The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:15 am: General Wesley Clark holds a "Conversations with Clark" town hall forum with first responders, Lebanon, N.H. —9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —9:45 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan —10:45 am: President Bush has a photo op with EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt, White House —10:45 am: General Clark holds a roundtable discussion with residents at a retirement facility, Hanover, N.H. —11:50 am: President Bush participates in a medal ceremony for NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, White House —12:00 pm: Senator John Kerry goes on a nature hike with environmental leaders, Manchester, N.H. —12:30 pm: General Clark holds a "Conversations with Clark" town hall forum at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H. —1:00 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —1:00 pm: AFSCME and SEIU hold a joint press conference to announce their endorsement of Governor Howard Dean's presidential campaign, D.C. —2:00 pm: House convenes for a pro forma session —4:00 pm: Senator Kerry appears on the Dan Pierce radio show, Manchester, N.H. —5:00 pm: President and Mrs. Bush participate in the presentation of the National Medal of Arts Awards, White House —5:15 pm: Senator Kerry attends a meet-and-greet with supporters, Manchester, N.H. —6:00 pm: Senate begins 30 hours of continuous debate on judicial nominees —7:30 pm: Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at the 2003 George C. Marshall Foundation Award Dinner honoring Secretary of State Colin Powell, D.C.


We sure could make Iraq and national security our lead most every day for the next year.

Today on that, read the props-earning Anne Kornblut in the Boston Globe with her reporting out of last month's Ed Gillespie memo fleshing out the aggressive "pre-emption" politics the White House is expected to practice.

Then read the Philadelphia Inquirer's exclusive report on the CIA's view that change in Iraq policy is needed pronto, or bad(der) things might happen, and try to figure out if it is connected in any way to all those high-energy Bremer meetings and stories about said meetings. LINK

The president plans on doing some Brit interviews today, including with a Mr./Sir David Frost.

On the Democratic side there are three main areas to watch today:

First and foremost is — surprise — Howard Dean.

Today's we-can't-wait SEIU/AFSCME endorsement gets Big History treatment from Dan Balz, Ron Brownstein, and Steve Greenhouse, with Balz getting off the best of three strong efforts because he gets interviews with both Stern and McEntee, and because he gets the bagels and lox color. LINK and LINK and LINK

But there's more.

As the Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood uses his column to join the "maybe nobody can stop this guy from getting the nomination" chorus, USA Today 's Jill Lawrence (with a must-read) and the Chicago Tribune's Tim Jones both write up Dean's temperament, Jones in an excellent profile. LINK and LINK

Bill Safire fills out the other side of the Dean equation (the notion about which Safire is gleeful and many Democrats fearful — that Dean will lose more than 40 states to President Bush), with a classic column looking at how the "Kennedy left" and the "Clinton middle" are "frantic at the prospect of losing control of their party to Howard Dean," thus the alleged "Kennedyization" of Camp Kerry. LINK

Another man making his mark this week is John Edwards, who is (mostly) quietly having the second best week of any of the majors (assuming all goes as planned 1 p.m. ET today in the Mayflower's Chinese room).

The Washington Post 's Ed Walsh reports that Edwards accentuated the positive in his Post ed board meeting (and also said which place he needs to finish in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Can you guess what he said?) LINK

As for the junior Senator from Massachusetts, he gets loving Boston Globe and other treatment today, all about a campaign still finding its legs, shall we say, and about the Senator playing second fiddle to a dog in late night. For more on all that, see our Kerry section below.

We share Senator Kerry's disgust with inside baseball political journalism that is all about process and personality.

None of the press' total obsession with the comings and goings of his staff will feed a single hungry child, provide health care to any family, or develop a cure for cancer.

Still, as long as we have that source at a Capitol Hill Kinko's, we aren't going to ignore major scoops.

So here, for the first time anywhere, is the latest passing-the-baton memo from the Kerry campaign — in this case from Robert Gibbs, who quit yesterday as press secretary, to Stephanie Cutter, who was named, titleless, to the communications team.

What is striking about the document (besides the baby food smudges and the Post -midnight time stamp) is its sweeping tone.

But, then, it IS only a draft.





RE: Big Bad Media

Congratulations — you are inheriting a great Iowa press shop, a former New Hampshire governor with a big Granite megaphone, and Bob Shrum's yellow pad.

There ARE, however, some things to watch out for to make sure the machine continues to hum.

1. Okay, you're here, but you're not sure what your title is, what your duties are, who exactly will be left for you to work with and who you really report to. That's normal.

2. You worked for Kennedy. The Globe was your friend. Welcome to a new reality.

3. We used to take so much heat for being such a male-dominated campaign when I worked there (Granted — the Budweiser wall calendar didn't help.). With the arrival of the whole Kennedy team of gals, y'all boast more estrogen than a roomful of CNN bookers. You might want to play that up. On the other hand, if you thought the convention staff was white, wait until you see our gang.

4. When Halperin tells you, after a debate, that only one candidate on the stage looked presidential, he doesn't necessarily mean your candidate.

5. My very best lines and information comes from Gehrke, the finest research director in the entire business. But tap that well of knowledge fast, as he has at least 4 job offers (including 3 presidential campaigns not named "Kerry") from which to choose.

