The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—8:00 am: General Wesley Clark officially files to be a candidate in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary, Concord, N.H. —10:00 am: President and Mrs. Bush participate in the presentation of the National Humanities Medal Awards, White House —10:00 am: Reverend Al Sharpton meets with the Black Psychiatrists of Greater New York and Associates, New York City —10:15 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan —10:45 am: Governor Howard Dean attends a campaign rally at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa —11:25 am: President Bush meets with the president of Italy, White House —12:05 pm: Senator Max Baucus holds a news conference to announce his endorsement of General Clark's presidential campaign, Capitol Hill —12:10 pm: Congressman Dennis Kucinich visits a senior center, Iowa City, Iowa —12:30 pm: Senator John Edwards holds a town hall meeting at Morris College, Sumter, S.C. —12:30 pm: Vice President Cheney makes remarks at a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser luncheon, New York City —12:45 pm: Senator John Kerry meets with Democratic activists, Winterset, Iowa —1:00 pm: Governor Dean attends a campaign rally at Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa —1:30 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —2:00 pm: President Bush makes remarks and signs a proclamation in honor of the National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Week, White House —2:00 pm: California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley certifies the results of the October 7 recall election, Sacramento —2:00 pm: House convenes for a pro forma session —2:00 pm: Congressman Kucinich attends a forum with students, Coralville, Iowa —3:00 pm: Senator Edwards holds a roundtable with business leaders, Florence, S.C. —6:00 pm: Senator Kerry meets with Democratic activists, Des Moines, Iowa —6:15 pm: Congressman Kucinich attends a campaign rally at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa —6:45 pm: Governor Dean attends a campaign rally at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa —7:00 pm: Senator Edwards attends a fish-fry with Orangeburg County Democrats, Orangeburg, S.C. —7:30 pm: Congressman Kucinich attends a peace rally, West Branch, Iowa —8:00 pm: Senator Kerry meets with Democratic activists, Des Moines, Iowa —8:45 pm: Governor Dean keynotes a fundraiser for State Senator Herman Quirmbach, Ames, Iowa —9:30 pm: Senator Edwards attends a campaign reception, Orangeburg, S.C.


Big political stories right now and through the weekend: Iraqification; the Louisiana governor's race; Senator Clinton and the Six Pack in Iowa; and it'stheeconomystupidchangeversusmoreofthesameanddon'tforgethealthcare.

Big political story for us here:

ABC News and ABC affiliate WMUR (Manchester, NH) are announcing this morning that we will produce a live, 90-minute debate among the Democratic candidates for president in Durham, New Hampshire on Tuesday, December 9, 2003. The debate is facilitated by the Democratic National Committee on behalf of the Democratic candidates.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 7:00pm ET. ABC News Nightline anchor Ted Koppel will moderate the debate and WMUR anchor Scott Spradling will join him in questioning the candidates.

ABC News, WMUR, and the Manchester Union Leader will also host a debate in New Hampshire on Thursday, January 22 just before the January 27th New Hampshire primary.

WMUR-TV (Ch. 9) is an ABC-TV affiliate headquartered in Manchester, N.H., and is owned and managed by Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc., one of the nation's largest television station groups. WMUR-TV is New Hampshire's largest commercial TV station, reaching more than a million people. WMUR-TV is considered the broadcast news source of record for New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary election.

Beyond being talented, professional journalists, the people at WMUR are also nice as all get out and we can't wait for ya'all to come on up for the December Debate.

In the style to which Note readers have become accustomed, you can bet you will be reading more about these two debates right here in The Note all winter!!

But with John Kerry's one-day story about firing his campaign manager having become (all together now!) a five-day story (and counting), The Note was awfully tempted to lead with one of the many Kerry campaign memos that we obtained overnight.

There's one from David Wade to David Morehouse; one from Jill Alper to Mrs. Kerry; and one from a certain Time columnist to Senator Kerry.

We'll save those for next week - they all require heavy redaction - but the important thing to remember is that it was just about this time one year ago that John Kerry was getting ready to make a strong push to consolidate his position one winter too early as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Kerry's late 2002 efforts positioned him well in staff and consultant hiring, fundraising, and the "electability" elixir.

On December 14, 2002, precisely 11 months ago today, Al Gore's remarkable star turn on Saturday Night Live foreshadowed his next-day departure from the presidential race. Kerry brilliantly stepped into and began to fill the vacuum created by Gore's decision.

As winter turned to spring, however, things started to go bad for Kerry in the inside and outside games.

