The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:45 am: Governor Howard Dean addresses the Every Child Matters Forum at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H. —10:00 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —12:00 pm: Former President Bill Clinton and Governor Ed Rendell attend a campaign rally for Mayor John Street, Philadelphia —12:30 pm: Senator John Kerry makes remarks on agricultural conservation and goes pheasant hunting, Colo, Iowa —12:35 pm: Vice President Cheney makes remarks at a fundraiser for Congressman Phil Gingrey, Atlanta —1:15 pm: Governor Dean has lunch at New Hampshire Community Technical College, Portsmouth, N.H. —1:30 pm: General Wesley Clark holds a roundtable discussion on health care, Columbia, S.C. —4:30 pm: Governor Dean attends a reception with SEIU Local 1984, Concord, N.H. —5:30 pm: Senator Kerry attends a meet and greet with Marshall County Democrats, Marshalltown, Iowa —6:35 pm: Vice President Cheney addresses the Southwest Florida GOP, Bonita Springs, Florida —7:30 pm: Governor Dean attends a campaign Halloween party at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester, N.H. —8:30 pm: Senator Kerry tapes an appearance on Iowa Public Television, Johnston, Iowa


Eighty days until Iowa, 88 days until New Hampshire, and one year and three days until election day 2004.

But the real number to focus on today is 72.

NOT "7.2" — yesterday's paradigm-shifting gauzy growth figure about which we have been trying to alert you all week.

(Congratulations on the Friday-through-Thursday poker faces, you pre-knowing Administration officials, you.)

No, the number on which you should be focused if you care about who wins the White House next year is 72 — as in "72 Hours."

Slide the decimal point of 7.2 just one position, and you get the kind of seasonal spooky cosmic numerology that frankly freaks us out more than a little bit.

For the uninitiated, the greatest innovation of the Bush-Rove-RNC national political operation (after figuring out how to raise more money than anyone ever) has been the introduction of a coordinated political ground game from one election day to the next — known as the party's 72-Hour Task Force. LINK

These efforts now go on literally constantly, but they culminate three days out from the actual voting with a burst of activity (surrogates, coordinated spending, TV, voter-to-voter contact, earned media, radio, e-mails, on and on and on) that is meant to counter what everyone in both parties had come to realize was a superior final push by Democrats, largely on the broad backs and shoulders of union members and that cagey Steve Rosenthal.

With strong Republican candidates poised to snatch Democrat gubernatorial seats away, tomorrow, GOP strategists kick off their final push by wheeling out their biggest artillery piece.

President Bush's visits to Kentucky and Mississippi are sure to dominate all local media in the final days, making sure that Republican partisans know that (a) there is an election; and (b) that it is important to their commander in chief (he of the gauzy growth) that they vote for these "good men" with "R's" after their names.

And the visits will have some appeal to independents, too, don't you know. Maybe even some Democrats … .

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."

The Kerry campaign, which just might have been the source of the Times ' effort, put out this statement — not in the Name of the Gibbs, or, even the Name of the Jordan, but, going all the way, in the Name of the Senator:

"Today's story in the New York Times on Howard Dean and the NRA reminds us that the fight against special interests begins in our own party."

"In an NRA questionnaire, Howard Dean said he opposed a ban on assault weapons and opposed even a short waiting period before buying a gun to allow law enforcement to determine if the buyer had a criminal record. Howard Dean's opposition to sensible gun safety measures — measures now passed into law and saving lives but under siege by his friends at the NRA — is indefensible. And it explains why he has been endorsed by the NRA eight times."

"I believe we must put the safety of our children and families ahead of special interests like the NRA. As a candidate and as President, I will never pander to the extremist NRA for personal or political expediency. I will beat the NRA. I have done it before and I will make America's families safer and more secure."

Kerry plans to hit the issue in his own non-written in Iowa today midday. Going to Dean's left on a core party issue — let's see if it works this time.