6. It's pronounced "LOO-EES." "LOO-EES."

7. Avoid the words "rats," "ship," "sinking," "leaking," "listing," "falling," "slowing," or "frontrunner."

8. Keep up the fight for full engagement. Jordan wasn't wrong about taking on Dean. The more you throw at him the more something might stick. The research folks camped out in Burlington for weeks, and they have hits that are even better than that NRA questionnaire. Howard Dean has never had an unexpressed thought. This should work against him but it seems to be overshadowed by the fact that our campaign has never had an original thought.

9. For all of those recently arrived and soon-to-come staffers who wonder if our recent changes will lead to more attacks on Dean or the high road, the answer is: "Yes."

10. Getting into Canada requires proper ID. (Actually, that one belongs on a different list — ignore it … .)

11. Putting Shaheen out in front on the "Vermont Miracle" issue is a good idea — NH Democrats do like her — but remember that after two terms in office, she could only carry 60% of the vote — in the primary.

12. Be sure to get up early to read all of the Dean news clips and web page material. It will give you advance notice of what The Candidate will be talking about all day. It is also a good source of ideas for our own web site.

13. New Hampshire residents hate taxes, Bostonians, gun control and incumbent senators. Find common ground, quick. And don't forget your E-Z Pass.

14. In planning for major speeches in South Carolina, try to limit staff to less than 1/4 the size of the audience.

15. If ever you should go on Fox News, don't compare The Candidate's comments about "being the candidate for white guys in the South with the Confederate flag in their windows" to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. It just makes everyone look foolish.

16. It takes some time to whittle down The Candidate's responses … . "Mr. Change Your Opinion For Expediency" is actually much better than his original suggestion of "Mr. Arrogant Jerk who can't stick with a position to save his life but will run our party into the ground and get beaten like a red-headed stepchild by another arrogant jerk already in the White House."

17. Firing Jordan is a one-day story. My resignation is a one-day story. Trailing by double digits is a one-day story. 76 days left until NH — filling every day with a different story seems like a daunting task but the senior staff and The Candidate will help as much as possible.

18. If asked what The Candidate was eating when I announced I was leaving — just say "crow." This is now a two-day story. And counting.

19. John Kerry doesn't have a plan to win the war, but "The Bunny" has a plan to win the peace. (Note Note: we don't know what that means either.)

20. Even though we won't dip into her personal fortune, TH has a plan to build a new pro football stadium in each battleground state. No really, she does.

21. If asked: Yes, we're still very glad we won the Shrum Primary.

22. The Kerry Girls are off limits — wait that probably doesn't apply to you. But same goes for Chris Heinz.

23. Don't bother trying to get The Candidate to stop delivering those prostate cancer jokes.

24. All questions about Morgan Fairchild get forwarded to Chris Black.

25. Trust Benander as Obi-Wan Kenobi … because I do.

26. No custard stops. Period. Free vanilla treats will serve to only sour, not sweeten, the waiting press corps. (Note Note: you MUST click this link. LINK

27. Ad images of our candidate in committee hearings may not be screaming "foreign policy experience" as much as we like to Iowans.

28. Never fret about an event that is staffed by David Wade. After all had Wade rather than me been in the 603 area code, John Kerry would not have said "regime change."

29. Key point: try to figure out which consultant is nicknamed "Uday."

30. Warning signs that more senior staff might be fleeing: Morehouse forwards his phone to your cell with no warning.

31. Don't believe the rumors that the campaign is relocating to the Ketchum, Idaho in order to test the loyalty of the consultants.

32. Don't throw away that Amtrak Guest Rewards membership just yet.

33. Before every press avail, have The Candidate repeat after you: "I will not mutter 'Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean' around an open microphone."

34. AP writers are not just there to look at: feed them or they will piss all over your house.

35. A great debate performance will earn you little to no press, but a staff shakeup will get you above-the-fold stories and a regular rotation on Fox. Worth reminding The Candidate when he's complaining about lack of press coverage.

36. The next time The Candidate gets grumpy and masticates on the ineffectiveness of his staff, point to the Clark campaign's decision to attack Edwards over Hugh Shelton on Veterans Day as an example of how bad strategic decisions by staff (Lehane and Kym?) really can be. After that, you won't look that awful.

37. Changing the dynamics of a campaign will have a direct effect on the dynamics of the race, which in turn will dynamically cause some type of kinetic change in our overall dynamics.

38. For a quick, in-house poll you can always multiply the number of conference calls per day times the number of people on them, divide by the number of times Dean's name appears in our latest press release and then subtract the number of public appearances the candidate is scheduled to make. You should end up with the number of points between us and Dean on any given day in New Hampshire.

39. And remember, when Gephardt starts to gain on us in NH, Kerry only voted for the Iraq resolution, Dick sponsored it!

40. There are no Confederate flags on Nantucket.

41. Are you bringing Whouley down from Boston when you get here?

42. Two final words of wisdom, and you may ignore it, you make think this is just lip service, but I firmly believe it: Loyalty matters.

Your task, in the few short weeks you have, is to somehow make The Candidate perform at that his top level each and every day. There's no evidence it can be done, but you gotta try. You and New Hampshire can make The Candidate The Comeback Kid.

