The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—7:30 am: Senator Joe Lieberman speaks to the Concord Chamber of Commerce, Concord, N.H. —8:30 am: Congressman Dennis Kucinich attends an "Eggs and Politics" breakfast, Bedford, N.H. —9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —9:40 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan —10:00 am: Senator John Edwards meets with Appanoose County Democrats, Centerville, Iowa —10:15 am: President Bush meets with the president of Romania, White House —10:30 am: Congressman Kucinich speaks to preschoolers, parents, and teachers at Mont Vernon Kindergarten, Mont Vernon, N.H. —10:45 am: Governor Howard Dean attends a campaign rally at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo. —11:00 am: General Wesley Clark delivers a speech on health care, Durham, N.H. —11:15 am: President Bush holds a news conference in the Rose Garden, White House —11:30 am: Senator Edwards meets with Monroe County Democrats, Albia, Iowa —11:30 am: Congressman Kucinich speaks to students at St. Anselm College, Manchester, N.H. —11:35 am: Senator Lieberman takes part in a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital presidential candidate forum, Lebanon, N.H. —11:50 am: Congressman Kucinich has lunch with students and faculty at St. Anselm College, Manchester, N.H. —1:00 pm: Senator Lieberman attends the grand opening of a local campaign headquarters, Lebanon, N.H. —1:30 pm: Congressman Dick Gephardt delivers a health care policy speech, Des Moines —1:50 pm: President Bush signs the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, White House —4:30 pm: Senator Edwards holds a town hall forum on health care, Las Cruces, N.M. —6:00 pm: Senator Edwards meets with Hispanic community leaders, Las Cruces, N.M. —6:00 pm: President Bush attends the Iftaar Dinner with ambassadors and Muslim leaders, White House —6:00 pm: Congressman Gephardt meets with Story County Democrats, Ames, Iowa —6:00 pm: Senator John Kerry attends a house party with supporters, Plaistow, N.H. —8:00 pm: Senator Kerry attends a house party with supporters, East Kingston, N.H. —8:30 pm: General Clark attends a fundraiser with New York Young Professionals for Clark, New York City —8:30 pm: Congressman Gephardt meets with Hamilton County Democrats, Webster City, Iowa


Daily political journalism doesn't leave much time for introspective contemplation.

It takes an agile mind (and bosses who revel in your big-foot status) to occasionally step back and write something that is bigger than just, say, "Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes brought his message of hope, growth, and opportunity to Davenport, Iowa, today, promising to end 'the corruption of the Clinton years' through a flat tax system."

With Johnny Apple trying to find the best scallion pancake on three continents, the biggest of big feet this cycle belong to a handful of diverse white men from various publications and media — and two of the best weigh in today with major pieces that explain why — even in a 50-50 nation, and even with today's Iraq Quagmire stories filled with quotes more-41-than-43 — the Democratic presidential nominee TBD remains an underdog.

Brownstein's Los Angeles Times must-read makes two main points: LINK

a. Howard Dean's success on the Iraq issue is driving the field to the "left" on war and peace.

b. Howard Dean's success on the war is allowing that issue to dominate the debate, crowding out anti-Dean attacks from Gephardt and Kerry on entitlements and taxes that, in a "normal" election year, with a "normal" target candidate, would be doing serious damage to Dean's chances.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal , television pretty boy Alan Murray does some Karl Rove code breaking, pointing out that from Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt on the left, to Joe Lieberman on the right, Democrats have all placed various body parts in the president's trap on tax cuts (although, since it is a family newspaper, Murray restricts himself to "feet").

Murray says that "as long as economic policy remains up front, Mr. Bush will be driving," because the deficit doesn't cut as an issue, and the Democrats "are all stuck peddling responsibility and sacrifice, an unpleasant alternative to Mr. Bush's cash on the barrel."

And we are less than 48 hours away from the Gauzy Growth figures of the 3rd quarter that will change the presidential race as we have known it.

Students of history — including Bill Clinton — will recall that the image of Democrats as weak on defense and in favor of tax increases was a big part of what kept the party out of the White House for many years.

And the "values" piece, believe you us, is on the way too.

Still, there IS that Iraq stuff.

With a presidential news conference laid on this morning, the White House hopes to deal with the Iraqi issue with POTUS force, and, presumably, deal with the unpleasantness in the morning papers.

