The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—8:30 am: Representative Dick Gephardt attends a closed meeting with the Bricklayers Union Executive Council, D.C. —9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —10:00 am: House convenes for legislative business —10:30 am: Senator John Edwards has breakfast with Iowa County Democrats, Williamsburg, Iowa —11:30 am: Senator Joe Lieberman holds a town hall meeting with seniors on Social Security and Medicare, Pembroke Pines, Fla —11:45 am: Senator Edwards has coffee with Democratic activists, Sigourney, Iowa —12:30 pm: Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger introduces President Bush before he makes remarks on the war on terror, Riverside, Calif. —1:00 pm: Senator Edwards meets with Washington County Democrats, Washington, Iowa —1:30 pm: Vice President Cheney makes remarks at a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser, Fort Worth, Texas —2:00 pm: Governor Howard Dean delivers an economic policy address at Georgetown University, D.C. —5:00 pm: Governor Dean attends the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 25 meeting, D.C. —7:30 pm: Governor Dean keynotes the annual Virginia Kennedy-King Dinner, Alexandria, Va. —9:00 pm: Congressman Dennis Kucinich speaks at the Josephine Butler Community Park Center, D.C.


Insta-Pulitzers of the day ("must-read" has become so devalued):

1. The Boston Globe 's superstar Anne Kornblut's curtain-raising of today's Ted Kennedy's blistering Iraq Senate floor speech, complete with awesome blind quotes from both the Senator's side and the White House and the backstory of the declining relationship, complete with reporting on the recent scolding call from Andy Card (pronounced "Kaad," at Fenway) to the Senior Senator after the last outburst. LINK

2. The New York Times masterful G-Men — Johnston and Lichtblau — on how some at DOJ/FBI think Ashcroft needs a quick Wilson recusal to set things right. LINK

3. The New York Times Broder and Stevenson powerfully teaming up to curtain-raise 43/T3, including a staggering second-to-last paragraph: LINK

"Although officials in Washington have made no public commitments to additional aid for California, a request has been sent to federal agencies to scour the books for payments that California is eligible for but has not yet claimed. These would provide a no-cost way for the White House to claim credit for opening the spigot to California."

4. Amy Goldstein in the Washington Post on the possibility of Medicare means testing that is as explosive as they come. LINK

5. Because it is Thursday, the Union Leader's leader, John DiStaso's "Granite Status" is of course on our list — what with stuff on Pam Walsh's view of the J-J; Howard Dean being warned to "be careful" over his District flirtation; following on the Iowa hit someone in another campaign was nice enough to make, a New Hampshire ding for Joe Lieberman's past support for regional primaries; and, naturally, much much more. LINK

6. Donnie Fowler's tour de force letter, courtesy of Roll Call , in which the departed Wes Clark campaign manager dispenses some advice to the candidate, including (implicitly) that Mark Fabiani should give up La Jolla and the kids for Doe's and The Heights.

7. David Yepsen, writing up the AARP event, and treating Howard Dean as if he is, dear goodness, Tom Vilsack — calling him the "ultimate panderer"! LINK

Dynamics to watch today:

1. Does Governor-elect Schwarzenegger bring up the dual eligible issue with President Bush, or does he turn his back on his NGA colleagues, including the members of his own party, including the Governor of Florida? LINK

2. How mad do other news organizations get at the Clark campaign for giving the New York Times (and the Boston Globe ?) an early peeksie at The General's military files, and how much help is it in a Democratic nomination fight to have glowing reviews from Al Haig? 3. How many people in politics and covering politics will understand the comedy of Kerry and Clark still talking about going their own "busta caps" route, and the last vital paragraph of Ron Brownstein's Los Angeles Times story: LINK

"Anthony Corrado, a campaign-finance expert at Colby College in Maine, said that if Dean remains in the system, he can expect to get about $13 million to $14 million in matching funds. Because Dean has already raised $25 million, if he were to accept public financing, he might be allowed under the spending caps to raise as little as an extra $9 million or $10 million through next July's Democratic convention, Corrado said."

