The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—8:00 am: Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun makes remarks at a Politics and Eggs breakfast, Bedford, N.H. —9:00 am: Senator Joe Lieberman and his mother meet with seniors, Exeter, N.H. —9:30 am: Senator John Kerry attends the opening of his Jasper County campaign office, Newton, Iowa —9:35 am: Vice President Cheney makes remarks at a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser, Liverpool, N.Y. —9:45 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan —10:50 am: President Bush participates in a photo op with 2003 Nobel Award winners, White House —11:00 am: Congressman Dennis Kucinich makes remarks at the National Congress of American Indians conference, Albuquerque, N.M. —11:15 am: Senator John Edwards has breakfast with Monona County Democrats, Onawa, Iowa —11:30 am: General Wesley Clark makes remarks at the National Congress of American Indians conference, Albuquerque, N.M. —11:30 am: Senator Kerry makes remarks on small business growth, Des Moines, Iowa —12:00 pm: Senate convenes for legislative business —12:15 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —12:30 pm: House convenes for morning business —12:30 pm: Vice President Cheney makes remarks at a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser, Rochester, N.Y. —1:00 pm: Senator Edwards holds a roundtable discussion with Pottawattamie County Democrats, Council Bluffs, Iowa —1:15 pm: Senator Lieberman files to be a candidate in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary, Concord, N.H. —1:35 pm: President Bush participates in a roundtable discussion with Iraqi women leaders, White House —2:00 pm: Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as California's 38th governor, Sacramento —2:20 pm: President Bush participates in a photo op with NCAA champions, White House —3:00 pm: Congressman Gephardt holds an economic roundtable, Columbia, S.C. —3:30 pm: Senator Edwards participates in a "Working for Wisconsin" town hall forum, Milwaukee —4:30 pm: Governor Howard Dean addresses the Asian American Action Fund and Asian Pacific American Leaders Democratic presidential candidate forum, D.C. —5:15 pm: Governor Schwarzenegger makes remarks at a "Bringing Back California" luncheon hosted by the California Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento —6:25 pm: Vice President Cheney makes remarks at a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser, Buffalo, N.Y. —6:30 pm: Senator Lieberman attends a house party with local activists, Manchester, N.H. —7:00 pm: Ambassador Moseley Braun appears on MSNBC's "Hardball: Battle for the White House" —8:30 pm: Governor Dean attends a birthday party campaign fundraiser, D.C.


To paraphrase Gov.-elect Haley Barbour (again), The Note was born at night, but it wasn't LAST night.

We have been around the block a time or two (and, by that, we mean the block around the downtown Des Moines Marriott between Grand and Locust, with all those confusing one-way streets), and we have picked up a sense of what matters politically.

So, without further ado, Happy Birthday, Howard Dean, and here's what we believe, so, trusting Note readers, you should believe all this too:

If President Bush signs Medicare and energy bills, "they haven't led, we will" is going to look much, much better next November, and Karl Rove knows that.

And we can't wait to see what roles the Democratic presidential candidates who happen to be Senators play in the debate on those bills, with their war votes and tax votes and No Child Left Behind votes ringing in their husting ears. We KNOW what Dean will say about them.

Triple big wins for the DNC in the last 72 hours: getting the Louisiana gubernatorial victory; killing the Florida straw poll in December; and getting their debate schedule finalized, with the big Dec. 9 event in New Hampshire.

If Wes Clark really raises $12 million in the fourth quarter, reports of his demise will have been substantially exaggerated.

The Note challenges all seven of the other Democratic presidential candidates not named "Dean" or "Clark" to raise more than $4 million this quarter — we have no Trippi baseball bat to put on the Web, but anyone who raises that much will exceed our expectations.

The more the president can stay big picture ("This is why we are doing this … .Why we MUST do this … ") about Iraq and the war on terror (a) the more the Helping Hand of Hughes is evident; and (b) the less a political problem the Iraq situation becomes.

If you don't right now read Ron Brownstein's column on the Bush-era Republican hold on the South, you can consider yourself to be not all that interested in politics (and probably should question why you are reading these very words … .). LINK

Speaking of parentheticals, you should certainly check out foxy Mark Leibovich's brilliant use of one in his Hillary Clinton story, which, along with the Howard Fineman item, and the madcap Adam Nagourney piece, illustrate that when political reporters are in " … was overshadowed … " mode, there's nothing reality or a typically meandering speech can do to get them out of it. LINK; LINK; and LINK

Some Democrats and some political analysts have joined Republicans like George Will in thinking that Dick Gephardt's Iowa standing (and, thus, perhaps, Dick Gephardt) is the main obstacle standing between Howard Dean and the Fleet Center.

If you are Tom Harkin or Tom Vilsack, you gotta figure you want to endorse someone who can (a) win Iowa and (b) win the nomination — or not endorse at all. (So: where does that leave the Toms, whose endorsements actually would matter?)

John Kerry's new "Real Deal" stump speech is very well written. (You may read into that anything you wish.)

Democratic Party rules don't allow winner-take-all for delegates in any state. Mark that down well.

Governor Schwarzenegger is "finally" getting help from Bob Shrum, but a solution to the budget problems still seems elusive.

"Rush, rush, hurry, hurry, lover, come to me," is more than a Paula Abdul lyric. LINK

As December approaches, the number of campaign flights that will have to be cancelled because of Iowa and New Hampshire weather is going to go up exponentially, wreaking havoc on candidate and media scheduling (and we all know that the latter is what matters!!).

For instance, if a certain tarmac-held Des Moines-to-Chicago plane doesn't get off the ground soon this morning, some of America's leading political journalists (Zeleny, Thomma, Balz, and Nagourney, to name just a few) are going to be seriously disrupted.

Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger will be sworn in as California's 38th governor today in Sacramento.

