The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—8:30 am: Senator John Edwards attends a reception with supporters, McAlester, Okla.

—9:00 am: Representative Dick Gephardt attends a reception at the UFCW Hall Local 431, Davenport, Iowa

—9:00 am: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets to consider the nomination of Governor Mike Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Capitol Hill

—9:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business

—10:00 am: Senator John Kerry endorsed by Jeanne Shaheen, Manchester, N.H.

—10:30 am: President Bush addresses the United Nations, New York City

—12:00 pm: Senator Bob Graham attends a League of Conservation Voters lunch, D.C.

—12:00 pm: House convenes for morning business

—12:30 pm: Howard Dean attends a rally at Copley Square, Boston

—1:30 pm: Senator Joe Lieberman and Governor Gray Davis discuss homeland security in a press availability at a firefighters union hall, Santa Ana, Calif.

—2:00 pm: Representative Gephardt attends the National Agricultural Summit at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

—2:00 pm: Representative Dennis Kucinich and Reverend Al Sharpton participate in a panel discussion on peace and ethics with the Dalai Lama and others in a forum sponsored by the Tibet House, New York City

—3:00 pm: Maria Shriver speaks to the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco

—5:30 pm: Senator Graham attends a campaign fundraiser with young professionals at the Capitol City Brewing Company, D.C.

—6:00 pm: Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a town hall meeting, Sacramento

—6:30 pm: Vice President Cheney attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser, Manchester, N.H.

—7:00 pm: Senator Graham attends a private campaign fundraiser, D.C.

—8:20 pm: President and Mrs. Bush attend a reception at the Museum of Natural History, New York City

—8:30 pm: Gerneal Clark speaks to students at De Pauw University, Greencastle, Ind.


The Note is fascinated by three things: big political events, exquisite dilemmas, and must reads, and today brings many of them all.

President Bush speaking to the U.N. — bigger than big.

The POTUS fall and Clark rise in the Gallup poll — huge.

Jeanne Shaheen's endorsement of John Kerry — so non-wee.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the recall date — gigantic.

Darrell Issa's squishiness on question one of the recall — larger than large.

Howard Dean's rally within an easy jog of the Kerry townhouse — mammoth.

Dick Cheney in the Granite State — humongous.

As for exquisite dilemmas, every major political player in America faces 'em today.

President Bush is suffering through one of the five worst insiders-only news cycles of his presidency (contained within the Chattering Class and the big-time papers, but not infecting cable or broadcast TV — yet).

Arnold Schwarzenegger is confronting a "tough" Los Angeles Times and the question of how to get to 30%.

All nine of Wes Clark's opponents are trying to figure out how to grab the Razorback tiger by the tail.

Clark is trying to figure out how to harness what is magic.

Joe Trippi is trying to decide if he would rather be wrong or right.

As for must reads, all of today's (we SWEAR we aren't making this up … or even simply going with the flow … .) revolve around a Bush Administration facing what Scott McClellan and The Note call "challenges."

It was probably inevitable that at some point some Democratic presidential candidate would show up in a major poll beating President Bush in the horserace, but who knew it would be a candidate who doesn't even know who Dick Gephardt's best man was at his wedding?

Somehow, the political media seems less impressed with the fact that Matt Dowd predicted that the president's poll numbers would drop than Dan Bartlett is.

The darkest clouds of the day come nestled on A29, in the form of the work of the New York Times ' Elisabeth Bumiller, which today is both seminal and semi-over-the-top, with the president and his (wo)men cast as — not in a panic — but "on edge."

Bumiller Notes that the president who stands before the United Nations on September 23, 2003, is in a far weaker political position than the one who addressed the General Assembly on September 12, 2002, offering worried blind quotes from Administration officials concerned about their electoral fortunes as election season nears. LINK

From a White House usually Tupperware-tight when it comes to letting the air of its concerns out into the media, this is news indeed.

"People close to the president say that as the 2004 campaign approaches, the mood at the White House is not one of panic, but that Mr. Bush is worried and his top officials are on edge, particularly about the nearly three million jobs lost since Mr. Bush became president and about the so-far jobless recovery."

"At the same time, Bush advisers acknowledge a high level of anxiety among House Republicans over what they perceive as the White House's inability to communicate its policies on Iraq effectively."

What we have, then, is a failure to communicate, as someone once said (and we don't mean House Democrats … .).

Quoteth Bumiller of "one Bush adviser," "I think there is a sense of being under assault and not being able to reclaim the upper hand in a way that seemed so effortless in the past."

Dave Winston and Bill Kriston say any delusions of success have passed.

