The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:00 am: Senator John Kerry has breakfast with Scott County Democrats, Davenport, Iowa —9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —10:15 am: Senators Tom Daschle and Ted Kennedy lead a press conference to discuss the Medicare prescription drugs bill, Capitol Hill —11:00 am: Senator Kerry makes remarks on jobs and the economy, Davenport, Iowa —11:00 am: Senator John Edwards meets with Black Hawk County Democrats, Cedar Falls, Iowa —1:00 pm: Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger meets with Governor Gray Davis, Sacramento —1:45 pm: Senator Kerry has lunch with Muscatine County Democrats, Muscatine, Iowa —2:00 pm: Senator Edwards meets with Polk County Democrats, Des Moines, Iowa —2:30 pm: President and Mrs. Bush tour Pearl Harbor, Hawaii —5:00 pm: Congressman Dennis Kucinich addresses the SEIU meeting, Miami —6:00 pm: Congressman Kucinich attends the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project dinner, Miami —6:00 pm: General Wesley Clark attends the New Hampshire Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Manchester, N.H. —6:00 pm: Senator Kerry meets with Cedar County Democrats, Tipton, Iowa —7:00 pm: Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun keynotes the Harris County Women's Political Caucus Shattered Glass Award Reception, Houston —7:00 pm: Senator Joe Lieberman hosts a reception to press for full voting rights for the D.C. residents, D.C. —8:00 pm: Senator Kerry attends a fundraiser for State Senator Roger Stewart, Maquoketa, Iowa —10:55 pm: President Bush attends a closed Republican Party meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii —11:45 pm: President Bush attends a closed meeting with Pacific leaders, Honolulu, Hawaii —1:20 am: President Bush attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser reception, Honolulu, Hawaii


The president's foreign trip; the donors conference in Spain; the situation on the ground in Iraq; the Rummy memo fallout; the Hill agenda, especially mixed Medicare messages; and a lot of non-political news (school shootings, snipers, Schiavo, etc.) — there is a lot of news out there.

But in our world, the biggest stories are being played out under the Visible Primary of the Democratic presidential nomination battle big top:

Item: Howard Dean's new Iowa and New Hampshire ads that criticize "my opponents" and a memo attacking the spotty congressional voting attendance of his "opponents" begin to raise hackles. LINK and LINK and LINK

Item: How the candidates and campaigns in this multi-multi-candidate field are handling the current posture towards negativity (always sensitive in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the illusion, at least, of voters not liking The Negative worries some strategists) is now a Big Thing. See our campaign reporter reports for how each shop is handling things on this fronts these days.

Item: General Wes Clark's (limited) relationship with the media gets Major must-read Howie Kurtz treatment in the Washington Post LINK, as Clark appears poised to be the only presidential candidate to attend tonight's New Hampshire Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson dinner.

Item: The Washington Post 's Balz and VandeHei look at the Lieberman/Clark/Edwards map strategies without the prospects of numerically winning Iowa or New Hampshire. LINK

Item: Kudos to the DNC staff, for reminding their presidential candidates that the reason the DNC opposes straw polls is BECAUSE THE CAMPAIGNS WANT THEM TO!!! Check out the Florida clips, in which a still-defiant state party is still trying to turn straw to gold, despite The Macker-plus-nine united front put up yesterday. . LINK and LINK

General Clark fundraises in New York City this morning. He campaigns in New Hampshire this afternoon before attending the New Hampshire Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Manchester. He won't speak, but he'll be on hand to hear former Governor Jeanne Shaheen and The Macker address the dinner. Clark fundraises some more in Boston tonight.

Senator Kerry campaigns in Iowa.

Governor Dean has no public events today.

Congressman Gephardt has no public events today.

Senator Lieberman campaigns in D.C. Hadassah Lieberman campaigns in Oklahoma.

Senator Edwards campaigns in Iowa today.

Congressman Kucinich campaigns in Miami today.

Ambassador Moseley Braun campaigns in Houston today.

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

President Bush wraps up his Asian tour today in Australia and heads for Hawaii. President and Mrs. Bush will tour Pearl Harbor and read to elementary school children. The president will attend separate closed meetings with GOP leaders and Pacific leaders. He will also attend a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser reception tonight.

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary: The Washington Post 's all-star tag-team of Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei examine the Clark, Lieberman, and Edwards campaign strategies that look past Iowa and New Hampshire (which they collectively concede to Dean, Kerry, or Gephardt) to the group of contests on February 3. LINK

Most telling quote: "Eli Segal, chairman and chief operating officer of the Clark campaign, says history is of limited use this year because there is no dominant candidate and the calendar is compressed. 'The calendar has changed completely,' he said. 'I'm not saying history is bunk, but the lessons of the past are of limited utility.'"

