The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:30 am: Senator John Kerry meets with the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph, Nashua, N.H.

—9:40 am: Senator Joe Lieberman tours a daycare center and holds a roundtable discussion and press availability, Wilmington, Del.

—10:00 am: Senator John Edwards attends the Every Child Matters/WMUR presidential forum at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.

—11:30 am: Governor Howard Dean holds a town hall meeting to discuss his economic policy, Sioux City, Iowa

—12:00 pm: Senator Lieberman makes remarks and holds a press availability at the Modern Maturity Center, Dover, Del.

—12:30 pm: Senator Edwards holds a workplace town hall meeting at AmberWave, Salem, N.H.

—12:30 pm: House convenes for morning business

—1:00 pm: Senator Kerry attends the Every Child Matters/WMUR presidential forum at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.

—1:15 pm: Governor Dean meets with Plymouth County Democrats, Le Mars, Iowa

—1:30 pm: Senate convenes for morning business

—2:30 pm: Senator Kerry delivers an environmental speech at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.

—2:45 pm: Governor Dean meets with Sioux County Democrats, Orange City, Iowa

—4:15 pm: Governor Dean meets with Lyon County Democrats, Rock Rapids, Iowa

—5:30 pm: Senator Kerry meets with students at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

—5:45 pm: Governor Dean meets with Osceola County Democrats, Sibley, Iowa

—7:00 pm: Senator Kerry appears on "Hardball: Battle for the White House" at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Mass.

—7:15 pm: Governor Dean meets with O'Brien County Democrats, Sheldon, Iowa

—7:20 pm: Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at a fundraiser for Congressman Jim Leach, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

—9:15 pm: Governor Dean meets with Emmet County Democrats, Estherville, Iowa


Why is it that the same journalists who quadrennially force every presidential candidate to spend a comically disproportionate amount of their resources in Iowa and New Hampshire get to decide in what instances candidates get a pass to skip Iowa?

Adam Nagourney's employer — the New York Times — was nice enough to post his historic story on the paper's Web site early enough Sunday night that there was time for other organizations to do some matching, but the (Jerry) Gray Lady's version is the one that will go into the history books. LINK

The lead: "Two prominent Democratic presidential candidates, Gen. Wesley K. Clark and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, have decided to bypass Iowa's presidential caucuses, angering some party leaders there and signaling what could be a very different nomination battle next year."

After that comes a cascading tumble of prose and quotes that insiders are re-reading and lapping up as they have few stories this presidential cycle.

The subset of the Gang of 500 that sets expectations for Iowa and New Hampshire — determining on a daily and weekly basis all the way up through caucus and primary days what constitutes a "win" for those competing — is likely to follow the Times zeitgeist and let Clark (certainly) and Lieberman (probably) have a McCainial pass out of competing in Iowa.

Henceforth, can we all agree to refer to this subset as "the 25 expectation setters," shortened to, as pronounced, "the 25S"?

In a cosmic blow to the four nominatable candidates still competing flat-out in the caucuses (Gephardt, Dean, Kerry, and Edwards), Nagourney (a leader to be sure in 25S) has the temerity to write:

" … the absence of General Clark and Mr. Lieberman could plant an asterisk alongside the results of the caucuses on Jan. 19. Even Iowa Democratic leaders, eager to maximize their quadrennial exercise of influence, say it could diminish the state's role in choosing the a nominee."

The Lieberman and Clark decisions have great implications for determining the identity of the Democratic nominee for president — but nobody can tell you for sure what those implications will be.

While this development is on many levels inside baseball, much of the early jockeying for positioning — even after the voting starts early next year — has a hefty inside baseball component.

Today, as on more days than not between now and January, 2004, if you are looking for people who want to work in the White House starting in January of 2005, check in Iowa and New Hampshire — where today you will find Cheney, Kerry, Dean, and Edwards.

Will the Two Skippers get to be in the Iowa debates? Will New Hampshire voters reward or punish them for dissing their first-in-the-nation sister state? What does this do for the relative expectations of the remaining candidates?