President Bush has a couple of photo ops and a meeting with Iraqi women leaders at the White House today. He and Mrs. Bush leave for London tomorrow. They return to D.C. on Friday.

Vice President Cheney hits three Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraisers in New York today.

The RNC will hold a conference call today at 2:30 pm ET with Chairman Ed Gillespie to discuss "third-party soft money organizations."

In case you're not sure what Mr. Gillespie will say, the RNC's Jim Dyke gives The Note some hints: "When a man with seven billion dollars says he will spend whatever it takes to defeat the president — you would think everyone would be concerned — especially the 'watchdog' groups who worked so tirelessly to get undue influence by individuals out of the system. Maybe these groups didn't get the Wall Street Journal on Friday and read point five of the Dems plan to defeat the president?"

The New Hampshire AARP will hold a Democratic presidential candidate forum on Tuesday in Bedford. Gwen Ifill will moderate the event that features Dean, Clark, Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards, and Lieberman. It is the first forum to have just those six. Kucinich, Moseley Braun, and Sharpton were invited and have declined to attend. The debate will include all topics, but expect at least some focus on AARP premium topics like Social Security, prescription drugs, and health care.

Gov. Dean celebrates his 55th birthday today. He campaigns in D.C. today and in New Hampshire on Tuesday. He campaigns in New Mexico on Wednesday and then heads back to New Hampshire on Thursday and Friday.

Senator Kerry campaigns in Iowa today. He's in New Hampshire on Tuesday. He heads to Florida on Thursday and then he's back in New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday.

Rep. Gephardt campaigns in South Carolina today. He's in New Hampshire tomorrow.

Gen. Clark campaigns in New Mexico today. He's in New Hampshire tomorrow. He heads to Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Massachusetts on Wednesday. He campaigns in New York City on Thursday, including an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. On Friday, he campaigns in New York, South Carolina, and Arkansas.

Senator Lieberman campaigns in New Hampshire today and tomorrow. He heads to Las Vegas and Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday and Thursday.

Senator Edwards campaigns in Iowa and Milwaukee today. He's in New Hampshire tomorrow, Michigan on Wednesday, Tennessee on Thursday, and Oklahoma on Friday and Saturday.

Rep. Kucinich campaigns in New Mexico today. He's in New York City on Friday.

Rev. Sharpton is in New York City with no public events today. He's in D.C. tomorrow and campaigns in South Carolina Wednesday through Friday.

Ambassador Moseley Braun is in New Hampshire and Boston today. She has her turn on "Hardball: Battle for the White House" tonight. She's in D.C. on Tuesday and Wednesday, South Carolina on Thursday and Friday, and Florida on Saturday.

The Schwarzenegger era:

John Broder and writes that beyond the vehicle license fee and SB 60, Schwarzenegger's agenda is "rather vague." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Mitchell Landsberg reports Arnold Schwarzenegger's inaugural, though billed as low-key, will have a "frill or two." LINK

(Note Note: John Kerry's proof: Clearly Bob Shrum couldn't be masterminding the Kerry campaign shakeup and helping write Schwarzenegger's inaugural address all at the same time, could he?)

Greg Lucas and Lynda Gledhill of the San Francisco Chronicle highlight the tough task ahead as Governor Schwarzenegger prepares to solve California's budget woes. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas reports that Schwarzenegger plans to repeal the vehicle license fee today and to set a quick pace in the coming weeks. LINK

Newsweek's Karen Breslau reports on Schwarzenegger's efforts to turn himself into a great communicator. LINK

Breslau also sits down with former Governor Gray Davis. LINK

Jenifer Warren and Gregg Jones of the Los Angeles Times write up Gray Davis' return to private life after 21 years in public service. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan on the Democrats' bracing for the dawn of the Schwarzenegger era. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

In a New York Times piece yesterday, Glen Justice Notes that the Post -Watergate public financing system may be on its way out. LINK

"The question is whether the primary financing system can be reshaped to attract candidates capable of raising $200 million or more or give their opponents the resources to compete."

The Boston Globe editorial board argues the campaign finance system should be overhauled before 2008. LINK

An Eagles fundraiser notwithstanding, the Hollywood elite are sitting on their hands instead of writing checks for the Democratic presidential candidates, writes the Los Angeles Times' Rachel Abramowitz. They're waiting and seeing. LINK

The Times also provides a handy list of Hollywood's donations:LINK

The powerhouse Los Angeles Times duo of Brownstein and Mark Z. Barabak produce a Dean (guns) vs. Gephardt (butter) worldview of the nomination contest in Iowa and beyond. LINK

The AP writes up UNH's latest poll, which shows Dean's lead increasing to 22 points over Kerry, whose numbers remain virtually unchanged. LINK

Chris Taylor and Karen Tumulty profile LINK

The Washington Post 's Brian Faler writes up the impact of those new-fangled blog thingamijigs. LINK

David Rosenbaum Notes that the Democratic candidates support free trade in principle but abandon that support when they run into those who would be harmed by it. LINK

Raja Misha reports that a Brandeis University professor thinks Dean and Clark are "leading in the facial primary among Democrats." LINK

The New York Times ' Jennifer 8. Lee looks at the life of campaign operatives in Iowa — the air mattresses, the cold pizza, the romances — and the candidates who inspire it all.LINK


From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

It was a good day for the Clark campaign yesterday.

The General seemed to emerge unscathed from his hour-long interview with Tim Russert; the Boston Globe wrote a shining part 1 biography on him; more details on Clark's first television ad were released; and, at the bottom of the second graph in the Washington Post , Lois Romano wrote of the Clark campaign officials:

"They expect the campaign to raise at least $12 million this quarter, in all likelihood more than any other candidate except Howard Dean."