4. The Senate vote on Iraq money and the UN vote on international cooperation.

A Republican Senator told ABC News' Linda Douglass about Tuesday's meeting between President Bush and several Senators to make the case that the $20.3 billion requested for Iraq reconstruction be a grant, not a loan. Douglas reports:

"This senator said many of them were taken aback by his hardnosed attitude toward them. 'He was not charming. He was not diplomatic. His eyes were shooting darts.' The senator said the president did not seem to listen to the group's concerns and 'did not seem to care.' This senator and a second Republican senator told me that the meeting with Mr. Bush 'backfired' with some of them. It made them more determined to push to make the money for Iraq a loan. The second senator said 'No one likes being talked to that way.'"

"Vice President Cheney met with all Republican Senators [Wednesday] and made what one called 'a very direct appeal' to abandon the loan idea. Cheney 'listened' said the one senator and may have won some converts. But Cheney also made it clear the White House has no interest in compromising. No loan, period, was the message."

5. Howard Dean's tax vision thing.

Quotes of the day:

1. "This isn't as bad as [George] Shultz vs. [Caspar] Weinberger, is it?"

-- President Bush (reportedly) in a staggering must-read Philadelphia Inquirer story on both the president's reported demand that the leaking stop, and on his aggressive push for is Iraq package. LINK

2. "Stop the leaks."

-- Bush again (allegedly) from the same story. LINK

3. "That was a bad line. I shouldn't have said that."

-- Howard Dean in the New York Times regarding his "cockroaches" line, making one of his rare apologies. LINK

4. "For the grass roots to grow they've got to be watered."

-- Kerry spokesguy Robert Gibbs, doing a brilliant Chauncey Gardner imitation that is going to go RIGHT over the heads of the campaign's younger workers. LINK

5. "Obviously, it is important that we keep this letter internal and confidential until all the campaigns have signed on."

-- Josh Wachs, DNC COO, in a memo to each of the presidential campaigns, obtained by the Orlando Sentinel's cagey Mark Silva, about the Florida Democratic Party's still ascendant plans to hold an early December straw poll which the DNC is trying to crush. LINK


6. "This is one of those times when money actually reflects reality … . (The Democratic contest, he said, has come down to) Howard Dean versus 'fill in the blank.' "

-- Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera in the Washington Post . LINK

7. "I tell you what we need in America. What we don't need are middle-class tax cuts."

-- Dean (allegedly) at the Iowa AARP forum

8. "Was that an AARP forum or a Mark McKinnon shoot?? Governor Dean with just another example for why he is a nightmare general election candidate, and a jobs program for Mark McKinnon … ."

-- an adviser to another presidential candidate, whose campaign has more spunk than cash.

President Bush will meet with Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger today before delivering remarks on the war on terror in Riverside, California.

Vice President Cheney makes remarks at a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser in Fort Worth, Texas. He attends another fundraiser at a private residence later in the day in Dallas.

Governor Dean campaigns in D.C. and Virginia today, including an economic policy speech at Georgetown University this afternoon.

General Clark is in Las Vegas with no public events scheduled for today.

Senator Kerry has canceled his plans to campaign in Iowa today in order to be in D.C. for Senate business.

Representative Gephardt has a private meeting with the Bricklayers Union Executive Council in D.C. today. He heads to Chicago tonight for a private campaign fundraiser.

Senator Edwards campaigns in Iowa today.

Senator Lieberman holds a town hall meeting with seniors on Social Security and Medicare in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Representative Kucinich completes his announcement tour today in D.C.

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

Ambassador Moseley Braun has no public events scheduled for today.

ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary: the money:

Dean, Dean, Dean. He's The Lead. Not only is he outraisin', he's outspendin':

The New York Times Notes the Vermonter "paid at least $8.8 million for television advertisements, professional organizers in 13 states and maneuvers like an attention-getting plane tour to 10 cities." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Brownstein reports on the Dean Green Machine and says:

--"as striking as Dean's fund-raising is his spending," which is going on at a "fevered pace." LINK

--the political tea leaves — and Donna Brazile's lips — point to a Howard's Song when it comes to public financing. (LINK)

Speaking of spending, the Washington Post 's Edsall bucks the Lead with Dean trend and smartly finds Kerry, Gephardt, and Edwards "spent more than they raised during the last quarter, depleting crucial resources as the Jan. 19 Iowa caucus and the Jan. 27 New Hampshire primary fast approach."LINK

"Jennifer Palmieri, spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, sought to put the figures in the best possible light. 'We have what we think we need for an aggressive national campaign,' she said." Note to — Graham's photo still graces your candidate graphic. Note to readers: the's money graphic is REALLY informative, pie charts, full color and all!