Journalist/wife/mother/genius Susan Feeney has long taught us: if someone can't run a smoothly operating presidential campaign, how can they be expected to run the country?

Saturday night's Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson dinner is arguably a wonderful opportunity for Kerry to prove he is ready to stay and fight for his party and its nomination.

Framing the true audience for the dinner, the Des Moines Register 's latest poll shows "the economy trumps Iraq and health care as the most important issue among likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants," who also "lean toward government adoption of a national health insurance system and partial repeal of tax cuts." LINK

And framing the political media's conception of Kerry this weekend as he makes a play for hearts and minds are yesterday's developments in the Jordan Crossing.

Most of the papers ignore the amazing work done by the AP's Ramer and Fournier yesterday on this inside-inside baseball story, but if you subscribe to the Family Wire and the Wall Street Journal , you got to read about this sequence:

All in one day, Kerry trashed the three departed aides as, basically disloyal and useless; an anonymous Kerry adviser said that Jordan's sacking was in fact in the works weeks ago, at the very time The Candidate was denying it; Kerry made a heart-felt phone call to the three former aides to apologize; and the Wall Street Journal capped it off this morning with this incredible Washington Wire item:

"The camp of ousted Kerry manager Jim Jordan fingers Time columnist Joe Klein as advising the beleaguered candidate to dump him. Klein says he holds Jordan in 'minimum high regard,' but 'when I have arguments with candidates, they're about issues.'"

(Bad precedents to set, Joe: now all political journalists are going to be expected to (a) tell other journalists on the record which political operatives we hold in "minimum high regard"; and (b) have arguments with the candidates we cover.)

With a focus on KerryWorld, Ron Fournier observes that 2004 has marked an increase in attention paid to the political consultants behind the candidates. LINK

One close observer with direct knowledge of the Kerry campaign surveyed the carnage and told The Note this:

"Kerry's comments yesterday were a disaster — like pouring gasoline on a slow-burning fire. Add to that the 'anonymous' quotes from a 'senior adviser' hitting Jordan and the staff is in an uproar again. This thing is like Yugoslavia after the Cold War. The one force that held it all together is gone. Now months of tension, bruised ego and hurt feelings are coming out and it's ugly."

With all signs indicating that Senator Clinton will do whatever it takes to keep the mad presidential speculation in check tomorrow night, even as she (inevitably) makes a big Hawkeye splash, the real story in Democratic presidential politics this weekend is, can anyone use the dinner to take Howard Dean down a notch?

Howard Dean was so obscure one year ago at this same dinner that Iowa Senator Tom Harkin twice referred to the governor of Vermont as "John Dean," prompting the Baltimore Sun's Paul West to write that Dean "still has a long way to go."

It's worth noting that although an ailing Harkin did not remember his name, Dean was, according to West, "the only one of the '04's who "brought the Democrats to their feet in mid-speech. His protectionist language on trade drew cheers from a crowd that included many representatives of organized labor."

However, and finally, the real question is, will John Edwards'speech focus primarily or exclusively on Jennifer Palmieri's birthday?

Six of the nine Democratic presidential candidates (Dean, Gephardt, Kerry, Edwards, Kucinich and Moseley Braun) will attend the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson dinner Saturday night, with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton serving as the emcee. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin will introduce Clinton, who will in turn introduce each of the attending candidates, who each get roughly seven minutes to speak. Here's their batting order: Gephardt, Kucinich, Edwards, Kerry, Dean, Moseley Braun. Following the dinner, Clinton and the candidates are scheduled to work a rope line together.

President Bush is in D.C. today. He heads to Camp David tonight.

Vice President Cheney attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser in New York City today.

Governor Dean, Senator Kerry, and Congressman Kucinich all campaign in Iowa today and through this weekend.

General Clark campaigns in New Hampshire today. He's in D.C. this weekend with no public campaign events.

Congressman Gephardt has no public events today. He's in Iowa this weekend.

Senator Edwards campaigns in South Carolina today. He's in Iowa tomorrow and Sunday.

Senator Lieberman is in D.C. today and tomorrow with no public events. He campaigns in New Hampshire on Sunday.

Reverend Sharpton campaigns in New York City today. He's in South Carolina this weekend.

Ambassador Moseley Braun is in Chicago today and Iowa on Saturday.

Polls in Louisiana open Saturday at 7:00 am ET and close at 9:00 pm ET. Stay tuned to the AP for returns.

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

President Bush made his 17th trip to Florida yesterday for a pair of fundraisers that brought in more than $2.5 million for his re-election campaign.