Balz and VandeHei never really address WHO sets the rules that make being out of the Iowa and/or New Hampshire storylines dangerous for a nomination-seeker, but maybe that's because they are both modest types.

The "WHO," as we have long Noted, is about 25 journalists and the enabling, co-dependent wiseguy and wisegal sources in both parties who perpetuate the self-fulfilling prophecies of "tickets" out of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The press is filled with these things today, but our favorite is in DiStaso's "Granite Status" column and comes from the guy who both preceded and replaced Mike Dennehy as New Hampshire's national committeeman:

"'There are three tickets out of New Hampshire,' says Republican strategist Tom Rath. 'No more than three. Howard Dean probably has one, and the others will have to fight for the other two.'"

We'll just see about that.

The first wave of data in the Biden Foreign Policy Primary is out. The almost-presidential candidate said Wednesday that "none of the Democratic presidential candidates has expressed a coherent foreign policy although it's early in the campaign," the AP reports. LINK

Biden said, "'If it's only 'I voted to go in (to Iraq)' or 'I thought we should've gone in, but now we shouldn't spend any money there,' that is not a particularly coherent policy. And I think it will maybe work well in the primary, but I don't think it works very well in the general (election).'"

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont chronicles the back-and-forth over tax cuts as the candidates move around the (quaint?) 99 counties in Iowa. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson reports on the campaign involvement of presidential candidates' offspring. LINK

Florida wants straw: The St. Petersburg Times' Adam Smith previews the fight between the nine Democratic presidential hopefuls and Florida Democrats over a proposed straw poll, throwing in a great "this will separate the men from the boys" quote from a Broward County committeewoman who was paying attention to the broken "gentlemen's agreements" on candidate forums. LINK

The Palm Beach Post says the decision by the nine to stay away "was bruising news for Florida Democrats" but quotes Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox as saying the campaigns "were already making room reservations for the convention. He said the decision on whether to hold the straw poll would be up to a Nov. 16 state central committee vote." LINK

"'Do you really think the candidates will stay away?' he asked. "I don't think they want to risk offending Florida Democrats.'"

House of Labor: The New York Daily News reports on a "hush-hush" meeting of SEIU leaders, who heard from Bill Clinton and Howard Dean as they laid out plans for an "unprecedented $35 million campaign to drive George W. Bush out of the White House next year."

While neither the SEIU nor its 1199 local, headed by New York kingmaker Dennis Rivera, has yet endorsed a candidate, the Daily News quotes one union shop steward as saying the crowd "mobbed Dean and cheered him wildly from the moment he walked into the back of the hall." LINK

Dean may be a done deal but other candidates continue to fight for SEIU's backing. Union officials tell The Note Edwards and Kucinich will address the Florida 1199 local's "Dignity Congress" this Thursday and Friday, with Kerry and Dean beaming in to speak to the group of healthcare workers.

Dean: From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:


"It's an interesting choice of words for a campaign allegedly concerned about its candidate appearing to be too angry."

"'I get pretty mad when I hear Dick Gephardt telling everyone I hate Medicare.'"

"Dean has said this (or a slight variation of it) at least a dozen times since Monday. And Dean really is piqued about it, his aides say. It works for him as a personal motivating tool and, judging by how often he expresses it, works as a way to add passion to the rebuttal."

"'I realize,' Governor Dean said yesterday morning, 'that people are starting to believe the nonsense on Medicare.'"

"That latter point is not something his campaign readily acknowledges, but it is as good an explanation as any for the tough new television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire."

"Dean occasionally addresses the charges by credentialing himself as a doctor who actually worked with Medicare for years and telling audiences how important the program was to his patients — but lately, the stress has been on his experience as an executive. That's the swing phrase in the ads."

"'Howard Dean wants to contrast a record of results with a record of nothing but rhetoric on transcripts,' a senior aide said."

"The spots refer blindly to 'my opponents.' But they are clearly aimed most directly at Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Dr. Dean's most serious competitors in Iowa and New Hampshire."

"In recent weeks, Dean has stepped up his antagonism to against 'Washington politicians' and their 'hot air.'"

Were the ads attacks?

The New York Times ' Wilgoren and Rutenberg: "While the spots fall short of singling out Dr. Dean's opponents by name, they are unusually negative for this stage of the campaign, when biographical commercials are the norm." LINK

"The spots refer blindly to 'my opponents.' But they are clearly aimed most directly at Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Dr. Dean's most serious competitors in Iowa and New Hampshire."

In recent weeks, Dean has stepped up his antagonism to against "Washington politicians" and their "hot air."