President Bush is in D.C. today with a few photo ops at the White House with EPA Administrator Leavitt, NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, and the winners of the National Medal of Arts Awards.

Vice President Cheney will speak at a dinner honoring Secretary Powell tonight in D.C.

Governor Dean will receive the endorsement of AFSCME and SEIU today in a joint press conference at the Mayflower Hotel in D.C. Dean, AFSCME's McEntee and SEIU's Stern will be joined by IUP President Jimmy Williams for the announcement.

Senator Kerry campaigns in New Hampshire today.

General Clark campaigns in New Hampshire today and has private campaign fundraisers in New York City tonight.

Congressman Gephardt, Senator Edwards, Senator Lieberman, Congressman Kucinich, Reverend Sharpton, and Ambassador Moseley Braun all have no public events today.

House of Labor:

Three Wise Men report on today's SEIU and AFSCME Union:

Dan Balz chronicles the Stern-McEntee affair's timeline, offering lots of delicious details (our favorite was the "spread of lox and bagels" McEntee laid out for Stern) on McEntee's impossible-to-refuse offer of a double wedding that, according to Candidate Dean, sends the signal "that two people who know me well and who know inside Washington well think we're the most likely person to beat George Bush." LINK

Steven Greenhouse focuses on the Civil War storyline, writing on the industrial vs. service-sector split in organized labor, with only one John Sweeney saying there's no split to speak of. LINK

Ron Brownstein reports on the Dean rights and the other candidates' wrongs that led to today's Big Event, positing that today's endorsement "could stand as an enduring turning point" in the Democratic nomination race and offering a key last graph on McEntee's strategizing. LINK

And in our effort to stay one day ahead of the news large and small, ABC News' Gayle Tzemach reports that leaders of SEIU's New Hampshire Local 1984 will meet tomorrow to talk endorsements.

Says the State Employees Association of New Hampshire President Paul Stokes, "We are going to take it to our board of directors tomorrow. We had a pre-meeting with our political education committee that was very positive."

As for how Dean is doing there in New Hampshire, Stokes says, "I think he has captured the imagination of a lot of our members. That is what driving this, it is coming from the bottom up. The reason today's decision is coming is that our members say (Dean's) the guy, and that is what it looks like to us, too."

Also, keep an eye on the Quad Cities this afternoon. ABC's Tzemach has learned that the United Auto Workers Region 4, which, interestingly enough, includes Iowa, will decide on an endorsement there at 3:30 pm ET.

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

The Hartford Courant's David Lightman looks at how the presidential hopefuls spent Veterans' Day and their efforts to woo that politically au currant crowd. LINK

Howie Kurtz loves the wide variety in the world of television campaign ads. He reports that the new TV spot from Edwards hawks policies and the new one from Kerry hawks himself. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Mark Jurkowitz hates phony television. He writes up CNN's apology for planting a debate question — and a stupid one at that.LINK

Senators are discussing the need for a raise in spending caps on a public funding system that some say has outlived its utility. LINK

Democrats are trying to tap into Bob Graham's longtime fundraising base, reaching out to voters in South Florida. LINK

Third place is only remotely interesting in horseshoes, sayeth the Wall Street Journal editorial board. Being the Comeback Kid is all well and good, but if a candidate's in it for the nomination, there's just not enough Mo in showing. It's about winning.

The Note disagrees and will have more to say about this later.


Glen Justice writes on Kerry's imminent decision on whether to accept public financing, Noting "despite the risks, many campaign finance experts and rival campaigns say they expect Mr. Kerry to act in favor of spending his own money." LINK

The Kerry Cup spilleth over once more as the New York Times ' David Halbfinger offers an insightful profile of Bob Shrum, "who declined repeated requests for comment," that is chock full of in-house brews we bet the Candidate would rather not have seen in the Paper of Record, and offers readers the phrase "the Shrum curse." LINK

Says one Kerry adviser to the Note about all the dimes dropped in this story and those who dropped them: "It's a sad day when former staffers feel they need a bigger profile than the candidate — I've never seen so much CYA going on than in today's papers. I have to say, they are very good at spinning their own stories, but I believe it will be more damaging to them in the long run for sure."

Mark Z. Barabak and Susannah Rosenblatt of the Los Angeles Times write up the Gibbs and Chidlow departures coupled with Kerry's "Tonight Show" appearance and his not-quite-comfortable relationship with Triumph. LINK

More on that below.

Both Gibbs and Chidlow quit in reaction to Jordan's firing and "expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign," writes Ron Fournier. LINK

Bill Shaheen says his wife, Jeanne, is "the big kahuna nationally" in the Kerry camp, reports the AP. LINK

Deb Orin of the New York Post gets Steve McMahon and Murphy on the record about the Kerry campaign shakeup. Mr. Murphy relied on that good ol' baseball manager metaphor. Mr. McMahon — not so much. LINK

"'The wheels are coming off — if John Kerry is looking for the problem, he needs to look in the mirror,' said media man Steve McMahon, who works for front-runner Howard Dean."

(Note Note: Which "influential journalists" convinced Senator Kerry to shake things up? Tommy, can you hear us?)