For Lieberman, this decision allows him to stop wasting resources in a place out of which he couldn't get any bounce, whether he finished fourth (unlikely), fifth, or sixth (or, truth be known, seventh).

For Clark, assuming he pulls this off, he avoids showing the feet of clay that would be deadly to his I'm-a-winner-premised candidacy.

See below for more on all this in our "Lieberman and Clark Can Now Oppose Ethanol" section.

The other big story with the president away is the sixth (or so) wave of "Howard Dean is going to be the nominee and what does it all mean?" stories.

See the Dean section below for all that.

President Bush attends the APEC meeting today in Bangkok as he continues his Asian tour.

Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at a fundraiser for Congressman Jim Leach tonight in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Governor Dean campaigns in Iowa today through Wednesday.

Senator Kerry is in New Hampshire today and tomorrow. He heads back to D.C. on Tuesday night for the Building and Trades dinner. He's in Iowa Wednesday and Thursday and back in New Hampshire on Friday.

General Clark has no public events scheduled for today. He is scheduled to campaign in New Hampshire Tuesday through Thursday, including another "New American Patriotism" speech at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester on Tuesday.

Congressman Gephardt is in D.C. today with no public events.

Senator Lieberman campaigns in Delaware today.

Senator Edwards campaigns in New Hampshire today. He's in Iowa on Wednesday and Thursday, Florida on Friday, and South Carolina and Oklahoma on Saturday.

Congressman Kucinich has no public events scheduled for today. He campaigns in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Florida on Thursday, New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday, and Michigan on Sunday.

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

Ambassador Moseley Braun has no public events scheduled for today. She keynotes the Harris County Women's Political Caucus meeting in Houston on Thursday, campaigns in Wisconsin and Illinois on Saturday, and campaigns some more in Michigan and New Hampshire on Sunday.

This Sunday, the Democratic presidential candidates will get together in Detroit for another DNC sanctioned debate. This one is sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and will take place at the historic Fox Theater in downtown.

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary: Lieberman and Clark Can Now Oppose Ethanol:

Beyond Nagouney's story, the two most important narratives of this key tale are Tom Beaumont's in the Des Moines Register LINK and the Weiss/Mishra effort in the Boston Globe . LINK

Beaumont lets Clark and Lieberman spokesguys take their whacks at explaining why this change is a sign of sense and not weakness, even though, as best as The Note can tell, neither campaign did any of the groundlaying with the 25S that we have long advocated for those looking to do some paradigm shifting.

Says Jano Cabrera, Lieberman's guy and a man who has changed a paradigm or two in his time: "Unlike years past, there aren't just two early primary states, there are nine. What that means for the candidates is that each will have to focus their resources where they think they will prove the most effective. Without a doubt we think this is a winning strategy."

Beaumont also has political analyst Tom Vilsack giving Lieberman a pass but scolding Clark, and pointing out, correctly and implicitly, that John Edwards now has to decide what fourth place in Iowa is really worth and/or if he can do better than fourth.

Finally, Beaumont quotes a fella named Steve Hildebrand approving of Clark's strategy ("There's more than one way to get to the presidency … Clark may be able to perform better and get the nomination by skipping Iowa."), and points out that Hilde has deep Iowa roots.

What he doesn't mention, and which Hildebrand oh-so-reluctantly told The Note on Friday, is that the Modest Man is now officially supporting Clark's candidacy (and letting that Iowa talent go to waste), including with cash money, as the FEC Web site makes clear! LINK


The Globe has Lieberman being swayed by McCain strategist John Weaver, and the Nutmeg State Senator calling Vilsack and Attorney General Tom Miller himself to let them know the news.

As for the Nagourney story, it doesn't have much in the way of reaction from the Big Four who will play in Iowa, but one Clark adviser's metaphorical explanation of the strategy caught at least one eye.