The AP reports: "The two fund-raisers increased the president's 2004 cash collection to at least $102.9 million — and with fund raising through the mail and over the Internet factored in, the campaign is probably at or over the record $106 million Bush raised for the primaries in 2000."LINK

Dick Stevenson reports that Bush's fundraising has "redefined the campaign landscape and raised questions about whether legislative efforts to reduce the influence of money in politics are having any effect."LINK

First Sister Doro Bush Koch was in Concord, NH yesterday to file the official paperwork to put her brother's name on the state's January primary ballot.LINK

The Tribune discusses the ramifications of Bush's steel decision, whether he will continue to support his free trade agenda, or cut the legs out from under it. LINK

Michael Kinsley looks at Bush's transition from skeptic to "wooly-minded idealist." LINK

The New York Times reports that the Bush Administration is considering plans to simplify the tax code, long a Rove dream. LINK

And USA Today reports that bigger refund checks next year for taxpayers "will aid consumers, the economy and President Bush's re-election campaign."LINK

The politics of national security:

The president vows to stay the course as his National Security Adviser acknowledges the acceleration of the transfer of power in Iraq and the majors pick up on ABC News' Martha Raddatz's report that Gen. Abizaid is relocating from Tampa to Qatar.

The New York Times reports on the stepped-up U.S. military response to the attacks, Operation Iron Hammer, and finds that "for all the technologically advanced weaponry employed in recent days, it is not clear what effect it has had on tamping down the insurgency. Wednesday, the day the American offensive began, turned out to be one of the most intense yet for American soldiers, who were attacked 46 times by Iraqi guerrillas." LINK

The Paper of Record finds "much of the anxiety about Iraq is being expressed by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and those raising questions include both supporters and critics of the war." LINK

Do read the McCain and the Hagel quotes … We know the folks at 1600 will …

As for the speed of "Iraqification," the New York Times Notes the same White House folks who were beaten up for moving too slowly are now taking hits for acting too fast for "domestic political reasons." LINK

(The Times nicely contrasts Abizaid's "surprisingly blunt" assessment of the 100,000 Iraqi security forces with Dr. Rice's more upbeat view.)

Speaking of blunt (this section's second most favored adjective of the week, after "bleak") ABC News' Brian Hartman reports the Army released a remarkably blunt press release quoting soldiers talking about the challenge of training Iraqis to patrol the Iranian border: "This is a band aid on a sucking chest wound," Special Agent Larry O'Donnell called a five-hour training session. "There are several problems. They're under equipped, there is an issue of corruption and there are issues with the terrain working against (them)." LINK

Robin Wright and Thomas Ricks offer a must-read examining the "four factors" that "forced" this latest "overhaul" of Iraq policy: the security risk, the "failure of the Iraqi Governing Council to act, the Dec. 15 U.N. deadline for an Iraqi plan of action and the U.S. elections just a year away." Notes the duo, "for an administration loath to concede it has made mistakes, redirecting U.S. policy is an open admission that the situation has reached a crisis point." LINK

We urge you to read the Hagel quotes here, too.

The International Crisis Group latest report on "Iraq' Constitutional Challenge" reads thusly: "In an atmosphere of heightened violence and instability, Iraq urgently requires a new political formula. The U.S. Administration, increasingly alarmed at the turn of events, is considering a range of options. This will be its second chance to get it right; there may not be a third." LINK

Lots of warnings from today's editorial pages: Andrew Rosenthal warns the president in a New York Times editorial to head this Vietnam lesson: "You cannot hide casualties. Indeed, trying to do so probably does more to undermine public confidence than any display of a flag-draped coffin." LINK

The Washington Post 's ed board praises the administration's recent "pragmatic response" to the reality of Iraq before writing that "timetables are being accelerated to the point that it's fair to ask whether underlying goals are being compromised." LINK

The Wall Street Journal pish-poshes those other ed boards, writing the U.S. is now following the Pentagon plan it should have implemented much earlier: "A provisional government defended by a large Iraqi security force in addition to U.S. troops. The State Department attempt to re-create the Philadelphia of 1787 in Baghdad, and to provide a perfectly level playing field between exiles and indigenous Iraqis, has proven to be a costly failure."

Meanwhile, over on the intel beat … The New York Times follows the Washington Post in Noting Democratic criticism of the September 11 Commission's document deal with the White House, which allows the White House to "edit the documents before they were released to the commission's representatives." LINK

The Wall Street Journal picks up on an AP report that "relatives of people who perished" in the September 11 attacks are echoing the Democratic criticism that the commission "accepted too many conditions in striking a deal with the White House over access to secret intelligence documents."