Deborah Orin takes a timely look at Kerry's and Dean's efforts to brandish their hunting credentials. LINK

President Bush has no public events today. He campaigns in Mississippi and Kentucky on Saturday. He's at the ranch in Crawford with no public events on Sunday.

Vice President Cheney attends a fundraiser for Congressman Phil Gingrey in Atlanta today. He later addresses the Southwest Florida GOP in Bonita Springs, Florida.

Governor Dean campaigns in New Hampshire today. He has no public events this weekend.

General Clark campaigns in South Carolina today and in California over the weekend.

Senator Kerry goes pheasant hunting and campaigns in Iowa today. He campaigns in New Hampshire this weekend.

Congressman Gephardt has no public events announced for today. He campaigns in North Dakota on Sunday.

Senator Edwards is in Texas with no public events announced for today. He campaigns in Oklahoma on Saturday and in Iowa on Sunday.

Senator Lieberman has no public events today or tomorrow. He campaigns in South Carolina on Sunday.

Congressman Kucinich has no public events today. He campaigns in Ohio on Saturday and in California on Sunday.

Reverend Sharpton campaigns in South Carolina this weekend.

Ambassador Moseley Braun is in Chicago for the weekend with no public events.

The economy: Is it blistering or sizzling?

A lot of adjectives have been used to describe yesterday's economic numbers and the feverish 7.2% growth of the third quarter.

The Wall Street Journal 's Jake Schlesinger and Jon Hilsenrath have far and away the most balanced and best look at the politics and substance of the growth figures and what they mean for the landscape broadly defined, framing the economic news in primarily political terms.

They Note that the growth report had little effect on Wall Street and that the rosy economic news, fueled partly by specific conditions (mortgage refinancing, consumers spending their tax cuts) that won't be repeated in other quarters and not coupled with job creation, still presents a potentially sticky situation for the president.

"Mr. Bush isn't out of the economic woods yet. For voters, jobs and income matter far more than GDP statistics — and by those measures, the president's record is still weak. The unemployment rate remains near a nine-year high, and even during the third-quarter boom, the economy shed 41,000 jobs."

"What's unclear — and what matters most for Mr. Bush and his would-be Democratic challengers — is just how much households are benefiting from the economic spurt. Individuals are certainly spending as if they are better off. Purchases of durable goods, such as automobiles and furniture, grew at a blistering 27% annual rate in the third quarter."

Paper of Record-er Dick Stevenson writes it's all about the J-O-B-S. "Strategists in both parties said specific month-by-month unemployment and job creation figures would be less important in political terms than the trend in employment over the next year. If the economy shows steady job growth as the presidential campaign heats up, they said, Mr. Bush will be less vulnerable to Democratic attacks even if the job gains between now and Election Day do not offset those already lost. LINK

Deborah Orin of the New York Post analyzes the 7.2% annual growth rate and surmises the political ramifications thusly: LINK

"Still, the very different reactions to yesterday's good news underscore that Bush's campaign relies on optimism while his Democratic challengers are stuck hoping for gloom and doom."

The Washington Post 's John Berry and Mike Allen write, "The report was a major political boost for President Bush." LINK

After yesterday's report of the sizzling — or was it blistering? — economy, the Wall Street Journal editorial board does the "I told you so" dance about the Bush tax cuts.

So do others.

USA Today 's Susan Page and Judy Keen report, "President Bush said Thursday that startling economic growth in the third quarter of the year is vindication for his tax cuts. His advisers said they hope it's a sign that hiring will pick up soon." LINK

The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank has the president asserting the success of his tax cuts. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Anne Kornblut reports, "Democratic candidates for president quickly dismissed yesterday's news as irrelevant." LINK

And how about that "Breaking News" e-mail yesterday from that ticked off the "signs" pointing to a "strong recovery," the first of which was Notably, "The economy is adding new jobs." The Note also found it interesting that after all the economic news in the e-mail, readers were encouraged to "DONATE NOW!"