And in the similarly marquee slot of A18, the Washington Post 's Dana Milbank says this, "When President Bush addresses world leaders at the United Nations today, he will be in an unfamiliar position: on the defensive." LINK

And/but the Washington Post 's mature Jim VandeHei gets on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand into one compact, crystaline sentence, explaining why the Bumiller worldview doesn't necessarily matter for CREEP:

"While polls offer only a snapshot of feelings at a given moment, this one reinforced a growing belief among Democrats that Bush is beatable, especially if the economy and the situation in Iraq do not improve in the months ahead."

And, he could have added "-- but only if they find a nominee who can't be destroyed."

On the economic front, insider trouble across the board, with

1. David Cay Johnston in the New York Times saying "President Bush's tax cuts will put a trillion dollars in people's pockets over six years, but because the government is spending far more than it is taking in, the president's policies also mean that Americans face a much larger future tax bill — or equally large cuts in government spending — to balance the government's books."

2. A devastating Washington Post story ("For Bush's Iraq Request, Tough Comparisons Loom"), apparently based on Democratic Hill research, matching up proposed Bush Iraq spending with the parallel "needs" at home in areas such as housing, education, and health care. LINK

And then:

3. Eek: front pge of the Wall Street Journal : "U.S. Push for Weaker Dollar Rattles Markets Around Globe."

4. Eek eek: the Journal's editorial board is semi-tough on Secretary Snow's stewardship and super-tough on the steel tariffs in separate pieces.

Let's all reconvene tomorrow, right here, and see how it all turned out in the space of one lightening-round of a news cycle!

Today … .

President Bush addresses the United Nations this morning.

He will hold separate meetings in the afternoon with the leaders of Spain, France, Indonesia, Morocco, and the Afghan Transitional Authority.

He and Mrs. Bush will attend a reception tonight at the Museum of Natural History. (By the way, The Note hopes that the president is just as happy as we are that the whale is back.)

Vice President Cheney attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser tonight in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Senator Kerry receives the expected-but-not-so-soon endorsement of the Granite State's best political Democratic mind (Jeanne Shaheen) in New Hampshire today and heads back to D.C. tonight.

Governor Dean attends a campaign rally in Boston. He travles to New York City tonight.

General Clark is fundraising in New York City today. He also travels to Greencastle, Indiana, tonight to speak to students at De Pauw University.

Senator Lieberman meets with Governor Davis to discuss homeland security today in Santa Ana, California.

Senator Edwards campaigns in Oklahoma today.

Senator Graham attends a League of Conservation Voters lunch and holds fundraisers in D.C. today.

Congressman Gephardt attends a reception and the National Agricultural Summit in Iowa today.

Congressman Kucinich and Reverend Sharpton will participate in a panel discussion on peace and ethics with the Dalai Lama and others in a forum sponsored by the Tibet House in New York City.

Ambassador Moseley Braun has no public events announced for today.

Due to incorrect information provided by the campaign, we reported that Boston mayor Tom Menino would introduce Gov. Howard Dean at today's event in Copley Plaza. Menino, who is travelling, will not attend. We regret the error.

In the recall:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to make a decision this morning about whether the recall will go ahead as planned on October 7.

As mentioned above, Governor Davis will meet with Senator Lieberman to discuss homeland security today in Santa Ana.

Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante has no public events scheduled for today.

Arnold Schwarzenegger holds an "Ask Arnold" town hall forum today in Sacramento. Maria Shriver will speak to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco today.

State Senator Tom McClintock has no public events announced for today.

The politics of national security:

USA Today 's Bill Nichols and Richard Benedetto preview the president's trip to the U.N. LINK

USA Today 's Barbara Slavin writes that the president's visit to the U.N. to ask for help in Iraq "is a tacit admission that his administration has reached a foreign policy turning point. LINK

Knight Ridder's Ron Hutcheson writes that the president's "no-compromise stance could soften in the face of growing domestic and international pressure for U.N. involvement." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Hitt and Jess Bravin look at President Bush's tactics in today's U.N. speech, pivoting to focus on stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, a more likely crowd pleaser, instead of a multinational security force in Iraq, which is proving a much tougher sell.

The speech, which also talks up the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and ending human trafficking worldwide, is a gateway for the president to push a resolution for a more defined role for the U.N. in returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people, writing a constitution and monitoring elections.

While the president appeals to the U.N. today, Senate Democrats yesterday went after L. Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator for Iraq, at a hearing on the administration's request for $20 billion for Iraqi civil reconstruction, the Wall Street Journal 's Neil King reports. Bremer likened the Bush Administration's plan for post-war Iraq to the Marshall Plan. Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) called the proposal "eye-popping."

In the midst of the berating, Bremer told the the Senate Appropriations Committee that the request was the best guess by the administration for what was needed, and that he didn't expect to be asking for more cash — soon.

The Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman and Juliet Eilperin look at the Bush Administration's request for money to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure before the Senate yesterday, taking a different snappy quote from Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). LINK

It's not just Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee who are balking about the cash - Republicans are getting nervous too.

"'Look at the needs we have here at home with our own roads, sewers and water projects,' said Senator George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio). 'It's hard to tell people there isn't money for sewers and water and then send that kind of money to Iraq.'"

Not to mention how it's going to sell in a presidential election.

The Boston Herald's Andrew Miga and Elisabeth Beardsley report that Senator Kennedy "yesterday hotly defended his attacks on President Bush's Iraq war policies." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Tom Oliphant writes up the Bush-Kennedy exchange. LINK

Senators Feinstein and Kennedy question the administration's nuclear weapons program in a Los Angeles Times op-ed. LINK

ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

The Boston Globe 's Peter Canellos has an interesting and very readable profile of the president, and he wonders if we'll see the president smile more often. LINK

Dick Cheney is raising money in New Hampshire today. LINK

"Paul Holloway, finance co-chairman of Republican State Committee, estimated yesterday the event will raise about $200,000 for Bush-Cheney '04. Holloway said the guests will pay $1,000 a person to attend the public fundraiser; for $2,000, guests will also be able to attend a private reception and have a photograph taken with the vice president."

"Within a few weeks, the Bush-Cheney '04 New Hampshire campaign team is expected to be announced. The Union Leader reported last month that Julie Teer, the current Republican State Committee communications director, is the front-runner to be the Bush-Cheney state director."

"Owners of small manufacturing companies who generally vote Republican but have been hurt by U.S. steel tariffs threatened Monday to stay home on Election Day 2004 rather than vote to re-elect President Bush," the AP reports. LINK

Bush told the Fox Broadcast Network that he is "paying virtually no attention to the Democratic race for his job," the AP's Scott Lindlaw reports. LINK

"Bush said he insulates himself from the 'opinions' that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories."

Fox News has the transcript of Brit Hume's Bush interview. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

We are simple people here at The Note.

When we read our USA Today in early September that included the Lawrence/Page tour de force overview of things, we believed them when they wrote:

"Know What To Ignore: For instance, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. Give it up, diehards; political analysts believe them when they say they're not running."

And then along came Wes Clark, and now we have this whole cottage industry of people (mostly haters and, interestingly, the people closest to them!) who want to talk not about clothing hungry children and getting them health care, but about what the Clintons are up to.

Here's an e-mail we just love that we got yesterday from someone close to the Clintons:

"I think it is fair to say that the punditocracy has gotten out of hand with the Clinton-Clark business. I believe that the notion of the Clintons pushing his candidacy as some kind of stalking horse is

"(a) not true, (b) unfair to Clark and (c) unfair to the other Democratic candidates, not to mention unfair to the Clintons."

"In other words, it really doesn't make sense. There is much more sense in them being friendly with, in touch with and helpful to the candidates generally, and not play favorites (which is the reality)."

"No one, from what I have seen, has written that 'hey, wait a second!' analysis of the illogic of the stalking horse scenario; much of what's been written or said, on the other hand, comes from places on the spectrum that have an agenda above and beyond the merely speculative."

"And none of this would have any traction in the first place were it not for the fact that the weaknesses and failures of the Bush presidency are becoming more and more obvious. There is a hunger for leadership, and Democrats have ten people making the case for change; one of those ten will emerge from the pack to take that case to the country next year."

Slate's Noah exposes the conservative conspiracy that is the Draft Hillary movement. LINK

"The halting progress of the Draft Hillary movement on the left is a joke when compared to the rapid snowballing of the Draft Hillary movement on the right. To conservatives, it's a mainstream article of faith that Bill Clinton, who in the end could be stopped only by the constitutional limit on presidential terms, will come back to haunt Republicans by installing his wife in the White House. Booga-booga!"

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence writes about all the buzz surrounding what Senator Clinton might maybe possibly do. LINK

The Boston Herald's Wayne Woodlief has a column today on Senator Clinton's activity. He writes, "The latest breathless buzz as we hit the silly season in the presidential race is that there's a Clinton Conspiracy afoot: A manipulation of fellow Arkansan and Newsweek cover boy Wesley Clark as a stalking horse to land Hillary in the Oval Office in 2005, with Bill revived as the big boy in the back room." LINK

(We'd love to give you more, but it's a columnists-for-paid-subscribers-only deal.)