So now we do a brief look back at the numbers we've seen thrown out from the Clark campaign for fourth quarter earnings:

--On Oct. 22, the AP's talented Nedra Pickler wrote: "The Clark team sees New Hampshire as part of a broader strategy to raise more than $10 million by the end of the year, air ads next month, finish third in the Granite State in January, then tick off a series of wins in states with later nominating contests."

ABC News contacted Clark campaign officials after the article was published, inquiring about the figure that Pickler attributed to Clark "aides." But three said that the number came as a shock to them and they did not know where that number came from or whether it was with or without matched funds. At the time, the campaign did not have a goal amount on the record and the AP was never asked to revise the figure.

--Almost a month later, on Nov. 13, the AP's Sharon Theimer wrote that Clark "expects to collect at least $6 million in the current fund-raising quarter, which runs from October through December." A number that communications director Matt Bennett confirmed with ABC News at the time.

--Now the number has gone back up to an all-time high — more than $12 million in the fourth quarter. Bennett told ABC News that estimate does not include matching funds, but is the total estimate for what they'll raise in the fourth quarter, based on what they project to receive from donors. As for skeptics, Bennett says, "They're welcome to be skeptical. But the fact is, we wouldn't put this out there if it wasn't true."

As of now, Bennett estimated that 35% to 45% of the money is coming from Internet donations, while the rest falls into the mail/major donors categories.

Campaign Chairman Eli Segal said the campaign has "a good chance of reaching $12 million, but that's based on successful fundraising events in the month of December" and that number is "hitting the higher end of [the campaign's] estimates." Segal also said that the number is based on the fact that the campaign is raising "over $800,000 per week to date" and has "incredibly good fundraising events in December."

One such fundraiser is the Dec. 9 New York City fundraiser that falls on the same night as the New Hampshire debate. Clark will skip the debate to attend the fundraiser, slated to raise $1.5 million.

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK

The Washington Post 's Lois Romano reports on Clark's planned media blitz in New Hampshire — along with that incredible fundraising prediction. LINK

USA Today 's Susan Page reports that in an hour-long session with USA Today and Gannett News Service reporters and editors, Clark praised the Bush Administration's accelerating of the turnover of civilian authority to Iraqis, but said "it's going to be very hard for the United States to turn the problem over to the Iraqis if Saddam is still there as the, we might say, illegitimate ruler." LINK

Jane Norman of the Des Monies Register Notes Clark's break from his presidential campaign next month when he will visit The Hague to testify in the war crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic. LINK

So does the AP: LINK

The New York Post 's headline: "Clark Called to Slobbo Trial." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Michael Kranish has a two-part profile of The General: LINK and LINK

The AP says that Clark's stepbrother, whom Kranish wrote about in part I of the Clark biography, did not know he had a stepbrother until a reporter at The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette told him. LINK and LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Nick Anderson and Eric Slater write up General Clark's "rite of passage" appearance on "Meet the Press." LINK

As does James Gordon Meek of the New York Daily News. Meek reports that Clark said he thinks the United States should give up direct control of Iraq and transfer the authority of governing to the Iraqi people. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Carol Beggy and Mark Shanahan write in their celebrity news column:

"Strategizing over brunch yesterday at the trendy South End bistro Aquitaine, some high-profile supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark made fund-raising plans for the retired Army general. The klatch included Alan Hassenfeld, CEO of toy giant Hasbro, Massachusetts General Hospital neuro-oncologist Dr. Fred Hochberg, entrepreneur/philanthropist Sharyn Fireman, and Boston filmmaker Joanna Datillo. Really, with friends like these, who needs fund-raisers? According to Dow Jones Newswires, Hassenfeld last year earned a salary of $1 million and a bonus of $915,000." LINK

Matt, help! General Clark corrects himself after saying his wife didn't work, reports the New York Times .LINK

Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson Dinner:

The contendas were in the house, writes the New York Times ' Adam Nagourney, but Senator Hillary Clinton was the star of Saturday night's Jefferson Jackson dinner. LINK

The Democrats hoping to get just a little attention at the JJ dinner returned to the theme that action, not anger, is what wins elections, write Ron Brownstein and Mark Z. Barabak.LINK

As Democratic hopefuls continued to decry the Bush "leadership crisis" in Iowa this weekend, the real question remains whether any of them can be a viable Dean alternative, report Zeleny and Pearson of the Chicago Tribune. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont spent more time focusing on the candidates who spoke at Saturday's JJ dinner than on Senator Clinton, Noting that Gov. Dean shouted "You've got the power!" a dozen times. We counted 14 — the indoor record. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Lynn Okamoto calls Clinton the star of Saturday's show. LINK

And columnist Rob Borsellino says Clinton did it all "with style and authority" on Saturday night, but that she sucked up all the oxygen in the room. LINK

New York Post 's Vincent Morris on Clinton allegedly upstaging everyone at the JJ. LINK

Newsweek's Howard Fineman reports that Senator Clinton would consider entering the race next summer if no Democratic candidate has amassed the required number of delegates. LINK

The Washington Post 's Mark Leibovich goes deep inside the Hillary camps and finds that the two draft Hillary movements "love her, but hate each other." LINK

Hillary Clinton compared Saturday night's JJ Dinner to a World Wrestling Entertainment smackdown. LINK

Lynn Sweet reports that Senator Clinton has replaced her husband as the Democrats' most effective money machine. LINK

Sweet follows up with a discussion on why purses tend to be tighter than wallets when it comes to women's campaign contributions. LINK

House of Labor:

Jonathan Alter questions the CW that labor is a dying animal. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Mary Leonard profiles the AFL-CIO's Karen Ackerman. LINK


The Boston Globe 's Anne Kornblut Notes the continuation of fellow Democrats' criticism that Howard Dean is all negativity and no vision. LINK

Time's Karen Tumulty on "why (Dean's) rivals haven't caught on, what they're doing to stop him and why he may be his own worst enemy." LINK

Tumulty says that Kerry's money people are stalled out.