"'What we'll do is what I call the General MacArthur strategy,' a senior Clark adviser said. 'General MacArthur was very successful in World War II because he skipped over the Japanese strongholds, where they were more organized, and instead picked islands that were favorable or neutral terrain. Which means we would choose not to focus resources on Iowa and instead focus them on New Hampshire and on Feb. 3 … .'"

In response, a strategist for a rival campaign tells us he/she finds it "strange that the Clark campaign would choose to use the MacArthur analogy. Since, like Clark , MacArthur was humiliated by being relieved of his command."

"Also, he hopped islands NOT because they couldn't be won (like Clark in IA) but because he didn't have to bother."

David Lightman, naturally, focuses on Lieberman, saying he will do the debates, but maybe not the J-J, and DL has the John Weaver thing too. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Zeleny focuses on Lieberman's decision, and includes this mystical, inexplicable sentence about questions being "raised" — without saying by whom:

"The unexpected ascendancy of Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, and the late entry of Wesley Clark have complicated campaign strategies for all the candidates and raised questions about the influence that states such as Iowa have in the process." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

The Miami Herald 's Peter Wallsten reports that the Dean campaign "is quietly mobilizing for a show of force at Florida's state Democratic Party convention in December, despite calls by national party leaders for a boycott if plans proceed for a presidential straw poll." LINK

Wallsten writes that the campaign is e-mailing Florida Democrats to remind them that the straw poll in 1991 "ignited the candidacy of a future president with some parallels to Dean."

Note this: "National party leaders and several of Dean's eight rivals for the nomination have complained that the Florida straw poll would drain precious resources at a critical time. The Democratic National Committee has even asked each campaign to sign a letter to Maddox promising to boycott the convention if a straw poll is held. So far, the campaigns are reluctant to embrace the threat out of fear of alienating activists in the nation's biggest swing state."

And Wallsten later writes, "It appears increasingly inevitable that the straw poll would happen despite the DNC's protests."

More: "Among the campaigns, confusion reigns over what to make of the DNC's boycott threat."

"Aides to Edwards said last week that the North Carolina senator would definitely participate in the straw poll."

But, wait, what's this?: Joe Trippi "said he was told by DNC officials that every campaign had agreed to sign on to the boycott threat except Dean's. Matt Bennett, a spokesman for Clark, said the Clark campaign was given the same pitch by the DNC — that only Clark remained uncommitted to the boycott."

Newsweek's Howard Fineman is shocked, shocked we say to find that the candidates' tax plans have something to do with political posturing. He takes a look at the "leave-some-tax-cuts-behind" movement among the leading Dems, chronicling who's where on what to keep and what to cut. LINK

As Democratic candidates focus their attention on winning the February 3 South Carolina primary, black voters there find themselves in a very influential position. U.S News & World Report's Terence Samuel looks at a voting bloc that "may account for up to 50 percent of the turnout on primary day" and a state that will be the "first measure of which of those nominees can energize the black vote." LINK

Black voters bypass Democrats' stump stops in South Carolina, reports Schuyler Kropf of the Charleston Post & Courier. LINK

The presidential candidates aren't just looking to scoop up Bob Graham's donors, they are also looking for support from Sunshine State congressional members according to Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza. Mr. Cillizza goes on to report that Senator Nelson is less concerned with which remaining Democrat to back for president, and more focused on Senator Graham's pending decision regarding reelection. Senator Nelson expects an announcement this week.

In Sunday's New York Times , Jennifer 8. Lee vividly painted the picture of a trendy Manhattan house party for the Kucinich campaign as a lead-in to the larger house party phenomenon that's "blending politics and potluck" for Kucinich, Kerry, Gephardt, and … oh yeah … Dean, whose campaign "has raised over $1 million from more than 13,000 donors at more than 2,000 house parties around the country since February." LINK

We'll resist all Kid 'N Play jokes and just give you some highlights.

And there's a whole bunch of stuff at the end of the article about those wacky techno-music campaign jingles on the Web that must make Woody Guthrie roll over in his grave … or at least bust a move.