Healy also has a piece on the staff departures coupled with Kerry's plans to target both Ho-Ho and W. LINK

In a textbook Boston Globe fashion, Scott Lehigh opines that the Kerry campaign's "real problems are inner conflicts that only he himself can ever truly resolve." LINK

The Boston Herald's Andrew Miga writes, "Many staffers complained about Kerry's cavalier handling of the Jordan firing, asserting the campaign has failed to catch fire largely because of Kerry's own shortcomings." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Patrick Healy writes up Kerry's "Tonight Show" appearance, making sure to Note Kerry's remark that Dean would make a great surgeon general. LINK

For future reference: here is a list of acceptable people a man of John Kerry's stature may follow in the second-guest-slot on the Tonight Show: Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, any non-celebrity who has performed a heroic deed.

Unacceptable choices include: Andy Dick, Jenna Jameson, any reality show contestant. The quintessential guest not to follow: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, particularly when said canine puppet brags about being the "lead guest. That's right: THE LEAD GUEST" on its Web site. LINK

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

Senator Kerry began his Veterans' Day in Arizona, still feeling ripples of campaign manager Jim Jordan's dismissal. He ended the day in California, on a couch next to Jay Leno, after being mocked by a sharp-tongued dog puppet, though making an impressive (albeit late) national television appearance.

The day started with a simple message, quickly overtaken by internal events made external. And in between, the candidate ever sharpened a strategic and rhetorical end game. Such is the new reality of a campaign struggling to recollect its dirty laundry tossed suddenly into public view.

On Tuesday, after dropping by a pre-parade breakfast, Kerry rallied 150 faithful at a Phoenix meet-up. "We deserve and Veterans deserve a president who doesn't just go to Arlington and lay a wreath on Veterans' Day," he said. "We need a president who protects the interests of veterans every day."

The Senator then faced the Arizona press, who asked one question about vets and five on his campaign's viability. Not 30 minutes before the Gibbs/Chidlow announcement, ABC News asked Kerry if he anticipated any further staff changes. He responded, "I can't tell you what will or won't happen at all. I'm just going to keep moving. I'm not doing the staff. I'm running as a candidate and I have great confidence in Mary Beth Cahill and Governor Shaheen — complete confidence. They'll make whatever decisions they'll make."

Kerry later headed to California, where he appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and held a fundraiser in Los Angeles. Playing second (third?) fiddle to "Ross the Intern" and "Triumph the Insult Comic Dog," Kerry, dressed in blue jeans and a leather jacket, rolled (literally) into the broad studio on a Harley.

While blunt political strategist Triumph assessed, "The poop I made in the dressing room had more heat than John Kerry," the Massachusetts Senator performed well under the constraints of short answer only television.

Leno asked about the staff shake-up to which Kerry, who obviously takes his morning dose of Howie Kurtz seriously (LINK), analyzed, "It's kind of a Grady Little/Pedro, eighth inning thing. Sometimes you've got to go to the bullpen."

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


Tom Beaumont writes in the Des Moines Register that Dean is "expected to solidify his front-runner status … while again displaying his agility in exploiting the 21st century political landscape" by picking up support from "the few growing sectors of the labor movement." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Tim Jones turns in an illuminating profile on Howard Dean, complete with his mother's take on his fist-waving, finger-wagging style. LINK

Jill Lawrence writes in USA Today 's cover story that "Dean is continuing to feed the perception among some voters, campaign strategists and academics that he is angry, edgy and — a cardinal sin in politics — not cheerful." LINK

You can't out-maverick the maverick, John Harwood Notes. And while Howard Dean is no John McCain (repeat that one like a mantra), no one who's trying to take him out even comes close to earning a seat on the Straight Talk Express. If you want to take Dean out, Harwood writes, step up now and act like it, or we're in for a short nomination season.

Dean went after Bush's fundraising yesterday, charging that lucrative awards in Iraq are linked to campaign contributions, while also pledging to name former President Clinton as his envoy in the Middle East.LINK

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


Siobhan McDonough of the AP has an early look of a speech Clark will deliver in New Hampshire this morning that outlines his plan for capturing Osama bin Laden. One idea, Clark says he "would press Saudi Arabia to provide commandos to accompany U.S. troops in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders." LINK

The New York Times ' Ed Wyatt Notes Clark's impromptu support of the amendment on flag desecration, a backing that puts him at odds with others in the Democratic Party as well as several other Democratic candidates. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Joanna Weiss elucidates the tension between Clark's support for dissent and his support for the amendment. LINK

We wonder how Clark backer Norman Lear feels about this news.

Will Lester of the AP has the play-by-play between the Clark and Edwards campaigns on the issue of General Shelton's allegiance to John Edwards. LINK

According to the News and Observer, Edwards' consultation with Shelton amounts to "negative politics" in the eyes of the Clark campaign. LINK

Knight Ridder's Dana Hull reports on Clark's courting of veterans. LINK

Meanwhile, who knew that Chris Lehane would get such a reaction?

What's one sign your campaign might be in a spot of trouble? Perhaps when people take the time to write about your campaign staffer's terrible TV appearance instead of commenting about your own blog posting.