More "partisan sniping" on the Senate Intel Committee as committee Dems send a letter to Chairman Pat Roberts responding to his response to their leaked memo. Work that isn't getting done during the committee members' stay on the Aisle of Rancor includes "negotiations with the House over next year's intelligence budget and oversight of developments in trouble spots like Iran and North Korea." LINK

House of Labor:

In our effort to bring you next week's story's this Friday morning, ABC's Gayle Tzemach reports:

The House of Labor's Civil War enters a new battleground next week as two unions who have yet to don a uniform near decisions on whether and how they will step into the nomination fray.

The Communications Workers of America's top brass meet next week to talk endorsements as the union's members are reportedly split between the Dean and Gephardt camps. Union officials have a poll in the field right now whose results will come in before the union leadership's Tuesday gathering. CWA's popular president, Morty Bahr, has made no secret of his personal backing for Gephardt but is said to be loathe to get out and endorse the Missouri congressman given the grass roots support for Governor Dean among union members.

Says a source close to the CWA deliberations, Noting the very frequent Bahr calls from the Gephardt, Dean, and Kerry camps, there may not even be an endorsement if the union's membership stands divided.

Across town, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' President Ed Hill is also receiving a heavy dose of candidate lobbying as the IBEW awaits the results of its own internal union poll and nears a decision on the endorsement process.

Labor sources familiar with the union's deliberations say IBEW, just like CWA, could go either way at the moment … or, like CWA, it could opt to sit out the endorsement battle entirely.

Stay tuned, folks …

Speaking of endorsements, the Alliance for Economic Justice, which group leaders remind us represents five million members, will announce its endorsement of Congressman Gephardt on Saturday afternoon in Des Moines before the Jefferson Jackson dinner. Expected on hand: Gephardt, along with Laborers' International Union President Terence M. O'Sullivan, Steelworkers President Leo Gerard and Iron Workers President Joe Hunt.

Gephardt downplays Dean's labor coup, the AP reports. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

The Des Moines Register has details on Saturday's Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner — including information about Hillary Clinton's Sunday book signing. LINK

Walter Shapiro writes that "it was assumed that the Democrats seeking the presidency would vie to wrap themselves in McCain's reformist aura. Instead, the 2004 New Hampshire primary is becoming a free-spending, the-sky's-the-limit battle between two candidates who have chosen to spurn a bedrock tenet of campaign reform." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Henninger looks at the "Q" ratings of the Democrats running for president and concludes that Kerry was cute but Dean was Q'ter.


The New York Times ' Jodi Wilgoren on Dean's $7.1 billion program proposal "to guarantee eighth graders who commit to higher education $10,000 a year in grants and loans" and "quadruple" funding for AmeriCorps. LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

The centerpiece of Dean's higher ed plan would give expanded federal aid to eligible students who show evidence of having prepared for college in high school. "The commitment in return is to have access to $10,000 for college," Dean said. He said he would restore funding for Pell grants, boost other aid opportunities, and limit how much a student spends to repay their college loans to between 7 to 10% of their income. Dean estimated the proposal would cost $7.1 billion, which he said he would pay for by repealing the Bush tax cuts.

The audience numbered more than 400, according to a Dartmouth police officer, and two hundred more were diverted to overflow rooms. But six young-looking people who appeared to be students managed to enter the main hall, toting Confederate flags. One was seated in the second row, literally wrapped in one. Dean ignored them.

"Things happen on college campuses," Dean said later. "They wouldn't identify who they were or who they represented. So I'm not going to respond to that."

This was the second time in as many days that the flag controversy touched Dartmouth and Dean; pranksters put up posters showing the Confederate flag plastered with Dean's around Dartmouth's campus, and that news led the campus daily's coverage of Dean's impending visit.

Dean was asked about the flag issue at a town hall meeting in Hampton, New Hampshire. Dean acknowledged that it was a mistake to use that particular phrasing.

"I should not have use the words 'Confederate flag.' That is a racist symbol. We understand that. We don't need to get into that.. it's a very sensitive symbol. The main message … which most people got … is about two things. First, we need to bring Southern whites into this party or we're not going to win elections anymore … . The second issue is about race in general."