In looking at the economic numbers yesterday, we quoted ABC News' Ramona Schindleheim. Of course, we meant Ramona Schindelheim. The Note regrets the error and will deny itself all Snickers for the next 72 hours in pertinence.

ABC News Vote 2003: Kentucky, Mississippi, and Philadelphia: The Washington Post 's Edward Walsh profiles the Kentucky gubernatorial candidates, with a downbeat tone for the Dems. LINK

The Los Angeles Times spotlights the Bluegrass State's gubernatorial contest as a bellwether for 2004. LINK

Ernie Fletcher was touting Thursday's good economic news, while Ben Chandler was wooing labor and asserting that despite the good economic indicators, we are in a "jobless recovery." LINK

On Market Street in Philadelphia today at about 12:00 pm ET, Patti LaBelle will sing the national anthem with President Clinton on stage as well to campaign with Mayor John Street. Dana Milbank need not worry. The FPOTUS certainly knows how to eat a Philly cheesesteak correctly.

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe will campaign with Mayor Street tomorrow at a Penns Landing rally where the DNC expects labor to make a large showing. Former Vice President Al Gore is set to rally the base with Street on Sunday.

The Mayor's wife sent Sam Katz's wife a bouquet of flowers to "ease the embarrassment caused earlier this week by a union official who made a sexual comment about her husband." LINK

The politics of national security: Saddam Hussein is back in the news. Despite White House statements that he is "no longer a threat," seems he is indeed being seen as a major force in the continuing and deadly attacks on American soldiers.

The New York Times on reports that Saddam Hussein is playing a key role in the attacks on American forces in Iraq. The paper Notes "a leadership role by Mr. Hussein would go far beyond anything previously acknowledged by the Bush administration, which has sought in its public remarks to portray the former Iraqi leader as being on the run and irrelevant." LINK

Score another win for the White House as the president scored his $87 billion supplemental request. In the end, only five of his own voted against the bill, with Congressman Zach Wamp telling the AP, "I'm going to grit my teeth and vote yes tonight and say that we cannot afford to fail in Iraq."

Is it just us, or does the Senate Intel Committee's letter to State sound a lot like ones that used to get sent to Iraq? Give it a look:

"We have made numerous requests for documents which have not yet been provided, and we have sought to interview certain State Department employees without success. You must expedite our access to the outstanding documents and immediately make available for interviews the individuals identified."

The Pentagon and the National Security Council also received committee letters demanding documents.LINK

National Journal's James Kitfield follows along on Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's recent Baghdad trip and finds the "United States has not faced a moment such as this since January 31, 1968, when the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong launched an early-morning offensive in South Vietnam to coincide with the Tet Lunar New Year holidays."

And the Wall Street Journal 's editorial board weighs in against Vietnam analogies and Democratic contenders whose "criticism" of Administration policy is "so virulent and unconstructive that it is clear they won't let themselves believe that America could win."

ABC News' Brian Hartman reports Pentagon officials next week are expected to announce the next round of call-ups, sending more than 20,000 troops from communities all across America to replace those serving in Iraq.

Deconstructing reconstruction: The Center for Public Integrity says the majority of government contracts for billions of dollars of reconstruction work in Iraq and Afghanistan went to companies run by executives who were heavy political contributors to both political parties. (We are not surprised by this, but find it interesting nonetheless.) And that neither State nor the Pentagon is so eager for transparency in the contracting process. LINK



ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary: USA Today 's Susan Page and Jill Lawrence have a large look at the battle for the middle, Noting that "Presidential elections aren't always so unsettled. The last president to run for re-election, Bill Clinton, was making a comeback by the end of 1995, boosted by an improving economy. A year later, he won. When the first President Bush started campaigning for a second term in the fall of 1991, voters were vocal about their unhappiness with what they saw as his inattention to their economic problems. A year later, he lost." LINK

