The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—8:00 am: Congressman Dick Gephardt has breakfast with Boone County Democrats, Boone, Iowa —8:15 am: Senator Joe Lieberman holds a town hall forum with workers at BAE Systems, Nashua, N.H. —8:30 am: Senator John Edwards has breakfast with Goffstown voters, Goffstown, N.H. —9:00 am: General Wesley Clark appears on New Hampshire Public Radio's "The Exchange," Concord, N.H. —9:10 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan —9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —10:00 am: House convenes for legislative business —10:40 am: President Bush meets with the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, White House —11:00 am: NARAL President Kate Michelman holds a news conference to speak against the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003, D.C. —11:30 am: Senator Edwards delivers a speech at New Hampshire Technical Institute, Concord, N.H. —12:00 pm: Reverend Al Sharpton files to participate in the D.C. Democratic primary, D.C. —12:00 pm: Governor Howard Dean announces his campaign's decision to let supporters decide whether to accept public financing in a speech at Cooper Union, New York City —12:45 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —1:00 pm: Senator John McCain speaks to the Council on Foreign Relations about Iraq and Afghanistan, D.C. —1:00 pm: Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun attends a town hall forum at New England College, Henniker, N.H. —1:15 pm: NOW holds a protest against the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003, D.C. —1:40 pm: President Bush makes remarks and signs the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003, D.C. —2:00 pm: General Clark announces his New Hampshire campaign team, Concord, N.H. —3:15 pm: Senator Edwards holds a workplace town hall meeting at Graphic Data Technology, Lebanon, N.H. —5:45 pm: Governor Dean attends a event at the Merrimack Restaurant, Manchester, N.H. —7:00 pm: Planned Parenthood presidential candidates forum, Manchester, N.H.


Political journalism — as Jill Zuckman, Vaughn Ververs, and Matea Gold could all tell you — is basically at its root about making choices.

And the first, most basic choice each news cycle is: what is the lead?

After that, the second choice invariably is: how should we play the lead?

One by one, with the precision of a John Boehner press conference, Googling monkeys marched into our bullpen office this morning, each cluster (or do Googling monkeys come in coveys? … ) making its case for what the political lead of the day is, and how to play it.

Among those offered up:

-- the national implications of Tuesday's election results (As one Twister-playing Googling monkey said, "Red states — red; blue states — blue.")

-- whether Howard Dean's Confederate flag problem will fester, linger, metastasize, or fade (We don't know the answer, by the way … .)

-- whether it is possible to make real viewers/listeners/readers care about Howard Dean's changed position on accepting public financing and the implications for the race if he decides to Busta Caps

-- a superficial, meta-gimmicky "winners and losers and mixed" list from the news cycle just ending that would include:

winners: President Bush's political potency; Haley Barbour; Ernie Fletcher; John Street; Jim McGreevey; John Edwards; and Al Sharpton

losers: Hong Kong Harbor's political potency; Howard Dean; and Mayor Bloomberg

mixed: the Stevens Schriefer Group; the Glover Park Group; and the Lehane family group

-- whether the worse news long-term for Terry McAuliffe is found in Tuesday's election results or the CBS cave on the Reagan movie

-- Medicare

-- what Karl Rove will (justifiably) do with "that" memo from the Democratic staff of the Senate Intelligence (sic) Committee

-- the couture of Wesley Clark and Dennis Kucinich

-- the sheer number of promos CNN ran for Total Anderson Cooper Live, including (we kid you not) at least one that aired AFTER the event!

Our gut tells us that the Dean decision on campaign finance looms largest now and for the next few months.

Despite the bravado that the Kerry and Clark campaigns have shown, despite the disdain they have for Howard Dean, and as much as they hope that the flag flap flags Dean down — we can't imagine anyone else being willing to risk leaving the federal matching funds on the table.

Dean's decision (assuming his supporters support his move) is about Joe Trippi and Howard Dean once again putting their foot on the accelerator and thinking about the general election — while their opponents stop, think, look, consider, meet, call consultants, meet again, defer, delay, and dither.

And Dean's decision is about rolling the dice for a match-up against George Bush — not winning the nomination fight (although it surely has implications for that battle as well).