Chris Lehane, the Clark campaign's Communications Strategist and most Notably a former Kerry campaign adviser, appeared on MSNBC's 'Buchanan and Press' yesterday and according to bloggers' reviews on Clark's campaign Web site, the self-assured staffer's performance was, well, bad. The 15 or so back-and-forth postings throughout the evening resorted to name-calling — "looks and sounds like a sixth grader;" "wimp;" "weak;" and perhaps the most telling … "he spouted slogans and various rebuttals in the manner of an undeserving favorite nephew of a childless rich man sent out to have fun on TV." And these are Clark supporters. We know General Clark writes for the blog (he was actually seen blackberrying yesterday's text from a campaign stop in New Hampshire), but does he read the comments?

ABC News contacted Chris Lehane for comment and didn't get a response.

Communications Director Matt Bennett told ABC News: "We can't control who gets on our blog." He also said that it's hard to say if the people writing were Clark's supporters or just stirring up trouble on the web. Bennett did comment: "Chris Lehane is the most talented Communications Consultant in American politics and we're proud to have him."

Some excerpts:

--YIKES! I JUST SAW CHRIS LEHANE on Buchanan and Press. DO NOT LET HIM SPEAK FOR CLARK AGAIN! Looks and sounds like a sixth grader. NOT A GOOD IMAGE MOVE FOR CLARK.

Posted by jj at November 11, 2003 05:50 PM |

--Could we please please please never ever send Chris Lehane to do another TV spot again? He just laid about a dozen eggs on Buchannan and Press.

Posted by Marshall at November 11, 2003 05:50 PM |

--OMG! This is the first time I have ever seen Chris Lehane. What a wimp! I was embarrassed for the Clark campaign. What do they see in this guy? I do not think this man is a very good spokesperson for Clark. Weak, weak, weak. Get him off the air, TODAY!

Posted by Cheri at November 11, 2003 05:50 PM |

--Get rid of Lehane now if he is not good, General. Fire him. That's it.

Posted by Martisa at November 11, 2003 05:53 PM |

--A lot of democrats haven't had much respect for Lehane for sometime. Note that he didn't seem to do much good for Kerry's camp. I didn't see him on this show, but the reactions seem pretty strong. If Clark supporters react this way you can imagine how people disinclined to support Clark will react. Keep him behind the scenes if he's useful but I wouldn't let someone who provokes such negative reactions be a spokesperson. I just did a search on him at Yahoo … should have sent up a lot of red flags.

Posted by Cat M. at November 11, 2003 05:55 PM |

--Cat, you probably have an example in your life that would illustrate what we just saw. For me, now I know how my parents felt at my brother's clarinet recitals.

Posted by Marshall at November 11, 2003 05:58 PM |

--. .. He seems to excel at namecalling and sharp angry rhetoric. One should note he also "helped" Gray Davis with the recall.

Gray Davis, as you will recall, lost.

Posted by Cat M. at November 11, 2003 05:59 PM |

--Oceleot, yes. He used to begin practicing the morning of the band contest. Lehane was unaccountably grinning with embarrassment throughout, his voice unfortunately has the timbre of very early puberty, he was cheeky, squeeky, and running off at the mouth irrespective of his turn. I feel ill.

Posted by Marshall at November 11, 2003 06:11 PM |

--Ruth, he spouted slogans and various rebuttals in the manner of an undeserving favorite nephew of a childless rich man sent out to have fun on TV.

Posted by Marshall at November 11, 2003 06:13 PM |

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

It was an unusual sight on the campaign trail: General Clark buying a round of beers for fellow veterans. And not just any beer …

When General Clark arrived at the VFW Post 1698 in Franklin, New Hampshire on a Veteran's Day campaign stop, he was greeted by the Color Guard and posed with them for a photo. One gentleman asked, "Can I buy you a drink, General?"

"I'd love a drink," Clark said. "Actually, a Sam Adams, that's what I drink." But the Color Guard folks were setting him up.

"Got your coin on ya?" they asked Clark. Every American military service member has a coin they carry around with them at all times — a tradition explained by one veteran as a practice that started after World War II when an Army Air Force pilot was "shot down and the only thing he had was a coin that separated him from the enemy. And everyone who saw it knew that he was American."

From that point on, it became a tradition to carry the coin "at all times." Seems General Clark forgot that tradition or perhaps he just forgot his coin. Either way, as the custom goes, if challenged to show your coin and you are without it, you buy a round of drinks.

Sam Adams for all — Clark dished out $30 for 10 beers and passed them around.

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


The AP's Leigh Strope reports on the coalition of Gephardt-supporting unions that are launching TV ads in Iowa to support his labor causes.

"Both ads criticize the North American Free Trade Agreement. One features a Teamster formerly employed at Square D, a manufacturing company in Cedar Rapids, before it shifted work to Mexico. American workers were forced to train their replacements."LINK

Linda Feldmann of The Christian Science Monitor profiles Gephardt. LINK

After spending some time on Gephardt's campaign trail in Iowa, Feldmann writes, "Gephardt understands that in marketing his brand — the new and improved Dick Gephardt, who didn't emerge from a test tube in the Capitol building — he can't indulge in Beltway shorthand. For the most part, he's jargon-free. More than ever in his career, he's also engaging in the politics of the personal — talking about his son's life-threatening illness, one daughter's experience as a low-paid teacher, the other's divorce and emergence as a lesbian.