Page and Lawrence also explain the model for their analysis. LINK

Washington State has canceled its primary, with Gov. Gary Locke "saying the state shouldn't waste money on an election that has no real meaning," reports the AP.LINK

Dean and Gephardt are tied at 26 percent in Iowa, according to a poll or 400 likely caucus voters released by KCCI-TV Thursday. Undecided was in second place at 18 percent. LINK

Lieberman picked up endorsements from several former McCain chairmen in New Hampshire this week, while Kerry received an endorsement from a former Bush supporter, reports John DiStaso of the Union Leader. LINK

The Los Angeles Times reports on the Democratic candidates' return to the Post -recall Golden State for a little gold digging. LINK

It's Week 2 of National Journal's Democratic Insiders Poll — handicapping by political professionals at its best.

Dean: Brownstein and Martin of the Los Angeles Times write-up Dean's potential SEIU endorsement and declare if it comes to be, it will "deal a blow" to Gephardt. LINK

John DiStaso looks at the SEIU courtship too, with a great in-state angle. LINK

The AP reports that the SEIU will endorse "Dean or no one." LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

Another day, another state, another health care event hosted by an SEIU local.

SEIU's Washington state council has 60,000 members, making it the largest AFL-CIO union in the state. They've hosted a conference call with Senator John Edwards before — yesterday, it was a health care forum with Dean.

In Iowa on Monday, Dean will offer his plan to strengthen the nursing profession — something the campaign wanted to schedule before SEIU decides whether to endorse them on November 6.

He is expected to call for, among other things, better workplace standards, a look at national staffing ratios, incentives for nurse recruitment and training and more equitable Medicare reimbursement.

Dean also stopped at a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser at a tony athletic club with munchies and confections galore — and his first real bonafide heckler, according to Dean's longtime aide, Kate O'Connor.

About 10 minutes into the health care forum, a young man stood up at the edge of the crowd.

"Why do you support HMOs … why do you take … money from George Soros?" he yelled … Audience members began to try and shush him, but the man persisted … After about 15 seconds, a Dean staffer began to pull the man out of the room. The man shouted the same questions and then muttered, "This country is bankrupt."

He was escorted from the room under the watchful gaze of two burly members of the Painter's union. He was briefly questioned by Seattle police and left the site.

Gephardt: Ken Fuson of the Des Moines Register tried to sort out Tuesday's event between the Gephardt campaign and the Dean tracker. He spoke to eyewitnesses and includes several accounts of reporters at the scene and spoke to the Gephardt aide himself. "A traveling aide to Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt insisted Thursday that he did not use a derogatory slur in a verbal confrontation with a member of Howard Dean's campaign staff, calling the accusation "baffling and hurtful." LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Lynn Okamoto spent some time with Chrissy Gephardt yesterday as she campaigned for her dad in Iowa. Of Tuesday's event she writes, "The lesbian daughter of Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt said Thursday night that her father would not tolerate the use of a homophobic epithet like the one a Gephardt campaign aide is accused of using this week." LINK

Slate's Chris Suellentrop writes about campaigning in Iowa with Gephardt and the sudden media attention the campaign is enjoying. "I came along to witness firsthand the evidence for something I wrote earlier this month after the Phoenix debate, that Gephardt's hard-nosed and well-organized Iowa campaign presents, at the moment, the biggest obstacle to President Dean (or, to be fairer, Democratic Nominee Dean). But I missed the media conspiracy memo that told everyone else to show up, too. LINK

From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

Chrissy Gephardt began a three-day tour in Iowa Thursday meeting with students at Drake University and Simpson College in Des Moines. While her father's campaign schedule is filled with stops at senior centers and union halls, Chrissy works at drawing in what some might call "the Dean generation," stopping at college campuses and places like the Vibe Coffee House in Cedar Falls.