Lloyd Grove reports Ace Smith has been hired by the Dean campaign to head up the oppo department. LINK

Howard Dean takes a play out of Jim Dyke's playbook, according to Roll Call 's Cillizza.

"Once again seeking to capitalize on his outsider status, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's campaign is circulating a memo attacking his opponents for their spotty voting records as they pursue the presidency."

The Union Leader carried a column by The Doctor himself laying out his economic plan and accusing Bush of bringing "Enron economics from Texas to Washington." A few highlights:

"With deception and misleading announcements, the president has pushed the country deeply into debt and presided over the largest job loss since the Depression."

"The Bush presidency is the realization of the worst fears of our nation's founders."

"My pledge to the American people is this: The Dean administration will balance the federal budget." LINK

More from Ambinder:

"At the stroke of 7:44 p.m. ET last night, Dean's caravan rolled into his 99th Iowa county."

"They called it 'Howard in Howard,' not to be confused with 'Howard at Howard,' which was a stop a few weeks ago at the Washington, D.C. university; (though did Dean did wear a Howard University windbreaker."

"A plan to have Howard county residents named Howard join him on stage was dropped because the campaign simply couldn't find a whole lot of said-named people there."

"Dean first visited Iowa as a presidential candidate in February 2002."

Clark: From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

"For now, General Clark is not attacking any of the other Democratic candidates. At the Phoenix debate, Clark said, 'I am not going to attack a fellow Democrat, because I think everybody on this stage shares the same goal.' And, Clark has even gone so far to commend some of his opponents — most recently this week in Nashua he spoke of John Kerry's decision not to vote for the $87 billion saying: 'I'm proud of the fact that John Kerry didn't vote for it.'"

"Unlike the other Democratic campaigns, the Clark 04 campaign has not put out any negative releases. This is not to say the campaign staff will never attack. In fact, in reaction to the AP's Lieberman story yesterday where Lieberman implies Clark is 'Bush lite' to his 'lifelong Democrat,' Clark spokeswoman Kym Spell responded by saying: 'The reason that most Democrats and most Americans see Joe Lieberman as aligned with George Bush is because many of his positions are Republican and conservative positions.'"

"One of the first comments amongst the press after General Clark concluded his economic policy speech yesterday was how passionately he spoke at his economic speech, often times yelling to get his point across. One reporter said, 'For a guy with laryngitis, he sure yelled a lot.' But alas, the use of his loud voice was a brief respite for Clark. Late last night members of the press were contacted by the campaign with news that The General has again lost his voice. His Concord, New Hampshire, event has been officially postponed and New Hampshire Political Director Steve Bouchard told ABC News he was looking to schedule a replacement campaign stop for Clark where he wouldn't have to use his voice. Clark told his staff he still wanted to campaign today in New Hampshire as scheduled."

"The Clark campaign is also announcing some staff assignments beginning today. Among those, Chris Lehane, formerly of the Kerry campaign, is informally advising the Clark campaign and will officially sign on as a consultant next week, reports the Boston Globe . Bill Buck, who has been serving as spokesman and traveling press secretary for the campaign is now officially with new title — Deputy Communications Director. Buck will serve as the Communications Director and primary spokesperson for the New Hampshire campaign."

The General himself rehashes his economic policy stump speech under the headline "Bullish on America" as a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

"There is no nation in the world with our productive power, no competitor that can match us in our creativity. If we tap into the spirit of New American Patriotism, we can tackle the challenges before us and help our economy reach its real potential. These are the reasons why I remain bullish on our economic outlook, despite the joblessness and hopelessness that I have encountered on the campaign trail. But, the first step to improving our nation's economy must be changing our CEO."

The New York Times ' Kit Seelye lays out General Clark's economic plan in which he says would repeal some of President Bush's tax cuts, saving more than $2.3 trillion over 10 years. LINK

James Pindell of Notes Clark's economic speech offered few specifics on how he plans to "erase the federal deficit." LINK

The Washington Post 's Jim VandeHei agrees that Clark was short on details and points out that he did not say exactly what he would do with the budget savings as president. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Jake Schlesinger Notes that The General's economic plan, according to a former OMB official, "would save at most $28 billion over a decade."

Other views of The General's economic policy speech.

The Boston Globe LINK; the Los Angeles Times LINK; the Arkansas Democratic Gazette's Paul Barton LINK; John DiStaso of The Union Leader LINK.

The Washington Post 's Howard Kurtz gets the press to go on the record to explain the day-to-day Clark campaign where the media are kept on the sidelines saying, "There's little question that the Clark camp feels burned by the early barrage of negative headlines and has changed strategy accordingly." LINK

Kurtz also adds: "Clark, an optimistic man who loves to talk, might have been expected to have a natural chemistry with the media."