Give it a whirl: LINK

The Boston Globe 's Mooney calls Dean's money lead "commanding" and Notes both Kerry and Edwards are "reporting a steep decline in receipts for the second straight quarter." LINK

While one Mr. Miga of the Boston Herald finds Dean, "in another slight to presidential rival Senator John F. Kerry, yesterday reported raising nearly $1 million in Massachusetts, Kerry's home turf, as part of his record haul last quarter." LINK

Focusing on the Local, the Des Moines Register spreads the Trippi Word:

"Campaigns don't usually generate much money from Iowans because they want to court their support in the first-in-the-nation caucuses rather than their pocketbooks. But Trippi said Dean took in $93,000 from Iowans during the quarter." LINK

While the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers Erik Smith offering this:

""We feel good," said Gephardt campaign spokesman Erik Smith. "It seems, outside of Dean, everybody raised significantly less than they did the previous quarter, so we're extremely pleased we didn't lose ground." LINK

The Hartford Courant's Lightman under the headline "Lieberman Raises Less Than Expected." But not to worry, says Mr. Sallet, "'We are absolutely confident we'll have the money to carry out the strategy that's best for us.",1,6818195.story?coll=hc-headlines-politics">LINK

Edwards gets much the same hometown treatment under the headline "Edwards' fund raising drops off." The candidate himself? He feels good.

The Raleigh News & Observer Notes "Edwards, who launched his TV advertising campaign during the period, spent $5.9 million during the quarter, more than double what he raised. He headed into the final months leading up to Iowa caucuses Jan. 19 and the New Hampshire primary Jan. 27 with about $4.8 million in the bank."

"By that measure, Edwards is in a considerably weaker position than Dean and Kerry, who have $12.4 million and about $7.8 million in the bank, respectively."

"Edwards said in an interview Wednesday that his fund raising is on track."

"'We feel good,'" Edwards said while in Iowa, where he participated in a candidates' forum and made other campaign stops. 'We're completely on budget.'" LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Zeleny and Mihalopoulos say "Braun campaign 'struggling'"

"The former Illinois senator has only $29,278.15 in cash on hand, according to reports filed Wednesday with federal election officials."

"'Obviously, we would like to have more money, but we're just going to keep plugging along,' Braun said after a candidates forum in Des Moines."

… "Asked how she intended to continue running in the crucial stretch leading to the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses, she threw up her hands and said with a trademark smile: 'Magic.'" LINK

The General's Arkansas Democrat Gazette Notes that:

--"Despite his late start, Clark did almost as well or better than the other Democrats."

--"For the period Sept. 17-30, Clark was averaging $250,000 a day in contributions, the staff said. In contrast, the averages for some of the other candidates shown in their initial federal election reports included $446 a day for Dean and $5,975 for Massachusetts Senator John Kerry."

--"Clark's report lists 3,495 itemized contributions from individuals, averaging $175 each. Two-thirds of the money was collected over the Internet."

--Some of Clark's $3.5 million haul "came from pledges collected by the draft-Clark movements earlier this year.

(We did enjoy the Sabato Sniff at the story's end!) LINK

Giving Clark a lead, the AP's Theimer Notes The General took in "nearly $1 million in a single day" and quotes Gephardt as saying some donors are holding back before handing out to see who's still in the race come Primary Prime Time. LINK

And a few more items of Note:

--Sharpton's filing shows that the campaign owes former campaign manager Frank Watkins $52,940.55.

--A four-dollar magazine? The Note hopes it was a good read that was purchased at the Maple Street 7-11 on September 15.

--Does it seem fair to you that Jim Kennedy of Manhattan gets $5,000 each month in consulting fees from the Lieberman campaign when Garry South of Santa Monica collects twice as much?

--The Lieberman campaign is over $180,000 in debt to pollsters Penn and Schoen.