As Chrissy was busy on the ground trying to lower the median age of her father's supporters, the Gephardt campaign was at it too, announcing the launch of a Web site: Students for Gephardt. The site features a blog for students to "comment on campaign activities and communicate with each other" and acts as a "grassroots primer to help students coordinate events in their school community."

Kerry: The Boston Globe 's Scott Lehigh has campaign media adviser Jim Margolis asserting that Kerry "'is very much in the game'" in both Iowa and New Hampshire, but, Lehigh writes, "Dean's sharper message, his blunt, matter-of-fact manner, and his status as non-Washingtonian have struck a more resonant chord in iconoclastic New Hampshire. So much so that some perceptive politicos wonder if Kerry, with his qualified, caveated stances and a speaking style that is ever prone to lapsing into Washington Baroque, is even capable of bouncing back." LINK

Ron Fournier of the AP looks at the same themes, with a must-read about Kerry's attempts to get good enough to win. LINK

Lieberman: Lieberman leads the Union Leader's endorsement news, over Edwards/D'Allesandro. John DiStaso reports that Lieberman has picked up the support of three McCain campaign town chairmen. One of them, Charles Burnham "said he is a Republican but intends to change his party registration today to independent and vote in the Democratic primary." The other two are already Democrats. LINK

The South Carolina Times and Democrat previews Lieberman's Monday visit to a church women's conference in Orangeburg. LINK

AP's Carolyn Thompson says Lieberman "brought a message of job creation to Buffalo." "'We are bleeding manufacturing jobs and George W. Bush and his administration have this attitude that they can sit back and somehow the market will take care of it,' he told reporters." LINK

Joseph Straw of the New Haven Register reports that although the climate change bill that Lieberman co-sponsored was defeated, the senator sees it as a moral victory. LINK

From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

Following the defeat of their climate stewardship bill, Senators Lieberman and McCain held a joint presser, characterizing the loss as a step in the right direction.

When asked whether he has reconsidered Lieberman's offer to head the defense department if he becomes president, McCain replied, "As a naval grad who stood fifth from the bottom of his class, anything is possible in America." But McCain said he prefers to remain in the Senate. He went on to say that his friend would be a demanding "taskmaster" as president and boss.

Lieberman, who says he's been friends with McCain since he first came to the Senate, described their relationship as one of "increasing warmth and closeness."

Clark: As for The General's session with SEIU's Andy Stern, ABC News is told by high-level union sources:

"The meeting went well. The officers were impressed and enjoyed talking with The General on the issues that are important to SEIU's members and working families across America."

(Insert national anthem and American flag here!)

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

The Clark campaign's new senior foreign policy adviser, Jamie Rubin, is huddling with The General and his campaign to prepare for next week's foreign policy speech in South Carolina. Rubin told ABC News that he will now divide his time London and the Clark campaign in the States — 10 days on the campaign physically in Little Rock or on the road with Clark; 10 days off and back in London.

But while Rubin will never be off the campaign in full at any time (thanks to the wonders of Blackberry and conference calling), he still doesn't consider himself a full-time staffer; he's accepting the campaign position pro bono. Rubin says he got to know Clark during the "Bosnia/Kosovo issue."

Asked about The General's position on Iraq, it took Rubin about four minutes straight to get through it, telling ABC News that it's not an answer that "lends itself to quick sound bites."

ABC News has learned that beginning Monday, MTV will begin running promos featuring all nine Democratic presidential hopefuls for its joint "Rock the Vote" forum in Boston Tuesday. Clark shot his spot in New York City Wednesday morning in what we're told is an entertaining spot — described by one source that saw it as "a General Clark you may not expect."

The Wall Street Journal 's Jackie Calmes Notes that The General is kicking around the idea of forgoing matching funds.

Clark tries to convince Democrats he really is one of them, says the AP. LINK

Edwards: The Monitor and the News and Observer report on state Senator Lou D'Allesandro's endorsement of Edwards.LINK and LINK

The Concord Monitor's Daniel Barrick takes a look at the impeachment trial of President Clinton and the role each candidate played in the controversy at the time.