"The White House strategy, one senior official noted, depends heavily on choking off those funds, guns and explosives so that the Hussein loyalists are gradually starved of resources. 'To look at the plan,' the senior official said, 'the starvation effect should have started a few months ago. It didn't — and that's something to worry about,'" quotes the New York Times ' David Sanger. LINK

"'I am not happy with the kind of information we are getting,'" a "senior intelligence official" tells the Washington Post 's Milbank and Ricks. LINK

As for the inside game, The Note can't resist touting two personnel moves within the Democratic firmament that are H-U-G-E.

(Journalist) Michael Kramer to the Clark campaign.

Academician David Morehouse to the Kerry campaign.

More on both below.

President Bush meets with the president of Romania this morning, and will hold a Rose Garden press conference at 11:15 a.m. He will also attend a bill signing ceremony for the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act. Tonight, he attends a dinner with ambassadors and Muslim leaders.

General Clark gives a speech on health care at the University of New Hampshire this morning. He then heads to New York City for a fundraiser with young professionals.

Senator Kerry attends a pair of house parties in New Hampshire.

Governor Dean campaigns in Boulder, Colorado.

Congressman Gephardt campaigns in Iowa.

Senator Lieberman campaigns in New Hampshire. Hadassah Lieberman campaigns in South Carolina.

Senator Edwards campaigns in Iowa and New Mexico.

Congressman Kucinich campaigns in New Hampshire.

Reverend Sharpton is in New York City with no public events.

Ambassador Moseley Braun is in Chicago with no public events.

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

At least two candidates are giving health care policy speeches today, and we're sure that at least a few more will utter the words "health" and "care" at some point today (in no particular order). Everyone please read Julie Appleby's report in USA Today where she writes, "Health insurers announced deals Monday that if approved will consolidate coverage for about 46 million U.S. residents — nearly 27% of all those who have private health insurance — under two companies." LINK

The Concord Monitor and announced Monday that they will cosponsor a week of Web chats beginning November 3 with all of the Democratic presidential candidates confirmed to participate so far except General Clark.

According to a release, "Each participating candidate will appear individually for up to 60 minutes, and will answer questions submitted by and users and selected by a moderator." You can find the schedule here: LINK


Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. backs the "straight-talking" Howard Dean. LINK

Dean supporters expect an upcoming endorsement from Jackson to broaden his appeal with black voters according to the Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny and Rick Pearson. LINK

Dick Morris thinks Howard Dean is likely to be the Democratic Party's nominee next year. If Mr. Morris' prediction proves prophetic, he says it will be less about money and image and more about Dr. Dean's ability to win "the activist primary." LINK

Dean supporters prepare to welcome their candidate to Jacksonville next Monday. LINK

The California Teachers' Association and the painters' union endorsements made it into the Los Angeles Times today. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Jonathan Roos reports on Dean's endorsement from the Painters. LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

"With 3,000 active Iowa members and 1,000 retirees, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades may not be a match for the potent union coalition that Dick Gephardt is building in Iowa. But IUPAT, will try to match Gephardt's numerical strength by setting an ambitious shoe-leather goal."

"'We might be only one-tenth of that crowd,' said James Williams, IUPAT's president, of Gephardt's union endorsements in the state, 'but our feet on the ground means a lot of us will be out there.'"

"Williams told ABC News said the union has pledged to devote to Dean's election a quarter of a million activist days. That, for a union with less than half that number of members."

"IUPAT endorsed Al Gore in 2000 and Bill Clinton in 1992. Three years ago they were a ubiquitous presence at Gore events around the country, surprising other unions with their political aggression, and even received an internal AFL-CIO award for it. But they've never endorsed this early, Williams said."

"Sean McGarvey, IUPAT's political director, said he was skeptical of Dean at first."

"Earlier in the year, campaign manager Joe Trippi had shown IUPAT's leaders the Powerpoint presentation outlining Dean's grassroots goals."

"'I thought they were wildly optimistic,' McGarvey said."

"But then came the $7.6 million second quarter, a rapid rise in the polls, and a surprising show of strength in the union's internal balloting."

"'We had assumed,' said McGarvey, 'that [the union members] would be for their champion, Gephardt.'"

"But Gephardt came in second."

"After the AFL-CIO executive council decided not to meet in mid-October to propose a unified endorsement, IUPAT's political officials began to discuss the possibility of selecting their own candidate."

