fundraisers today.

Gov. Dean appears on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" tonight.

Senator Kerry campaigns and speaks about Attorney General John Ashcroft in Iowa today.

Rep. Gephardt speaks about homeland security in Iowa and speaks to the press in Las Vegas.

Gen. Clark campaigns and announces his AIDS policy today in Florida.

Senator Edwards campaigns in Iowa today.

Senator Lieberman is in New Hampshire.

Rep. Kucinich campaigns and speaks about foreign policy in Cleveland.

Rev. Sharpton is in New York to rehearse for "Saturday Night Live."

Ambassador Moseley Braun has no public events.

The Dust-up in Durham:

On Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 7 pm ET, ABC News and WMUR, the powerhouse ABC affiliate in beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire, will host a debate in Durham, on the campus of the University of New Hampshire with all nine Democratic presidential candidates.

For the next eight days, this space will be your place to look for all you need to know about this big event, which will be featured that evening on an extended version of Nightline, shown live on WMUR and on C-SPAN.

The questioners will be two of the best in the business — Ted Koppel and Scott Spradling.

ABC News Radio will provide a specially-formatted two-hour version of the debate, including post-debate analysis, to its 4,000 affiliates at 9 pm ET. ABC News Live, the 24/7 streaming video news network available at, will carry the debate also.

Given how regularly the candidates have already debated and appeared together, why should you focus on this event?

With all due respect to South Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan, Arizona, New Mexico, and, yes, even Iowa — there ain't nothing like New Hampshire in all of presidential politics.

The state has so many politically special things that just aren't matched anywhere else:

WMUR; the Manchester Union Leader;; St. Anselm's; Will and Meryl; Julie Teer's political celebrity; U.S. Senate chiefs of staff who live in the state; Rath, Young and Pignatelli , a primary (not a caucus); Granite Status; the Monitor and the Telegraph; Bill Gardner; Eastern Time; direct flights to and from DC and New York; Politics and Eggs; Richard's Bistro; The Manch-Concord metroplex; the Bills; driving distance from Boston; the Globe; the Boston TV stations (particularly WCVB); the Center of the Universe Holiday Inn; "stop lying about my record," "the last dog dies," "I paid for this microphone," and "this boy, this son of ours, is not going to let you down"; candidates can't skip New Hampshire; the riddle inside a mystery of how independents will vote; the ghosts of Carl Cameron and Ed Muskie; the New Hampshire Political Library; and the Merrimack Restaurant.

A December Debate to Remember is going to light up the sky around the University of New Hampshire on Dec. 9.

If you are looking for some mood setting calm-before-the-storm, check out the Union Leader's coverage of the college town on Thanksgiving weekend. LINK

Now, before we go full-throttle close focus on New Hampshire, and because we reject the current superficial media culture's failure to respect or learn from history, let's review the meaning and import of the previous Democratic presidential candidates debates from 2003:

Collision in Columbia: "I'd like to come over there and strangle you, George."

New Mexico: Dick Gephardt utters his "miserable failure" line for first, second, and third times.

Baltimore: And the winner is … George Clooney.

New York City: Dick Gephardt reveals that his ' 88 Vermont chair was always a Gingrich capo.

Phoenix: Wes Clark let's everyone know that he's the front-runner.

Detroit: Dennis Kucinich proves that he has no idea what Adam Nagourney looks like.

Rock the Vote: Howard Dean picks "buckshot" out of his "rear end."

Des Moines: Joe Lieberman proves just how much of an "independent Democrat" he is when DNC denies him the Max Headroom link up.