The Washington Post 's Dan Balz has Gov. Vilsack arguing Dean may be vulnerable to attacks that he is not tough enough to be the commander in chief. LINK

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's comments on Dean's potential vulnerability to GOP attacks when it comes to the war on terror highlight the fears of many Democrats, as well as being indicative of the importance of Iraq in the coming election. LINK

The Des Moines Register reports on Dr. Dean's unexpected treatment of a collapsed staff member. LINK

In Newsweek, George Will writes that Wes Clark is the "incredibly shrinking candidate" and that while nominating Dean may be a nightmare, not doing so may just be worse. LINK

Despite his often blunt style, Dean is learning to hold his tongue in some cases, writes the AP's Nedra Pickler. LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

Howard Dean has not practiced medicine for more than a decade, even going so far as to let his license expire recently — though he finally paid the small fee to renew it.

The experience in Des Moines Saturday shows you can take the doctor out of the hospital but you can't take the doctor out of the doctor. LINK

According to witnesses, a Dean volunteer, Jake Edwards, 49, was standing on the sidewalk outside Central Campus High School, when he fell to the ground and began to have what appeared to be a seizure. Dean, who had just arrived and was going over notes in his car with staff, noticed the commotion. His car pulled up to the scene, and he leapt out, kneeling beside the man.

An EMT who happened to be nearby began to check to make sure Edwards' airway was open. Dean cradled Edwards' head for a few moments and held his hand to check his pulse.

A scrum of photographers moved in, and several members of Dean's staff tried to keep a perimeter.

An ambulance arrived a few moments later, and Edwards regained consciousness. Dean spoke with him a bit and asked a few questions about his medical history. Edwards was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was treated and released for a cut to his head and some wooziness.

This is at least the fourth time that Dean's physician instinct have manifested itself on the campaign trail.

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


Senator Kerry has made taking on special interests a big theme of his campaign, and today he announces a new plan to help small businesses, as he goes to a women-owned business in Des Moines where he will talk about his four-point plan. Not surprising for a man who once opened a cookie store.

While Senator Kerry has clearly something going on with his new staff, new aggressiveness, and new stump speech, the slogan for the speech ("The Real Deal") DOES have some tags wagging, including that of one Note reader who sent all this about it:

1. Has it all been faked up to now?

2. Once he was offering leadership, now he's looking to cut a deal.

3. Didn't think any slogan could be worse than his first one.

4. The real deal seems to be a big loan.

5. Which of his opponents is a fake — Howard Dean?

6. Authenticity is probably not his best selling point.

7. The "Real Deal" threw someone else's medals over the White House wall.

8. Sounds like "New Coke," and we all know how that turned out.

9. Stealing from Carter the week your campaign has been taken over by Ted Kennedy is fascinating.

Bargain round limerick:

Once Kerry seemed far far ahead

Without even the fortune he wed.

But in voting troops to Iraq,

Then giving Jordan the "sack,"

He was firing on his own foot instead.

And a children's tale:

Johnny, Johnny, ranked high in the pack;

Johnny, Johnny, stumbled over war in Iraq.

Then all the Heinz money

And all the genius of Shrum

Could not restore the "front" to his run.

The Chicago Tribune's Zeleny and Pearson wrap up Kerry's whirlwind blitz on Dean in Iowa, as the candidate questions the Beltway "outsider" role of his rival and pummels Dean's proposed tax cuts in an effort to revitalize his campaign. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Patrick Healy writes up John Kerry's new stump speech, which he unveiled on Saturday night. LINK

Diane Cardwell and Ben Weiser write up Kerry's decision to reject public financing. LINK

As does Tom Beaumont. LINK

Jonathan Saltzman reports that Kerry is leading his political opponents in Boston area fundraising. LINK

The AP writes that Kerry plans to beef up his presence in New Hampshire. LINK

The Washington Post 's Hanna Rosin takes a walk with John Kerry in the New Hampshire woods as part of a series of Granite State campaigning profiles. LINK

On Sunday, the Boston Herald's Noelle Straub wrote, "Political analysts say that to right his ailing campaign, [Kerry] must answer one simple question: why he's running in the first place." LINK

If Helen Kennedy has anything to do with it, this week won't be so great for John Kerry either. LINK

"Senator John Kerry, whose political obituary already is being written, has launched a last-ditch effort to compete in Iowa," writes Kennedy.

I did not … advise … that candidate, says Joe Klein of Senator Kerry. I never told anybody to fire their staff — not one time, never. LINK

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

Senator Kerry's no good, very bad week, in which a national audience witnessed the termination of one campaign manager, the departure of two additional staffers, and the addition of Cahill and Cutter to make up for it all, ended with a bang as Kerry announced he will forgo public financing and unveiled the eagerly anticipated "new dynamic" at Saturday night's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Iowa.

As of last Friday, only one potentially "dynamic"-distracting decision remained for the Kerry campaign: whether or not to reject $19 million in federal funds and go wallet-a-wallet with chief rival Howard Dean.

In a hastily called news conference in Des Moines, Kerry placed the blame for his opt-out squarely on the former Vermont Governor saying, "(Dean) changed the rules of this race and anyone with a real shot at the nomination is going to have to play by those rules."

The Massachusetts Senator did not take the use of personal money off the table, but later insisted he would most likely take out a loan rather than dip into the ketchup fortune of his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Though the details of the loan remain unclear, there is precedent for such an action in Kerry's own past. In the Senator's heated 1996 re-election bid against former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, Kerry, who has never accepted any PAC or soft money in his Senate races, took out a $1.7 million dollar loan.

Kerry, who had previously said he would only use personal money if his honor were attacked, withdrew such conditions once again arguing, "the rules have changed."

