The Note

--SEIU has a lot of money to spend on its political activities;

Stern has scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference in Washington, D.C. While the union deliberates, Dean will sit tight, awaiting the call to be summoned to his side.

Campaign aides insist that it's not a done deal; that their hesitant, hopeful (but not definitive) comments reflect a genuine uncertainty about what exactly will happen and how exactly the endorsement announcement will play out.

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK

The AP looks at the (possibly?) impending endorsement. LINK

The Washington Post 's Balz and Edsall report on Dean's "impassioned case" for abandoning public financing. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Brian Mooney writes, "Dean's decision to let a plebiscite of supporters determine whether he will be the Democrats' first presidential candidate to forgo spending caps is the latest sign that the public financing system is breaking down." LINK

The Washington Post 's ed board agrees. LINK

Mooney has the Lieberman campaign's Jano Cabrera calling it "'gimmickry'" and the Kerry campaign's Kelley Benander calling it "'more politics of convenience.'"

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Deirdre Shesgreen reports that "Gephardt, faced with a cash disadvantage against [Dean], is questioning [his] potential plans to forgo public financing." LINK

Gephardt "asked the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday for an advisery opinion on whether a candidate can legally opt out of the system after initially agreeing to accept public money — and the spending limits that come with it."

George Will writes, "Probably more than twice, but certainly twice, Howard Dean has said something sensible. He has been roundly roasted for both indelicacies, the roasters being his rivals for the Democratic nomination." LINK

The New York Times ' Wilgoren moves the Confederate flag story down the field with a piece that:

-Has the Governor speaking of being in a "jam" and a "big contretemps." -Captures Dean admitting "the things that make me a strong candidate are also my Achille's (sic) heel." -Tells readers Dean was up most of Tuesday night "pondering the problem" and "called former President Jimmy Carter" for advice. -Uses the adjectives "subdued" and "reflective" to describe Dean -Is simply chock full of news and insight. LINK

"Under pressure from friends and foes alike, Howard Dean apologized Wednesday for urging Democrats to court Southern whites who display Confederate flags on their pickup trucks," writes the AP's Ron Fournier. LINK

The New York Times editorial board says Dean must show he can fit the Bill as he proves "his Confederate flag moment was a one-shot, recoverable gaffe and not a symptom of something more haunting, like a pattern of misspeaking or a hardheaded combativeness that makes it impossible to give way with grace." LINK

James Rainey and a Z-less Mark Barabak team up on the Dean flag flap for the Los Angeles Times. After what must have seemed like a very long day for Dr. Dean, he may have forgotten that his theme was that of contrition. LINK

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, civil rights attorney Constance Rice sees no need for Dr. Dean to apologize.LINK

David Lightman's Dean flag flap story in the Hartford Courant includes a letter exchange between Dick Harpootlian and the former Vermont Governor as well as some analysis from the Marist Poll's Lee Miringoff. LINK

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