--Larry David has a lot of Enthusiasm for Dick Gephardt

--The Kerry campaign paid $63,490 to Cipriani 42nd St. LLC (alert Cindy Adams) and nearly $200,000 to the Mellman Group.

--The Dean campaign spent $127,705 on health insurance, beating the Gephardt campaigns $50,778.

--Edwards spent the most on media; his $2.5 million nearly doubled the Kerry campaign's $1.3 million. Dean spent almost $1.5 million on media.

--The Kucinich campaign spent $125,105 on T-shirts.

Finally, the New York Times editorial board:

--makes the president's fundraising success sound sinister

--eventually acknowledges that success "seems well within the law"

--says the Democrat who wins the nomination fight will emerge "pummeled and dollar-starved."

--argues a decision by that bruised Dem to opt out of the public finance system would be a "considerable setback in the long struggle to rein in the power of insiders' money in politics."


ABC News Vote 2004: The Invisible Primary:

The New York Times Notes Wednesday's AARP forum sometimes "resembled a tag-team match, as Mr. Kerry and Senator John Edwards of North Carolina criticized Mr. Gephardt and Dr. Dean for advocating repealing the Bush administration's tax cuts entirely, including the part that went to middle-class families. And Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Kerry again hammered at Dr. Dean's past statements denigrating Medicare, as Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio joined in, faulting Dr. Dean for having contemplated raising the Social Security retirement age."

Do at the Obey/Dean face-off at page bottom! LINK

The Washington Post 's Ceci Connolly Notes the shots at Dean too. LINK

So does the Los Angeles Times. LINK

USA Today 's Andrea Stone writes about the presidential candidates who will have the chance to vote on the $87 billion and says that Dean, Clark, Sharpton, and Moseley Braun "have the luxury of not having to vote on the bill." LINK

Barbara Bush thinks the field ain't so hot. LINK

The New York Daily News' DeFrank has a look at an interview with former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush that will air on NBC on Sunday and Monday. Mrs. Bush takes a shot at the Democrats trying to defeat her son, calling them "'a sorry lot'" and former President Bush adds, "'They're all together on this vicious rhetoric.'" LINK

We predict, although the Daily News story doesn't say it, that Jamie Gangel is doing this interview.


From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

"The Clark campaign released The General's internal military evaluations from his commanding officers to The New York Times ' Kit Seelye, perhaps to gloat in the positive reviews listed in 200 pages." LINK

"But wait — there's one line that begs a follow-up story, Kit: 'The evaluations released by the campaign did not cover the period when General Clark was in a senior command position.'"

"Isn't that when Defense Secretary Cohen may have had something to say?"

"The Boston Globe 's Joanna Weiss also got her hands on the accolades for General Clark from his military career days. But Weiss thinks the campaign released the evaluations 'in an effort to counteract public jabs from military critics.' She's probably right on this damage control theory." LINK

"General Clark was hearing cha-ching while in the casino capital of the world last night raising money, while his campaign was busy reporting out his fundraising."

According to the AP, Clark made a fundraising stop last night at the Hard Rock hotel and casino in Las Vegas to speak to 100 people paying $2,000 a plate to listen to him. It's the first stop by a presidential candidate in Nevada this year. LINK

Clark will give his second policy speech on the economy Monday in New Hampshire.'s Terry Neal Notes some movements may have "drafted" Clark for President for free, but now these same folks want spots on the campaign staff — oh, and maybe some money too. LINK


The Wall Street Journal 's Jake Schlesinger curtain-raises The Doctor's economic policy speech today.

"Unlike his more conservative rival Joseph Lieberman — the Connecticut senator who unveiled his own tax plan earlier in the week — Mr. Dean's 'reform' plan to shift the relative burdens of the tax code won't offer any new middle-class tax relief. Indeed, he will stick for now with his longtime support for repealing all of Mr. Bush's tax cuts, including breaks that have been given to lower- and middle-income families, according to a senior aide."

Five bucks to the first person who can guess this aide:

"Mr. Dean's main message will be that 'the little guy is getting screwed, while the big guys are getting tax breaks,' according to the aide. Even so, the candidate's proposed solution — at least with tax rates — is more about going after the 'big guys' than giving the 'little guy' more breaks."