Senator Hillary Clinton (once again) said yesterday she is sticking to her decision not to enter the presidential fray in 2004. But former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Don Imus that he thinks Hillary will jump into the race if it looks as if the Democrats can win. Giuliani also said: "'I kind of buy the argument that Gen. [Wesley] Clark may be something of a stalking horse for her.'" LINK

In Thomas M. DeFrank's Daily News story on the new Gallup Poll, he looks at the cosmic meaning of Hillary Clinton's decision to add Joe Householder to her Senate staff as communications director. "Householder's last political campaign was in 2002, when he helped run the successful reelection campaign of Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack." LINK

DeFrank also gets an unnamed "senior Bush counselor" to talk up the president's money advantage: "'Give me a tie by the end of February and the $210 million we'll have to spend on advertising that they won't, and I'll take it.'" LINK

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary: The Washington Post 's Richard Cohen is a fan of "The Candidate," and he thinks that Wesley Clark and Howard Dean (and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Arianna Huffington) should watch it soon (and study it closely!). LINK

USA Today 's Susan Page and Richard Benedetto scream on the front page that Clark leads the pack in the new poll. LINK

The Boston Herald's Andrew Miga and Noelle Straub report that Clark and Kerry "bumped ahead of a suddenly vulnerable President Bush for the first time yesterday in a new national poll, running stronger than even primary front-runner Howard Dean." LINK

Nonetheless, the last 11 paragraphs of the story are about … the hullabaloo about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Boston Globe 's Joanna Weiss also writes up the poll. LINK

Robert Gibbs loves the Daily News … or at least he should.

Senator Kerry joins General Clark in the kicker and graphic that accompany Thomas M. DeFrank's write-up of the Gallup Poll in today's New York Daily News: "2 Dems beating Bush: Kerry, Clark ahead in poll, W at new low." LINK

With half of the Democratic hopefuls having Jewish ties, Americans seem to hold religious affiliation of less and less importance, says Peter Savodnik of the Hill. LINK

In advance of Thursday's debate, DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe was on a tour of six cities in Pennsylvania and Ohio to rally Democratic support. LINK


The Washington Post 's Jim VandeHei gives the requisite ink to the CNN- USA Today -Gallup poll, which shows that sometimes buzz is everything — The General bests The president, 49% to 46%. LINK

E.J. Dionne tries to figure out how Clark could jump so high, so fast in the polls. LINK

USA Today 's Susan Page writes, "Democrats haven't been drawn to retired general Wesley Clark because of his detailed policy positions. He doesn't have any." LINK

Eric Schmitt writes on Clark's call at the Citadel for a "New American Patriotism." LINK

The understated Mr. Schmitt Notes:

-- The event had a "few rough patches"

-- "Many former top Clinton aides have roles" in the Clark campaign.

-- "General Clark did not discuss what are apparently his reversals on the war."

Democrats have chastised the president for allegedly appropriating the flag and the idea of patriotism, thus rendering any criticism unpatriotic. Party loyalists have chastised the Democrats for allowing the "unpatriotic" label be slapped on them.

Now Clark, a Southern (now) Democrat with a military background, is hammering back at the GOP juggernaut, attacking its definition of patriotism and going from there. Some Dems are betting the "SDWMB" alone will have the credibility to take the president on on this issue.

Another SDWMB, former Georgia senator and Vietnam veteran Max Cleland, joins Clark in taking on the president at what is supposed to be his strongest point: his support for the military. Is this the beginning of the emergence of the fight-hungry Dems? Under the headline, "Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President," Cleland writes: LINK

"The president has declared "major combat over" and sent a message to every terrorist, "Bring them on." As a result, he has lost more people in his war than his father did in his and there is no end in sight."

"Military commanders are left with extended tours of duty for servicemen and women who were told long ago they were going home. We are keeping American forces on the ground, where they have become sitting ducks in a shooting gallery for every terrorist in the Middle East."

"Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President. Sorry you didn't go when you had the chance."

Slate's Suellentrop outlines Clark's strategy on this front in his chronicle of the Citadel speech:

"On a campus where students march and chant in lines, not in puppet-brandishing crowds, Clark declares that dissenters are the true patriots: 'Patriotism doesn't consist of following orders — not when you're not in the chain of command. For the American people, for citizens in a democracy, patriotism's highest calling isn't simply following what the administration says. It's not blind obedience. It's not unquestioned adherence. The highest form of patriotism is asking questions. Because democracies run on dialogue. Democracies run on discussion. No administration has the right to tell Americans that to dissent is disloyal, and to disagree is unpatriotic. … '"

"'We need a new spirit, a new kind of, a new American patriotism in this country. … [T]his new spirit of patriotism should be dedicated to the protection of our rights and liberties. … In times of war or peace, democracy requires dialogue, disagreement, and the courage to speak out. And those who do it should not be condemned but be praised.'"