Dean makes his announcement in Gotham City just after noon today, and the election of his supporters runs through the weekend. Not since Bill Clinton drove around Arkansas with Wes Clark wingman Bruce Lindsey has a politician so synthetically turned to the public to validate a decision already made.

President Bush meets with the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and signs the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 in D.C. today. He will sign the Iraq Supplemental tomorrow afternoon.

Governor Dean, General Clark, Senator Kerry, Senator Lieberman, Senator Edwards, and Ambassador Moseley Braun all campaign today in New Hampshire. All of them except Lieberman are scheduled to take part in a Planned Parenthood-sponsored candidate forum in Manchester tonight.

All of the candidates were invited to participate in this forum that aims to focus on women's issues. New Hampshire Public Radio's Laura Knoy will moderate, and she will be joined by syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman and NPR's Robin Young. The New Hampshire Women's Lobby, YWCA, New Hampshire Business and Professional Women Organization, and the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence are also co-hosts of the event.

Congressman Gephardt campaigns in Iowa.

Congressman Kucinich has no public events announced for today. He might go to the Planned Parenthood forum in Manchester tonight, but nothing is confirmed yet.

Reverend Sharpton campaigns in D.C. and New York City today.

The Reagan movie:

CBS folds under pressure from conservatives, sells their Reagan movie to sister network Showtime, reports the Chicago Tribune. LINK

The questions about the Reagan miniseries aren't over, however.

We've learned the Republican National Committee's Ed Gillespie has sent a letter to Showtime saying "the only proper thing to do is to correct the imbalance and have the program reviewed for historical accuracy or inform viewers that it is a fictionalized portrayal and not intended to be historically accurate."

"I respectfully request that Showtime allow a panel of historians and people who know the Reagans to review the program for accuracy before it airs," Gillespie writes.

Stay tuned, folks …

If the "The Reagans" weren't filled with damn lies, CBS wouldn't have pulled it, the Wall Street Journal editorial board asserts.

ABC News Vote 2003: Kentucky, Mississippi, and Philadelphia, and more:

Get out the broom! "Sweep" (or some variation thereof) may be the most used word of the day, but the results were mixed enough for joint bragging rights, but, we'll say again, if the president's party had lost, all heck would have broken loose in the Establishment media — even Carl Cameron would have Noted it.

Mark Z. Barabak of the Los Angeles Times cautions about drawing too many conclusions from Tuesday's gubernatorial contests in Kentucky and Mississippi. LINK

"For all the interest in possible national trends, Tuesday's results were expected to have little practical effect on the presidential contests in either Kentucky or Mississippi."

The Wall Street Journal 's Jake Schlesinger looks at last night's election results and Notes that if the South will rise again for Democrats, it probably won't be this cycle.

The New York Times ' Janofsky, writing on the GOP Southern state gubernatorial wins, reminds us that Haley Barbour "will be just the second Republican governor of Mississippi since Reconstruction." LINK

Barbour emerged victorious from a campaign marked by both record spending and record turnout, the AP reports. LINK

The Washington Post 's Edward Walsh recaps the winners and losers of the day. LINK

USA Today 's Jim Drinkard Notes, "Control of the governorships is important for next year's presidential and congressional elections. Governors can help organize their party's grass-roots efforts and raise money. GOP governors were essential to Bush's success in 2000." LINK

For the first time in 32 years, a Republican will be governor of Kentucky after Ernie Fletcher's victory last night.LINK

The New York Times ' Clemetson Notes Philadelphia's Mayor Street deftly turned his FBI investigation to his advantage "by suggesting that the investigation was engineered by the Republican Party in an effort to discredit a black Democrat." LINK

The New York Post 's David Seifman kicks off his 2005 mayoral race coverage with Mayor Bloomberg's "resounding defeat" in his effort to abolish party primaries in New York City. LINK

San Franciscans will head back to the polls on December 9 to choose between two 30-somethings. Democrat Gavin Newsom and Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez will face each other in next month's runoff. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Brian MacQuarrie reports that the prospects for Maine Vegas were shot down in a "lopsided defeat last night." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Democratic debate: Rockin' the house:

In a rollicking, free form debate in Boston tonight, there were plenty of fun/funny moments and one 9-minute stretch that comprised one of Howard Dean's worst moments of the campaign.