The New York Post 's Deborah Orin writes that the media are swooning for Clark — letting him off easy on questioning and creating what she calls is a double standard to favor the newest candidate. LINK

The Boston Herald's David Guarino interviewed Clark and runs down the talking points, including Clark admitting "he doesn't have a 'realistic' shot at winning the New Hampshire primary." LINK

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times previews where Clark will be raising money next week during his first visit to Chicago as a presidential candidate. Monday he'll be at a fundraiser co-hosted by Congressman Rahm Emanuel and some other "big Dem fund-raisers, including Bettylu Saltzman" at the Hyatt Regency. Clark will also be at Frankie Z's to meet backers who worked on the draft Clark campaign. LINK

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino owner Peter Morton is planning a "public extravaganza" for Wesley Clark later this year reports Page Six. LINK

Lieberman: The AP got a whole lot from Senator Lieberman in an hour.

Ron Fournier reports on Lieberman's sit-down with AP, in which the Senator got in this Clark attack: "I must say that since Wes Clark joined the Democratic Party and became a Democratic presidential candidate, I haven't heard many people referring to me as Bush-lite," Lieberman said. "I think by comparison I'm a lifelong Democrat." LINK

AP also has this from Lieberman on Lieutenant General Boykin. "Asked whether Boykin should be dismissed from his job, Lieberman quipped: 'Based on his comments or on a failure to catch bin Laden? Or both?'" LINK

AP's Lolita Baldour says Lieberman may support a filibuster on a prescription drug bill if it includes means testing. LINK

Lieberman backs Florida Governor Jeb Bush on re-inserting Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. LINK

From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

"Senator Lieberman's sister Rietta acknowledges that he is sometimes too quiet. She told me, 'We tend to have soft voices.' Supporters on the campaign trail often express frustration that the Senator is not angry and forceful enough. One woman in Oklahoma implored me to tell the senator 'to get some backbone.' But others close to Lieberman say don't be fooled. He is a fierce competitor and will take the gloves off when he needs to, maybe not with loud words, but certainly with strong ones. He did it in his tough and successful campaign against Lowell Weicker in 1988 and he's doing it now."

"Senator Lieberman was the early attack dog of the candidates. He launched his initial blitz on Howard Dean, but he has since moved on to Wesley Clark. Lieberman's approach is to attack the frontrunner by attempting to expose them as incompetent or unqualified, thereby hoping to shine light on his own experience."

Kerry: The Boston Globe 's Patrick Healy reports that the RNC doesn't like Kerry's suggestion "that Bush administration officials were so determined to go to war in Iraq last spring that they rebuffed a last-minute overture by French and Russian officials to seek a compromise." LINK

The Boston Globe reports that Kerry "picked up his second labor endorsement yesterday, receiving the backing of the 50,000-member Utility Workers Union of America." LINK

From ABC News' Kerry campaign reporter Eva Price:

"'I'm sick of 'em dumping on Washington,' the Senator proclaimed today after multiple hours of meet and greets with the multiple generations of 'Iowans for Kerry'. What was clearly a slap on the Howard Dean wrist, this phrase nicely punctuated the Kerry campaign's earlier offering of "Governor Dean's Record on Factory Farms Is Wrong Solution For Iowa." Iowa Kerry Campaign Director John Norris is quoted as saying, "Governor Dean failed to enforce a law designed specifically to regulate factory farms", referring to a time during Dean's administration when the Vermont governor invited a Canadian corporate egg producer to Vermont and then 'failed to help dairy farmers deal with the waste the corporate operation created.' It was no coincidence these statements were provided to the press just as Dean's campaigning began focusing on the 'evils of factory farms' elsewhere in the state."

Edwards: From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

"Senator Edwards has taken a measured and subtle approach in attacking his rivals. To this point the campaign has chosen to engage on paper in handout fliers or emails as when the campaign highlighted Clark's lobbying activities soon after The General joined the race. At the New York City Pace University debate back in September, Edwards went so far as to say, 'We really need to be careful that our anger is not pointed at each other.'"

"Slowly but surely that has changed, beginning with his speech at the DNC fall meeting when Edwards pointed out he has been a Democrat all his life (left unsaid: unlike some). Very recently he might not have actually named names, but he did name states. On Monday he singled out Vermont as failing children on healthcare at forum on the University of New Hampshire campus hosted by the Every Child Matters Education Fund. Edwards cited a 2001 Kaiser report finding that in Vermont 5,000 children remain without insurance."