"No other Democratic candidate, not even John Kerry, could stand in front of two 75 mm howitzers on the quad of a nearly all-male military college and defend the antiwar left without looking faintly ridiculous. Wesley Clark is Howard Dean with flags."

The State picks up on the theme as well:

"Clark has been critical of the war in Iraq and its aftermath. Monday, speaking in front of two 75-millimeter howitzers, he also said it is not unpatriotic to be critical of the war." LINK

"'The highest form of patriotism is asking questions, because democracies run on dialogue; democracies run on discussion,' Clark said."

And notes some GOP anger at Clark's use of the military college:

"State Rep. Wallace Scarborough, R-Charleston, said he was 'outraged' that The Citadel would allow Clark to speak there because Clark 'can't even make up his own mind about the war.'"

And the State reports the "Citadel did not invite Clark to speak. Visiting professor Phil Lader, an ambassador under President Clinton, invited him, spokeswoman Charlene Gunnells said. The school charged Clark's campaign $650 to rent Summerall Field for the event, she said."

The Chicago Tribune finds that Clark's career is a study in contradictions. LINK

Clark would do well to recall his Tacitus, says John O'Sullivan of the Sun-Times, as he identifies Clark's four major problems for the 2004 campaign. LINK

Republicans in Iowa are baffled by another misstep in the Clark campaign; Ed Henry of Roll Call questions whether the Clark staff, like the rest of us, are confused about his stand on issues. LINK

Dick Morris predicts that Clark will fade. LINK

The "shocking truth" is that the "sudden and headlong collapse of President Bush's popularity has created such a vacuum that a new candidate such as retired Gen. Wesley Clark has no difficulty soaring to the top of the polls based on one week's publicity."

Morris believes Bill Clinton "picked up the Clark banner and had his staff rally around" Clark to sow "confusion, chaos and consternation."

"Determined that nobody but they capture the White House — or even the Democratic Party — the Clintons are opposed to anyone who gains momentum … . In the long run, Dean's momentum will prove real and Clark's will be seen as bogus … . The Dean candidacy is the first creation of the Internet age. By contrast, Clark's is perhaps the last of the media-created candidacies … . Dean still can't beat Bush. But how far can Bush drop before we hear the splash at the bottom of the well."

The New York Post 's Deborah Orin reports that some of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's top New York fund-raisers jumped on board the surging candidacy of retired Gen. Wesley Clark, including Sally Minard, Gail Furman and Eve Stuart. LINK

From ABC News' Clark campaign reporter Deborah Apton:

"Last night General Clark had three fundraising stops at private residences on the Upper East Side, SoHo, and then the West Village. The first fundraiser at the home of Sally Menard looked to have drawn in close to 100 people — and I'm told among those guests were Hollywood veterans Ben Stiller and Mike Nichols. General Clark showed up around 7 pm EDT with one of the largest entourages I've seen him with to date that included his press secretary Kym Spell. Unfotunately, in another 'never before seen' moment with the General, he did not stop to speak with the small pool of local reporters who had staked out the event."

"Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) was in attendance and did stop to speak before going inside saying it's good 'having a four-star general on the playing field.' When asked about the General's flip-flopping on issues, Rangel said: 'He's a great general, not a very good legislator.' Rangel went on to say that he will indeed endorse General Clark sometime next week (he'd do it sooner, but others in Congress wanted 'to meet and do it together,' Rangel said) when the General stops in Washington, D.C. A source close to the Clark campaign Notes that The General will be speaking to Congressional reps next Tuesday Washington."

The Christian Science Monitor writes, "By virtue of his background and early positioning, General Clark has effectively established the war in Iraq as the campaign's predominant issue — even while inadvertently highlighting the pitfalls it continues to present for Democratic contenders." LINK


The issue: Trade. The candidate: John Kerry. The back-and-forth: Kerry-Dean. The New York Times on John Kerry's swing before the Detroit Economic Club for free trade and against angry candidates who would restrict it. (Ahem, Burlington, anyone up there think that means your guy?) LINK

"'Anger and attacks are all well and good,' Mr. Kerry said. 'But when it comes to our jobs, we need a president who can build a barn, and not just kick it down.'

And Erik Smith gets in on this one-on-one game:

"'Congressman Gephardt,' Mr. Smith said, 'knows the difference between a good trade treaty and a bad trade treaty. Kerry has been a knee-jerk supporter for any free-trade treaty that comes down the pike, although recently he hasn't sounded like that on the stump.'"