For the record, we'd love to hear a candidate say "getting screwed" while speaking at a rally. Not to mention the convention.

From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

"$14.8 is $14.8, and while it's cute to say, nyah, nyah, they didn't get $15 million, what one might respond is, yeah, but they got $14.8."

"$12 million on hand now. Spent $1.57 million on media; $1.54 million on direct mail (we told you this would be high), and a million and a half on payroll and taxes. $641,104 for transportation."

"The burn rate is high, but the campaign will continue to spend as much as they're doing so long as the money keeps rolling in. So far, so good. Dean aims to run a national campaign, which means credible organizations in dozens of states, which means lots of disbursements for direct mail in far off places and lots of staff and lots of office space and stationary and stamps. And star staffers like Chris Canning don't come cheap. (We kid about the come cheap, not about the star)."

"Opt out?"

"No decision yet made, says campaign manager Joe Trippi."

"'[T]he real question is which campaign is building anything that might be able to compete with Bush — Answer only one campaign — Howard Dean — hands down no one else close in that department,' he told ABC News early this morning."

"Bill Pascoe says the numbers are just too big for them to take the match; he makes a good case LINK)"

"Saying yes to the public money gives Dean about $18.6 come January, which he can use to blast candidates out of the water, shore up support in post Iowa and New Hampshire states, be dollar-for-dollar competitive with Dick Gephardt in Iowa and with John Kerry in New Hampshire … but when March rolls around, they may be broke, or close to it. Then there's Bush.. and months of nothing between now and the convention."

"Saying no is predicated on their ability to keep raising money and raise at least an additional $20 million or so through the primary season. Dean's staff thinks they can raise the money … so you make the call."

"As the numbers from today's conference call made clear, Dean's donor base has not maxed out and appears quite willing to give again."


In an aggressive push for South Carolina votes, Lieberman comes out swinging, writes Lee Bandy of The State. LINK

From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

"The Lieberman campaign fell short of its $4 million goal, coming in at slightly over $3.6 million. They waited late in the day to file, hoping to ensure a fair comparison to the other candidates."

"Lieberman said all along that this was a tough quarter because of the summer vacation months, but he tried to have a strong finish. With $4 million cash on hand, Lieberman and his staff feel they have enough to stay competitive. Eight thousand of the more than 11,000 contributions were gifts of $200 or less."

Hey Jano, you know you're the man when you make The Onion! LINK


"Dick Gephardt, siding with President Bush on his $87 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan, pledged Wednesday to finance the war on terrorism even if that posture undercuts his presidential bid or ensures budget deficits for years to come," the AP's Ron Fournier reports. LINK

From ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

"With a huge slice of apple pie in hand given to him by a supporter at a campaign stop, Congressman Gephardt stopped to answer questions about the upcoming vote on the $87 billion that the Bush administration is asking for to rebuild Iraq, Afghanistan, and other military interests. Unwavering from the position he has taken since he voted for the war, Gephardt says he will support the troops and whatever their needs may be. He now says he wants some of the $87 billion to be a loan, but he will vote YES on the final bill regardless of whether the loan provision in included."


The Des Moines Register 's Lynn Okamoto reports on the announcement tour's stop in Iowa: "The crowd of about 200 did not appear discouraged that Kucinich [ … ] has placed dead last among nine Democratic presidential candidates in five recent national polls. Neither did the candidate himself." LINK

Roll Call weighs in on Kucinich's unconventional fourth campaign manager. LINK

From ABC News' Kucinich campaign reporter Melinda Arons:

"The Kucinich campaign tried to emphasize that its fundraising increased this quarter, despite the fact that the increase was minimal, while other campaigns' decreased or stayed the same. The average donation was $72, similar to Howard Dean's, a figure which both candidates have used in speeches and debates as proof that they're running successful grass roots campaigns that inspire the base. The campaign reports they raised $1 million in September alone, including $300,000 raised at house parties on September 21, the International Day of Peace."

Moseley Braun:

On Friday, Braun "will address the annual conference of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty" in Nashville, the Nashville Tennesseean reports. LINK


Sharpton takes a page from the Dean playbook and talks roaches. LINK

From ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd:

"Sharpton campaign manager Charles Halloran says a great deal of money came in after the third quarter deadline and that the campaign is focused on aggressive fundraising in the fourth."