In the coming days, we'll have all sorts of special features to get you in the mood for the event, and to encourage your editor/executive producer bosses to come up to New Hampshire for their first trip of the cycle, including:

1. a brief 2003 history of the 2004 Democratic primary of New Hampshire

2. how to get Googling monkeys on a Delta Shuttle

3. a Durham accidental tourist guide

Thanksgiving weekend must-reads:

And, for those of you who took a break:

Thanksgiving leftovers of the highest quality (a.k.a.: articles you might have skipped while we were gone but are essential to go back and read):

Dan Balz and Mike Allen on President Bush's re-election effort on the front page of Sunday's Washington Post , and how some of those millions are going to be spent in a Blaise of glory on grassroots activity, with the BC04 website allegedly having 6 million people signed up, dwarfing deanforamerica. LINK

David Sanger's New York Times piece, where the blind quotes are surely not from Dr. Rice, on how the Bush policy advisers are a bit concerned that their message of multilateralism is thrown off a bit by the RNC's ad championing unilateralism. LINK

Dan Balz in the Saturday Washington Post on how Iowa's 99 counties are politically vital to Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean. LINK

And John M. Glionna of the Los Angeles Times did the same story, brilliantly, through the eyes of the industrial unions (Gephardt) versus the service unions (Dean). LINK

Janet Hook in Sunday's Los Angeles Times on the Republican deficits. LINK

Same with Dick Stevenson and Edmund Andrews in the New York Times . LINK

In response to a phone call from a Dean volunteer who inquired whether it's possible for non-Iowans to vote in the Iowa caucuses, Yepsen writes: "caucus only if you're an Iowan." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen has more on the president's plan to tackle the potentially divisive issue of Social Security reform on the 2004 campaign trail. LINK

Randal Archibold reported on John Edwards' coping with the "gravitas issue." LINK

Jonathan Finer Notes that some of the former liberal critics of Gov. Dean have now coalesced around him. LINK

Jodi Wilgoren followed Dean to Hawaii last week and wrote that Dean "swallowed hard, once" during his brother Charlie's repatriation. LINK

Todd Purdum brilliantly writes the New York Times ' Kerry profile, Noting the diametrically opposing opinions of Kerry's supporters and those of his critics. LINK

Beaumont profiles Wes Clark. LINK

Gail Collins introduces the Times Magazine's attempt to raise the aesthetic bar of campaign posters and buttons. LINK

The politics of steel:

The Washington Post 's Mike Allen, fresh off a quick trip to Baghdad, reports that the Bush Administration, in "one of the diciest political calculations of this term," has decided to repeal most of the tariffs it has imposed on imported steel, in order to "head off a trade war that would have included foreign retaliation against products exported from politically crucial states." LINK

Allen sizes up the impact this decision could have on the electoral map:

"Bush advisers said they were aware the reversal could produce a backlash against him in several steel-producing states of the Rust Belt — including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. That arc of states has been hit severely by losses in manufacturing jobs and will be among the most closely contested in his reelection race."

"Officials said the repeal could help Bush in Michigan, where automakers and parts factories are heavy consumers of steel and were hurt by the tariffs, but they said that was not the reason for the decision. In 2000, Bush won Ohio and West Virginia, a traditionally Democratic state. He lost Pennsylvania and Michigan, and they are among his top targets in 2004."

The Wall Street Journal reports that President Bush "has little to gain politically by keeping the tariffs, but much to lose … Steel imports have declined in recent months, and while steel states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan are important to the president's re-election bid, he gained little steelworker support with the tariffs."

The Associated Press also considers the political ramifications for President Bush: the tariffs gave a boost to Bush among "traditionally Democratic steelworkers in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia" but "angered owners and employees of small manufacturing companies that make up part of his GOP base in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin."

"Collectively, those states account for almost one-third of the 270 electoral votes Bush needs to win re-election." LINK

The New York Times ' Sanger looks at how the White House might try to positively spin the potentially costly issue:

"One industry official who has been talking to the White House said he expected that Mr. Bush would try to make the best of his defeat by arguing that the main objective of the tariffs has been achieved: the American steel industry has consolidated significantly in the past 18 months, exactly the reorganization that Mr. Bush declared had to happen during the three-year life of the tariffs."LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

So what that Florida's senior Senator is retiring, the GOP has the governor's mansion and the state legislature is Republican-heavy? All nine candidates will be there come next weekend and that is reason enough for the state party to Celebrate Good Times. LINK

Jim VandeHei looked at the higher ed issue and the Democratic field in Sunday's Washington Post . LINK

The Boston Globe on Sunday had Joanna Weiss' look at Democratic presidential candidates courting veterans. LINK

The Los Angeles Times on the left's new-found donor "firepower," which owes its strength to liberals' "visceral loathing" of the president and the passage of McCain-Feingold. The idea from the left: join 'em and beat 'em when it comes to funding the war of ideas. LINK

Note the star turns from Mr. Norquist and Ms. Nichols!