The Boston Globe 's Patrick Healy reports on Kerry's Monday speech to the Detroit Economic Club, in which he "briefly attacked Dean and Gephardt by name, accusing them of protectionist views that would damage America's strengths in the global economy." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Joan Vennochi writes that Kerry is where "he has always been in Massachusetts, at Kennedy's side and in his shadow. The two are scheduled to campaign together on Saturday in Iowa, where liberal activists will no doubt welcome Kennedy and his strong anti-Bush message. Kennedy can energize the liberal party base in a way that Kerry has so far failed to accomplish. But does Kennedy-inspired energy automatically translate into Kerry caucus votes?" LINK

ABC News' Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe on the Senator's speech:

"Some of Kerry's sharpest criticism took aim at the campaign's 'Big Three' political foes."

"Though not explicitly stated, it's increasingly clear that candidate Kerry sees (or would like to see) the Democratic presidential nomination contest as one between himself and the 'big three' potential spoilers: former Governor Howard Dean, retired military General Wesley Clark, and Rep. Richard Gephardt."

"If judging by stump speech reference alone, the 'big three' battle primarily exists between himself and two main foes: Dean and Clark; Rep. Richard Gephardt receives special mention only in relation to his 'agreement' with Dean on taxes and trade and/or when Kerry appears before a strong labor crowd."

"During his speech before the Detroit Economic Club, for instance, Kerry blasted Dean and Gephardt, but took two additional paragraphs to hone in on Dean."

"Speaking on trade, Kerry stated, ' … I won't pander and claim that America can retreat from the global economy. We can't. Unfortunately, some in my party-like Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt-are telling people just that. Anyone who tells voters they're going to build a fence high enough to keep out foreign competition isn't offering an economic strategy-he's selling a bill of goods.'"

"Then he aimed squarely at his primary target, 'Governor Dean has said repeatedly that America should not trade with countries that haven't reached our own environmental and labor standards … the unfortunate thing is that Howard Dean knows what he's proposing is just not possible and would send our economy into a tailspin … anger and attacks are all well and good, but when it comes to our jobs we need a president who can build a barn and not just kick it in.'"

"That, by Kerry's seeming estimation, leaves only the newly arrived Clark."

"It seems at this point the Kerry camp has decided to lump Clark in with the rest of a crowded field and, only if necessary, point out that 'anything he has done, I have done better.' His tone on Clark has so far been one of almost nonchalance, dismissing him as a media upstart whose star will soon fade."

"At the aforementioned pre-speech rally, Kerry took a glancing shot at Clark, 'I think this campaign is poised to move now. The press has been sort of having fun with these recent entries (but) the question remains: who's ready to be president today?'"

"For now, like the 'D' word once was, Clark is the name that shall not be spoken. That is, of course, until the candidate decides he's become the biggest of the 'Big Three.'"


The Boston Herald's Ellen Silberman writes, "Dean today will use Boston's history of rebellion and grassroots politics to hammer home the themes of his insurgent presidential campaign, aides and supporters said yesterday." LINK

And, in case you were wondering, "Dean is not expected to swipe at rival [Kerry], who lives less than two miles from the rally site."

The Boston Globe 's Sarah Schweitzer reports, "Dean has written a letter to the head of the Anti-Defamation League, seeking to clarify his views on the Middle East after being criticized for saying the United States should be evenhanded in the region." LINK

Per the AP's Will Lester, Howard Dean will say in Copley Square later today that "his campaign is not about who will be the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, but who will protect democracy and the nation's ideals from the Bush administration." LINK

Another flip flop? That's what Benander is calling it. LINK

When the Kerry campaign recently learned that Dean was holding a rally in Kerry's hometown of Boston, they brushed back its significance by labeling Dean a Yankees fan.

"Not so, said the New York-born Dean, who argued that he dumped the Yankees for the Boston Red Sox three years ago."

Kerry spokeswoman Kelley Benander shot back: "'Of all the flip flops, this is the most inexplicable and indefensible … . It's like switching from the Redskins to the Cowboys or from Carolina to Duke.'"


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Deirdre Shesgreen reports that Gephardt "promised Monday to revamp farm subsidies and crack down on agribusiness monopolies, in a speech designed to bolster his campaign among Iowa farmers." LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Lynn Okamoto reports that Gephardt "brought his microphone and teleprompters to a farm here Monday and offered several proposals favoring family farms." LINK

"Dick Gephardt picked up his 13th union endorsement on Monday, but is still less than halfway toward his goal of gaining a coveted labor-wide endorsement from the AFL-CIO," the AP reports. LINK


Edwards uses his new ad in Iowa to accuse President Bush of shortchanging education and health care needs to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, according to John Wagner of the Raleigh News and Observer. LINK

"John Edwards is launching ads in Iowa that criticize President Bush's economic record, with the Democrat calling it 'outrageous that this president has turned a five trillion dollar surplus into a five trillion dollar deficit,'" the AP reports. LINK

"The new 60-second commercial began airing Monday in Iowa and will move quickly to New Hampshire … ."

