The Note

Sure, Clinton (today), Terry McAuliffe (tomorrow) and Gore (Sunday) are Democratic bosses who will be welcomed by the Street(s) of Philadelphia, but you won't see national party leaders of any type matching the Bush visits to Kentucky and Mississippi.

Is there some parallel universe in which all the Democratic presidential candidates would be barnstorming at least Kentucky to help there at the end? Sure there is, but we aren't seeing it now, and the reasons for that should make The Macker (he of the 50-state strategy) quake.

But while the national press gets focused on major surrogates, below that radar, party and interest group strategists on both sides will be looking to both push and analyze (for 2004 clues) what works and what doesn't about their ground games to get out the vote.

We haven't heard much about the Kentucky AFL-CIO and what they are doing, but it's clear that the Democrats need some union love to keep them Happy, and they might not get it.

On the well-funded Republican side (they of the Post -BCRA dominance), watch for their team to put the opposition in a full Nelson, with a Blaise of glory that will only ratchet up in a few short days for their beloved Bobby.

IF the Republicans take two more governorships away from the Democrats (and keep one in Louisiana … ), the national political media is going to have a Bernie Goldberg gut-check moment and have to ask itself: Will the coverage and credit given to the GOP be equal to what the inverse would have been had the Democrats swept these races?

In the fight for the Democratic nomination, at least one Democratic rival to Howard Dean thinks the New York Times has finally found a core party issue on which Howard Dean's "flexibility" might come home to roost with voters.

The New York Times ' Nagourney and Wilgoren scrutinize Howard Dean's record on federal and state gun control legislation and finds some circles don't quite square.

The guns issue is a divider, not a uniter, for the Democratic Party, with nomination voters strongly supporting stricter gun regulation and some key-state general election voters seeing less regulation as more. LINK

Report the Times duo, Dean-the-presidential-contender regularly assures "audiences that he firmly supports the assault weapons ban enacted under President Bill Clinton in 1994 though vigorously opposing any further federal regulation of guns." But Dean-the-governor in 1992 "told the National Rifle Association in a signed questionnaire that he opposed any restrictions on private ownership of assault weapons."

A copy of the questionnaire "was provided to The New York Times by aides to a rival Democratic candidate who is a stronger advocate of gun control."

Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright said "there was no contradiction" in Dean's views, telling the Times Dean's "answers 11 years ago applied only to a state ban, though in fact the question at issue specifically referred to both federal and state law. Ms. Enright also pointed out that the question defined assault weapons in a way that encompassed semiautomatic rifles and shotguns commonly used by hunters in Vermont, while the federal ban applied to 19 specific weapons typically used in street violence."

The NRA, for its part, accuses Dean of "'schizophrenia,' saying he had taken positions friendly to the rifle association as governor but had changed since becoming a candidate for president."

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