Salon profiles the insurgent politics of, writing "there's no question that, between MoveOn, (George) Soros and Howard Dean, a new breed of aggressive progressives are changing American politics. And while conservatives have complained, they haven't been able to hamper these groups' efforts. Indeed, MoveOn has mastered a kind of ideological jujitsu. Republican attacks just add to its strength." LINK

From think tanks to a liberal radio network, Democrats are coming out swinging in an attempt to compete with Republican infrastructures, writes the Tribune's Naftali Bendavid. LINK

Campaigning in Charleston Sunday, Clark and Lieberman assailed Bush on foreign policy and tax cuts writes Jessica Vanegeren of the Post and Courier. LINK


On Good Morning America today, Gov. Dean talked with Charles Gibson about his brother, his book, his sealed gubernatorial records, and President Bush's trip to Baghdad.

When Gibson asked why Dean's gubernatorial records were sealed, the Governor responded that President Bush "takes the cake" when it comes to sealed records, promising, "I'll unseal mine if he'll unseal all of his."

Newsweek's Isikoff hits the issue as well.

It's just a Periscope item, but that's how bigger things begin. Isikoff is marching down the trail of those Howard Dean gubernatorial records, which have been sealed from public view for the next 10 years.

" … .Dean's efforts to keep official papers secret appear unusually extensive. Late last year, NEWSWEEK has learned, Dean's chief counsel [David Rocchio] sent a directive to all state agencies ordering them to cull their files and remove all correspondence that bore Dean's name-and ship them to the governor's office to be reviewed for 'privilege' claims. This removed a 'significant number of records' from state files, said Michael McShane, an assistant Vermont attorney general." LINK

"The sealed papers include Dean's correspondence with advisers on, among other matters, Vermont's 'civil unions' law and a state agency that critics charged was used to grant tax credits to Dean's favored firms. Rocchio said the sealing agreement was driven by 'legitimate' policy concerns, but also by, he later acknowledged, political factors. 'All you have to do is look at what [Dean's opponents] are doing with the existing records," he said. 'They're distorting his record.'"

People are asking legitimate questions about all this, despite the Governor's glib answer.

Among them: what precise role did Dean play in these sealing decisions and how does Ms. Enright know there are no smoking guns in there, unless she has reviewed them?

Keep watching this one.

Also on GMA, Dean praised the president's Baghdad Thanksgiving trip, saying, "That's the kind of thing that helps the troops." Then he criticized Bush for being "big on the flashy gestures" and having proposed a "cut in combat pay."

The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold explores whether Dean lacks intuition about how to personally connect with voters, or whether he does connect, but in an untraditional way.

"Dean insists that since the beginning of his candidacy, he has paired his criticism of Bush with an uplifting message," she writes. "'They still don't understand,' he said of his critics in a recent interview. 'What we're really tapping into is the desire for hope again.'" LINK

Vermont in the 1990s! Elizabeth Mehren of the Los Angeles Times takes her readers back to Governor Dean's governing days and reports that he was quite the centrist. The "nurses" and "blue dogs," and even Dr. Dean's "cut and thrust" technique on the ice all get some play. LINK

The AP concludes that Dean's prodigious new ad buy in Iowa is "so large that the average Iowa TV viewer could see Dean commercials 18 times over 10 days." LINK

Highlights of the biographical spot include black and white pictures of Dean working in the hospital … and a three second push-in of a photo showing young Dean and his wife, Judy. It's the first time either of those two images have appeared in a Dean commercial.

Here's the script:

Narrator: "He took classes at night to get into medical school, worked in an emergency room in the Bronx and with his wife, Judy, Howard Dean became a family doctor hoping to make a difference one life at a time."

"He became Governor under the worst of circumstances and earned a reputation as a maverick and independent by turning a deficit into a surplus, creating jobs, raising the minimum wage twice, and balancing budgets eleven years in a row."