Whether it has an effect on his candidacy remains to be seen.

For 10 minutes, the topic, generated by an audience question, was Dean's recent high-profile repetition of his oft-repeated stump notion that he wants to appeal to Southerners with Confederate flags on the pickups.

As Ron Fournier of the AP says, "After failing for weeks to undercut Howard Dean's political surge, his Democratic presidential rivals finally found a flag to rally around Tuesday night. The Confederate flag."

Dean's first (unapplauded) answer to the question was followed by colloquies with Al Sharpton and John Edwards, who both challenged him directly. His rivals have been attacking him from afar since the weekend, but this was their first chance to get to him face-to face.

However, Dean didn't take the bait and lose his temper, so it could have been worse. But he could be perceived as most everything else his critics say — arrogant, aloof, disconnected and an insensitive blueblood.

When Edwards went after Dean, he demonstrated a flair for "nice Richard Gere courtroom dramatics," by walking toward Dean and challenging him to apologize.

Dean's position is in fact perfectly understandable and the attacks on him are arguably demagogic, but he explained it in a way that didn't seem to win over the audience.

Other than that, the young people asked some good questions; the outfits worn by Wes Clark and Dennis Kucinich brought to mind either

a. a shopping trip to the Gap

b. "Now's the time on Sprockets when we dance!" LINK


c. a bicycle cop on South Beach

The last five minutes provide plenty of entertainment to last all the live-long day, including on the "have you ever smoked pot? question:

Kerry: Yes

Kucinich: No

Edwards: Yes

Lieberman: I never used marijuana. Sorry.

Clark: Never used it.

Braun: Not going to answer.

Dean: Yes.

Sharpton: We grew up in church. We never did that.

As for us at The Note, we know who we'd party with. We're just keeping it to ourselves.

The New York Times ' Adam Nagourney on the debate's flag flap. LINK

The Los Angeles Times Matea Gold's account of Dean's opponents "pounding" him on the Confederate flag issue: LINK

The Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer writes, "The force and fury of the attack from fellow Democrats was notable, but perhaps more striking was Dean's response." LINK

The Boston Herald's David Guarino profiles the man who asked Dean the Confederate flag question at the forum, whom Guarino dubs Dean's "worst nightmare." LINK

The Washington Post 's Jim VandeHei recaps the vote rocking in Boston. LINK

VandeHei doesn't talk much about how that pot question totally RULED. That was awesome.

As if in Douglas K. Ginsburg's honor, the Los Angeles Times' James Rainey focuses on Tuesday night's marijuana question. LINK

So does the New York Daily News' Helen Kennedy. LINK

Deborah Orin includes the Democratic wardrobe into her debate account. LINK

"Hoping to win over younger voters, the candidates tried to look hip at the face-off — Wesley Clark and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) in black jackets over black sweaters, Sharpton in a three-piece suit."

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

Dean David Broder writes, "There has always been a risk that Terry McAuliffe's decision to speed up the race for the Democratic presidential nomination would backfire on his party — and now that risk looms larger than ever." LINK

USA Today 's Walter Shapiro advises that "there is a danger in overemphasizing this fixation on electability. We have not yet reached that moment in politics when every voter is his or her own campaign consultant." LINK

Attention RNC oppo shop (there's gotta be a "They Said It" here somewhere!). George McGovern likes Dean but despite the Playboy prose, he's not committed yet — check here for his kind words for The General — and, he says, the Class of 72 was "more capable" than this year's crop. LINK

The New York Times tells the aspiring White House Dems to stop hunting one another and focus on the Senate, "which is on the verge of debating a truly retrogressive step on the nation's tortuous path toward workable gun controls." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's editorial board says not only that the Democrats' economic plans fall far from the Clinton tree, but basically that they're delusional. Any editorial that works in the word "diktat" is OK by us.