"'We decided to do it for no other reason than our members have 15 percent unemployment,' Williams said."

"When the secretary-treasurers teleconferenced and laid out their arguments in mid-October, Dean was the clear favorite, union officials said."


From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

"Michael Kramer, formerly of the New York Daily News, left the paper and the "column-izing business" two weeks ago and was set to continue work on his books and a play when he received a call to join The General's staff. 'Wes asked me to do this,' Kramer told ABC News. 'This' is traveling with The General on the campaign trail, advising him on day-to-day issues from campaign strategy to media relations to speech preparations. Kramer has been on the trail now for about five days."

"Clark and Kramer have been friends for years and it seems that the veteran campaign press reporter could not refuse a job as an insider campaign adviser. According to campaign sources, no specific position has yet been announced for Kramer."

ABC News got a "sneak peek" of Clark's health care policy speech, which he is set to deliver in New Hampshire today. It's The General's third New American Patriotism address, and will contain a plan to cover the uninsured and control costs, with an emphasis on children and preventive care.


"'In recent weeks, as part of my New American Patriotism speech tour, I've laid out the type of choices we need to make to get our country moving forward when it comes to jobs, the deficit, and national service. However, I approach this as more than just the right choices — I approach this as someone who served in the U.S. Army for 34 years and got things done. I am not a career politician but someone who believes you must set goals and objectives and put a plan in place to reach those goals. In the Army, I had to make decisions every day about the welfare, safety and security of those who served with me. You couldn't pass the buck — you had to get the job done. No delays. No excuses. No apologies. We need to bring this "can do" approach and attitude to Washington, D.C. Today, I want to speak about an issue that is one of the biggest challenges American families face today: the challenge of paying for decent health care.'"

"'My plan for health reform addresses the daunting challenges faced by America's families. It provides real leadership and shifts the focus of the health care debate by insisting that any commitment to expanding health insurance be accompanied with a requirement to improve as well as expand coverage. It would improve health care by emphasizing prevention, medical outcomes accountability, and cost effectiveness, all the while guaranteeing universal coverage for children and access for all Americans.'"

"The plan's three main components: focusing on prevention and management; universal coverage for children and universal access to insurance for all Americans; extra assistance for low-income adults, the unemployed, military reservists and their families, veterans and small businesses."

The AP previews Clark's health care speech, in which The General will announce that if he's elected president, he would look to spend $695 billion over 10 years to ensure all American children get health insurance and expand access for coverage to adults. LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Clark previewed his health care speech at a Chicago fundraiser last night attended by mainly young professionals and college students. LINK

Clark said his administration would do cost containment: "One of the problems is not only getting insurance, but how much the insurance costs, and when it is going up 12, 14, 15 or 20 percent a year, nobody can afford it ultimately. We spend $1.3 trillion in a $10.5 trillion Gross Domestic Product on health care. And 15 percent of everything we spend in America is going up, three or four or five times faster than the Gross Domestic Product."

Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes about Clark's first campaign trip to Wisconsin where he spent most of his time critiquing the Bush Administration's handling of Iraq. LINK

With the Wisconsin primary on February 17, Clark campaigned in Madison, Wisconsin, yesterday, saying that he entered the presidential race because of the Bush Administration. Natalie Mikhail of the Badger Herald Notes Clark's proposed plan of following four C's he learned during his military career to raise the standards of leadership — candor, competence, commitment and courage. LINK


From Note Special Correspondent Michael Feldman:

"Today's Campaign 2004 Pop Quiz:"

"Which newly-minted 04 campaign staffer once worked as an arc welder and was steel connector for Pittsburgh Boilermakers Union Local 154?"

"Hint: This person is now the second former Trip Director for Al Gore to become a communications director for a presidential campaign this cycle."

"Still stuck? OK, one more hint: This person and his predecessor once referred to each other, on the record, as 'a carnival worker' and 'that nasty little man.'"

"The answer comes in the form of Senator John Kerry's new Communications Director, David Morehouse. Morehouse, another veteran of Al Gore's 2000 Presidential Campaign, will fill the vacancy left by his former colleague, one-time roommate and personal nemesis, Chris Lehane."

"Lehane, who has been helping his wife find an apartment in Little Rock for the last 5 weeks (who knew that the Arkansas housing market was so competitive?!), could not be reached for comment. A source familiar with Lehane's thinking on the announcement said that he was as proud as he was perplexed … … .Good God!"