The Boston Globe 's Brian Mooney writes, "The gamble [Edwards] to spend heavily on early television ads in Iowa and New Hampshire has failed to provide much bump in the polls and leaves him short of cash for the three-month run-up to the first voting tests in the Democratic presidential contest." LINK

While campaigning in Iowa, Edwards promised to "crack down" on Internet pharmacies, which he says drive up prices and are unsafe. LINK

Gephardt: The Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer compares the candidates' positions on trade and how Iowans are reacting. LINK

Gephardt, she writes, " … led the unsuccessful fight against the North American Free Trade Agreement in Congress in 1993, and vaulted to a resounding caucus win here in 1988 after airing a hard-line television ad in which he threatened to impose massive tariffs on South Korean cars if that country did not lower barriers to US vehicles. But in the tumble of politics, the man threatening Gephardt's lead in Iowa is the candidate who sang the praises of NAFTA not so long ago. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean has leapt to the top of polls with a message that inverts his previous trade stance.'

The Des Moines Register 's David Yepsen surveys all the recent surveys and concludes that Gephardt is slightly ahead in Iowa. LINK

In an opinion column titled "A Presidential Candidate's Finest Hour," The Oregonian's David Reinhard praises Gephardt for a move that is often the subject of criticism for him on the campaign trail — voting for the $87 billion. LINK

"Right now he's running even in Iowa polls with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who has vaulted ahead of the pack in Iowa and elsewhere — indeed, prompted the pack to redefine itself — on the strength of his hellfire antiwar stand.

"Yet there was Gephardt last week, supporting Bush as U.S. policy in Iraq while simultaneously trying to win the nomination of a party whose partisans deem either act an apostasy these days. Democratic President John F. Kennedy had a phrase for Gephardt's stance: profile in courage."

From ABC News Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

"What a difference six weeks makes. While attacks of all shapes and sizes are being thrown every which way in the race these days, Congressman Gephardt was among the first to bring his pet skunk to the party. Gephardt launched his first attack on Dean back on September 12 criticizing him for supporting cuts to Medicare back in 1995. He has since expanded his offensive into NAFTA, and now prescription drug coverage is in the mix."

"The mudslinging continued Wednesday as the Gephardt campaign fired back at Dean after an ad critical of Gephardt's prescription drug plan began running all over Iowa. While the ad does not mention Gephardt by name, the campaign is confident the harsh words are aimed directly at him, since the two are neck in neck in the polls there — and some polls indicate Gephardt has a slight lead."

"A campaign staffer told me today 'there's a real fight going on here. Gephardt's message of economic opportunity and universal healthcare is gaining traction in Iowa. There's been a turnabout in the polls since Gephardt pointed out that Dean supported cuts in Medicare. Dean is struggling to regain his lead since he said Medicare is a bad program. The ad that Dean is running in Iowa shows that he's playing defense on retirement security.'"

Kucinich: The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson reports on Kucinich's focus "on the issue of affordable housing, visiting a housing-assistance center and speaking of his own family's experience of living in 21 homes by the time he was 17." LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

"Kucinich has shied away from launching any major attacks, mainly because it's simply not his nature and he feels uncomfortable doing so. One could also speculate it's because he doesn't wish to burn bridges with the potential nominee. Instead Kucinich favors attacks on the party in general and on the other candidates as a group for voting for the Iraq resolution, voting for the $87 billion, supporting the existence of U.S. troops in Iraq, and not promoting universal health care. The closest the Congressman has gotten to attacking specific candidates is at debates or forums, specifically Howard Dean for not advocating universal health care and Dick Gephardt for standing with the president on the Iraq resolution, the latter of which Kucinich identifies as the key reason the Democrats lost seats in the interim election."

"Though Kucinich is certainly not close with any of his opponents, he probably has the warmest relations with Al Sharpton and John Edwards. Edwards' wife Elizabeth counts herself as a Kucinich fan and has made a special effort to seek him out at debates to say hello."

Sharpton: "An op-ed in today's Arbiter argues that the other candidates should follow Sharpton's lead, and be more entertaining at the debates. It also attempts to explain why the others never challenge Sharpton. LINK

"The Wilmington Journal compares Sharpton's campaign to Jesse Jackson's, focusing on Sharpton's inability to attract white voters." LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

"The Reverend Al Sharpton is the self-proclaimed mediator of this bunch. At the last debate, he stood up for Edwards and his 'I grew up a mill worker's son' story. The next day at the NAACP event in Charlotte, he defended Clark and spoke out against personal attacks among candidates."

"'I think that what some of my colleagues have done-to try to attack each other-takes our eye off the prize. What was done to General Clark last night was a democratic disgrace. We need to fight Bush.' He went on … 'I think that all of the candidates have had to grow and some changed positions. So, I don't think it's fair to act like the General has a different position … I happen to think he's been consistent.'"