The New York Times ' Wilgoren gets an unnamed campaign official to describe Dean's decision to poll backers on whether to forgo federal matching funds as a "way to provide political cover for abandoning the system." LINK

Mark Z. Barabak writes up Howard Dean's "Your Country, Your Campaign, Your Decision" e-mail and Jim Jordan's reaction to it. LINK

"'Before he was so flush with cash, Howard Dean was an ardent and passionate supporter of the matching-fund system,' said Jim Jordan, manager of Kerry's campaign. 'Now that his situation has changed, of course, so have his views on that system. More flip-flops, more politics of convenience, more politics as usual.'"

Note Barabak has this: "Last week, while campaigning in California, Dean told potential supporters he had already decided to forgo public financing, according to people who attended the closed-door sessions."

According the AP's Ron Fournier, Dean is letting some 600,000 of his supporters decide whether he should seek matching funds or opt out.LINK

The Washington Post 's Dan Balz and Tom Edsall write up the Dean money vote. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont Notes, "The decision is a dilemma for Dean … " LINK

Jeanne Cummings of the Wall Street Journal looks at the "if Dean goes, so go Kerry and Clark" dynamic on the issue of public financing for their presidential candidates, and briefly Notes how the others picked on the poor guy during Tuesday's debate.

The Boston Globe 's Raja Mishra reports, "A blizzard of small-money contributions enabled [Dean] to raise more money in Massachusetts recently than [Kerry], underscoring the former Vermont governor's powerful appeal among liberal Democrats, even in a rival's backyard." LINK

Dick Morris apparently didn't get Howard Dean's "Your Country, Your Campaign, Your Decision" e-mail. LINK

"Most of the Democrats, probably including Dean, will accept federal matching funds, which place sharp limits on their allowable campaign spending in the period before the Democratic National Convention."

Jeff Zeleny discusses the attacks on Dean during yesterday's Rock the Vote, and his stubborn refusal to apologize. LINK

Dean's remarks on the rebel flag may hurt him as his campaign looks south, writes the Orlando Sentinel.LINK

The Tampa Tribune has a different take.LINK

Newsday picks up on former South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian's Monday letter to Howard Dean asking him to stop using the flag "as a measure of discerning independent voters in the South." and Dean's answer that he wants "people with Confederate flags on their trucks to put down those flags and vote Democratic, because the need for quality health care, jobs and good education knows no racial boundaries." LINK

Slate's Saletan says sure, Dean's explanation of his Confederacy flag line was "cruddy," but the other candidates are being dishonest in hammering Dean for wanting the votes "of these people despite their fondness for the Confederate flag, not because of it." LINK

Dean criticized Florida's Shiavo decision as he visited the Sunshine State.LINK

Although Dean blog comments on the debate were largely positive (one said Dean won "hands down"), some bloggers took the attacks on the flag flap pretty hard. A few initial comments from Rock the Vote Debate on CNN @ 7pm right as the attacks began at 7:07 p.m.:

"pray people"

"OUCH Gov. Dean, that was the worst thing I have ever heard you say. After MONTHS of support and hard work, how could you let me down!"

"Go governor, don't take any GUFF."

"My tummy is turning … this is not going well. I seriously hope that we can recover from this."

"this is another CNN hatchet job on Dean"

"you guys I am crying here"

"I am getting ill."

"GOV. DEAN!! What are you doing!!! I cannot believe this!"

In the I-feel-your-pain department, Edwards has touted his youth as the son of a mill worker, Kerry has stressed his service in Vietnam, and Moseley Braun has focused on her experience as both a woman and a minority. But until recently, Dean has mainly focused on issues and touted his success fundraising with the common man rather than being one.

Consider then Dean's upcoming article in December's Vanity Fair as his treatise on feeling the pain of the poor. Reaching back as far as his childhood, which he hints at being privileged, Dean makes his case for universal health care and social safety nets.

The article follows Dean in an autobiographical manner as he grows up "literally within blocks of" poor families, to go on to internships at Bronx hospitals handling the underprivileged, to his tenure as a physician in Vermont. Keep an eye on this, the Dean as doctor image could start popping up more.

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

The small and obvious question for the campaign now: Does the tongue-lashing over the Confederate flag flap survive the news cycle, creep into press stories about the financing decision, put a little pressure on the SEIU to postpone an endorsement?