"The North Carolina senator … has been running ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, but those spots were largely biographical. The latest ads are designed to highlight his differences with Bush."


Per the AP's Jennifer Kerry, Larry Klayman, "well known around Washington for his relentless pursuit of the Clintons during the 1990s and more recently for suing Vice President Cheney," has decided he wants to run for the Senate seat currently held by Bob Graham. LINK


From ABC News' Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds:

In an appearance with Bustamante in San Francisco, Lieberman drew a parallel between the recall and the recount. "I'm not a stranger to unusual attempts by the Republican party with regard to elections as you may know from the year 2000."

Lieberman was a kinder gentler version of himself when asked about Wesley Clark's seeming vascillating position on the war. "I thought his statements on the war last week were confusing, but he's just starting his campaign and finding his feet."

Does that mean Lieberman won't attack the general in Thursday's debate? Lieberman said he looked forward to hearing what Clark had to say. "Obviously he deserves an opportunity to clarify exactly what he meant."

Lieberman himself said Monday that "the Pentagon can play a leading role in stemming the flow of manufacturing jobs overseas," the New Haven Register reports. LINK

Rebecca Lieberman stumped for her dad in Oklahoma. LINK

Moseley Braun:

Jennifer 8.Lee reviews the Moseley Braun kickoff, the candidate's focus on free trade and single payer, and her lackluster fund raising thus far. LINK

The Washington Post 's Ed Walsh covers Moseley Braun's entry into the race, with a little campaign history thrown in. LINK

Knight Ridder's Steven Thomma reports on the Ambassador's big day, and writes that she "holds a rare opportunity to inspire a generation of girls and young women who have seen women reach the pinnacles of entertainment, sports and industry but not politics." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Susan Milligan reports, "Moseley Braun is unlikely to steal votes from Sharpton, since she is 'really quite establishment,' and 'Sharpton is more of a street politician,' said David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Nor is Moseley Braun likely to run away with the women's vote, he said." LINK

Touting Carol Moseley Braun touted herself Monday as a Democratic "'peace dove, budget hawk,'" said Tribune writer Dan Mihalopolous. LINK

Moseley Braun declares to the Sun-Times that "'it's all about winning,'" as she contends with slight difficulties like no money, no organization and no stand in the polls says Abdon M. Pallasch of the Sun-Times. LINK

From ABC News' Moseley Braun campaign reporter Monica Ackerman:

"The enthusiasm and crowds in Columbia and Chicago somewhat made up for the poor showing in D.C. Moseley Braun was scheduled to speak at 9 am at Howard University, which is predominantly African American. At 8:50 the small gallery was full of journalists and one lonesome student sitting among 30 empty chairs. Minutes before her speech, about two dozen students filled the room.

"'She's an amazing woman,' Moseley Braun's 26-year-old son Matthew said as he introduced her. The Ambassador then went on to deliver a 20-minute speech which, with a few minor changes, was the same for all three states. It started with a list of what she had accomplished in prior elected positions including when she was senator of Illinois."

"The closest she came to discussing any of the other candidates was a brief mention of Bush saying 'his only new idea has been a pre-emptive war and a huge new bureaucracy.' There weren't any drastic strategy changes on this announcement tour."

"South Carolina it was quite a different picture. She arrived at Benedict College and instantly mingled and shook student's hands while they ate lunch. In contrast to the feeling of indifference in DC, she was recognized by most Benedict students. Her campaign spokesperson, Kevin Lampe said they're wasn't time to get the momento going at Howard because Hurricane Isabel gave students Thursday and Friday off from the previous week. She spoke in front of a crowd of 200 people, giving the same speech, but this time with a bit more buzz. As she told the story of her niece Claire, who was flipping through a history book and said 'Auntie Carol all the presidents are boys,' a woman in the audience shouted 'white boys.'"

"Perhaps it was the song 'You Gotta Be' by Des'ree that made the difference in Columbia and Chicago. She even started dancing to the beat with a baby from the crowd."

"The grand finally was at her alma mater, the University of Illinois where she was joined by family, friends, Chicago dignitaries and even her niece Claire. Moseley Braun definitely seemed to be in her element here. And the crowd was extremely responsive."


Candidates take Note: the Des Moines Register 's David Yepsen reports that there could be a vote on merging the governments of Des Moines and Polk County soon. LINK

ABC 2004: Taste of the Campaign:

The end of buzz?

More like "the culmination of buzz."

The Note's (shameless) promotion of the Culinary Clash in the Capital has proved far too successful.

Today was the day we were going to channel Texas sweetheart Liz Smith to tell you about all the bold faced names some of you will be hob nobbing with tomorrow night, but there ended up being too many for the Googling monkeys to list.