From ABC News' Kerry campaign reporter Eva Price:

"On the day the Kerry campaign announced their new Director of Communications, Senator Kerry tried to play the part of Great Communicator. Mid-day, the word came that David Morehouse, who had been servicing the Kerry campaign on a need-to basis, accepted the job left vacant by Chris Lehane last month. The planned schedule for the Senator, prior to the Morehouse news, included interviews with PBS's Charlie Rose and CNN's Aaron Brown. If your TiVo missed it, rest assured that the questions did not stray too far from foreign policy with a splash of Sunday night's debate topics stirred in."

"Kerry campaign officials describe Morehouse as a no-frills operative who had been considered for the job for a while and turned down an offer from the Clark campaign to be communications director. It's no secret the Kerry campaign is seen in some quarters has having message problems, popularity problems, and consistency problems in both New Hampshire and Iowa. The campaign hopes Morehouse can do more than fill those holes."

"'I look forward to working with John Kerry for whom I have a great deal of respect because of his record of taking on special interests, his service in combat to his country, and his commitment to stand up to George W. Bush,' Morehouse told ABC News. 'Translation for the highly sophisticated readers of the Note, I think my guy can beat Bush.'"

"Morehouse, a former Gore aide and trip director who can be remembered as the butt of the occasional practical joke in 2000, will join the campaign full-time in about two weeks. Probably best remembered as the Gore staffer who ran into the holding room to start the ball rolling on a potential problem in Florida, Morehouse re-enters politics after two years at Harvard University working with government executives to establish academic programs."


From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

"Senator Lieberman re-launched his campaign two weeks ago, but he said Monday was the first day of the rest of his campaign. Team Lieberman launched 'to track Bush's broken promises and brazen deceptions,' and the Senator set off in the WinnebaJoe for Rochester, Durham, and Goffstown, New Hampshire."

"Now the campaign is preparing to intensify its New Hampshire push by releasing its first ads later this week."

"A source close to the campaign says there will be two 30-second spots: one on tax reform and the other on funding the troops in Iraq. Could the latter contain any of the charges we heard in Sunday night's debate? If so, a certain Vietnam vet or two may be pretty upset."

AP's Holly Ramer has this preview of the Lieberman ads. LINK

In the Hartford Courant's "Caucus" column, David Lightman describes Senator Lieberman as "a boxer without a ring." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson reports that Lieberman "declared [Monday] that his own road to the White House begins in New Hampshire, as he sought to distinguish himself from his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination by citing his integrity." LINK

Edwards: Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register heard Senator Edwards criticize the president "for a tax-cut proposal on savings and pensions expected next year, calling it an election-year giveaway." LINK

The Los Angeles Times James Rainey explores why John Edwards campaign for the White House doesn't seem to be catching fire — yet. Note how Professor Sabato equates keeping Edwards' "hopes alive" with making a third place showing in Iowa. LINK

"He receives high marks for his message and its presentation. But so far, such favorable reactions have translated into little steadfast support. Analysts speculate that the first-term senator simply remains too much of an unknown to most voters. And some suggest he may best be suited for the second spot on the Democratic ticket."

More Rainey: "Analysts looking for an explanation said Edwards had yet to be identified by voters with the kind of persona or single issue that have helped his top rivals: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the antiwar crusader with the maverick, Internet-driven campaign; retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the decorated soldier and NATO leader; Kerry, the Vietnam War hero; and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, known for his pro-union stances and House leadership position. If Edwards has been stuck with a label, it has often been 'young and untested.'"


From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

"While Gephardt campaign staffers on the ground in Iowa have heard tales of Wes Clark's chartered media planes and Howard Dean's 'rock star' attention on the campaign trail, the number of reporters following Gephardt from town to town in Iowa has, until now, maxed out at four (and sometimes there has been just one). So, it's being met with enthusiasm and a bit of anxiety that there will suddenly be 20 reporters in tow for the weekly whirlwind Iowa tour that begins today with a fresh health care policy speech in Des Moines."

"Since last week's Washington Post article reported that several top Republicans view Gephardt as the greatest threat to Bush's re-election, Gephardt has been enjoying more press — and more positive press. The campaign is quick to dismiss the sudden onslaught of attention as a major turn in Gephardt's popularity with the media or with voters. While pleased with the high interest level on their candidate, they say the attention could be here one day, gone the next. Slow and steady, like a tortoise, is their motto. 'You need to enjoy the good media weeks but be prepared to weather the bad ones too', one staffer in Iowa said."