The big and obvious question: Has this and will it dampen the enthusiasm of Dean's Internet supporters?

Here is what Dean will say today during a speech at New York City's Cooper Union:

"We have two choices. The first will be for us to decline federal matching funds. It will mean walking away from 19 million dollars. This will place the burden of funding the campaign entirely on our supporters, but with the knowledge that this may be the only way to win this election and reform our political system."

"The second choice will be for us to accept public financing. Unfortunately despite the law's best intent, it will hinder our reform efforts while rewarding the Bush campaign's attempts to further increase the power of special interests. It will cap our spending at $45 million, giving the Bush campaign a spending advantage of $170 million, which they will use to define and distort us from March to August."

If his supporters decide to let him opt out, Dean would become the first Democratic presidential candidate ever to reject public financing for a nomination fight.

"This is the biggest decision so far for our campaign," Dean told ABC News Tuesday. "And we want to share the responsibility with 500,000" people.

The campaign expects, and hopes, that his "voters" will decide to reject the match and "create an army of small donors" as Dean put it, to defeat his primary opponents and subsidize a general election campaign against a well-funded President George W. Bush.

"The reason why we're doing this is because if we decide to forgo the financing, then [his supporters] are going to have to help raise a whole lot of money," Dean said. "If [the supporters] are not up for it, we want to know about it."

But campaign manager Joe Trippi said they would accept whatever result the vote brings.

The vote will take place Thursday and Friday; each e-mail supporter will be sent a unique access code to gain entry into a special part of the Dean web site; they will then be asked to vote on the question.

Dean will announce the results on Saturday in Burlington, Vt.

As for the question of whether the flag focus will affect the SEIU's endorsement decision, a union official tells ABC News' Gayle Tzemach:

"I don't think SEIU members will question Howard Dean's commitment to civil rights and equality for all. He himself has said that the confederate flag is a loathsome symbol. But his point is that ALL of us who are struggling to make ends meet, get our kids a good education, and have quality health care our families can afford — whether we are black, white, brown, or purple — need to come together, instead of being divided by the politics of race, as the Republicans have tried to do."

Read more from the trail with Dean on LINK


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

Senator Kerry arrived to 'Rock the Vote' to a throng of Beantown supporters chanting, "JK all the way" and jeer, "Howard the Coward" at the equally sized group of Dean enthusiasts gathered in front of Faneuil Hall.

At one point during the debate, Kerry claimed, "I saw a poll the other day that had me 15 points ahead of (Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton)." This prompted Senator Joe Lieberman's camp and ABC News to ask, "What poll has John Kerry 15 points ahead of Hillary Clinton?"

Verbose campaign manager Jim Jordon offered dryly, "I honestly don't know."

Further inquiries by The Note resulted in much the same response; perhaps outgoing fax and e-mail lines were clogged with NRA questionnaires.

Read more from the trail with Kerry on LINK


From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

ABC News has learned that the Clark campaign will soon announce their new Political Director, Lara Bergthold.

The Los Angeles native relocated to Little Rock as of Tuesday night to work in the Clark '04 campaign offices, reporting to Campaign Chair, Eli Segal.

Bergthold has been traveling with General Clark and his "road team" as an adviser since the first week in October, but has had no formal title until now.

Before joining the Clark campaign, Bergthold was the co-chair of the Board of People for the American Way and the former executive director of Hollywood Women's Political Committee.

Last night marked General Clark's first time in the spin room following a presidential debate. And sticking with his "I won't criticize other Democratic candidates" mantra, Clark downplayed the Dean/Confederate flag issue following the debate.

The General said: "I think it's very important we bring Southern voters to an understanding of differences between the two parties. And that the real differences are not on the sort of culture wars of litmus test issues like guns — I've got a lot of guns in my house, I've been shooting my whole life. The issue is, how do we work together to improve the lives of ordinary Americans." And then he added. "I'm against the divisiveness of the Confederate flag."

Read more from the trail with Clark on LINK


Supporters of a Bush judicial appointee are launching a 30 second ad in South Carolina criticizing Edwards for not putting "qualifications before politics." LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

"Were you wrong, Howard?"