From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

The Gephardt campaign is broadening its punching bag horizons, adding Senator Kerry to the attack list. Those rumors of collusion that the Gephardt and Kerry camps were joining forces to attack Dean may now be squashed forever. Gephardt campaign manager Steve Murphy took jabs at the Dean and Kerry camps on Tuesday when he spoke to ABC News about the new playing field since Kerry's behind-the-scenes turmoil became public.

On a cable program, Murphy declared that Kerry would be the next candidate to drop out of the race. Not Moseley Braun, not Kucinich, or perhaps Sharpton, but Kerry? Later he told ABC News, "the Clark campaign, the Lieberman campaign, and the Edwards campaign are not working, but they all have some sort of plausible scenario for February 3. We totally disagree with that strategy since nobody's ever been able to wait that long and win. History is prologue here."

"John Kerry is an example of this. Dean is way ahead in New Hampshire, Dick has a significant lead in Iowa, but Kerry is way behind in both states. Kerry's put a lot of money and staff in those early states, but there's no support base. Kerry is far from the support among labor households and support of African American voters that we have. His message, or lack thereof, isn't working better in any of those states. He's got no February 3rd backup plan."

Read more from the trail with Gephardt on LINK


The Washington Post 's Ed Walsh writes up Edwards editorial meeting. LINK

Here are excerpts: LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

Sound the bell, round one between General Clark (or at least his communications director) and Senator Edwards has begun.

In a letter criticizing Senator Edwards' association with General Hugh Shelton on the grounds that Shelton has engaged in a "smear campaign" and "character assassination" against his boss, Clark's communications director Matt Bennett said Edwards "should insist that General Shelton either repudiate his attacks or back up his charge with an ounce of evidence or a shred of substantiation."

The campaign released the letter Edwards wrote back, addressed directly to Clark. In it Edwards says that while he values the General's advice, Shelton has yet to officially endorse any candidate. "He is a fellow North Carolinian and has been a friend and adviser for many years. I will continue to seek his advice. When I talk to the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it's about the safety and security of our men and women in uniform, not about politics."

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


David Lightman says Lieberman and other candidates have to be careful when reaching out to veterans. "Concern for military people is one thing; using that concern for political gain is another." LINK

The Lawton Constitution reports on Lieberman's address at the Fort Sill National Cemetery. LINK

AP's Ron Jenkins writes that Lieberman assailed Bush for his treatment of veterans on his visit to a VFW post in Oklahoma City. LINK

The Washington Post 's Al Kamen writes about Lieberman's strategy in Oklahoma, which includes singing Rodgers and Hammerstein. LINK

It begs the question: Is karaoke really such a good idea after all? Dana Milbank obtained a "bootleg" copy of Lieberman singing Oklahoma. "The Post played the recording for Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera, who, after some laughter, responded: 'Oh, God.'" LINK

From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

Senator Lieberman spent Veterans Day cris-crossing Oklahoma. With a paid staff of four, Lieberman has a more extensive machine set up in Oklahoma than any other Democratic candidate.

The big news in the state was Oklahoma University's massacre of Texas A&M 77 to 0 this weekend — a huge deal in football country. When OU's president, David Boren, a former senator and college classmate of Lieberman, arrived unexpectedly at a Lieberman house party in Norman on Tuesday night, the candidate stopped mid-speech to acknowledge him.

Boren took the opportunity to lavish more than two minutes of praise on Lieberman before the 60 or so people gathered at the home of Sharilyn Young. He said, "If he's elected president … there will never be a finer human being or a more honorable human being occupying the white house than Joe Lieberman." When he was done, the two men embraced.

Boren's son Dan, an Oklahoma state representative, is endorsing Lieberman.

Ms. Young had a simple explanation for why Lieberman will fare well in Oklahoma. "He's like a no bullsxxx — excuse me — politician. He is who he says he is," she said. "Oklahoma's plain folk and he's a common man with a solid good message."

Read more from the trail with Lieberman on LINK


Lynn Okamoto writes in the Des Moines Register about Kucinich's admittedly long shot campaign, and why it keeps rolling along. LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

Congressman Kucinich, who never gives a speech without bashing insurance companies (signature line: "Insurance companies make money NOT providing health care") and touting his plan for a universal single-payer system, took the unusual step Tuesday of speaking to a group of employees at the Principal Companies, a huge insurance company known in Des Moines simply as "The Principal."

The crowd was cordial and several supporters were present, including one who works for Principal and volunteers for the campaign. But Kucinich finally got the question everyone was anticipating: This is an insurance company that provides millions of people with health care plans. What happens to us if there's a single-payer system, and how are you so sure Medicare for all will work when it often doesn't work now?

The Congressman, in the calm, deferential tone he reserves when introducing himself to undecided voters (as opposed to the fiery battle cries he delivers to avowed supporters), explained that although they might not be happy with the results of the single-payer system, his presidency would work to reduce environmental damage that he says costs the insurance industry money because of the higher number of claims being processed.

It's a tough sell in insurance industry-heavy Des Moines, even among Democrats like the questioner. The logic is essentially "Elect me and my health care policy will shut you down, but there might be fewer beach erosion housing claims in 50 years."

Read more from the trail with Kucinich on LINK


Jeff Jacoby's op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune delves into Sharpton's past, calls his resume "repugnant" and argues that the other candidates should rebuke him.

