And the goo-goo campaign finance groups, driving Republicans looking for consistency batty, seem to be thinking about Dean's (tentative) decision to Busta Caps only in the breach, giving him a pass.
The Republican National Committee's Jim "Who's Mindy Tucker?" Dyke, in constant coffee-spew mode over the last day of Deania, tells The Note all of this in stream of consciousness:
"Clearly, Mr. Dean didn't read the New York Times editorial this morning before he went on TV, because he continued to have trouble with the truth. He said repeatedly on national TV that he will be outspent by the Bush-Cheney campaign with corporation money, all of those $2,000 contributions. If Common Cause and other 'watchdog' groups are abandoning their positions on public financing, they should at least send the Dean campaign a copy of the new campaign finance law (just so he doesn't get in trouble)."
"Mr. Dean, corporate contributions are against the law! In fairness, maybe he was just suggesting third party groups would be spending $200 million, and to that I say PROVE IT! What I can prove is that third party groups committed to defeating the president and Republicans are going to spend between $360 and $500 million to elect a Democrat."
"Note to Anchors: the next time a guest suggests that the entire election will be rigged by the people who make the voting machines, you may want to ask a follow up. Suggestion: So you need to forgo public financing because the election is going to be rigged?"
Other people have thoughts on Howard Dean too: Gail Collins; Ruth Marcus; Richard Cohen, Al Sharpton, George Will, Tom Edsall and his sidekick; Mark Barabak and James Rainey; Diamond Jim and Jodi; Glen Justice; and the super-influential John DiStaso, who writes up for the Union Leader the largest issues facing Dean in New Hampshire. LINK
Despite all this verbiage (or, perhaps, because of it) Joe Trippi keeps being right in saying that the other presidential campaigns still don't GET the Dean campaign.
But we wonder if Trippi GETS what Al Hunt writes today about Dean's semiotic and rhetorical relationship with religion and the military.
In the meantime, Hunt is right: there is a CW in some Republican and journalistic quarters that Dick Gephardt is the leading candidate to emerge as the anti-Dean.
At The Note, we still think: any of four or five people can still be that person.
And the ultimate Democratic nomination fight question remains: will the qualities and weaknesses that Hunt's Democrats think will make Dean a disastrous general election candidate turn out to, come January, stop him from even being his party's nominee?
President Bush is in D.C. today, where he will make remarks at the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, sign the emergency appropriations supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, and present the National Medals of Science and Technology.
Vice President Cheney will attend a fundraiser for Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell in Denver tonight.
Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Cheney will attend separate Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraisers today in Norfolk, Va., and Allentown, Pa., respectively.
Governor Dean is likely to join SEIU President Andy Stern for a press conference today in D.C. to announce the group's endorsement for his campaign. He heads to New Hampshire tonight for a town hall meeting.
Senator Kerry campaigns in New Hampshire.
General Clark campaigns in New York and South Carolina.