"Perhaps no one benefited as much from the impeachment hearings as John Edwards." "Edwards entered the Senate in January 1999, at the bottom of the Senate's seniority rankings. Edwards was tapped to oversee the depositions of key witnesses: Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan and Sidney Blumenthal." The job laid the groundwork for his consideration as Gore's VP and his current bid for the White House. LINK

Kucinich: The Nation's Matt Taibbi sings Kucinich's praises in this week's issue, claiming he's the "only candidate who responds as an intellectually ambitious human being would to the problem of the presidency," while at the same time ripping Edwards to shreds as a too-tan, visionless "anti-Kucinich." Reminder that The Nation published Kucinich's new book: LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

Congressman Kucinich was in Washington Thursday, locked in his Rayburn office while the toy gun perpetrators were hunted down, but kept busy firing off missives to the Bush White House.

First, Kucinich released a statement bashing Bush's visit to his home state, saying "Ohio needs more than a politically expedient trip. We need jobs." But what about that growth spurt the economy is enjoying and its potential to take the air out of the Democrats' argument that the president is weak on the economy? Kucinich congressional chief of staff and spokesman Doug Gordon told ABC News, "The number one priority is jobs and it's still not clear that this growth will provide any sustainability … you need a long term plan and tax cuts to the wealthy is not a long term plan, nor is throwing $87 billion to Iraq. There are plenty of issues out here this president's weak on."

Sharpton: The New Haven Register focuses on Sharpton's 'continue the struggle' message and attributes his tardiness to traffic. (ABC News left the previous event at the same time and was there two hours before the Reverend!!). LINK

The AP leads with Sharpton's late-ness. The piece also notes the focus on civil rights, the mention of the Jesse, Sr. competition and the inclusion of Tawana Brawley — in the form of a Sharpton one-liner, of course. LINK

The best 'Sharpton in New Haven' wrap up--in the Hartford Courant. The article begins, 'He was nearly three hours late … ' LINK

Terry Neal in Talking Points Live suggests that Sharpton's attack of Dean will come back to bite him.

"And I think his characterization of Dean may reverse some of the good will he created among some voters who have been happily surprised (not so much that they planned on voting for him) by the largely positive way he has run his campaign." LINK

The Washington Post 's Kurtz on the "Negativity Game" translates Sharpton's attack of Dean.

"Any black leader who would endorse a white guy when he could endorse a black guy, namely Al Sharpton, is selling out the civil rights movement." LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

Punctuality is not Reverend Sharpton's forte.

By the time he arrived at the NAACP Connecticut State Convention, the people had been waiting more than two hours. Children were asleep on the pews. Two camera crews had gone home. The church choir had run out of hymns to sing and a couple of journalists were coming down with pneumonia.

As always, Reverend Sharpton offered no explanation but he made it up to the crowd with a rousing speech — heavy on civil rights — and had them on their feet chanting his name.

There were some rather Notable, rather biting additions to his stump directly addressing his criticisms of Howard Dean and Jesse Jackson, Jr.:

"That why they say to me 'Jesse's son wanna go with Dean.' Good. Let's look at Dean's record. I ain't gonna argue with Jesse's son. I'm running against Dean and since you brought up Dean and straight talk, let's look at his record."

"Dean said that affirmative action should have nothing to do with race. He said, 'no, I don't believe that no more.' Good. Well, when did you change your mind? I believe in conversions — I'm a preacher. But I wanna know where you was when you fell off the horse on the road to Damascus."