"And while Washington talked Howard Dean provided healthcare coverage for nearly every child in his state and a prescription drug benefit for seniors. Now he's running for President to repeal the Bush tax cuts, restore a foreign policy that reflects American values, and break the special interest gridlock to provide health insurance for every American."

Dean: "We can stop the special interests-but not without your help. I'm Howard Dean and I approve this ad because the truth is the power to change this country is in your hands-not mine."

The AP's Mark Humbert writes that "Eight months ago, about all Dean had going for him in New York among the political professionals was the support of a former state party chairwoman, Judith Hope … But in recent weeks, the list of politically well-connected Dean supporters has grown steadily in New York as the candidate answered criticism that he couldn't raise big money — a Democratic record $14.8 million in the July-September quarter — and that he would attract little attention as a little-known governor from a little state." LINK

The Times Jodi Wilgoren explored Dean's outreach to black voters and politicians. LINK

Howie Kurtz reports that Dean on Sunday "launched a full-throated attack on President Bush's foreign policy acumen," showing how the ear of a reporter out for one of the first times with a candidate can hear the normal stump lines as news. LINK

Knight Ridder's Roddie Burris writes up his impressions from a few weeks on the Dean trail, Noting Dean's comment that Ohio will be a major battleground. LINK

The AP's Kate McCann reports that Dean "on Sunday urged states to reject federal No Child Left Behind funding, and said he would if still governor of Vermont." LINK

The State's Lee Bandy finds Dean favored over Bush in an online poll of moderate South Carolina Democrats. Note the word unscientific that Mr. Bandy rightfully places so high in his lead, hopefully derailing heart attacks by anyone who knows anything about polling anywhere. LINK

On the trail, the Dean campaign's traveling road show (O'Connor and O'Mary) officially welcomes two new faces today: Gina Glantz and Doug Thornell.

Glantz, one of the top names in Democratic politics, will serve as a traveling senior adviser. She's taking a leave of absence from the SEIU, where she served as strategist and aide to president Andrew Stern. (Sample Blog comment: "Rock on, Gina and Gov. Dean! The talent in this campaign is amazing!")

And the talented, handsome Thornell, formerly the communications director for the Congressional Black Caucus, will assume the duties of the traveling press secretary.

Both did test trips last week and have spent the past few days preparing their lives for the rigors of Dean's schedule.

The AP reports that Dean will definitely put another dime in the jukebox (baby) if aspiring Democratic National Convention delegate and Dean supporter Joan Jett is elected as a delegate from New York. LINK

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


Hitting on every Democrat's favorite target, John Kerry plans a speech in Iowa today going after the Ashcroft Justice Department.

Kerry plans to talk about how he says he would better protect individual liberties while stepping up the war on terrorism. Kerry will try to out-Gore Gore in talking about how America has changed in these areas in the wake of 9/11.

In the week the Democratic candidates make their pitch to the Florida Democratic Party, Philip Gailey opines in the St. Petersburg Times that Kerry's biggest problem is Kerry. LINK

Out of a sense of lingering Thanksgiving cheer, we aren't going to give you the link to Scott Lehigh's latest column that looks into the soul of Senator Kerry.


The New York Times ' Ed Wyatt previews Clark's $30 billion plan that would double the United States' commitment to fighting the AIDS and other diseases in developing countries over a five-year period. LINK

James Gordon Meek of the New York Daily News writes about Clark's comments on CNN's Wolf Blitzer yesterday when he pronounced himself the best candidate to win the war on terror, while also tacking a jab at Dean and his anti-war stance. LINK

AP picked up the comments too. LINK

Matt Taibbi writes an unflattering profile of Gen. Clark in Nov. 26 issue of The Nation. Taibbi adopted an assumed name and volunteered with the Clark campaign, gaining insight into The General's world. LINK

Taibbi writes: " … paying close attention is not really what the Clark campaign is about. In fact, it's very much about the opposite: squinting your eyes, blurring out the margins and focusing on the one main goal on the horizon — beating George Bush. In my time around the campaign I got the sense that this 'blurring out' is central to the thinking of the Clark supporter — a desire to dispense with the moral nitpicking of the Post -1960s era and get behind the man for the Big Win."