The Washington Post 's Tom Edsall writes in a must-read, "Dean's success raising money and mobilizing voters has provoked a growing debate among Democratic and Republican strategists over whether the former Vermont governor has the potential to become a 'transformative' political figure, altering, for better or worse, the financial and constituent base of the Democratic Party." LINK

More: "Dean and his manager, Joe Trippi, do not hide their assertion that the flood tide of support flowing into their insurgent campaign, much of it through the Internet, signals no less than a sea change in traditional Democratic campaigning."

Elizabeth Mehren of the Los Angeles Times writes up Howard Dean's "outsider" strategy as he campaigns against the status quo in Washington. Don't miss the Yepsen excerpts from the "panderer" column (just 'cause they are so much fun) and the "rare breach of self-discipline" when faced with some Iowa apple pie. LINK

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Mike Williams Notes that oppo researchers searching through Burlington archives haven't found a smoking gun that proves Dean's temper to be volatile and impactful. That doesn't mean there aren't Vermonters who weren't allegedly called, say, a "pompous ass" by the former Governor. No real time peg for this story, so it makes you wonder how many other political reporters for regionally influential papers will write similar articles. LINK

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

"On the venerable Iowa Press television program Friday night, Dean alluded to a disagreement between himself and several of his policy advisers about the feasibility of balancing the budget immediately."

"'There's been an internal fight about this,' Dean said."

"'I want to do it as soon as possible and some of my guys [have a different view].'"

"'My goal is five years,' he continued. 'Some people say it can't be done for six, some say seven.'"

"For a governor who began a speech to Arab-American community leaders in Michigan Saturday by saying, 'I believe that balancing the budget is the first step to create jobs again,' precisely when the books would be closed is a touchy issue. It will depend, his advisers, say, on how big the deficit is the day Dean takes office and how quickly the economy grows."

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont, who has been producing some of the best policy reporting on the trail, wrote up Dean's Iowa Press appearance with an emphasis on the tax hike comments. LINK

The Note isn't sure if any of you are as extreme college football fans as some of the Googling monkeys are (nothing to do with gambling) … .so we want to (cross-promotionally) share that on ESPN's College Gameday Saturday morning, the monkeys say they witnessed something they haven't seen before.

As some of you may know, ESPN does the show on the road outside on a college campus in front of a horde of hometown fans who hold up signs that say things like "Lee Corso is Mine," "Joe Pa is God," and "10:48 am and OSU still sucks."

Well, Saturday's show was in Madison, Wisconsin, for the Badgers and the Purdue Boilermakers, and there were a whole bunch of people in that sea of Badger red holding up little blue "Dean for America" signs that were well placed for several camera angles.

Those crazy college kids.


The New York Post 's Deborah Orin has reaction from the Dean and Kerry campaigns after a new tape emerged over the weekend showing General Clark praising President George W. Bush again, this time as recently as January 2002. LINK

Clark campaign spokesman Matt Bennet told ABC News that in the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan "everybody was saying good things about this administration. The country had come together like never before. Nobody who was a patriot was questioning the attack on Al Qaeda. This is just simply not surprising, definitely not for somebody who is a career military" man.

Newsweek's Mark Hosenball Notes that Clark's right-wing critics allege that he may have been involved in the planning of the final assault at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. Hosenball says Internet postings and a recent article in Insight Magazine claim that Clark, who was a senior Army commander at nearby Fort Hood during the operation, and his controversial involvement has led Bush's political base and some GOP activists to look at the issue. LINK

Lois Romano profiled Clark in Sunday's Washington Post , leaving the defining question of The General's career still unanswered: is he admirable or too headstrong? LINK

Romano interviews F.O.C's (Friends of Clark) who flip-flop on the issue. When faced with a similar question Clark did not make apologize to those who critiqued his rise to the top in the military and his ultimate push into retirement:

"In any organization, there are personality conflicts. The worst thing you want in the military is a guy who follows the gang, 'Hey, I'll just go along to get along.' I was never that kind of a leader."