"On the endorsement front, with its 2,300 members, Iowa Local 234 of the International Union of Operating Engineers endorsed Gephardt Monday. 'Gephardt has been a friend of working families his whole career. We are proud to support him and we are ready to put our friend in the White House," said Rick Lane, business manager of Local 234.'"

The Des Moines Register 's Jonathan Roos reports on Gephardt's endorsement from the International Union of Operating Engineers. LINK

Howard Kurtz's online column ponders Gephardt's "Resurrection of the Week." LINK

"'The last time I checked, the Missouri congressman had been relegated to also-ran status. He was old news, unexciting, and didn't even have his own blog. If Howard Dean and Wesley Clark were hot, Gephardt was like lukewarm meat loaf — comforting, appealing to lunch-bucket types, but decidedly not nouvelle cuisine. So how come a bunch of journalists are suddenly saying nice things about Dick?'"

The Advocate reports on David Mixner who just joined Gephardt's campaign as co-chair. A longtime gay activist, Mixner served as senior campaign adviser for Bill Clinton's 1992 candidacy for president and is seen as someone who could help Gephardt daughter Chrissy garner support for from the gay community. LINK


From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

"Congressman Kucinich spoke to a group of about 20 SEIU members in Concord, New Hampshire Monday, many of the attendees were highly receptive to his ideas but wary of his electability. He seemed relaxed and on-message in the intimate setting, and made a rare departure from his usual insistence that he will be the nominee by admitting the campaign was about keeping issues on the table: 'If I don't get the nomination [but I had a strong showing in New Hampshire], New Hampshire will have sent a message.'"

"Kucinich was asked if he had the choice to debate any of the other candidates, who would it be. Without blinking an eye, and perhaps indicative of the recent tension between the two, he replied, 'Howard Dean. I'd like to debate him about the war, I'd like to debate him about health care, I'd like to debate him about the economy, I'd like to debate him about trade.'"

"Kucinich also picked up the New Hampshire Green Party endorsement Monday in Concord. The Greens aren't considered an 'official' party in the state and are small in number. However it's fairly easy for them to vote in the primary as Democrats; if they're independents they only have to declare they're Democrats on the way in, and undeclare on the way out."

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is commending Kucinich (and Kerry) for discussing violence in Sunday's debate: LINK

The Plain Dealer has an anecdote about Kucinich laughing off the New York Times mistakenly saying he's from Indiana: LINK


From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

"Although Reverend Sharpton says he's not surprised by the Jackson endorsement of Dean, the look on his face didn't reflect pleasure and this endorsement threatens to take some of the black vote from Sharpton."

"Sharpton's former campaign manager Frank Watkins is on Jesse Jackson Jr.'s staff. And the backbone of Sharpton's platform includes three constitutional amendments that came from a book written by Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Watkins. Sharpton says the endorsement will not affect his campaign at all. '[Jesse] endorsed Andrew Cuomo in New York and Andrew Cuomo had to pull out of the race.'"

"After Sharpton's turn at Harvard University's 'Conversation with the Candidates' series, Sharpton held his own on Chris Matthews' 'Battle for the White House,' although his message was less clear and inspirational when he was challenged directly on his ideas. The humor highlight of the evening came during a commercial break when Matthews asked Sharpton if he has someone giving him his one-liners through an ear piece. Sharpton replied, 'He that speaketh to me doesn't need an ear piece.'"

The AP wraps Sharpton's Harvard visit … LINK

But the Harvard Crimon's wrap is much more fun. LINK

The New Yorker takes a glimpse inside the Sharpton White House. LINK


The Des Moines Register 's David Yepsen chimes in on the apocalyptic implications for Iowa if Lieberman or Clark win the nomination. LINK

It's highly informative, and Yepsen promises at the end, "We'll continue this discussion on Thursday."

National Journal's Wake-Up Call! reported this morning that their sources told them Clark and Lieberman will not attend the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on November 15.

ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton reports that Communications Director Matt Bennett confirms that Clark will not attend. Bennett would not offer any other information.

ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds reports that Press Secretary Jano Cabrera said Lieberman will not go to the dinner and that the campaign may have an event in D.C. that night.