"Ironically, Sharpton frequently criticizes Dean on his positions regarding race, suggesting that Dean, 'talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk.' When asked what the difference is between some candidates suggesting that Clark is inconsistent and he himself suggesting that Dean is inconsistent, he replied, 'I've not criticized Dean personally. There were personal, venomous attacks on Clark. There's a difference in me challenging Dean to do what he says and them saying, 'you're disingenuous, you're a liar.'"

"Sharpton is often critical of the Democratic Party as a whole, suggesting that it leans right to get what it 'incorrectly' sees as the swing vote. And, as Sharpton so eloquently puts it, he feels the need to 'slap that donkey until it kicks George Bush out of the White House.'"

Moseley Braun: The Chicago Tribune's Dan Mihalopaulos looks at the campaign of Carol the Ideal and Carol the Real. LINK

"Carol the Ideal is the politician with charisma, a megawatt smile and an articulate seriousness of purpose that made her the vessel of so many hopes when she became the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992. Carol the Real has been different, a politician clouded by bad judgment, inattentiveness to detail and a lack of follow-through that has left a trail of disillusioned aides and supporters."

Iowa: The Note has almost given up trying to stop the press(es) from letting individual news cycles be dominated by horserace polling — particularly by methodologically suspect horserace polling.

We say "almost," because, like General Clark, The Note is inordinately optimistic about America's future, and about the future of the nation's political journalism.

Another cockeyed optimist, Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan, joins an august and long list of campaign officials who put out "internal" campaign numbers when it is the campaign's interest to do so.

In the face of some Iowa numbers that got a bit of attention, Jordan says his man is doing just fine in the Hawkeye State, and tells The Note this:

"Bad data drive good data out of circulation. And bad polling is something of a cottage industry in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Our internal numbers show us in a real position of strength in Iowa, and we simply want to correct any impressions to the contrary that might be created by lousy media polls."

The Chicago Tribune's editorial board sides with the Des Moines Register , asserting that Iowa is as essential to the presidential nominating contest as New Hampshire, and blowing it off just won't work. LINK

New Hampshire: Clark may have a case, but Lieberman's I don't think we're in Iowa anymore, Dorothy strategy is far from McCain-esque, says John DiStaso at the Union Leader. It just took Joe a little bit longer to get the joke.

DiStaso also has a memo for The General: fourth place is not good enough. Fourth place in New Hampshire is where candidates go to die. LINK

District of Columbia: The Washington Post 's Hanna Rosin writes about the difficulties candidates face with sorta campaigning in the District. (And there's a pretty punchy headline too.) LINK

Rosin writes that "a candidate must master a new skill: the art of campaigning without really campaigning. The rules only add to the confusion. The District will still hold its usual Feb. 10 caucus, in which delegates will be chosen. The Jan. 13 event is a publicity stunt to get attention for home rule, what's known as a nonbinding "beauty contest." Democratic National Committee rules don't forbid such events but frown upon them and discourage candidates from participating. So ultimately it's up to them."

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: President Bush is in Hawaii today for a BC04 fund-raiser and a smaller private party for the Hawaii GOP. "About 600 guests at the Hilton Hawaiian Village are expected raise $600,000 plus for the president's reelection campaign," KITV reports. On the Big Island for the first time since he took office, President Bush will visit Pearl Harbor and lay a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial.

Local coverage of the president's visit: LINK; and LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Al Hunt heads to battleground state Pennsylvania to sit in on a focus group and find out what voters there are saying about President Bush and the field of Democrats.

(Note to Al Hunt on your Note to Karl Rove about the notion that Rove will "note" Howard Dean's position on civil unions — again, check out the Cheney position.)

Despite questions about his policies, confidence in President Bush's personal qualities could propel voters to send him back to the White House in 2004, according to a focus group conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and GOP pollster Robert Teeter.

"'On personal stature, President Bush is in relatively good shape with this group,' notes Mr. Hart. The difficulty, he adds, is that many of these same voters 'turn around and say I have real policy problems with him.'"

The survey of voters in a critical congressional district outside Philadelphia found that "though Bush hasn't closed the sale for a second term, his Democratic rivals have barely mustered a decent pitch of their own." LINK

Robert Novak looks at the significance of California and Governor Schwarzenegger for the Bush re-election campaign:

"The original White House strategy imagined a Golden State campaign where Bush would be running against the backdrop of failed Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. What Bush's planners cannot tolerate now is a failed Republican governor in Sacramento."