One small sentence for John Edwards, one giant leap for his campaign.

Until now John Edwards has been a litigator as opposed to prosecutor in approaching the competition, for the most part preferring to let his campaign issue emails pointing out his rivals' inconsistencies or negative press.

But at the Rock the Vote forum Tuesday night Edwards showed a hint of the bite that made him a successful trial attorney. Up from his chair, voice raised, Edwards demanded that Howard Dean explain his statement on courting southern voters who drive pickup trucks and fly the Confederate flag. This is the South we are talking about, and it's personal. After all, Edwards himself drove a pickup truck.

Dean tried to explain, saying he wanted to go down South and talk to the voters there.

Edwards made it clear he would not be rolling out any red carpets, "Let me tell you, the last thing we need in the South is somebody like you coming down and telling us what we need to do."

Later, in the spin room, Edwards elaborated, "If he said it one hundred times he is still wrong. It doesn't matter how many times he has said it. I am troubled by the fact that he won't say what he said was wrong. If he said, 'Listen, I made a mistake … all I meant was we should reach out to white voters, there is nothing wrong with that. That is absolutely fine, but that is not what he said. And at least up to now he has not taken responsibility for it."

Read more from the trail with Edwards on LINK


Knight Ridder's Matt Stearns is on the road with Gephardt. LINK

And so as to not miss out completely on the Rock the Vote fashion show buzz, Stearns reports that "Gephardt, who favors khakis and dark shirts on the trail rather than the statesmanlike blue suits he's worn for decades in D.C., connects well with Iowa voters."

From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

While his opponents "rocked the vote" in Beantown, it was business as usual for Congressman Gephardt who skipped the debate to attend an "important" union meeting in Des Moines and an evening campaign stop at the Uptown Cafe in Jefferson, Iowa.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Gephardt met with members of AFSCME, which reportedly will endorse some time in early December. Gephardt is pulling out all the stops to try and secure their backing. The union's officials have already met with three other top candidates and today was Gephardt's day, so the Rock the Vote debate was not in the cards.

In Jefferson, some people were actually surprised to see Gephardt at his own event. They knew they were attending a Gephardt meeting, but surely he must be in Boston with everyone else? When he walked in, there were a few confused faces. Without missing a beat, he launched into his typical campaign speech and barely mentioned the debate.

Read more from the trail with Gephardt on LINK


From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

Knowing that Senator Lieberman is a die-hard Yankees fan, I asked him what he thought about John Kerry's statement that everyone should celebrate the victory of the Marlins in the World Series.

Lieberman laughed and said it was a "politicization of a great American pastime."

"You know, I always say that I'm going to say what I believe is right no matter whether it's politically popular in every crowd or not. So of course, I was rooting for the Yankees."

Read more from the trail with Lieberman on LINK


In his online chat with and the Concord Monitor, Kucinich reveals that his favorite book is "Alice in Wonderland," which he's fond of referencing on the campaign trail, but doesn't completely answer whether he'd run against Ohio senator George Voinovich if his presidential bid fails, saying only that he's running for Congress and he expects to "take an oath of office at the Capitol in January of 2005." LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

For perhaps the first time in this campaign, Congressman Kucinich and General Clark were on exactly the same page: they, or at least their consultants, think that young voters really like black mock turtlenecks circa 1991.

When asked if he picked his outfit to attract young voters, Kucinich responded, "I'd just say I keep trying to clean up my act," and that he now knows what it feels like for women who show up to events in the same dress.

But despite several candidates' confrontation with Dean last night, the man with whom Kucinich had the most bitter words was not a fellow candidate on the stage, but a journalist in the spin room. Kucinich supporters, angry that their candidate had been cancelled by CNN's Paula Zahn show while five other candidates were interviewed, started insisting to Time columnist and CNN commentator Joe Klein that CNN interview Kucinich.

Klein pointed out that he wasn't a CNN producer and had no say in the matter, but went a step further to explain that were he to make the decision, which he does when it comes to his column, he would never dedicate space to Kucinich. Kucinich himself confronted Klein in front of reporters and the altercation became heated. Klein walked away as Kucinich was in mid-sentence.