And: "The problem with the Big Win strategy is that Wesley Clark is a candidate with whom it is absolutely necessary to pay close attention. No candidate on the campaign trail is better at saying two opposing things at once, and no candidate's true intentions are harder to discern."

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein Notes a past slip-of-the-tongue by Clark during an New Hampshire Public Radio interview early last month when he used the offensive word, "Chinaman." LINK

Knox News' Georgiana Vines writes about actor David Keith's role in the Clark campaign and previews a Clark trip to Knoxville, Tenn., on Dec. 12. LINK

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

Weeks after Gen. Clark's announcement that he supports the Flag Amendment, he's integrating the flag into his stump speech in a more pronounced way than ever — touching it, holding it out, and speaking about it — and the campaign is listening, watching, and wondering if this is too dramatic or plays right to a sense of American patriotism and South Carolina's large veteran community.

At the Beaufort County Democrat's Harvest Moon Ball on Saturday evening near Hilton Head, S.C., Clark previewed the "grasp the flag and talk" move. "This is our flag," he said. "This is a flag that does not belong to Tom DeLay. It does not belong to Bill Frist. And it does not belong to George W. Bush. It belongs to the American people and we have every right to this flag and I'm gonna claim it for the Democratic Party and for the United States of America, and I want your help to do that."

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

Fresh from a couple of relaxing days with his family, Rep. Gephardt was back in Iowa this weekend with wife Jane by his side at each stop. Gephardt began delivering a trimmed down and mercifully shorter stump speech to noticeably larger crowds in northeastern Iowa. He has eliminated the witty "warm up" stories that used to get his audience chuckling before he began hammering away at Bush and driving home his health care plan. Also pared down are details that used to leave some people scratching their heads, like the inner workings of his complex universal health care plan. Now, he invites listeners to talk to him after the speech if they care to know more. During the last several stops, key issues like the war in Iraq were left out all together.

John Lapp, Gephardt's guy in Iowa, said issues so often brought up during the Q&A sessions do not need so much time in the speech itself. After nearly every speech during which the war was not addressed, it was one of the first questions asked. And Gephardt's answer? Nearly identical to his former stump speech lines. Staffers also believe that Gephardt wins people over more effectively when he speaks with them one-on-one, something he plans to do more often.

Read more from the trail with Gephardt on LINK


Today's new Edwards ad takes the economic message hard at the White House, with rocking production techniques. The spot will air on broadcast news stations in the Ottumwa, Sioux City and Mason City markets and on cable stations in the Quad Cities market.

Edwards makes book hawking a fundraising tool, reports the News & Observer's John Wagner. LINK

Bill Safire (who underestimates Howard Dean's living room capacity) and Walter Shapiro both tout the Edwards dark horse — Safire on "Meet" and Shapiro in a hard-hitting Newsweek interview. LINK


Which of these two passages appeared in the Union Leader (Sunday News) yesterday, in a story about John Edwards:

A. "Bethany and Carol Stott of Windham agreed, adding they want to be prepared for the primary election and make the best possible decision."

"They both described Edwards as personable, prepared and handsome."

"'He is totally electable. He is very connecting with the voters, and that means a lot,' Bethany Stott said."


B. "Bethany and Carol Stott of Windham agreed, adding they want to be prepared for the primary election and make the best possible decision."

"They both described Edwards as gorgeous, prepared and handsome."

"'He is totally electable. He is very connecting with the voters, and that means a lot,' Bethany Stott said." LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

The Edwards campaign starts December focused on Iowa, where the Senator continues a five-day swing through the state attending house parties, coffee shop meet-and-greets and the occasional town hall. He plans to have visited all 99 counties in Iowa by the end of December.

Over the holiday the Edwards campaign might have given thanks to the Feldman Group, Inc., for releasing poll numbers showing Edwards leading in South Carolina at 17%, followed by Rev. Al Sharpton at 12%. Still, with a sampling margin of error of 4 points, there is room for improvement.