"On a brighter note, Sharpton has beaten Ghettopoloy. His campaign released a statement this afternoon reporting that all stores carrying the game have removed it from the shelves and the website selling the game has been dismantled. The press release said, 'Sharpton, the only 2004 Presidential candidate to have never held elective office, cites moral leadership as more important than passing laws in dealing with today's complex issues.'"


The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont reports on the AARP forum that "was the first event in the nominating campaign to focus specifically on senior-citizen issues and comes as candidates have begun focusing on their differences on issues important to the powerful voting bloc." LINK

Be sure to check out the AARP's Bill Novelli defending Dean on the whole Medicare-Gingrich flap at the end of Beaumont's piece.

The Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer reports that Gephardt and Kerry attacked Dean and Dean attacked Tom DeLay at the forum. LINK

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

Oh the irony!

President Bush, following up on his "the person who is in charge is me," statement on Monday, demanded that aides stop the leaks or else. "News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately," the Knight Ridder team of Galloway and Kuhnhenn report.

President Bush also told aides on Tuesday that he "'didn't want to see any stories' quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and if he did, there would be consequences," — according to a senior administration official who did not want to use his name.

Galloway and Kuhnenn offer an interesting look at "an escalating turf war" and "infighting, backstabbing and maneuvering" in the Bush Administration that seems to be escalating to a boiling point. LINK

The Dallas Morning News' Hillman gives few juicy details but reports on a meeting on Tuesday at the White House with BC04 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman, Chief Strategist Karl Rove and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, where the trio "laid out ambitious 'macro plans' for the president's campaign." LINK

In his first trip to the Golden State since the recall election, President Bush fund-raised in California yesterday, bringing in nearly $1.8 million from two events for his re-election campaign, and will meet privately with Governor-elect Schwarzenegger today in Riverside. LINK

USA Today reports that White House officials are downplaying the meeting today between President Bush and Governor-elect Schwarzenegger: "Bush's objective: to lower expectations of a federal bailout for cash-strapped California." LINK

When the BC04 team announced its fundraising numbers this week, it also published the list of Rangers and Pioneers, "a network of aggressive money raisers around the country that forms the backbone of the Bush money machine." USA Today 's team of Drinkard and McQuillan turn in a pro forma look at who makes up this elite list and how they haul in so much money for the campaign. LINK

Not as Wertheimerish as most such pieces!

With its 21 electoral votes, Pennsylvania will be a critical state for the BC04 team — the president already has visited the Keystone State nearly two dozen times since his election. A new Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday finds the president's approval rating slipping and the Democratic challengers gaining ground in head-to-head match-ups. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Michael Killan was invited to the Naval Observatory for tea and a chat with Mrs. Cheney and observes for himself that "the color scheme for wallpaper, furnishings and carpeting runs almost monochromatically from beige to gray" and "Cheney is something of a feminist," who is working to restore history in the American curriculum. LINK

If reading about Dan Bartlett's vast power in a recent issue of Details wasn't enough for you, now a slightly less gay-skewing publication takes on the oh-so-hetero Mr. Bartlett — Texas Monthly's forthcoming issue Does Dan … and The Note has a quasi-exclusive preview.

The magazine looks at Bartlett's role in the administration and his relationship with the president and top advisers.

From his days as a 22-year-old staffer for "an untested gubernatorial candidate named George W. Bush" in 1993 to his current position as "the linchpin of the most far-reaching, tough-minded, and technologically advanced government communications operation in history," Bartlett consistently impressed the higher-ups with directness and drive and a fierce loyalty to the president, a man who has become almost a father-figure to him.

Negative press, falling polling numbers, and the challenge of winning over the Arab world after Iraq dog the White House communications machine. But Bartlett is unfazed by this and "he says he is motivated by only one consideration: the approval and support of George W. Bush, to whom he remains profoundly loyal.

"'What I do is less about politics than it is about being driven by him, and liking him, and really wanting him to succeed,' Bartlett said. 'I have been blessed. My introduction to politics and my life in politics so far has been entirely with one very successful politician.'"