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK

Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times lays out Governor Dean's higher education plan and talks with a couple of the students who unfurled the Confederate flag at his speech. LINK

The New York Post 's Deborah Orin also writes up the student protestors. LINK

Dean's higher education plan "makes no sense at all," opines the Union Leader. LINK

Dean made it official yesterday and filed for the New Hampshire presidential primary, becoming the 17th person to do so. LINK

The Union Leader's Roger Simon thinks the best chance for another Democrat to get the nomination from Dean is for Dean to lose New Hampshire. LINK

Tom Beaumont writes up Dean's college plan pitch. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer reports that Dean "increasingly appears to enjoy that elusive, coveted, and fickle political asset: momentum." LINK

E.J. Dionne asks: Is Dean Goldwater? LINK

Salon's David Kusnet wonders whether the "Bush hatred" Dean has "ignited" will "burn up" the Democratic party's '04 chances? Says Salon, "Dean has both the message and the policy agenda to make the case to the undecided electorate that he can solve problems Bush can't. The challenge for the feisty front-runner is to present those policies with optimism more than anger, and to strike the right note when it comes to the president." LINK

Jackie Calmes reports in Washington Wire that "Conservative Family Research Council says 'THE issue' for Republicans is a gay-marriage ban, which has added resonance since Democratic front-runner Howard Dean backed gay "civil unions" when he was Vermont governor."


The AP reports that Senator Kerry called his three former aides to apologize to them for saying that his campaign would be "better off" without them. LINK

The brief also mentions that Mrs. Heinz Kerry thinks it's now or never for her husband. Helen Kennedy writes up the apology to Robert Gibbs and Carl Chidlow. LINK

The Boston Herald's Noelle Straub reports that Congressman Barney Frank said Kerry "is lagging behind Howard Dean in the presidential race largely because of Kerry's vote authorizing the war in Iraq." LINK

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

Cruising a wind-swept field in a Bi-Fuel truck, Senator John F. Kerry arrived in Concord, New Hampshire, ready to talk environmental policy. And, for the first time in three days, people were once again listening.

Kerry briefly outlined the highlights of his 2020 energy plan, centered on producing 20% of U.S. energy needs by the year 2020, and pledged the creation of 500,000 new environmental energy jobs by the year 2014.

But, in a brief moment reminiscent of the "old dynamic", the Senator quibbled with the wording of one question which asked if he considered former Vermont Governor Howard Dean "unelectable".

The questioner referenced Kerry's Wednesday appearance on Manchester's WGIR, but Kerry insisted he had not said those words:

Questioner: "Senator, yesterday you said, ah, that you think your rival, Howard Dean, is unelectable; how come?" Kerry: "I don't think I said that … ". A moment later, the second questioner took a shot: Questioner: "Senator, you said that you didn't say that Howard Dean was unelectable … on a radio show what I have you saying was, 'Howard Dean will not be able to beat George Bush. I believe that very strongly. Sounds like a synonym (for unelectable) to me."

Kerry: "Well, it's a synonym. I'll accept that. But I didn't say he was unelectable. I said I don't think he'll be able to beat George Bush."

And, finally, the Senator voluntarily returned to the subject for clarification … sort of: Kerry: "Can I just say in answer to the question earlier on the terminology, I wasn't trying to be cute, I just didn't use the word 'unelectable'. So, when you said that to me, I didn't realize, you know, that I do remember saying that, you know, I think it's hard to beat George Bush. That's all."

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


The AP's Sharon Theimer says General Clark will accept public financing for his presidential campaign. LINK

Slate's Fred Kaplan defends The General from the New Yorker's Peter Boyer, writing that the piece, "which paints (Clark) as scarily unqualified-is an unfair portrait as well as a misleading, occasionally inaccurate précis of the 1999 Kosovo war and Clark's role in commanding it." LINK

Page Six reports Diane von Furstenberg will be hosting a fundraiser for General Clark next week. LINK

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

For the past two and a half weeks there's been a new face on the road traveling with the Clark campaign. It's a member of General Clark's family, and it's not his wife or his son. Gene Caulfield is The General's brother-in-law. I'm sorry … I mean "Senior Brother-in-Law."

Caulfield is married to Gert Clark's eldest sister. The General's wife, Gert, is the second oldest, followed by three more sisters and a brother. A Brooklyn and New Jersey native, Caulfield worked for the American Stock Exchange on the trading floor, later moving to Reuters, from which he retired in December 2002. Following his retirement, he took up consulting on Wall Street again until he got a phone call from Little Rock a month or so ago asking him to help out on his brother-in-law's fledgling campaign.

I'm "the family relative that is indeed working with Wes both at the organizational headquarters and also on the road." And he can literally choose where and when he wants to work. "I will be on the road with him," he explains, "and then all of a sudden I'll decide to go home and rake leaves."