"There should be no room in American politics for a race-baiting charlatan of any color. Honorable Democrats ought to be able to look Sharpton in the eye and say so. Their failure to do so is a moral and political disgrace." LINK

Jacoby's article also brings up an interesting point about the Tawana Brawley affair. Sharpton refuses to apologize for it, calling it "standing up for civil rights."

Reverend Sharpton gets two mentions in "Open Secrets" on "The Hill." The first, a mention about Jesse, Jr's endorsement of Dean, and the second entitled "'President' Al Sharpton trash-talks Senator John Edwards." LINK

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK

Moseley Braun:

The Washington Post 's Ann Gerhart helps you understand exactly why the Ambassador is running, not raising much money, and not really campaigning that much. Or does she?LINK

Read more from the trail with Moseley Braun on LINK


Spoiler no more? Or again? Mother Jones on another Ralph run in 2004: LINK

The politics of national security:

First, the politics: The Boston Globe 's Anne Kornblut writes, "Faced with growing public uneasiness over Iraq, Republican Party officials intend to change the terms of the political debate heading into next year's election by focusing on the 'doctrine of preemption,' portraying President Bush as a visionary acting to prevent future terrorist attacks on US soil despite the costs and casualties involved overseas." Continues Kornblut, "Republicans hope to convince voters that Democrats are too indecisive and faint-hearted — and perhaps unpatriotic — to protect US interests, arguing that inaction during the Clinton years led to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." LINK

(How long 'til we get a David Sirota e-mail on this one?)

Then the security:

Twelve Italians and eight Iraqis are dead this morning after a bomb "ripped through an Italian military police base in the Iraqi town of Nasiriya" in "what appeared to be a fresh suicide attack." LINK

General Sanchez dismissed all Vietnam comparisons Tuesday, telling reporters "we are going to win this battle, and this war" and vows to use "all combat power that is available to us" in doing so. LINK

Most all the papers focus on Ambassador Jerry Bremer's hasty and unexpected return to Washington for what the New York Times calls an "urgent round of meetings to discuss ways of speeding up the transfer of power to Iraqis."

The Washington Post 's Robin Wright and Anthony Shadid report, "The Bush administration's foreign policy team yesterday began plotting strategy with L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Baghdad, to save the troubled political transition in Iraq by accelerating the hand-over of power, according to senior U.S. officials." LINK

The Philly Inquirer's Landay reports that as Bremer went to the White House a "new, top-secret CIA report from Iraq" warning that "growing numbers of Iraqis are concluding the U.S.-led coalition can be defeated and are supporting the insurgents" hit the desks of senior U.S. officials. The "bleak" report "cautions that the U.S.-led drive to rebuild the country as a democracy could collapse unless corrective actions are taken immediately." LINK

As the New York Times ' Stevenson Notes "American officials have grown increasingly impatient with the Governing Council.'" LINK

The Wall Street Journal reports "heated debate has erupted over how fast the process can move and still produce a democratic government that respects human rights" with one "senior Bush administration official saying 'Faster is better.'"

While the Los Angeles Times adds "some U.S. officials have even raised the question of whether it would be preferable — following the model used in Afghanistan — to create a transitional government with more authority that would allow the U.S.-led coalition to more quickly reduce its role." LINK

Turning to matters financial, the New York Times reports "Congress is on the verge of passing a record authorization bill to let the Pentagon spend more than $400 billion for the next year." LINK

The New York Post 's Blomquist has Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Evan Bayh calling his side's leaked memo on pre-war intel investigation strategy "unfortunate because it had a tone of pre-judgment." LINK

The politics of steel:

The Wall Street Journal 's Neil King and Carlos Tejada write that the Bush Administration is considering trying to broker a compromise between steel producers and the U.S.' trade partners after yesterday's sucker punch by the WTO that called steel tariffs illegal and brought the risk of trade retaliation.

The steel industry, which has fought for the tariffs to support prices while the dollar is weak overseas, realizes that the tariffs probably will be ratcheted back, if not dropped entirely, King and Tejada report. So they're pushing compromise — and certain Very Important People in the White House appear to be listening.

"The Bush economic team has backed the idea that the protections should be lifted in some fashion. There are also indications that Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, has had a change of heart about the tariffs as well. Mr. Rove was an influential voice in the initial decision to impose the tariffs in March 2002, but now sees them as more of a liability than a benefit, said one person familiar with administration thinking on the issue."

The New York Times ' business section nicely examines the intersection of politics and trade in looking at the choices facing the president, Noting the original steel tariff horse-trading that went on to get farm state support for fast-track trade authority "is threatening to backfire." LINK

The Washington Post 's Greg Schneider reports on the steel industry's "historic transformation" and hope for continuing tariffs. LINK

Walter Shapiro writes that Bush's decision "to protect the domestic steel industry from foreign competition is beginning to look like a textbook example of how not to choose politics over principle." LINK

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

A new Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans (55%) have a favorable view of Vice President Cheney and just one-third (33%) hold an unfavorable view.

When asked if Cheney should stay on the ticket for 2004, 51% agreed, including 69% of GOPers polled. But 28% of Republicans would prefer a different VP candidate on the ticket.