Look for quotes from Bartlett's former boss and mentor, Karen Hughes, senior adviser Karl Rove and Cheney adviser Mary Matalin. LINK


Ponch and John, Peaches and Herb, Arnold and George?

Don't expect lots of details to come out of today's 43-T3 summit. And do Note the joke from the Schwarzenegger team that "the invoice was being prepared" for the president and that "we already have the (post-meeting) communiqué worked out."

But will the president give a hand to the Golden State?

This line from a Schwarzenegger aide and referring to the president is our favorite answer:

"'He could do a lot of good — and do himself a lot of good by seeming to be helpful.'" LINK

We can only urge more reporters to provide the kind of detail with which USA Today 's Martin Kasindorf chooses to lead his story. LINK

"California Republicans revere the Mission Inn in Riverside, 60 miles east of here, as a historic shrine. Richard and Pat Nixon got married at the 100-year-old hotel. Ronald and Nancy Reagan honeymooned there."

"But don't expect public displays of affection when President Bush and Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger meet Thursday at the resort. Although the White House was thrilled when the Republican actor won California's recall election last week, administration officials are keeping the meeting closed and low-key. Bush's objective: to lower expectations of a federal bailout for cash-strapped California."

The Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle repeat much of yesterday's curtain-raisers in today's accounts. Mr. Bush would like 55 electoral votes and Mr. Schwarzenegger would like some federal cash to help solve his budget crisis. President Bush is "looking forward" to his meeting (a.k.a. "courtesy visit") with Governor-elect Schwarzenegger. LINK and LINK

California's new governor:

"Although the recall was the first election in California to be conducted under new rules that limit contributions, the candidate with the most money won … Schwarzenegger contributed $10 million of his own money … to go with $11.7 million from a long list of special interests," the AP reports. LINK

"Davis, who was largely abandoned by the prison guards and teachers, still raised $17 million … much of it coming from nationally affiliated unions like" AFSCME.

According to Page Six, California's new governor has "a cameo in a hot tub" in Jackie Chan's next adventure/comedy. LINK

The economy:

The Wall Street Journal Online rounds up a whole bunch of economic news, from a 0.3% consumer price index hike in September (gas prices went up 6.3% last month) to continued falling jobless claims — at 384,000, the lowest since February.

And in a related story, the Journal's Greg Ip Notes that retail sales dropped 0.2%, "mostly due to a 1.6% drop in auto sales," according to the Commerce Department. (Note those gas prices, after all.)

But when compared to the booming sales of the past few months, the performance isn't so weak.

The politics of national security:

A source close to Kennedy tells us that he made his speech after weeks of conversations with people ranging from several prominent Pentagon figures, think tanks types, and diplomats around the world. The Senator also made private visits to Ft. Stewart in Georgia last week and met with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed.

The idea of making the $20.3 billion for reconstruction a loan as opposed to a grant isn't going away in the Senate, the Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman reports, and most Democrats and 10 Republicans are backing it — many citing constituent pressure. LINK

"The amendment — crafted largely by Chambliss, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) — would declare $10 billion in reconstruction funds a loan, to be forgiven if 90 percent of Iraq's prewar debt is forgiven."

China, Russia, and Pakistan signed off yesterday on a UN resolution to send more troops and money to Iraq, the Washington Post 's Colum Lynch reports. To get the support, the U.S., whose troops will head the multinational force, conceded a larger role for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the writing Iraq's constitution and a pledge that the military presence will end when the new government is sworn in. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook takes her readers deep inside Tuesday's White House session as she writes up the president's lobbying efforts for his proposed $87 billion supplemental. LINK

"The upper reaches of Bush's Cabinet have been deployed to lobby lowly backbenchers in the House. Lawmakers are being encouraged to travel to Iraq; almost a fifth of Congress members already have been sent. Bush is personally making the case to lawmakers with table-pounding, steely eyed determination."

"'I'm not here to debate you,' Bush said, interrupting one Republican senator at a White House meeting on the issue Tuesday, sources in attendance said."

"'I have never seen the president angrier on an issue,' one senator said later. 'He was absolutely adamant. I was taken aback.'"