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


The Boston Globe 's Scot Lehigh reports on Gephardt's plan for an international minimum wage, and Notes, "Interestingly, the reviews are relatively good from both sides of the ideological aisle." LINK

The Detroit News' Oralandar Brand-Williams reports on Reverend Sharpton's and Congressman Gephardt's mobilization in Michigan as they open offices in Metro Detroit but fails to mention yesterday's endorsements for Gephardt from five prominent Michigan state senators, two state representatives and a Wayne State University Governor. Brand-Williams reports, "Gephardt who plans to make a 'major policy speech regarding urban issues' in Detroit Nov. 25, has been closely aligned with organized labor during his political career, and hopes to capitalize on that relationship Feb. 7." LINK

From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

The majority of Gephardt supporters won't be attending this year's J-J dinner because they'll be standing outside. The campaign has organized hundreds of people, some carpooling all the way from Missouri, to canvass door-to-door all day, and all over Polk County. Their goal is to knock on over 100,000 doors. Then, supporters will hold a rally outside the auditorium prior to the dinner — and there they will stay.

Gephardt staffers say the strategy has nothing to do with their financial resources, or lack thereof. Bill Burton, Gephardt's Iowa press secretary said "Gephardt has done this before and pulled out all the stops and the hot air balloon, but in the end it doesn't help you build your organization. Building support on the street is what a campaign needs to win. The Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner, while an important and necessary fundraiser for the Iowa Democratic Party, is not a show of organizational strength. It is a fundraiser for which two candidates have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars."

To his delight, Burton drew the number one speaking slot, so Gephardt will speak first. But, don't expect big cheers and huge applause in the auditorium when Gephardt fires off a Bush jab or a Dean slam. His supporters will be cheering from the steps.

Read more from the trail with Gephardt on LINK


Edwards airs his second ad in Iowa, the AP reports. LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

Senator Edwards finished up fundraising in New York and Florida yesterday, and is back on the campaign trail Friday in South Carolina, where he will pack more campaigning into one day than he has in weeks in that state.

A new ad was on the air in Iowa yesterday. Part of the spot was filmed in early October at a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids. Edwards is shown in front of an audience delivering one of his stump speech regulars, "Did you know we're in an economic recovery right now? What they call a jobless economic recovery? Where I grew up, if you don't have a job you don't have a recovery."

Out on the trail this line is apt to get attention, prepping listeners for the subsequent attack on President Bush. But the TV spot skips all that and instead cites Edwards 96 percent rating from the AFL-CIO on issues affecting working families and outlines his proposals for bringing jobs back to the states from overseas.

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

While everyone else is dining on rubber chicken at Saturday's J-J Dinner in Iowa, Senator Lieberman will be working the room at an event all about him, a fundraiser in DC. Lieberman needs to raise a lot of money to stay competitive and to stay solvent, but the campaign will not divulge any goals for the fourth quarter. They fell short of the 4 million they hoped for last quarter, so now they say they've learned not to make their predictions public.

Lieberman will spend the early part of next week in New Hampshire as part of the campaign's "Joe-vember to Remember," 17 days of Liebermans in New Hampshire. This time Senator Lieberman will have his mom, son Matt and granddaughter Willie in tow. Lieberman will file to participate in the New Hampshire primary on Monday.

A new Lieberman ad debuts in New Hampshire today.

Read more from the trail with Lieberman on LINK


Ann Coulter, no friend to unabashed liberals, lashes out at Kucinich by invoking his name in an editorial about the Terri Schiavo case in Florida, saying "Dennis Kucinich has been in a persistent vegetative state for 20 years — how about not feeding him? Why is Michael Schiavo so obsessed with pulling Terri's feeding tube? Why can't he just walk away?": LINK

The Washington Post 's Robin Givhan analyzes what each candidate's hair says about them. Kucinich, whose former untamed bowl cut was a source of much stress for staffers before he remedied the issue, gets a decent review: "Kucinich, 57, brushes his hair back away from his face and in that simple gesture manages to look looser and less prepackaged than the other candidates.": LINK

The count for entries is still at 16 but now the Web site has joined in the "Who Wants to be a First Lady?" competition: LINK


The Detroit News takes a look at Sharpton's Michigan operation and his support among local ministers and community groups. LINK

The Black Commentator has a biting commentary/narrative on the Sharpton effort and the breakdown that followed Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s endorsement of Howard Dean.