And if you were wondering where Clark's been these past few days, Mary Jacoby, the traveling press secretary from that unforgettable first week of The General's campaign, goes back on the record in the Washington Post talking about his laryngitis. LINK

To prove the fact that politics and baseball go hand in hand, the Clark campaign posted the "Clark04 Baseball Challenge" on their Web site Saturday. The AP takes a look at this Internet fundraising strategy, inviting donors to make pledges to his campaign based on who they think will win the World Series. Before the Marlin's Game 1 win, the Fish led in the pledges total $1,500 to the Yankees $1,000. LINK

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

"While General Clark rested at home in Little Rock under doctor's orders during the past few days, The 'General's general' as he's nicknamed his wife, Gert Clark, was out and about Little Rock playing surrogate."

"At a fundraiser at the Little Rock home of President Clinton's former White House interior designer, Kaki Hockersmith, on Friday evening, Mrs. Clark addressed the 'who's who' of Arkansas including Congressmen Marion Berry and Mike Ross. Even without the General, Mrs. Clark and the campaign's Chief Operating Officer, Ambassador Richard Sklar, drew a crowd, and the campaign was said to have raised more than $150,000 by the end of the evening. The question at the end of the night was not who supported Clark, but rather, who got to keep the chia-Donkey centerpiece?"


From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

"With Iowa out of the picture, it's full steam ahead for the Tidal Wave Tuesday strategy. The campaign hopes to win Oklahoma, Arizona and Delaware and have a decent showing in the other February 3 states. Aboard the WinnebaJoe last week, Senator Lieberman put the do or die situation this way, 'I'm gonna win some primaries on February 3. I've gotta win some primaries on February 3.'"

"Senator Lieberman's address to the Arab American Institute's leadership conference on Friday began with the words, 'I am Joseph, your brother' and ended in respectful applause, but there were fireworks and shouting in between. His heckling dominated Saturday's papers."

The Courant's David Lightman : LINK

The New York Times : LINK

The Dallas Morning News: LINK


From ABC News' Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe:

"Salvaging the final day of an interrupted four-day Iowa tour, Senator John F. Kerry sprinted to four towns Saturday armed with newfound foreign policy ammo: his vote against the $87 billion Iraq budget request."

"At the Hawkeye Community College Development Center in Waterloo, Kerry stated, as he would throughout the day to thunderous applause, 'I voted against that $87 billion in Washington yesterday, but let me make it clear: I'm for winning in Iraq … but we've got to do it the right way.'"

"The Democratic Senator then attempted to link the costs of war and peace to the Bush tax cuts arguing, 'If we can ask our National Guardsmen to spend an extra year in Iraq, we can ask our wealthiest to give a little bit of their tax cut back.'"

"During a ride-along interview later, Kerry said, 'I really think I was ahead of the curve in the questions I was asking (about Iraq) … I think the questions I raised about this war, my correctness, are going to serve me very, very well.'"

"The Massachusetts Senator also rejects the notion that he could have voted for a UN-heavy alternative such as the Levin proposal, arguing it gave the UN veto power over US national security."


With his campaign mired in the single digits, Edwards' took in significantly less than his major rivals writes Jim Morrill of the Charlotte Observer LINK

Dean, Edwards seek New Hampshire support for health plans, reports the Union Leader. LINK

From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

"Over the weekend Senator Edwards launched his 11-stop 'National Check Up' tour to 'diagnose' the state of health care. Almost always included in his stump speech is a comment that of all the people running for president only Bush has no detailed healthcare plan. In a campaign statement Edwards said, 'This president has no remedy for these problems, but I do. I have a plan to fix America's health care mess, cover every child, protect our most vulnerable adults and bring down rising health care costs.'"

"On Saturday Edwards held a town hall meeting in Orlando, Florida. The AP's Mike Branom reported that Edwards received solid applause when he told an 80-plus crowd, 'Because the president has no plan, because the president has not gotten our allies in, I was not willing to put the stamp of approval on what he's doing.'"