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

The Gephardt campaign was abuzz this weekend about one of the first attack pieces of the campaign, mailed by the Dean campaign to thousands of his supporters, lashing out at Gephardt for standing in the Rose Garden with President Bush, voting for the war, and the $87 billion package for the troops.

To some Gephardt staffers, a Dean attack seemed to be an honor and put them in the category where they want to be, the anti-Dean campaign. Their spin is that the Dean offensive toward Gephardt has "cemented that it's a two-man race."

By pure coincidence, Gephardt worked a new line into his stump on Sunday, a day the campaign says was the 10th anniversary of Howard Dean's trip to Washington D.C. "to participate in a press conference with President Clinton to show his support for NAFTA."

The addition got off to a shaky start at Sam's Sandwiches and Sodas in Carroll, Iowa, when Gephardt slipped up his new line and said the Dean/Bush meeting had taken place in the Rose Garden, when it had not. Perhaps he was thinking of his own Rose Garden meeting before the war that's preoccupying Dean? Later in the day, the line was perfected … and it will likely stay that way.

Read more from the trail with Gephardt on LINK


Senator Edwards embraces his career as a trial lawyer — and all that that entails — both in his new book and on the campaign trail, writes the New York Times ' Randal Archibald. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Jonathan Roos on Saturday reported on Senator Edwards' latest attempt to appeal to farmers, by supporting a ban on meatpacking companies owning livestock. LINK

With the race moving ever closer to Dean versus the world, the News and Observer examines what it's going to take for Edwards to have a shot. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Healy Notes that Edwards sees an opportunity in New Hampshire after Kerry's bad news week. LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

Twenty-six tons of politically inclined automotive power. One "Singin' with the Edwards" song book. A fridge full of Diet Coke and frozen steak fajitas. At the helm is campaign veteran (and bi-partisan) bus driver Johnny Williams, guiding The Real Solutions Express through western Iowa as Senator Edwards completed a three-day bus tour built around the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Des Moines Saturday night.

Edwards used the day in Iowa on Saturday to practice his JJ speech at various campaign stops and his main event delivery was smooth. The speech included some new anti-Bush script ("He has led us from the edge of greatness to the edge of a cliff, and now it is time to run him out of town!") as well as a theme increasingly heard from the candidate.

It's the "Whomever-thinks-I'm-all-Southern charm-has-another-thing-coming" idea, which Edwards is happy to say to audiences in almost exactly in those words out on the trail. When he does, it packs a certain effectiveness that more often than not leaves audience raising their eyebrows and nodding their heads. The JJ version was slightly more subtle: "I've spent the last 20 years in courtrooms fighting for families and children, against big HMOs, insurance and drug companies and big corporate America, and their armies of lawyers. If you want to know how hard and tough I will fight for hard-working Americans, you go ask them."

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


David Lightman of the Hartford Courant explores Joe Lieberman's efforts to reach the "ornery, independent" voters in the February 3 state of Oklahoma. LINK

(Note Note: We wonder how often Senator Lieberman is mistaken for Senator Lautenberg.)

AP's Liz Sidoti says "Lieberman's commercial is the first of the presidential campaign that singles out a Democratic rival — albeit without naming names." LINK

David Lightman says Lieberman hopes his association with John McCain "will sink into the New Hampshire voters' psyche" through Lieberman's new ad. LINK

Eric Slater of the Los Angeles Times also writes up the ad. LINK

The AP Notes that while Lieberman has picked up endorsements from many of McCain's New Hampshire supporters, McCain "recently was named co-chairman of Bush's re-election campaign in Arizona." LINK

The Union-Leader reports that 41 New Hampshire-based former McCain supporters are now endorsing Lieberman. LINK

AP reports that like McCain, Lieberman favors sending more troops to Iraq. LINK

From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

As if it weren't sealed tight, the Lieberman campaign has put another nail in the Iowa coffin. They quietly decided late last week that Senator Lieberman will not participate in the Nov. 24 debate in Des Moines.

In New Hampshire, where Lieberman is still competing, the word for the Lieberman campaign is McCain. Continuing his relentless pursuit the votes of the independent Granite Staters who backed the Arizona Senator in 2000, Lieberman announced on Sunday the endorsement of 41 "McCainiacs" who will serve on a McCain Supporters for Joe Lieberman Steering Committee. Some of them showed up at different stops throughout the day.

Nearly every answer to every question asked of Lieberman Sunday yielded mention of his Arizona friend and colleague: McCain and I fought to protect the environment; McCain and I think the country should send more troops to Iraq; McCain and I support campaign finance reform.

McCain is also front and center in the new Lieberman campaign ad, but so is Howard Dean, though his name is never mentioned. Lieberman blasts Dean for using the "divisive symbol" of the Confederate flag and for opting out of the public finance system.

Read more from the trail with Lieberman on LINK


Even Canada's CBC is tracking's efforts at making a Kucinich love connection: LINK

The Washington Times ' John McCaslin also jumps on the Bachelor Bandwagon, but mistakenly claims Kucinich made the original comment to Fox News Channel (it was actually at the Planned Parenthood forum in Manchester): LINK

The Cleveland Plain Dealer checks in with Jonathan Meier, the 21-year-old walking across the country to raise awareness of Kucincich's campaign: LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

Like most politicians, Rep. Kucinich has an ability to put on one face for a particular group of supporters and switch to another face for a different group, specifically when it comes to courting such extremes as the affluent, Bohemian communities of Northern California to the struggling, blue-collar farm towns of Iowa.

So this weekend Kucinich swapped the new-age, spiritual guru of last weekend to become the straight-talking, hardscrabble kid from Cleveland, storming through Iowa in a six-day swing shouting his anti-war, anti-NAFTA message to local labor halls and college campuses throughout the state. His supporters' fervor appears to be similar no matter how different their backgrounds; the Kucinich voter, though small in number, is always die-hard.