Gallup notes: "This level of Republican interest in replacing Cheney might give the vice president some pause given that Bush has already committed to keeping him on the ticket, and there is no evident move afoot by anyone to alter that. Republicans' backing of Cheney on this measure is only slightly stronger than the support they showed for Dan Quayle at a comparable point in his tenure as the elder Bush's vice president."LINK

"The survey also quells the notion set forth by persistent critics that Mr. Cheney lurks behind the scenes as a kind of White House puppet master and power broker," the Washington Times reports. LINK

President Bush marked Veterans Day at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Later in the day, the president spoke at the Heritage Foundation and said "Our men and women are fighting terrorist enemies thousands of miles away in the heart and center of their power, so that we do not face those enemies in the heart of America. LINK; LINK; and LINK

Police in New York City are not the only ones gearing up for the GOP Convention, to be held at Madison Square Garden next summer — well-organized protesters are already making plans for demonstrations and rallies during the four-day event, the New York Times reports. LINK

And it looks as if the "GOP luxury booze cruise" will not be happening during the convention, the New York Post reports. "Several Republicans said the image of partying on a luxury liner docked in the city harbor — promoted by Reps. Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island) and Tom DeLay (R-Texas) — was inappropriate during wartime." LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The New York Times ' Robert Pear on the Bill Thomas-backed Medicare compromise in which "direct competition" between traditional Medicare and private plans "would start only if the cost of Medicare drug benefits exceeded projections made by the Congressional Budget Office." LINK

The House and Senate are putting a happy face on Medicare negotiations, write the Wall Street Journal 's Sarah Lueck and David Rogers, Noting that the optimism has spurred predictions of a prescription drug compromise this week. Expected compromise issues: using private insurance plans to boost premiums in the fee-for-service; outpatient spending; a brake requiring Congress to take action if more than 45% of Medicare is funded by the government's general revenue; and health care savings accounts.

And for our money, nobody can pull off a sports metaphor quite like Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-La.).

"'We've gone the distance,' said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican. 'The game is all played now. It's just a matter of lighting up the scoreboard.'"

While Senator Hatch predicted yesterday the prescription drug bill could be finished today, Democrats were more reserved, writes the Washington Times ' Amy Fagan. LINK

A conservative, business-backed seniors group is refusing to pull ads praising Senator Russ Feingold on Medicare drug benefits. LINK

The Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman Notes the 12.5% increase in federal discretionary spending in FY03, and the president's demand that it be capped at 4%. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers reports on the growing tension over the possibility that President Bush could veto the omnibus spending package because of a provision to return to old FCC limits on the number of television stations a company can own. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) "bluntly warned" Bush against vetoing the bill on those grounds; meanwhile, the president is putting out other fires related to the spending bill, including travel restrictions on Cuba.

ABC News Vote 2003: On to Louisiana:

Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Blanco attended a rally on the Southern University Campus to attempt to energize voters in southern Louisiana. LINK

Blanco and Bobby Jindal are turning the campaign into a "road race" writes the Times Picayune as they whip around the state making as many last minute stops as they can. LINK

Two physicians attacked Jindal yesterday for making budget cuts that hurt the poor while serving as a state and federal health care administrator, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. LINK

The Louisiana Democratic Party is coming under fire from the widow of a doctor who says her deceased husband should not have been quoted in a political flier. LINK

California redux:

Gray Davis spent some time with the New York Times ' Broder, telling him, "'I didn't stay in touch with the people … That's clearly my biggest regret. Voters are the source of all wisdom. You have to conduct an ongoing dialogue with them.'" LINK

Playing judicial politics: Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times provides her readers with everything anyone ever wanted to know about the filibuster. LINK

Returning to the days of yore (how we miss the days of yore) the Senate will start a 30-hour debate session today to highlight Democratic efforts to block several judicial nominees. LINK

Writes the Washington Times ' Charles Hurt, Frist scheduled the filibuster because, "We can't have unnecessary delays if we are to complete the nation's business." LINK

During the marathon session, "Republicans and Democrats will condemn each other in thirty-minute face-offs over four filibustered U.S. Appeals Court nominees," writes the AP. LINK

The Washington Times ' editorial board thinks that while the extended session may not change any minds, it's about time the Republicans did something. LINK

Tim Funk talks about the Senators "speechifying" for 30 hours. LINK

Speaking Friday in North Carolina, Bush aimed his attacks at Edwards for holding up the judicial nomination of North Carolina native Terrence Boyle. LINK

The Chicago Tribune claims that with the Senate's carefully choreographed filibuster, hot air just ain't what it used to be. LINK

The Washington Post 's ed board believes the Senate's time would be better spent on bills than on a 30-hour lecture. LINK


Senator Bob Graham said yesterday that he has spoken to most of the Democratic campaigns about future roles in their administration, according to the AP. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

The New York Post 's Vince Morris reports seven fundraisers will be on Hillary Clinton's itinerary this weekend. Mr. Morris also has some angry blind quotes from Democratic presidential campaign aides about Hillary Clinton's upcoming trip to Iowa. LINK

"She shouldn't be doing this and she knows it," said an aide at one campaign.

Added another: "It's in bad taste. It demonstrates that [the Clintons'] real agenda is promoting Hillary. It's pretty craven."