Later Klein told ABC News he wouldn't dedicate one line to Kucinich because "I think he's cluttering the stage and his position on the most important issue out there, which is the war, is totally ridiculous." Campaign spokesman David Swanson would only state the campaign's standard line on the media: "Members of the media should communicate to the public all of the candidates' positions and let the voters decide."

Read more from the trail with Kucinich on LINK


Reverend Sharpton claims the first quote in Nagourney's New York Times write-up of Rock the Vote. LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

Sharpton opted to clothe himself in the usual three-piece suit rather than khakis and rolled-up sleeves or a sports coat with a very metrosexual-esque shirt or even the silk gray leisure suit that he sports from time to time. What's up with that?

"I'm the youngest guy up there. I don't have to try to look young. I'm trying to look presidential. They're trying to look young." (Although during the second commercial break, Sharpton took off the jacket and unbuttoned the vest.)

And as for the Reverend's desire to party-hearty with Mrs. Kerry, Sharpton said he finds her "feisty, friendly and fiery." Interestingly, he also used the word "controversial" to describe her. One could say they have a lot in common.

Read more from the trail with Sharpton on LINK

Moseley Braun:

From ABC News' Moseley Braun campaign reporter Monica Ackerman:

Just answer the question.

Three out of the eight candidates at CNN's Rock the Vote said they had smoked marijuana. The only candidate who didn't give a straight answer was Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun. She simply replied, "I'm not going to answer the question." Later in the spin room, she Cited the 5th Amendment.

Contrary to some of the other candidates, Ambassador Moseley Braun contributed in a rather tranquil manner to the controversy over Dean's Confederate flag statement. "We are in a global competition. We have to deal with and address the rest of the world. And we can't do it as long as Americans are still fighting each other. And we need to find ways as Democrats to come together. Yes, this is an important conversation. But it has to be done in a way that does not play into the real racists and the real right wing."

Read more from the trail with Moseley Braun on LINK

The politics of national security:

Turks are staying home, attacks in Iraq continue, and a Democratic memo to make political hay out of the intel melee surfaces. Just another day in the politics of national security.

The AP reports, "in a major setback to U.S. efforts to attract military help in Iraq, a Turkish official said Tuesday his country won't send peacekeeping troops without a significant change in the situation there. That makes it virtually certain the United States will have to send thousands more U.S. reservists early next year." LINK

Speaking of security, the New York Times ' Filkins echoes yesterday's stories in Noting the toll the violence is taking on everything else the coalition is trying to do, finding "the lack of security has stifled foreign investment and chased away all but a few relief agencies." LINK

While the Washington Post reports the increasing number of attacks in Iraq is leading Ambassador Bremer to now back the creation of "an Iraqi-led paramilitary force composed of former employees of the country's security services and members of political party militias" which would "pursue resistance fighters who have eluded American troops." LINK

The Washington Post 's Milbank and Ricks team up again to sift through a we-implore-you-to-read ABC News- Washington Post poll numbers showing the public isn't so sure Iraq is the "central front" in the war on terror. And the dynamic twosome captures GOP Congressman (and longtime Cheney friend) Jim Leach calling the administration's thinking on Iraq "one of the most misguided assumptions in the history of United States strategic thinking." LINK

Meanwhile one Gary Hart of Kittredge, Colo., writes to the New York Times editorial page to dare and take issue with Bill Safire, saying it is not a question of democracy versus terrorism but "internationalism versus unilateralism." LINK

Dems take some hits from an unusual quarters today as Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon calls many "commonly heard" Democratic criticisms of current Iraq policy neither substantive nor fair. LINK

Lots on the intelligence front as Congressman Porter Goss sits down with the New York Times to call for more Arabic speakers in the CIA and to say American intelligence "capabilities were not what they should have been" in the run-up to the Iraq war. LINK

Meanwhile, ABC News has obtained a copy of a memo from the staff of Senator Rockefeller saying these Dems "have an important role to play in revealing the misleading — if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives — of senior Administration officials who made the case for unilateral, preemptive" and outlining an approach that offers "the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives."

