The Note

As promised, congressional Democrats say Casey won't come to bat if the Medicare agreement includes a plan putting the traditional Medicare program in direct competition with private health plans. Billy Tauzin calls Democrats' concerns "not invalid." LINK

The New York Times ' Edmund Andrews on the House Republican push to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 32 percent. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary: Will the real Democratic candidate for president please stand up? Ron Brownstein dissects the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party and the candidates' (earlier than usual) exploitation of their opponents' questionable moments with regards to party loyalty. Note how Brownstein's story relies on the 1990s premise that the general election battle will rely on swing voters in the ideological center. Is there any way we can convince anyone that that premise may no longer be operative? LINK

USA Today 's Susan Page reports that some people think that nobody is watching the Democratic presidential debates. LINK

However, Page writes, "Watching closely: Republicans. Some of the attacks could be replayed next year against the eventual nominee, officials with ties to President Bush's re-election campaign say. They note with relish Gephardt's criticism of Dean and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's attack on Gephardt's proposal to repeal all of Bush's tax cuts."

USA Today has a short list of previous debate "zingers." LINK

The AP points out that there really might be nobody watching if the Yankees win Saturday night and the Democrats' jabbering is matched up against the seventh game of the World Series on Sunday night. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer reports on the Florida straw poll flap. LINK

Opening up the straw poll genie once again, Howard Dean says he'll participate in the straw poll if his competitors do but he doesn't really like 'em — straw polls that is. LINK

The economy should not be the end-all of Democratic strategies, says the Raleigh News and Observer. LINK

Don't miss the first week of National Journal's Democratic Insider's Poll — a weekly handicap of the Democratic candidates' shot at the presidential nomination. This week's favorite: Governor Dean.

Dean: The New York Post 's Fred Dicker writes up the latest Marist poll numbers which has The Good Doctor in the (statistically insignificant) lead in the Empire State. LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

"The pushback by other campaigns characterizing the new Iowa and New Hampshire ads as direct attacks persuaded Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi to issue a statement explaining the ads' phrasing:"

"'We know the American people understand the difference between results and rhetoric, and when other candidates distort Governor Dean's record of results — as they have for months — we're going to set the record straight,' Trippi wrote."

"So the Dean oppo research team did a Nexus search to find newspaper headlines where the other candidates attacked Dean, and came up with more than 100 hits."

"'As you can see by the headlines below, the other campaigns made a strategic decision to attack Governor Dean after he surged ahead of them in the polls. Below are three pages of headlines on these attacks. Also, click on links to Governor Dean's ads below and see them for yourself,' Trippi wrote."

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