"Branom also reports that Edwards said he will increase his focus on Florida now that Graham is gone and to that end he said he would participate in the straw poll the Florida Democratic Party intends to hold in December." LINK


It's tough to uncover new and interesting information about a man who has been in office for 27 years and has been married to the same woman for a decade longer than that. But Brian Mooney does just that in Sunday's Boston Globe . LINK

The Des Moines Register 's article on the Saturday night Teamsters rally in Cedar Rapids focuses on one of many aspects of the speech the Gephardt campaign billed as his "vision for a new trade policy." LINK


Senate colleagues urged Graham to remain for a fourth term, reports Frank Davies of the Miami Herald LINK

Despite an early withdrawal after a lackluster campaign, some still tout Graham as a potential VP candidate. LINK


From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

"This weekend Kucinich entered the tiny club of presidential candidates who've ever campaigned in Hawaii, catching a flight to Maui after joining the picket line of Ralph's supermarket workers who were locked out in Venice, California, Saturday. After addressing about 1,000 people at the United Fillipino Community Council meeting, Kucinich attended a benefit concert for the Montessori school by Kucinich endorser and part-time Maui resident Willie Nelson, whose children attended the school."

"After a Sunday morning town hall at the Maui Community College, Kucinich attended a fundraiser luncheon at the Maui Tropical Plantation, which raised an estimated $10,000."


First Charles Halloran joins the Sharpton campaign, and then Roger Stone shows up at his birthday fundraising bash. How long before we see Tom Golisano stumping for the Reverend in New Hampshire? The New York Post 's Fred Dicker peeks at the Sharpton/Golisano alliance. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Lynn Okamoto profiled Sharpton on Sunday. LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

"The turnout Sunday at the University of Virginia was huge for Reverend Sharpton — about 1,000 people — and it marked the first time that he has spoken to a virtually all-white group of college students. The tone and the talk were quite obviously adapted for this group. Gone were the criticism of hip-hop music and the tone of urgency to continue the civil rights struggle that Sharpton always includes when addressing students at historically black colleges. Instead, Sharpton focused on policy, Bush-bashing and getting out the vote, to resounding applause. When one student asked him about Tawana Brawley he busted out a new line."

"'They accused me of standing up for a woman. So, maybe if I had fondled a woman they would've made me governor of California.'"

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday ran an article on Sharpton — half profile, half campaign woes. LINK

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

The Boston Globe 's Wayne Washington asks why the president is unwilling to admit that the campaign season has begun.

"No one doubts that Bush has a broad policy agenda in Washington. No one doubts that he's trying to get that agenda enacted into law. But Bush is all but alone in refusing to acknowledge that 'the political season' is well underway. And he's one of its biggest players. LINK

New York Times ' Toner reports that President Bush is losing support among seniors, a critical swing voting bloc. While Congress negotiates a Medicare bill that will affects 40 million elderly and disabled and could be a major campaign issue, "analysts in both parties cite the economy, the stock market and the situation in Iraq as major factors in the slippage" among older voters. LINK

BC04 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman showed up in Iowa last week to announce the campaign's state leadership team and build support for the president's re-election effort in a state where the Democratic contenders have a ubiquitous presence before the caucuses in January.

"Evidence of the GOP's campaign push in Iowa can be seen in the parade of national Republican leaders headed to the state to energize the party faithful and counter Democrats' attacks on Bush's record." Vice President Dick Cheney will be at an event for Rep. Jim Leach today in Cedar Rapids.

Cheney was in Des Moines earlier this month and Attorney General John Ashcroft and RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie were there in September. LINK

In Sunday's Washington Post , Howie Kurtz looks at Bush-hating, the recent wave of books by liberal authors that beat up on the president and what this means for Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

"To hear conservatives tell it, the liberals are being self-destructive by constantly and fervently denouncing the president … .To hear liberals tell it, the fury at Bush could fuel a Democratic surge in 2004 and helps explain the improbable success of Howard Dean. In this view, the party doesn't need milquetoast Democrats who blur their differences with Bush as much as two-fisted candidates ready to punch him out." LINK

If David Broder's second-day take on the Arab American Institute meeting in Michigan was even close to right in Sunday's Washington Post , all that work Karl Rove did with Arab Americans for 2000 needs to be re-done big time. LINK

Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza reports President Bush is getting quite a bit of help from his friends in the legislative branch.