Kucinich spent the weekend trying to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack by highlighting his commitments to bringing the troops home from Iraq, to canceling NAFTA and the WTO, and to providing universal health care, encouraging people to shoot for the "fundamental change" he envisions instead of settling for the more mainstream candidates. He had some of his harshest words yet for the Bush administration, calling them "totally corrupt" and "like a criminal enterprise."

And Kucinich has decided to go full force when it comes to comparing the current Iraq war to Vietnam. He continues to bring up at every stop a question the other candidates left at the New Hampshire Planned Parenthood forum, that of whether there should be a draft for 18-year-old women, which Kucinich uses as an example to warn crowds that a new draft is imminent if we continue on our path in Iraq.

Read more from the trail with Kucinich on LINK


The AP summarizes Sharpton's weekend. LINK

The Augusta Chronicle on Sharpton's stump/sermon … with some nice pictures. LINK

Sharpton had a chat with Newsweek about his upcoming debut on Saturday Night Live. An excerpt was placed in the Entertainment section right below the story on Paris Hilton's nude video. LINK

Yet, not everyone is thrilled about Reverend Sharpton's SNL appearance. In fact, one man in New Hampshire thinks SNL is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

"The Rev. Al might not want to hear this from New Hampshire, which he has dismissively brushed off as "the whitest state" in the nation, but he is a walking, talking Confederate flag. No one divides the races better than Sharpton. Lucky for him, no one really cares." LINK

The State and the AP wrote up Darius Jennings' funeral.

The State: LINK


From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

Rev. Sharpton graced the Black Psychiatrists of Greater New York with his presence on Friday — albeit 30 minutes late. The purpose of the conference was to explore the relationship between psychiatrists and the faith-based community and to foster a relationship to bring better treatment to minorities. To that end, Reverend Sharpton, according to members of the group, was there in a religious capacity, NOT to talk politics.

Apparently, someone forgot to tell Sharpton that. He did the civil rights-heavy version of his stump throwing in a few references to mental health care. And perhaps it wasn't what the audience was expecting — or hoping for — but he had them on their feet by the end.

The funeral for Darius Jennings began shortly after another helicopter was shot down over Iraq on Saturday. The Edisto High School gymnasium was full with nearly 1,000 people — some to mourn and some to honor the fallen soldier. Jennings' mother and sister cried out for their "baby" and teachers spoke of his uniqueness. When Reverend Sharpton took the podium in his preacher's robe, the crowd was somber and Darius Jennings' mother, Elaine Johnson, was sobbing uncontrollably. He asked the group to pause and honor the young man and the crowd rose to their feet and applauded. Sharpton began, "Today is not about politics. Today is not about Bush. Today is about a young man who came out of this community … It doesn't matter whether we're for the war or against the war. I've been against the war, but … no one is against those who gave their lives for all of us."

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK

Moseley Braun:

Muriel Dobbin with the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a profile yesterday on Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, including Donna Brazile's take on Moseley Braun's candidacy. LINK

"Donna Brazile, a Democratic operative who was a staff aide to former Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential campaign, suggested that Braun's problems went beyond being a long shot. 'She has to take more advantage of opportunities to go out and distinguish herself,' Brazile said."

While Braun continues to resist suggestions that she drop-out of the race, the Democratic hopeful's campaign is in a state of constant upheaval, with former NOW chairwoman Patricia Ireland being the latest addition. LINK

From ABC News' Moseley Braun campaign reporter Monica Ackerman:

Patricia Ireland, the former President of the National Organization for Women, is taking over as Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun's campaign manager. Ireland was the longest serving NOW president (1991-2001). Moseley Braun says she believes the change "will make a huge difference."

In 1992, when Moseley Braun ran for Senate, Patricia Ireland helped gather support for her, and this time around, Moseley Braun's campaign has already picked up endorsements from NOW and the National Women's Political Caucus.

Over the weekend two of Moseley Braun's consultants quit. The husband and wife team, Kevin Lampe and Kitty Kurth, played a major role in the campaign. Kevin Lampe served as both political consultant and press secretary. He was also the most accessible person on the campaign.

Read more from the trail with Moseley Braun on LINK


I'll trade you one straw poll for nine candidate appearances! Randal Archibold writes up the end to the Florida straw poll saga. LINK

The Miami Herald reports that "while all nine candidates signed a letter promising to boycott" the straw poll, "several had begun laying groundwork just in case. Operatives for Senator John Edwards of North Carolina actually polled former convention delegates to gauge his chances. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's campaign encouraged supporters to register for the convention as delegates." LINK

Meanwhile the Tampa Tribune offers scheduling details, Noting that "eight of the nine candidates will speak" at the state party convention Saturday, Dec. 6, and "Lieberman, who observes Saturday as the Sabbath, will speak Sunday. Four will participate in a town hall forum at Saturday's lunch, and the other four in a dinner forum." LINK

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

Despite Kathleen Blanco's victory in Louisiana, the Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein delivers a must-read interpretation of the 2004 electoral map. Brownstein writes, " … the GOP's solidifying hold on Dixie now looms as perhaps the most imposing obstacle to Democratic hopes of regaining control of either Congress or the White House." LINK

President Bush told David Frost "he plans to stick with his vice president next time around." However, the president said he wouldn't be speaking with the rest of his team about contract extensions until after the election. LINK

The Washington Post 's David Broder Notes Cheney's ability to "find the lubricants" that make "the cogs of an all-Republican government … mesh." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Mark Jurkowitz ponders the legacy of President Bush's visit of the USS Abraham Lincoln. LINK

A poll released over the weekend by Research 2000 shows Bush with comfortable lead over Democratic challengers in North Carolina, according to the Charlotte Observer. LINK

When Bush North Carolinians that there were jobs out there that they merely needed to get the training for, it set off a backlash from Democrats in the state, according to The State. LINK

The politics of national security:

Ambassador Bremer tells his Sunday interviewers there's no change in strategy while the president preps for his trip to the Isle of Blair and an audio tape allegedly from Saddam Hussein surfaces on Al-Arabiya TV.