Iowa Democratic Party spokesman Mark Daley told The Note this morning that both campaigns informed the party of their respective decisions yesterday.

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

A new USA Today /CNN/Gallup Poll found that independent voters are losing confidence in the Bush Administration's handling of the war in Iraq and are less likely to vote for the president next year than to vote for an unnamed Democratic candidate.

But among all registered voters, Bush still leads the unnamed Democrat 46%-43%. The poll has a four-point error margin.

Support for the war on Iraq is divided along party lines — "Democratic support for the war has fallen more sharply than independent support — from 54% in April to 24% now. Republican support remains high at 88%." LINK

President Bush hits the road this weekend to campaign with Republican gubernatorial candidates in Mississippi (Haley Barbour) and Kentucky (Ernie Fletcher), the Washington Post 's Mike Allen reports. The president will speak at two get-out-the-vote rallies for each of the candidates, both of whom are ahead in the latest polls in their states.

Allen also reports that RNC chairman Ed Gillespie met with reporters yesterday and said that Howard Dean has pushed the Democratic field to the left.

"'As the Democratic Party gets smaller, it gets more liberal and more elite and more angry,' Gillespie said. 'The candidates, obviously, in their primary are appealing to that smaller, more intensely liberal element.'" LINK

Gillespie acknowledged that Iraq will be a major issue in the re-election campaign next year, the Washington Times ' Hallow reports. "'When it comes to whether or not we are going to wage this war against terror in places like Kabul or Baghdad or be more likely to have it waged in places like Boston or Kansas, the American people understand the front line has become Iraq,' he said."LINK

Newsday's Ken Fireman looks at a bloody weekend in Iraq and how the situation on the ground there and the fallout back home could become a political liability for the BC04 team next year. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Neikirk and Kemper pick up that theme and explore the political risks ahead for the Bush Administration if the current wave of violence in Iraq continues. LINK

Under the heading of "Policy issues that could become critical campaign issues next year for the Bush-Cheney ticket" — Cuba, steel tariffs, and Medicare:

The Boston Globe 's Peter Canellos looks at the battle ahead between the White House and Congress over the tightened travel ban to Cuba. LINK

AP's Lara Jakes Jordan reports on the significance of steel tariffs for Bush's re-election chances: "The steel tariffs are pitting Midwest states against the Rust Belt — two regions where the margin between the Republican candidate and Democrat Al Gore was a hairbreadth in 2000, and where the president's political advisers are determined to see Bush prevail in 2004. LINK

In his second trip to Mississippi this campaign season, Vice President Cheney stumped for gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour yesterday at the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, calling him "a uniter" who would work with both parties for the state. LINK

As Bush supporters max out, Dean's are adding up the cash bit by bit, writes Klaus Marre of the Hill. LINK

The politics of national security:

"The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become, because they can't stand the thought of a free society," sad the president in a photo-op with Ambassador Paul Bremer yesterday.

Look for loans to leave the end product as the Iraq conference committee meets to discuss the supplemental at 2:30 this afternoon.

Today the papers say not so fast with the upbeat progress reports.

"When speaking on background, some senior administration officials acknowledge that some of those answers are beginning to ring hollow," writes the New York Times ' Sanger, with blind quotes galore from "senior officials."

"The White House strategy, one senior official noted, depends heavily on choking off those funds, guns and explosives so that the Hussein loyalists are gradually starved of resources. 'To look at the plan," the senior official said, "the starvation effect should have started a few months ago. It didn't — and that's something to worry about.'" LINK

The Washington Post 's Milbank and Ricks join to produce a piece chock full of Pentagon concerns, with "a senior intelligence official" telling the Post "that the United States has a window of three to six months to put down the resistance."

And this from a "senior intelligence official:" "'I am not happy with the kind of information we are getting.'" LINK

The New York Times editorial board says enough with the happy talk, allowing the White House can "claim some success in stabilizing" parts of Iraq but warning the administration "cannot gloss over the continuing violence in Baghdad." LINK

Paul Krugman ties domestic politics to foreign affairs, using the word "crusade" to describe the president's politics at home … LINK

As for the administration's privatization plans for Iraq, the Wall Street Journal writes "skeptics are leery of the administration's emerging economic blueprint, saying it could cause deeper unrest in the dangerous, turbulent country while exposing Iraq too rapidly to stiff outside competition. If privatization isn't done in a way 'consistent with the needs and peculiarities' of Iraq, Trade Minister Ali Allawi says, it could come 'at a very high cost'."