Novak breaks down the battleground states of the Electoral College for the Bush-Cheney team — blue states Michigan and Pennsylvania are "not at all promising" while red states like Florida, Ohio and West Virginia are "most vulnerable to going the other way next year. LINK

The Hartford Courant's David Lightman's authoritative lead on the political ramifications of Tuesday's congressional vote on abortion: "President Bush needs the ban on late-term abortions for his political survival." LINK

On his way to Australia, the last stop on his tour of Asia, President Bush had a rare conversation with reporters on Air Force One, discussing North Korea's nuclear weapons program and Iran's recent pledge on uranium enrichment and weapons inspectors, Washington Post 's Mike Allen reports. LINK

President Bush addressed the Australian Parliament yesterday, thanking it for supporting the war on terrorism despite interruptions by two senators protesting the war in Iraq. LINK

The New York Times ' Glen Justice looks at President Bush's relationship with Wall Street and reports that "a study to be released today shows that the financial community has surpassed all other groups, including lawyers and lobbyists, as the top industry among Mr. Bush's elite fund-raisers." LINK

Good news for President Bush from Cambridge, Mass.

A poll released yesterday by the Harvard University Institute of Politics found that 61 percent of college students approve of President Bush's job performance and 39 percent would vote re-elect him, while 34 percent would choose an unnamed Democratic candidate. LINK

The Note was on hand at the National Press Club Wednesday to hear about the latest installment of an ongoing Harvard poll addressing undergraduate political attitudes.

Students on hand called for both parties to seize the large number of undergrads ready to fight for their causes. Dutifully, RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke and DNC Director of College Democrats Stephanie Sanchez both chanted the "tap Gen X, Y and Z" mantra.

The Note is absolutely sure both parties will now actively engage America's young voters. Maybe … at least as soon as they nail down seniors, Hispanics, union workers, security moms, NASCAR dads, and dozens of other categories.

Media: Two great inside moments in the papers today, both per the Washington Post :

Chairman Bill Thomas handing out numbered copies of his Medicare proposal which (a)ccording to one source," "Thomas said … contained deliberate misspellings to allow easy tracing of any leaks."

(This sentence is mysteriously missing from the Web version … .)

And at the end of Howie Kurtz's tour de force on The General and The Media is this fabulousness:

"The Clark camp is also learning to seize the offensive. After some former military leaders had denounced Clark, aides wanted to put out his military records, which contained praise from the likes of Al Haig and Colin Powell."

"Three Washington Post reporters were offered an exclusive if they would agree in advance to publish a separate story on the records; all refused. The records were given to the New York Times and the Boston Globe — which say no conditions were set — spurring widespread coverage when the papers were made available to the rest of the press."

The politics of national security: It's USA Yesterday as the major papers catch up to Wednesday's Rumsfeld memo publication.

America's Paper does a day-two, subtly Noting how pleased those DoD folks seem to be to see their ideas circulating and dominating inner-Beltway conversations. LINK

The Los Angeles Times picks up on the fight for presidential pole position, with this blind quote:

Rumsfeld "is also feeling new pressure from the White House, said the official, citing the recent decision to give national security adviser Condoleezza Rice a larger role in managing postwar Iraq. 'Why would he be in position to be outmaneuvered' unless there was dissatisfaction elsewhere in the administration? the official asked." LINK

The New York Times sees one new idea in the memo and runs a blind quote of its own:

"One senior government official described Mr. Rumsfeld's discussion of forming a new national security institution as 'an idea in birth.' … 'When everybody is responsible,' the official said, 'nobody is accountable.'" LINK

The New York Post editorial board writes whoever leaked the Rumsfeld memo "may have damaged the war effort — and thus given aid and comfort to America's enemies. LINK

Deconstructing reconstruction: Next question: Will the rest of the world help America come up with the money to rebuild Iraq?

Says the New York Times , "The sums being talked about on the eve of the Madrid conference represent a considerable increase over what was discussed even a few weeks ago. But Bush administration officials fear that even the sums mentioned now could represent commitments that may not turn into cash." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Neikirk has Secretary of State Powell acknowledging the shortfall to come. LINK

Tom Friedman sets his sights on the GOP to make things better in Iraq, since "most Democrats either opposed the war (a perfectly legitimate position) or supported it and are now trying to disown it. That means the only serious opposition can come from Republicans, so they'd better get focused — because there is nothing about the Bush team's performance in Iraq up to now that justifies a free pass. If Republicans don't get serious on Iraq, they will wake up a year from now and find all their candidates facing the same question: 'How did your party lose Iraq?'" LINK

Wesley Clark, Notes the Washington Post 's Bradley Graham, thinks he is one candidate ready to address these questions.

"Said retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate, "Secretary Rumsfeld is only now acknowledging what we've known for some time — that this administration has no plan for Iraq and no long-term strategy for fighting terrorism." LINK

Big Casino budget politics: A deal for Medicare, writes Robert Pear.

