The Note

"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.

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