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


The Chicago Tribune published this Lieberman profile by John McCormick on Friday. LINK

McCormick contrasts Lieberman's 2000 VP bid to the 2004 campaign and says: "In the 2000 campaign, as the first Jew on a major party ticket, Lieberman came across as likable, steady and even funny — in a corny, Catskills summer theater sort of way. He seemed a very credible No. 2.

David Lightman of the Hartford Courant writes up Senator Lieberman's hawkish Sunday appearance on Fox. LINK

The AP wrote about it too. LINK

From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

At a retail stop in Walterboro, S.C., Joe Lieberman was introduced to Carolina Candy. As he walked into the Longhorn Family Steakhouse, the restaurant's owner offered the Senator a taste of the treat, made of a combination of pork rind and fatback. Not kosher.

Lieberman said he couldn't try it, but the owner was persistent. Not wanting to insult, and probably not wanting to detail the intricacies of his diet, Lieberman said he'd take some for the road.

Then it was on to the Vegetable Bin grocery store in Charleston where the Senator brought a new gimmick that he debuted in New Hampshire on Friday. Standing behind three shopping carts, Lieberman explained the difference between his tax plan and those of the other major candidates.

Lieberman's cart was brimming, and it bore a sign reading "tax fairness for all Americans." A cart labeled Clark/Kerry contained a few products, mostly bottles of Heinz ketchup and mustard. The Dean/Gephardt cart was empty and beneath their names the sign read "Repealing all tax cuts equals a middle class tax increase!"

Read more from the trail with Lieberman on LINK


The Sacramento Bee's David Whitney finally gets the profile he crafted last month on the stands, with a scathing analysis from an Ohio poli sci professor: " 'Is he electable?' said Ohio State University political science professor Herb Weisberg. 'Not unless he's away from Washington, D.C., on a day that a nuclear attack wipes out everyone else in government — and even then he would be carrying the wrong message to win.'" LINK

Kucinich is trying to help save another local Cleveland hospital. LINK takes a look at the campaign's newest gimmick, which allows supporters to "Adopt an Intern" by contributing cash that will go toward their stipends. LINK

The AP recaps Kucinich's discussion with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday about all of his aspiring suitors. LINK

The AP says Kucinich still hasn't found love yet despite the Web site contest aimed at finding him a mate, and their Malia Rulon takes a look at some of the 80 entrants. LINK

AP also covers Kucinich's weekend visits in New Hampshire, where he spoke to retirement community residents and chose an independent bookstore over. LINK

Conservative Web site goes after Kucinich for his appearance at Saturday night's CAIR event, saying the group has "ties to the Mideast terrorist organization Hamas and an agenda for an Islamic USA." LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

Rep. Kucinich enjoyed a warm welcome Saturday night as the only presidential candidate to speak to the controversial Council on American Islamic Relations in Tysons Corner, Va. The 1,100-odd crowd gave the Congressman standing ovations for his comments condemning the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, and for being the only candidate appearing in person to address the group, which has come under fire over rumors of possible ties to terrorist groups. Said the M.C. in his introduction to Kucinich's keynote speech, "General Clark sent CAIR a letter, but we see who's actually here in person to talk to you." And in a signal that Arabic may be the new Spanglish for politicians wooing the ethnic group, Kucinich started his speech with greetings in Arabic and was received with hearty applause.

But outside the ballroom the praise was more muted, with attendees echoing the same refrains often heard at Kucinich events. A CAIR member listening to Kucinich's speech told ABC News, "People like him and think he's a straight shooter, but it's the age-old dilemma … .do you vote to make a statement or do you vote to win?"

Read more from the trail with Kucinich on LINK


The Los Angeles Times' Jim Rainey profiles the Reverend, focusing on his effect on people — the good and the bad. LINK

The State highlights Sharpton's ways behind the pulpit at Brookland Baptist yesterday. LINK

The Cleveland Plain Dealer assesses Sharpton's chances in South Carolina, Noting that although the Feldman Group poll found Sharpton in second place, he comes in fourth in favorability ratings. LINK

The New York Post Notes Sharpton's appreciation for the finer things in life — specifically those five-star hotels. LINK