"Rev. Al Sharpton has torn a ragged hole in his own reputation, calling into question his capabilities as a leader. Morose and bathed in self-pity, the presidential candidate in late October descended into what resembled a slow motion, weeklong emotional breakdown, triggered weeks before by the resignation of campaign manager Frank Watkins, the long-time aide and confidant of the Jesse Jacksons, Senior and Junior." LINK

Robin Givhan (see Kucinich as well) also talks hair — and you can't do that without talking about Sharpton. The Post says Sharpton's hair, "a stunning James Brown flip is a triumph of chemicals and heat over nature. Over the years his hair has been parsed in a small volume of literature touching on race, class and sheer theatrical chutzpah." LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

The Reverend Al Sharpton certainly will never get any big union endorsements, but he had a legitimate shot at getting the support of the Broadway Democrats — a political club made up of 50-75 neighborhood leaders encompassing the district from 106th Street to 125th Street — that is, from the Hudson to Central Park West.

One hundred people from the community gathered at Banks Street College of Education, as did two of Sharpton's lawyers, to listen to representatives from most of the campaigns, and expecting Reverend Sharpton to be the only candidate to show up in person. Unfortunately for the candidate, that was not in the cards.

According to Sanford Rubinstein, Sharpton's lawyer who spoke on his behalf, "he was caught up in a meeting."

So, who did the Broadway Democrats endorse? Howard Dean. In the first vote, Dean got 21 votes, Clark got 11, and Sharpton got 3, thereby forcing a Dean-Clark runoff. Dean squeaked by with 55 percent.

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK

Moseley Braun:

From ABC News' Moseley Braun campaign reporter Monica Ackerman:

Can we expect anything new from Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun this Saturday at the Jefferson Jackson dinner? According to her campaign consultant, "no." She will stick to her same economy and war in Iraq issues. It'll be interesting to watch the Ambassador's interaction with Senator Hillary Clinton. In a last effort to help Moseley Braun get re-elected to the Senate in 1998, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton campaigned and helped her fundraise in Chicago. Mrs. Clinton also appeared in a television commercial asking voters to support the Moseley Braun that she had seen in the Senate.

Read more from the trail with Moseley Braun on LINK


The Wall Street Journal 's Jackie Calmes reports that Nader is angering liberals by "sounding serious" and saying that he will decide by the end of the year on whether to run for president again.

New Hampshire:

The New Hampshire Republican State Committee will have a "coming out party" (yes, those are their words) in D.C. next Tuesday, according to the Union Leader's John DiStaso. LINK

Democratic National Convention:

The Boston Globe 's Mark Jurkowitz reports that network representatives toured the FleetCenter yesterday and met with Democratic convention organizers to start planning how to televise the DNC convention. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Rick Klein reports that Boston is seeking help from out-of-town police. LINK

The economy:

ABC News' Schindelheim reports: "Retail sales were down by 0.3% in October. The government revised September's number further downward to 0.4%. This is two consecutive months of decline following strong August sales, seemingly more evidence that the pop from the child tax credit checks has waned. That said, economists are forecasting a good gain in holiday sales this year, the biggest year-over-year improvement in at least 3 years."

The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip reports that the Fed intends to keep interest rates low despite recent good news about economic growth — and there's that "blistering" word again. The concern: less-than-maximum production by U.S. businesses, industry's inability to boost prices, fears of further drops in inflation, and joblessness.

If the economy keeps growing, however, the Fed will have to make some move toward raising rates, though officials remain cautious to try to help the economy along without derailing its recovery, Ip Notes.

"This is likely to be of comfort to President Bush, whose re-election chances improve if the economic expansion strengthens and the unemployment rate, now at 6%, drops. The president's father blames Mr. Greenspan's slowness to cut rates in 1992 for costing his re-election. If the Fed does raise interest rates in the runup to next fall's election, it will likely be against the positive backdrop of steadily falling unemployment and strong economic growth, which will offset the negative impact of rising rates."

USA Today 's Barbara Hagenbaugh reports, "Taxpayers' refund checks will increase nearly 27% to an average $2,500 per family early next year, according to new forecasts from tax experts and economists, who say the windfalls will aid consumers, the economy and President Bush's re-election campaign." LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The New York Times ' Robert Pear reports House and Senate negotiators have gotten "'bogged down'" on efforts to "revamp Medicare and provide prescription drug benefits to the elderly" and their work is now headed to the desks of Mr.'s Frist and Hastert, who will make the "final decisions" on the issues of competition, "limiting the growth of Medicare spending" and authorizing "new tax-preferred savings accounts for medical expenses." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers and Sarah Lueck report that big drug companies seem to have been successful in fighting off two of their biggest threats as the fight over Medicare has worn on: cheaper drugs from Canada and increased use of generic brands. The battle has been a bitter one, despite new predictions by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that a bill can hit the floor by next week.