"Nearly 100 Republican House Members and Senators dipped into their campaign accounts or leadership political action committees in the past three months to contribute to President Bush's re-election campaign."

Time updates the White House leak investigation and reports that "the FBI has interviewed more than two dozen more than two dozen officials in several Washington offices, including White House press secretary Scott McClellan and Bush political adviser Karl Rove as well as other West Wing aides." LINK

The economy:

The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip writes that the Fed might be inching toward an inflation target, despite Chairman Greenspan's long-held opposition.

The loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. has become a major theme for Democratic presidential candidates — and others — looking to blame the White House for workers' economic woes. But manufacturing jobs are disappearing worldwide, reports the Wall Street Journal 's Jon Hilzenrath and Rebecca Buckman.

According to Alliance Capital Management LP in New York, which studied jobs in 20 large economies, "from 1995 to 2002, more than 22 million jobs in the manufacturing sector were eliminated, a decline of more than 11%."

Joseph Carson, head of the company's global research group, Notes that the popular political arguments aren't the whole picture.

"'The argument that politicians are throwing out there is that we are losing jobs and nobody else is, and that is wrong,' says Mr. Carson. 'What I found is that the loss of manufacturing jobs that we have seen in the U.S. is not unique. It is part of a global trend that began many years ago.'"

USA Today 's Peronet Despeignes reports that "President Bush failed in weekend jawboning sessions to persuade either China or Japan to quickly allow the value of their currencies to rise against the dollar, which would give U.S. manufacturers a boost as they try to sell their goods into Asian markets." LINK

The politics of national security:

Lots of Iraq news these past few days as the administration decided over the weekend to seek out the Filter and get its message on the Sunday shows.

This morning's New York Times reports on the Bush Administration's agreement to let the international community, under the auspices of the United Nations and the World Bank, decide how to dole out millions in reconstruction funds

Why the change of heart? Give a look to these blind quotes in the New York Times :

"The administration changed its mind in recent weeks, in part because of the support of Mr. Bremer."

"'We had to act because the international community was stonewalling us on aid,' said an administration official. According to the official, Mr. Bremer said, 'I need the money so bad we have to move off our principled opposition to the international community being in charge.'" LINK

Note that Dr. Rice told ABC News the New York Times has the story wrong and that the quotes don't even sound like Ambassador Bremer.

The Washington Post reported Sunday on a proposed schedule for troop withdrawal from Iraq next year. The plan would leave fewer than 100,000 troops in Iraq by next summer. Some call the plan optimistic while others say it is an appropriate goal.

Catch this attention-grabbing graph:

"There is deep worry in the Army that if Iraqi security forces cannot shoulder more of the burden, the Army will have to maintain its current troop levels beyond the spring, which could create a personnel exodus that would threaten the viability of the all-volunteer force." LINK

And then look at one Senator McCain's comments on "Meet the Press." Doesn't sound to us like he thinks withdrawal is such a wise idea.

Knight Ridder's Landay, Strobel and Douglas examine the cracks in the president's foreign policy bench of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell: "But after nearly three years in office, Bush's dream team is beset by infighting, backstabbing and maneuvering on major foreign policy issues involving North Korea, Syria, Iran and postwar Iraq. The result has been paralysis, inconsistency and a zigzagging U.S. policy that confuses lawmakers on Capitol Hill and disturbs America's friends, allies and would-be partners. LINK

Bob Novak shows us all how, paced by Senator Lugar's comments on "Meet the Press," Republicans are beginning to show their worry on the war. There are even hints that Syria might be the next in the military's sights. LINK

As for that $87 billion, the Wall Street Journal 's Rogers writes hell hath no fury like a lawmaker scorned.