Two senior Democratic congressmen say Halliburton is charging a Hall of a lot for the procurement of fuel in Iraq. Trent Duffy says the OMB is on the case. LINK

The New York Times ' Clemetson weighs in from Baton Rouge on restless voters' views of the $87 billion. LINK

Roll Call 's Morton Kondracke asks: "Will Democrats Take 'Bug Out' Stance on Iraq?"

Kondracke thinks Edwards and Dean are making a "catastrophic" decision in not supporting the Iraq funding request. Kerry is "leaning toward the same politically suicidal and unconscionable position." Kondracke knocks Clark for punting on the issue by saying that he is running for president, not Congress.

Only Lieberman and Gephardt pass muster in Kondracke's eyes by "forthrightly declared that America has to spend the money."

Yesterday we excerpted Tucker Eskew's appearance on "Capital Report" Tuesday night. In a testimony to his power (as if it wasn't already obvious), CNBC re-issued its transcript yesterday with a correction.

The end of Eskew's answer should have read:

"I think what's wrong here, though, is that the full story is not told. There are specifics. There are hospitals open, hundreds of them throughout the country … .every university and nearly every school in the country are now open. Those things serve our national security interests by making Iraq freer and (instead of appear) safer."

Big Casino budget politics:

The House and Senate are in tentative agreement about making wealthy seniors pay more for Medicare, the Washington Post 's Amy Goldstein reports. LINK

Goldstein tick-tocks the history of means testing throughout the history of Medicare, Noting the fundamental problem: use it to nurse along the program's precarious finances, or fly in the face of its designed purpose of giving universal health care to seniors.

What kind of means are we talking about? Higher premiums for those with a yearly income of $100,000, Goldstein's sources say. And less government help on drug costs for those at the $60,000 threshold.

The Medicare premium will increase by 13.5% next year. LINK


The New York Times breaks ground — as mentioned above — with a story on "the first sign of dissension" in the Department of Justice and the F.B.I. "as the inquiry nears a critical phase. Seems there are fears "Mr. Ashcroft could be damaged by continuing accusations that as an attorney general with a long career in Republican partisan politics, he could not credibly lead a criminal investigation that centered on the aides to a Republican president."

We wonder — if word of dissent ends up in the newspapers, can it be called "limited?" LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

You too can chat online with Senator Clinton … if you have $1,000 for her. LINK

David Broder is starting to rub off on Bill Clinton.

The former president said yesterday that the current Democratic Presidential candidates make up the most experienced field he's seen since 1960 and that "five or six" would make good Presidents, the AP reports. LINK

K Street:

Lloyd Grove's Drudge obsession continues, and he channels Anne Schroeder in writing about Le Matt and a Clooney phone call. LINK

Rush and Molloy are clearly not watching "K Street" close enough — Talia Balsam has been on several episodes already, "we hear." LINK

The "Filter" T-shirt movement:

At The Note, we are not often overwhelmed by grassroots movements or public outcries, but the deafening calls of "Where can I get an 'I'm the Filter' T-shirt?" are truly awe-inspiring.

Here's an actual testimonial from George Washington University student Tyler Hudson: "Are you all really making the shirts, and if so when are you going to start selling them? As a college freshman, I don't consider myself much of a filter, but the shirt would be good for a chuckle. The Note gives me a more legitimate reason to skip class, and for that, I will be forever in your debt."

Now, as we told Tyler yesterday, ABC News cannot condone skipping class to read The Note. We wouldn't be horrified by the practice of occasionally reading The Note during class, but skipping is a whole other matter and something that the George Washington University trustees would think poorly of us for encouraging.

As both Tyler and The Note know, the key to any collegiate, fraternity, sorority, campaign, investment banking, federal employee softball, alumni, or presidential re-elect activity is: the commemorative T-shirt.

The truth is that it was kind of joke, being the chuckleheads that we are. But we cannot deny the will of the people, and as we await the announcement of a site for folks interested in "I'm the Filter" T-shirts, we offer to you, the loyal readers of The Note, an opportunity to present us a business model and vendor for the creation of these wholesome apparel items.

If we can pre-sell enough to cover the costs, then maybe we can make this happen. So, again, we ask you, our readers, to come up with a plan to make these garments of democracy a reality.