The AP reports from Baghdad this morning on the U.S. offensive in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. LINK

The New York Times on the latest alleged Saddam recording. LINK

The Los Angeles Times examines the situation on the ground in Falloujah, reporting that "although the Bush administration has made much of the influx of foreign fighters into the country, (Col. Jefforey) Smith and other commanders interviewed in Iraq say the vast majority of the guerrilla force … is Iraqi. Nor do these fighters seem especially fanatical and eager to die … ''The enemy forces that we have faced — they're not martyrs,' Smith said." LINK

The Washington Post 's Mike Allen reports the president "departed (Sunday) from his practice of not commenting on particular setbacks in Iraq and acknowledged it had been 'a tough week.'" LINK

Newsweek on the Bremer-backed regrouping in Iraq and a Jan. 23, 2003, memo suggesting Saddam "had made elaborate plans for guerrilla war." LINK

As for Uniting the Kingdom, the president tells the Sun tabloid *(yes, that of Murdoch fame) he would "wage war again, and alone if necessary, to ensure the long-term safety of the world." LINK

Note the carping at the White House's granting of the interview to the best-selling British tabloid from journalists at papers who show CLOTHED women in their advertising. (But we wager the story of Kylie Minogue in the paper's "Bizarre" section is a real crowd-pleaser!)

The Wall Street Journal 's editorial board sees the Bush trip as an opportunity for the two leaders to "communicate the importance of what they are attempting in Iraq and its relationship to the war on terror."

While the Washington Post 's Glenn Frankel reports the president's "trip has become an opportunity for antiwar protesters," Noting that "while insisting publicly that relations have never been better, British officials privately keep a laundry list of complaints about the Bush administration, beginning with Iraq itself — both the run-up to the war and the aftermath." LINK

The New York Times ' ed board warns the administration on the perils of its "failures" in Afghanistan, writing that "Afghanistan is in danger of reverting to a deadly combination of rule by warlords and the Taliban, the allies and protectors of Osama bin Laden." LINK

Bob Novak discusses the split on the Senate Intelligence Committee set off by the leaked memo. LINK

Roll Call 's Morton Kondracke charges that Iraq is less like Vietnam and more like the Philippines Campaign, and as such, the Bush administration might benefit from studying the anti-guerilla tactics used in securing the 1902 victory

And more for you …

The New York Times ' David Sanger on Sunday took a look at the pros and cons of the Iraq exit strategy. While Iraqification and democracy throughout the Middle East is now the stated goal, getting out too early could end up cutting the United States out of the process altogether. LINK

Joe Klein advocates the creation of an extreme peacekeeping force. LINK

Dan Eggen writes that with its new agreement from the White House, the 9/11 panel will have unprecedented access to the president's briefings. LINK

The politics of steel:

The European Union doesn't have much incentive to compromise in the showdown over steel tariffs, the Wall Street Journal 's Scott Miller reports. While President Bush is saying the U.S. will consider its options and review the current tariff situation, the EU, which European officials think is holding the cards, isn't likely to move.

"From the European Commission, which negotiates trade deals, to the EU's individual nations, to the European Parliament, there is a belief this is a trade dispute that shouldn't be negotiated away. Trade officials say there are signs even some in the U.S. know they are in the wrong and argue that to show flexibility might invite the U.S. to think it can always negotiate its way out of tight corners."

George Will hammered the president on trade in his Sunday column. LINK

The economy:

According to a Wall Street Journal Online round-up, businesses are adding to their inventories for the first time in six months, and manufacturing in New York picked up in November, showing a general business-conditions rating of 41.01. New orders and new shipments moved upwards as well.

And things are starting to look up in the eyes of manufacturers as well, reports the Wall Street Journal 's Timothy Aeppel. Business in the U.S. is picking up a little faster than it is for European manufacturers, and as orders improve, so does investment, and the effect is arguably as important psychologically as it is literally, Aeppel Notes.

"A view that conditions are improving instead of deteriorating is crucial in making the current global manufacturing upswing — which is still spotty and tentative — broader and more powerful."

The Wall Street Journal 's Jon Hilsenrath reports that car makers raised prices and ratcheted down incentives for buyers, which, coupled with higher car taxes in California, drove down car purchases in October.

David Broder reports that despite the recent positive economic news, in "the real world" people continue to struggle, particularly state budgets. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

Robin Pear and Robin Toner report on the Medicare compromise reached this weekend, Noting President Bush will be "actively pushing the bill … as he heads into a re-election year in which elderly voters are considered vitally important."

We heartily recommend the who's who on the Medicare lobbying circuit provided by the dynamic duo. LINK

On Sunday Pear laid out the details of this weekend's tentative agreement on Medicare, including: discount drug cards; drug benefits through Medicare for low-income seniors; health care savings accounts; triggers for congressional action based on Medicare's funding; higher premiums for wealthier seniors; and incentives for private health plans to participate in Medicare. LINK

David Rogers reports that Senate Democrats are less likely to filibuster if the Medicare bill sails through the House and writes that the bill "amounts to a huge government and business experiment that would remake the Great Society-era social insurance program more in the image of a competitive, market-driven alternative favored by Republicans."

The Washington Post 's Amy Goldstein and Helen Dewar on Sunday looked at the challenges that the new Medicare plan is facing. LINK

While Bush is throwing his weight behind the Medicare prescription drug benefit unveiled this weekend, certain provisions in the bill have key lawmakers upset, reports Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune. LINK

With the Medicare bill receiving support from centrist Democrats, House and Senate leaders will try to pass the legislation this week, reports the Hill's Bob Cusack. LINK

Medicare maven Vicki Kemper of the Los Angeles Times reports the compromise legislation will shift "Medicare as a government program … " to " … Medicare as a huge government-subsidized health insurance market" and that transition is what causes the deep divide between Republicans and Democrats on this issue. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Laurie McGinley and Sarah Lueck look at the details and the stakes of the prescription drug benefit that forms the crux of the complicated Medicare negotiations.