In a sign that the other side feels ready to join the game and shed the (perceived) traditional Democratic weakness on the security front, John Podesta's Center for American Progress hosts its first conference on the topic "New American Strategies for Security and Peace" this morning, with many of the Democratic Party's foreign policy luminaries, including Richard Holbrooke, Sandy Berger and the new John McCain, Senator Joe Biden, scheduled to speak.

In the bipartisan spirit, Senator Chuck Hagel and Rep. Jim Leach are also on the agenda.

On the back-and-forth over the release of documents between Tom Kean's September 11 commission and the administration, this from the White House:

"'There are national security issues, executive privilege issues, common-sense issues,' a senior White House official said. 'We want to be as helpful as we can to Governor Kean and the commission, but these are not the sort of documents you freely share with the outside world.'" LINK


The Washington Times reports Democrats are frustrated the Wilson story isn't winning more attention. "'I'm concerned about the lack of media attention,' said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle … 'If it is not raised often, people will forget and we won't ever get to the bottom of this.'" LINK

Note that Ambassador Wilson will speak this afternoon on "The lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan" at the national security conference hosted by John Podesta's Center for American Progress.

The economy:

Another optimistic economic indicator: The housing market remains hot. According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes rose 3.6% to 6.69 million in September, writes the Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip. Slightly higher mortgage rates and a downturn in new home buying are expected to slow the overall housing market by year's end.

The Federal Reserve Board is likely to leave interest rates at their low levels in order to keep the economic recovery moving forward. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

For like the sixth day in the row, the major papers' Medicare stories are all over the lot.

Deal? No deal?

Hold ups? Over what?

The Note doesn't know.

Read 'em all, if you want, but the best one is by the Los Angeles Times' Kemper and Chen, whop report President Bush will take his Medicare drug plan to the Rose Garden on Wednesday. LINK

The Associated Press' intrepid Mr. Espo quotes a memo "from Republican pollsters to the GOP-controlled government: approve Medicare prescription drug legislation, the sooner the better. A political windfall may await." LINK

California's new governor:

The San Francisco Chronicle's Lynda Gledhill wonders if Arnold Schwarzenegger's promise for a more open government will be reflected in making public last minute additions to his schedule, such as handing out medals in the Mr. Olympia contest this past weekend in Las Vegas. LINK

California Democrats voice a wait-and-see attitude, as Schwarzenegger descends on D.C. LINK

Politics: The DNC is launching an initiative to get more Democrats online, reports Klaus Marre of the Hill. LINK

Democratic Senators clear the way for Mike Leavitt's EPA nomination "after it became apparent that 70 or more senators would vote in Mr. Leavitt's favor, more than the votes 60 needed to end debate." LINK

An effort led by Hillary Clinton, and joined by presidential candidates Edwards, Kerry, and Lieberman, to block the appointment of Bush's choice for head of the EPA, has been dropped.LINK

Senator Clinton dropped her challenge to the Leavitt confirmation after the White House promised action on environmental problems around the ruins of the World Trade Center. LINK

Politics for pretty people:

We could make the obvious joke about The Wacher and The Macker. We could talk about the $40 parking (That's no typo.). We could lament the wall-to-wall crowd that prevented us from getting to the press corner to get a better view of former President Clinton addressing the nearly 4,000-strong crowd of young Democrats last night at Dream nightclub in Washington, DC.

What we will do is Note that the place was packed to the rafters with a young, enthusiastic and unusually good-looking mob, who danced under flashing lights to booming bass lines and were ready to hear from Clinton just how they were going to help the eviction crew usher out the Bush 43 era. Clinton, who was merely an hour and a half late, took the stage to an ear-splittingly loud "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z, and spoke for less than 20 minutes.

In deference to the party, Clinton shortened his new stump speech, but talked about his embarrassment over being so well taken care of by tax cuts when the deficit is accumulating and after-school programs, job training and scholarships are cut. To screams and laughter, he President Bush's foreign policy: "We can't capture, kill or occupy everyone who doesn't like us — we need to start making more friends." And he proclaimed the Democratic Party the party of the future, imploring those present to go out build it up.

"He's a rock star, and 90% of the people who bought tickets were new donors to the DNC," says spokeswoman Debra DeShong.

Consider the roof raised.