"In final negotiations this week, the administration is confident it can kill Senate provisions requiring that half the Iraq aid be conditioned as a loan unless other nations forgive debts accumulated by Baghdad under Saddam Hussein. But Mr. Bush hurt his cause by brusquely dismissing Republican senators at a White House meeting on the loan issue last Tuesday. And to the degree he is seen as ignoring Congress — a widespread view in the Capitol — the president raises the fear among lawmakers that he is ignoring their constituents at home."

Do give the Lindsey Graham quote a look.

But just in case the opposition starts to pop the champagne over all the lousy news, charter members of the media establishment tell them to get to work offering their own alternative for post-war Iraq:

The New York Times editorial board joins the Kristof-inspired chorus and tells Dems to do something more than sound off when it comes to Iraq policy. LINK

Time's Joe Klein takes his turn rapping the Dems. Under the headline "Profiles in Convenience," Klein asks, "Is it too much to ask that politics be put aside on this one issue of transcendent importance, where lives are literally at stake? Happily, Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt did the right thing last week." LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

As if he was producing ABC News programming this week, Ron Brownstein reports on the rising costs and declining access to health insurance being faced by many Americans and declares the Gray Davis, George Bush, and Dick Gephardt plans all somewhat unworkable. LINK

California's new governor:

Arnold Schwarzenegger's coming to town and the Los Angeles Times' Shawn Hubler reports that has folks in Sacramento's tourism industry downright giddy. LINK

"Sacramento's close-up has been a long time coming. Though the state capital is the hub of a metropolitan area encompassing close to 2 million people, modern Californians have tended to view it as a backwater between San Francisco and the ski slopes of the Sierra Nevada — a dusty, farm-y pit stop on the way to someplace else."

George Skelton writes Gray Davis' downfall had nothing to do with his policies or his "dull" personality. LINK

"He lacked three assets crucial for any California governor. They are long-range vision, core convictions and people skills."

The San Francisco Chronicle's Marinucci and Wildermuth get some post-mortem quotes from Garry South and Larry Grisolano, neither of which comes close to Attorney General Bill Lockyer's Saturday announcement that he voted for Schwarzenegger. LINK

Politics: We bet we don't see any Dems yelling about this info-gathering any time soon.

Reports the AP's Sharon Theimer, "The Democratic and Republican parties both are collecting information about millions of individual voters, a key ingredient in their 2004 campaign game."

… "The Democratic Party's database includes Census data, such as block-level demographic information; national consumer data, which provides individual details such as whether a person is married, owns a home and has children; voter files, which are available from several states and show a person's party identification and which elections he or she has voted in; and rundowns on how precincts voted in past elections."

The RNC wouldn't share so much, but Theimer does get Frank Farehnkopf to talk about his info-gathering efforts way back when. LINK

James Bennet's return to Washington to cover the capital for the New Yorker deserves its own entire section of The Note, but we don't have the perspective (still shocked as we are by the Robin-Wright-to-the-Washington-Post news that Tim blabbed about yesterday) to perform on that today. LINK

But this is B-I-G for everyone in politics and political journalism.

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

No Democrats go on the record with Deborah Orin, but they "are grumping" nonetheless about Hillary Clinton's upcoming role as emcee at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner. LINK

The Bushes of Kennebunkport:

The new memoir by former First Lady and current First Mother Barbara Bush is reviewed today by the New York Times ' Michiko Kakutani. LINK

Newsweek spends time with the former First Lady for a profile piece in today's issue. LINK

Politics for pretty people:

The best moment in Time: An interview with Mandy Moore. LINK

Time: "You play the president's daughter in an upcoming film. Is your character more Chelsea Clinton or Jenna Bush?"

Moore: "Jenna Bush. I'm the regular 18-year-old who wants to discover who she is. You look at the Bush twins, and it's like, yes, O.K., so maybe what they're doing is not right. But what teenagers at parties aren't drinking?"