"Under the new structure of benefits, Medicare recipients would have to pay premiums averaging $35 a month and a $275 deductible for drug coverage."

"The beneficiary would pay 25 percent of drug costs from $275 to $2,200 a year. Medicare would pay the other 75 percent. The program would then pay nothing until the beneficiary had spent a total of $3,600 out of pocket."

A provision requiring Medicare to compete directly with private coverage plans remains the sticking point. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers, Sarah Lueck and Laurie McGinley lay out the argument over premiums that's holding up the House-Senate reconciliation on Medicare. Medicare acknowledges that putting it in competition with private plans would result in varying regional premiums — a tough sell at home for Democratic lawmakers.

The Washington Post 's Amy Goldstein doesn't see a deal, and reports that House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas "has drawn up the outlines of a legislative plan embracing several polarizing changes that House conservatives want." LINK

The economy: Construction of industrial and public buildings like schools and offices is down, but a boom in home building is expected to keep overall construction starts afloat, reports the Wall Street Journal 's Ray Smith. According to one analyst, low interest rates are sustaining home building, which is expected to drop in 2004.

"The total value of construction starts is expected to be $505.6 billion in 2003, up from $501.7 billion in 2002. This year would be the second in a row of 1% growth and more or less reflects the state of the economy. Construction activity grew at an average of 10% annually from 1996 to 1999."

And while consumer spending is still regarded as a key element to ongoing economic recovery, household debts — particularly for renters — amounts to as much as 18.1.% of Americans after-tax income, the Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip reports.

The move from renting to home ownership accounts for some of the rise in debt burden, but in the past 10 years, the after-tax debt burden on renters has risen from 22.5% to 29%.

"The reason isn't so much because of increasing rents, but because renters tend to be poorer than homeowners, and the gap between rich and poor households' incomes grew sharply in the last decade. From 1992 and 2001, renters' incomes rose 22% while homeowners' incomes rose 60%, the Fed said."

California's new governor: The San Francisco Chronicle's Robert Salladay traipsed through the capitol with the Governor-elect yesterday and writes up Schwarzenegger's intentions to call a special session of the legislature "to deal with a host of issues, from the state deficit to prohibiting driver's licenses for illegal immigrants." LINK

The Los Angeles Times reports on the celebrity governor's arrival to the capital. LINK

"Before his private jet had landed at Sacramento International Airport, a local TV news chopper was tracking its descent — and then following his motorcade to the Schwarzenegger transition office in a downtown high-rise."

Carla Marinucci says good-bye to Sharon Davis. LINK

During his visit to the capital yesterday, Arnold told legislatures that he would call them into a special session one day after he takes office. We wonder, does this mean E! should start boning up on Robert's Rules? LINK

Politics: The Washington Post 's David Von Drehle profiles the John Podesta-led Center for American Progress, through which Podesta "he wants to give the left of the American political spectrum a think tank to match the Heritage Foundation on the right." LINK

Writing in The Hill, Mark Mellman says pity the pollsters in their existential battle to survey a "universe that does not even exist at the time we poll." Finding the real likely voter is a struggle — and not just in California. LINK

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says if you are a candidate for federal office and are going to come to New York City to raise funds, you better be prepared to send federal dollars to the cash strapped Big Apple. LINK

Just get the bill into the courts already.

The New York Times ' Sheryl Gay Stolberg on the tricky politics of late-term abortion for some centrist Senate Democrats. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Marjorie Valbrun takes a look at a study on how illegal immigrants affect states' political heft — particularly California. The report, to be released today by the Center for Immigration Studies says that because illegal immigrants are counted in the census — an estimated 6.6 million in 2000 — some states with large numbers of illegal immigrants are gaining congressional seats at the expense of others. The group,Valbrun Notes, advocates tougher immigration rules.

"House candidates in the nine low-immigration states that lost a seat had to capture at least 101,000 votes each to win in 2002, the study says. House candidates in California could win with as few as 68,000 votes, because so many residents are illegal aliens ineligible to vote. The study suggests that may violate the 'one man, one vote' principle. 'The votes of American citizens living in low-immigration districts count much less than those of citizens living in high-immigration districts,' the report says."

The Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet looks at how Illinois lawmakers are raking in political cash. LINK

We wonder what Congressman Emanuel makes of this paragraph:

"Nationally, House Democrats could do well if they stoke a rivalry between Schakowsky and Emanuel, both ambitious and prolific fund-raisers."

The Clintons of Chappaqua: Consider them warned. President Clinton said in an interview with American Prospect that Democrats cannot allow themselves to go too far left, or they risk losing in the '04 election. LINK

The New York Daily News writes up Hillary Clinton's $1.2 million figure for her 3rd quarter re-election (yes, that's in 2006) fundraising. LINK