Paul Krugman examines the details of the Medicare prescription drug bill compromise and finds little he likes, calling the bill a "Trojan Horse" of which voters should be very, very wary. LINK

Republicans are considering significant concessions on Medicare proposals as they lobby for the conservative Democratic vote. LINK

The Washington Post's Milbank and Goldstein report on President Bush's Medicare full court press. LINK

Knight Ridder's Kuhnhenn and Hutcheson have the back-and-forth. LINK

USA Today 's Andrea Stone reports on the squabblin' too. LINK

Vicki Kemper reports the AARP is prepared to "empty its war chest" and "target congressional incumbents in the 2004 elections" if a compromise on a prescription drug benefit for Medicare is not reached. Ms. Kemper also includes Senator Daschle's disappointment with the AARP, yesterday's White House offensive, and the current status of negotiations.LINK

Senate Democrats continue to criticize the prescription drug compromise, now saying it would increase premiums, reports the AP's Mike Sherman. LINK

ABC News Vote 2003: On to Louisian:

Republican gubernatorial hopeful/media darling Bobby Jindal previews tomorrow's runoff contest and talks about jobs in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

With a "Cajun grandmother" running against the "dark-complexioned Rhodes scholar" son of Indian immigrants, the Washington Post 's Lee Hockstader asks: "What's a Bubba to do?" LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Scott Gold takes the irresistible "history in the making" angle in his Louisiana gubernatorial overview and declares the race still "not settled." LINK

A survey released yesterday by Marketing Research Institute of Pensacola, Fla., shows Jindal with 46 percent, and Blanco at 42 percent with 12 percent still undecided. LINK

California's new governor:

USA Today 's Martin Kasindorf reports on the no-frills inaugural that the new administration hopes sends a let's-get-to-work impression. LINK

USA Today also has a rundown of Schwarzenegger staff and advisers: LINK and LINK

Playing judicial politics:

The New York Times ' Neil Lewis says Senate "tempers were especially raw" during the "extraordinary" Senate all-nighter. LINK

The Washington Post 's Helen Dewar reports that President Bush and Senator Daschle traded charges over judicial nominations with (what else?) "playing politics." LINK

The Washington Post 's Al Kamen reports that Democrats are "hooting" over an errant e-mail sent by an aide to Senator Frist regarding alleged Republican efforts to stage a photo op for Fox News. LINK

Senator Lindsey Graham is set to sue the Senate to force the Supreme Court to overrule the use of the filibuster on judicial nominees, according to Roll Call 's Mark Preston and Paul Kane.

The AP reports that Republicans are now conceding they probably will not be able to break the Democratic filibusters on four Bush judicial nominees. LINK

The Washington Times ' Charles Hurt reports on the "flurry of debates" during the thirty-hour Senate session. LINK

Senator Zell Miller, always good for a quote these days, compared the filibuster of Janice Rogers Brown, an African American, to a lynching, according to Klaus Marre of The Hill. LINK

The News Observer's Susan Kinzie surveys the scene in the Senate as the marathon debate winds down. LINK

Senator Durbin was among the Democrats not satisfied with judicial nominee Claude Allen's explanation of his use of the word "queers," writes the News Observer. LINK

The News Observer calls judicial nominee Allen "level-heded" and "Smart. Capable," but has reservations about his nomination. LINK

The Senate talks itself silly, writes Peter Carlson in the Washington Post Style section.LINK


Michael Slackman reports on Tom DeLay's "creative maneuver around new limits on soft money donations," Celebrations for Children Inc., which allows donors to both "help abused and neglected children" and help "pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises." You, we are sure, will be shocked to know goo-goo groups are crying foul. LINK

The New York Times ' Jennifer 8. Lee on television producer Norman Lear's effort to register young voters, Noting the Democratic donor says the effort will be non-partisan. LINK

The Washington Post 's Ann Gerhart writes about it too. LINK

If Mel Martinez runs for the Florida Senate seat, U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris would consider not running, according to the AP. LINK

The Orlando Sentinel paints a cautionary picture of Harris' reaction to Mel Martinez entering the Senate race, saying Martinez entering the race does not end her bid.LINK

The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel quotes Harris as stressing that, "The most important thing to me is that we have a candidate who can deliver Florida." LINK