Our favorite part of the plan as outlined in the memo: "Prepare to launch an Independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the Majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration's use of intelligence at any time but we can only do so once. The best time to do so will probably be next year either: A) After we have already released our additional views on an interim report … B) Once we identify solid leads the Majority does not want to pursue …

"The Los Angeles Times picks up on the memo and Notes its tone "could be embarrassing to Democrats and provides new ammunition for Republican complaints that Democrats are seeking to use the inquiry for political gain." LINK

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

Mounting casualties in Iraq could pose political problems for President Bush, New York Times ' Bumiller writes. "The quandary for Mr. Bush, administration officials say, is in finding a balance: expressing sympathy for fallen soldiers without drawing more attention to the casualties by commenting daily on every new death." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Wayne Washington also looks at the White House approach to casualties in Iraq, as "officials have made it clear that they have no interest in addressing individual acts of violence, but will continue to remind Americans that the deaths they hear and read about are sacrifices necessary to keep America safe from terrorism." LINK

President Bush was in California yesterday, viewing the devastation of the wildfires there. LINK

And USA Today 's Judy Keen writes that the trip also had "political overtones" as the president's campaign team works to build a strategy that could give the Bush-Cheney team California's 55 electoral votes. LINK

A Marist College poll released yesterday found that while 38% of voters will support his re-election, 44% of the voters planned to vote for the Democratic candidate.

The poll also found the president's approval rating at 53%, down from its high of 70% in April but about even with other recent major polls. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood looks at the legacy of LBJ hanging over the 2004 presidential race. Beyond the obvious foreign policy Vietnam/Iraq comparisons that we've all heard before, it's Medicare and the domestic agenda — and the refusal to cut or de-fund one program in favor of another - that's the biggest ghost hanging over the current Texan in the White House, Harwood writes.

Today President Bush signs into law the partial-birth abortion ban. LINK

Vice President Cheney circulated a compromise energy bill yesterday, in an attempt to break a deadlock between House and Senate Republicans on the Hill over ethanol taxes. LINK

The economy:

First the Bush Administration wanted you to spend your money; now they want to help you save it.

The Wall Street Journal 's Bob Davis and John McKinnon exclusively report that just in time to catch voters' attention, the White House will propose two new tax-exempt savings accounts: a "lifetime savings account" that allows people to withdraw money at any time without penalty, and a retirement account that works like current IRAs, but with a yearly contribution cap of $7,500 instead of the current $3,000.

These plans are designed to narrow people's choices for tax-exempt plans and would cap the $2.3 trillion now in those accounts, Davis and McKinnon Note — leaving the current plans to die on the vine, as it were.

For those particularly concerned with the jobs and economic worries of "ordinary Americans," this sentence jumped out at us:

"The accounts would affect a broad swath of taxpayers but would be a special boon to the wealthy, who now are barred from some federal tax-exempt plans but would benefit from the new ones."

American workers deserve a level playing field in China's markets, Commerce Secretary Don Evans writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Big Casino budget politics:

Senator Kennedy warns the prescription drug compromise is in peril. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Vicki Kemper plays up Senator Kennedy's "life support" comments and writes chances for a compromise Medicare prescription drug bill "appear dimmer than at any time since Congress passed separate bills in June … " LINK

The Washington Post 's Helen Dewar reports, "Key Senate Democrats yesterday stepped up their attacks on Republican efforts to open Medicare to competition from private health plans, and they warned that the dispute threatens to block a compromise on legislation to provide a prescription drug benefit for elderly Americans." LINK

The Medicare negotiations are thisclose, writes David Rogers of the Wall Street Journal — now congressional Republicans just want to make sure the wealthy can pay those higher premiums — by expanding their health care savings accounts. Arguments also continue over how much money could go to Medicare.

The good folks on the Washington Times editorial board think the zero hour is approaching for a Republican prescription drug bill. LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

Happy Anniversary President and Mrs. Bush! We look forward to seeing the original pictures you each give one another. LINK

California's new governor:

It's official. Per last night's release by the Schwarzenegger Transition Committee, the Governor-elect will make it official on Monday, November 17 at 2 p.m. ET (11 am PT).