Sunday's New York Times takes a look back at politicians' performances on Saturday Night Live — and many of them dole out advice to the Reverend. Ed Koch said, "I'd like to see that huge medallion that you used to wear, but on your new sleek clothing." Ralph Nader "warned against participating in any dirty jokes." LINK

The New York Times ' Janofsky gives Sharpton the award for "Least Illuminating Botanical Lesson." Apparently, Janofsky isn't a fan of the "You can't plant watermelon seeds and expect oranges" line. LINK

The Times Picayune writes-up Sharpton's address to the annual Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus brunch. LINK

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK

New Hampshire:

The Washington Post 's Hanna Rosin writes about the challenges faced in courting New Hampshire. LINK


The Des Moines Register 's Ken Fuson profiles Winifred Skinner, one of many Iowans over the years whom candidates have used as examples of America's struggles. LINK

The Register's Rob Borsellino has some post-debate tidbits, including a report that Clark "supporters are trying to get their guy back into the Iowa race. They say he's got a fair amount of backing in this state, but the problem is doing such a big turnaround without looking ridiculous, particularly after Clark has earned a rep as a waffler." LINK

The New York Times sidebars the disappearing Iowa farmer. LINK

South Carolina:

The State reports that the Palmetto State's Democratic presidential primary will happen despite the state Democratic Party's financial woes and the unwillingness of Senator Hollings, Congressman Clyburn, or the DNC to help them out. LINK

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

President Bush hits the road this week for four campaign fund-raisers before the busy holiday season picks up, including stops in key states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. LINK

USA Today 's Keen looks at how the president's trip to Iraq will play out over the next month and whether he successfully can ride the PR wave into the new year. LINK

Get ready for the arrival of the BC04 "supersurrogates," reports U.S. News & World Report.

As the primaries gear up next year, the campaign will send out a team of national, state and local officials to defend the president, including such boldface names as New York Governor George Pataki, ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and "former administration big shots" like Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Ari Fleischer, former Pentagon spokesperson Torie Clarke, ex-State aide and daughter of the VP Liz Cheney, and outgoing strategist Tucker Eskew. LINK

Robert Novak writes that President Bush cannot avoid taking a stand on gay marriage: "This is a yes-or-no choice for the president, with a middle course not possible. Without a constitutional amendment, gay marriage will become part of the fabric of American life. Bush must decide, therefore, whether that is truly important. Christian conservatives who support him say that it is, transcending abortion in shaping the country's culture." LINK

Boston Globe 's Denniston reports that the Supreme Court justices could be close to a decision on "whether they will hear an appeal by Vice President Dick Cheney, who is defending his refusal to disclose files of the task force that he headed in developing the administration's energy policy, which is now stalled in Congress. LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

USA Today 's Barbara Slavin and Bill Nichols profile the State Department's John Bolton. LINK

Republican National Convention:

The New York Times on the floating Norwegian Dawn — a ship critics say will lift the stakes of the GOP's big-tent image. LINK

The politics of national security:

Time looks at the president's surprise Turkey Day visit to Iraq with this admiring quote from The Other Side:

"'It was masterful,' says a top Democratic political operative. 'It's pretty hard to criticize this one.'" LINK

Howie Kurtz got some less loving quotes from one Joe Lockhart (who had a nice fire going on Saturday morning!): "'There's no way to do this kind of trip if it's broadcast in advance, for security reasons. My problem with this is not that he misled the press. This is a president who has been unwilling to provide his presence to the families who have suffered but thinks nothing of flying to Baghdad to use the troops there as a prop.'" LINK

The Washington Post 's Mike Allen writes "Bush's Thanksgiving Day surprise ties him, for better or worse, ever more tightly to the outcome of the Iraq struggle." LINK

And Rich Bond agrees!

The New York Times ' Nagourney on Friday Noted the president's visit "stunned and confused his rivals, who struggled — in the midst of Thanksgiving dinner — to balance praise for the president's gesture with renewed criticism of his Iraq policy, which they said would be among his greatest vulnerabilities in next year's election."LINK

But in a show of just how fickle Hearts and Minds can be, USA Today 's Judy Keen says this morning the "afterglow" of the president's trip has "started to fade." LINK

Also this morning, the AP reports out of Samarra on what American accounts call the "bloodiest combat reported since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in a U.S.-led invasion." Locals are quoted wondering why U.S. forces would "shoot a kindergarten with tank shells?" LINK

Says the AP, "the scale of the attack and the apparent coordination of the two operations showed that rebel units retain the ability to conduct synchronized operations despite a massive U.S. offensive this month aimed at crushing the insurgency."