"This current fight echoes the debate in the years leading up to Medicare's creation in 1965. Republicans, backed by the powerful American Medical Association, then opposed a government-run program and pushed instead for federal subsidies for the elderly to buy private insurance. But such insurance coverage wasn't widely available then, and a Democratic-controlled Congress, backed by unions, pushed through a broad-based social insurance program, a step many saw as a move toward national health insurance for all. The one compromise: Medicare would resemble private health insurance, paying doctors and hospitals on a fee-for-service basis, using private insurers as intermediaries and calling patients 'beneficiaries.'"

Nick Anderson of the Los Angeles Times looks at the energy and Medicare endgames. LINK

"Enactment of the two pieces of legislation would enable Bush to claim that Washington's perennial gridlock on two highly controversial domestic issues has been broken by the first full year of Republican control of both the legislative and executive branches in half a century. Failure on either, or both, would reinforce Democratic claims that Bush is steering the country too far to the right to get things done."

According to the AP's David Espo, not many Democrats are buying into the GOP-backed Medicare prescription drug bill. LINK

While Bush was pressuring Congress to send the bill to him for his signature, Senator Kennedy was denying any pressure on him to deny Bush a pre-election victory, writes the Washington Times . LINK

USA Today 's Andrea Stone reports that the Democrats are planning on taking on the Medicare plan and could prevent the GOP's pass-it-by-Turkey-Day goal. LINK

The Washington Post 's Bill Brubaker writes that while drug companies' stock prices rose with the news that a Medicare agreement had been reached, Medicare's customers did not react as positively. LINK

Legislative agenda:

The New York Times ' Carl Hulse looks at the energy bill — particularly the provision about a gas additive good for oil companies. LINK

The Washington Post 's Dan Morgan and Peter Behr report on the development of an energy bill that may or may not pass. LINK

USA Today 's Kathy Kiely writes that "although leaders from both political parties say a new energy policy is urgently needed, approval is in doubt." LINK

ABC News Vote 2003: Louisiana:

The Los Angeles Times' Scott Gold looks at Louisiana's new Governor, Kathleen Blanco. LINK

Blanco's win, as written up by the Washington Post and the New York Times : LINK and LINK

Performing its post-mortem of the Louisiana vote, the New York Times quotes analysts who said "Mr. Jindal, who had never run for office, made a crucial political mistake in the final week of the campaign by not responding to withering attack advertisements." LINK

Gov.-elect Kathleen Blanco has begun the transition process, already beginning to map out health care, economic, and education plans, writes the AP. LINK

Blanco named Dale Atkins and Jim Bernhard Jr. as the co-chairs of her transition team. Blanco will take a short vacation while her team begins the transition work. LINK

Playing judicial politics: The Washington Post 's Darryl Fears reports that a recent reference to lynching has furthered the divisiveness in the partisan debate over Bush's nominees to the judiciary. LINK


To run or to not run seems to be the question in the Sunshine State, according to Roll Call 's Stuart Rothenberg, as he reports on what's shaping up to be 2004's Roller Coaster race in Florida.

Christian Right, meet Christian Left. The New York Times on the formation of the Clergy Leadership Council, a left-of-center group seeking "to counter groups like the Christian Coalition of America and newly influential groups like the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition" and focus primarily on "electoral politics and partisan political organizing." LINK

(We are not so sure we agree with the "newly influential" part. Mr. Sheldon has been around for one long time … )

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

The Des Moines Register 's Tim Paluch reports on Senator Clinton's West Des Moines book signing on Sunday, where "a line of about 900 autogaph-seekers" greeted her. LINK


We Noted five marriages this weekend.

The first was between Transportation Security Administration personnel and Joe Trippi at Des Moines International Airport on Sunday. Not that Kathy Lash should get jealous or anything, but the TSA guys were patting down Trippi quite, shall we say, comprehensively.

Trippi was not alone in the affair. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin was also a TSA selectee yesterday, making knowledgeable passers-by both more comfortable with their own gropings and slightly incredulous at computer system that randomly chose a U.S. Senator for strict scrutiny.

The other four marriages come courtesy of the New York Times . In no particular order:

The lovely and talented Kate Whitman, who communicates to the public for Rep. Chris Cox (R-Calif.), married Craig Annis, a lobbyist. Whitman is known to all for us for ably guiding the New Hampshire Republican Party's communications staff, and she has also worked for the Bush White House, the Craig Benson gubernatorial campaign and the Department of Labor. She is 26, by the way. LINK

The New York Times ' David Halbfinger married journalist Kimberly Beth Brown in Miami yesterday. Halbfinger, the Atlanta bureau chief for the Paper of Record, has been assigned to cover Senator Kerry's presidential campaign. The marriage explains in part why Jodi Wilgoren, the master of the Dean beat for the Times , is subbing in Kerry-ville this week. LINK

Ed Rollins, a "Republican strategist," married Shari Lois Scharfer, a former CBS executive. LINK

We save our favorite announcement for last, because it reminds us of the Sandra-Sobieraj-is-dating-a Secret-Service-guy stories that all the new campaign off-air reporters were teased with. (The upshot: you, too, can find love on the trail.)

Sandra Sobieraj, it turns out, married on Saturday Franklin Edward Westfall Jr., a dashingly handsome "security specialist for the Secret Service." LINK

Our best to the all the newlyweds.


Despite the fact that he is still under investigation, Limbaugh plans to make his radio comeback today, amid predictions that the show will illicit one of his highest listener tune-ins ever. LINK