The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—7:00 am: President Bush has breakfast with congressional leaders, White House —9:00 am: Congressman Dick Gephardt meets with Humboldt County Democrats, Humboldt, Iowa —9:00 am: Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger meets with House Republicans, Capitol Hill —9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —9:45 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan —10:00 am: House convenes for legislative business —11:00 am: Congressman Gephardt meets with Pocahontas County Democrats, Pocahontas, Iowa —11:05 am: President Bush makes remarks on Medicare, D.C. —11:45 am: Governor-elect Schwarzenegger meets with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Capitol Hill —12:15 pm: General Wesley Clark holds a roundtable discussion on health care, Exeter, N.H. —12:15 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan —12:15 pm: Governor-elect Schwarzenegger meets with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Capitol Hill —12:30 am: Congressman Gephardt meets with Calhoun County Democrats, Rockwell City, Iowa —1:00 pm: Senator John Kerry holds a book signing, Cedar Rapids, Iowa —1:35 pm: Governor-elect Schwarzenegger has lunch with Senator Ted Kennedy, Capitol Hill —2:00 pm: General Clark participates in the "Every Child Matters" presidential candidate forum at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H. —2:30 pm: Congressman Gephardt meets with Sac County Democrats, Sac City, Iowa —2:30 pm: Senator Kerry holds a book signing, Iowa City, Iowa —3:30 pm: Senator John Edwards has lunch with African American ministers, Los Angeles —4:30 pm: Congressman Gephardt meets with Ida County Democrats, Ida Grove, Iowa —5:30 pm: General Clark attends a young professionals campaign kickoff party to launch the "C-Company" band of supporters, D.C. —6:30 pm: Vice President Cheney addresses a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser dinner, D.C. —7:00 pm: Governor Howard Dean attends a workers' rights rally, San Francisco —7:20 pm: President Bush makes remarks at the dedication of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship's Youth Education Center, Dallas —8:00 pm: Congressman Gephardt attends an event hosted by State Rep. Wes Whitead, Sioux City, Iowa —9:00 pm: Governor Dean attends a "grassroots" campaign fundraiser, Oakland —9:00 pm: Senator Edwards attends a campaign fundraiser co-hosted by Ashton Kutcher, Los Angeles


In politics, as in life and a typical episode of "K Street," things aren't always as they seem.

But right now (meaning, as we type these words but before they actually get posted on, there are two central dynamics in the battle for control of the White House:

1. The amazing turn from Democrats and the media questioning the president's record on the economy to questioning his record on international affairs (driven, of course, but the improving economy and the touch-and-go situation in Iraq).

2. The seeming end of Howard Dean's amazing run to the front of the pack without getting anything like the normal level of scrutiny a leading candidate normally gets on issues as diverse as affirmative action, the death penalty, the assault weapons ban, tax cuts, the Social Security retirement age, veterans' benefits, the legitimacy of using old "votes and quotes" to attack an opponent, ethanol, matching funds, the war in Iraq, American troops in Iraq, NAFTA, Yucca Mountain, baseball, and others.

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