Time's Brian Bennett and Vivienne Walt writ that in pursuing a campaign against Iraqi insurgents, "the Americans are frequently guilty of excesses that are turning ordinary Iraqis into foes. Bush's Thanksgiving visit meant little to Iraqis, who cite three areas of concern: the killing of innocents, the "disappearance" of countrymen detained by U.S. forces, and the destruction of buildings, including family homes. LINK

The New York Times reports this morning that Administration officials say they have uncovered records indicating Iraq was seeking "to obtain a full production line to manufacture, under an Iraqi flag" a North Korean missile system, "which would be capable of hitting American allies and bases around the region." LINK

Write David Sanger and Thomas Shanker, "Bush administration officials have seized on the attempted purchase of the missiles, known as the Rodong, and a missile assembly line to buttress their case that Mr. Hussein was violating United Nations resolutions." As for the search for evidence of a nuclear program "or an active effort to accumulate more biological or chemical weapons," one unnamed official monitoring David Kay's weapons search says, "'So far, there's really not much in that arena.'"

While USA Today has this item on the Media War at Home: "The Bush administration says positive stories from Iraq are drowned out by a daily drumbeat of bombings and attacks on U.S. troops. If news divisions sent their anchors to Iraq and let them spend time there, they might report a different — and more positive — story." LINK

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sits down with the Paper of Record and says the U.S. is talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to the Middle East. LINK

Said Assad, "You cannot just keep talking about this vision, you have to put a mechanism in order to achieve that vision."

And the Los Angeles Times reports the Saudis now say they aren't coughing up any of the promised reconstruction cash so long as the security situation remains precarious. Says the story, "The Saudi decision is a setback for the Bush administration, which had hoped that the kingdom would set an example for other Arab governments by providing vitally needed aid." LINK

The economy:

Did somebody say consumer confidence? ABC News' Ramona Schindelheim reports that the National Retail Sales Estimate showed $7.2 billion in retail sales on Friday and $5.2 billion for Saturday, bringing the total for the first two days of the holiday season to $12.4 billion, according to retail consulting firm ShopperTrak. These sales beat last year's by 5.4%.

More news is expected on retail sales today, as well as manufacturing numbers, which Schindelheim Notes are expected to have risen in November despite continued losses in manufacturing jobs. More numbers expected this week: November auto sales, revised productivity numbers, layoffs, mortgage rates, and employment.

The New York Times ' business section runs a story on consumer confidence saying that perhaps "the biggest economic challenge to President Bush arises from the economy that Americans have enjoyed since the early 1990's." LINK

USA Today 's Lorrie Grant reports, "Heavy purchases of cameras, toys, clothes and more ignited the holiday shopping season over the weekend and bolstered projections for it to be the best in five years." LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

According to Senator McCain, Congress is "spending money like a drunken sailor," and the president isn't helping matters. LINK


The Boston Globe 's Anne Kornblut reports that some people on Capitol Hill think that the president has come through on his promise to change the tone in Washington, and now they think it's worse. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Jackie Calmes writes similarly about the "us vs. them" partisan rancor that colors everything from Congress to policy.

USA Today 's Kathy Kieley reports that liberals are finding their voice, and it sounds angry. LINK

The Los Angeles Times raises the curtain on the Janklow manslaughter trial set to begin today in Flandreau, South Dakota. The Times Notes the defense plans to call "politicos such as Senator Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)" to the stand. LINK

The Argus-Leader reports that Janklow's trial will have none of the O.J. or Michael media hype if South Dakota lawmakers can help it. LINK

Roll Call reports that Senator Tom Daschle will be called to testify in Janklow trial. LINK

Rush and Molloy titillate New York's political press with the prospect of a Schumer/Spitzer showdown in 2006. LINK