"They make an issue this week on whether or not Reverend Jackson or Reverend Sharpton gonna dominate. I'm not running against Reverend Jackson. They have these arguments about who gonna be the next black leader. Is it Jesse? Is it Al? We ain't never had one black leader. We had [Thurgood] Marshall in the courts, Adam [Clayton Powell] in the Congress, Malcolm [X] in the streets, Martin [L. King] in the South, NAACP in the courts, and Urban League in the corporate board room — all at the same time. But we can only listen to one Negro at a time?"

Moseley Braun:'s Neal answered a question on why Carol Moseley Braun, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich are still in the race, "I would be surprised, for instance, if Braun — a one-term senator who lost her seat to an unknown novice politician and has raised virtually no money and is at 1 or 2 percent in key state polls — is really sitting around thinking about whether she'll be holding her first press conference in the Rose Garden or East Room of the White House next year." LINK

New Hampshire: The Manchester Union-Leader's ed board talks up the presidential primary's importance. LINK

And there is still radio silence from the New York Times . C'mon, Gail — defend thyself.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: President Bush was in Ohio yesterday to speak to factory workers at a plant in Columbus and attend a $2,000-a-person fund-raiser that brought in $1.4 million for the re-election campaign. LINK

The president finished the day in San Antonio last night at an event with 700 supporters that raised $1.2 million. LINK

First lady Laura Bush attended a campaign event in Tyler, Texas last night and collected $275,000, bringing the one-day total for the campaign to over $3.3 million from four events (including Vice President Cheney's fund-raiser in Washington on Thursday night that raised $475,000).

The cash just keeps coming in to the Bush-Cheney re-election war chest, reports the Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen, and November could be a record-breaking month for the campaign's fund-raising, if it surpasses the $101 million mark it set in 2000. LINK

The Bush Administration is urging Congress to resolve the debate over ethanol taxes that is stalling the energy bill on Capitol Hill, the New York Times ' Hulse reports. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

Congress considers giving an OK to importation of Canadian prescription drugs, reports The New York Times ' Pear, who writes the debate seems to be "shifting from the philosophical question of whether to allow more imports to the practical question of how to do so, in a way that minimizes the risks to public health." LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

Members of Congress from both parties told The Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook that they are less than thrilled with the Bush Administration's Congressional outreach. LINK

"This is not the first time the administration has been accused of being too arrogant to consult with Congress, too unwilling to share information — and too ham-handed at congressional relations to massage Capitol Hill's powerful egos."

"But the latest outburst of bitterness has a particularly corrosive edge. Lawmakers are being asked to support Bush's policy amid increased skepticism from their constituents about the administration's actions."

California's new governor: Marc Sandalow of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Arnold Schwarzenegger has the theatrical part of the job down, now he needs to work on delivering results. (Of course, Mr. Sandalow is aware that Schwarzenegger has yet to take office.) LINK

Gregg Jones of the Los Angeles Times on Gray Davis' "mini-Giuliani moment:" LINK

USA Today 's Glen Sloan writes about the tourism power of the Governor-elect for Sacramento. LINK

The politics of wildfires: The San Francisco Chronicle reports some California elected officials are laying blame at the feet of the Bush Administration for not heeding earlier warnings about removing beetle infested trees. LINK

Playing judicial politics: The Washington Post 's Helen Dewar reports, "Senate Democrats yesterday blocked President Bush's selection of Charles W. Pickering Sr. for a federal appeals court after a two-year struggle that evoked conflicting interpretations of the past, present and future of race relations in Mississippi and Pickering's role in them." LINK

Politics: The New York Times has an exclusive look at the deleted passages of an "internal report that harshly criticized the Justice Department's diversity efforts" assessing the "department's record on diversity as seriously flawed, specifically in the hiring, promotion and retention of minority lawyers." LINK

Look for this to become trail fodder.

This week on "Here's the Point with Mark Halperin," David Maraniss, author of "They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967," reveals that he has done what every Note reader who has written a book longs to do — he sold the movie rights to Tom Hanks.

Tom Shales, eat your heart out.

The show airs this weekend on an ABC News radio station near you. Check local listings.