So just four things for you to know:

1. All those attending will be able to taste the favorite desserts of the men and woman running for president and then vote on which one they like best — making this the first time the candidates have faced the voters (and a jungle primary, no less!).

2. The CCitC will also double as Washington's premiere California gubernatorial debate watch party.

3. If you have ever longed for a Note collectible, you best show up for a limited-edition special Note tzotchke.

4. Vote early, but just once. And we'll see you Wednesday night at the David Westin/Peter Jennings-hosted A Taste of the Campaign. Great views of the Capitol promised.

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

The Los Angeles Times' Elizabeth Shogren raises the curtain on Governor Leavitt's confirmation hearing. LINK

"The Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and their leader, independent James M. Jeffords of Vermont, plan to use Leavitt's confirmation hearing to draw attention to the Bush administration's easing of regulations to enable power plants to avoid cleaning up, to permit coal companies to keep practicing mountaintop-removal mining, and to allow the Defense Department to sell PCB-polluted sites without first cleaning them."

"'He will have to explain to the committee and the American public why this administration is determined to weaken our environmental laws,' Jeffords said."

California recall:

Conventional wisdom, schmonventional schmisdom. Dean David Broder explains why all you thought to be true about the recall may not be. LINK

The San Jose Mercury News reports on last minute voter registration. LINK

"Registrars around the Bay Area reported a stream of people scrambling to meet Monday's deadline to register in time for the Oct. 7 recall, assuming the election isn't delayed."

California recall, the courts:

The Los Angeles Times' tea leaf reading doesn't bode well for the plaintiffs. LINK

"Federal appeals court judges sharply challenged attorneys seeking to postpone the Oct. 7 recall election, posing questions that were notably unsympathetic in number and tone during an hour-long, nationally televised hearing Monday."

"Legal scholars and lawyers close to both sides of the case said after the hearing that the judges appeared to lean toward the argument, made by lawyers for Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, that postponing the election would be unfair to voters."

The Boston Globe 's Lyle Denniston reports that Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe faced some tough questions when he went out to play in the recall. LINK

USA Today 's Martin Kasindorf is anxious to hear the court's expected decision today. LINK

The New York Times ' Liptak Notes the questions the 9th Circuit judges "posed to the civil rights groups that seek to delay the election were more concrete and direct, suggesting that at least the more conservative judges on the 11-judge panel are inclined to let the election take place next month." LINK

Don't come crying to us when you have a Florida redux, the New York Times tells the 9th Circuit as it urges the court to delay the vote 'til March. LINK

"Bush v. Gore held that Florida's recount procedures violated equal protection because they did not 'satisfy the minimum requirement for nonarbitrary treatment of voters.' If that was true of Florida rules that treat different counties unequally, it should be true of voting machines in California that do the same thing."

California recall, the GOP:

John Wildermuth's ears perked up when he heard Darrell Issa urging fellow Republicans to vote no on the recall. LINK

"The GOP congressman whose money put the recall on the ballot urged Republicans Monday to keep Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in office if neither Arnold Schwarzenegger nor Tom McClintock pulls out of the race by election day."

"'If two major Republicans remain on the ballot, I'd advise you to vote 'no' on the recall,' said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista (San Diego County), who spent more than $1.6 million of his own money to help gather signatures to recall Davis."

"'It would absolutely guarantee that (Democratic Lt. Gov.) Cruz Bustamante will be the governor, even though a majority of voters are asking for a no-tax solution' to California's budget problems, Issa told a lunchtime meeting of the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco."

More Wildermuth: "'Since Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only viable anti-tax candidate on the ballot,' said Todd Harris, a spokesman for the actor, 'my guess is that this was Congressman Issa's nice way of putting pressure on Senator McClintock to avoid turning Sacramento over to Cruz Bustamante.'"

"Issa said that McClintock, a strong conservative, has admitted to him that it was unlikely he could win a one-on-one race for governor."

"'It's incumbent for the one who can't get to a majority to drop out,' Issa said. 'If Tom is still in the same position, with about half of what Arnold has, he's the one who will have to make the hard decision.'"

The Los Angeles Times recall Notebook also has the Issa stuff. The Notebook also includes a little tidbit about what might come out of Thursday's Republican County Chairmen meeting concerning an endorsement. Although, the chairmen might choose to endorse, there will be no meeting of the California Republican Party's board to consider such an endorsement. LINK

Former California GOP chairman Shawn Steel has sent out a letter to the county chairmen urging them to endorse Schwarzenegger and not so subtly hitting that it is time for Mr. McClintock to step aside.

"The County Chairs are among the few elected Members of the California Republican Party. You have special standing. When you talk the Party and Republicans will listen. This Thursday you will consider endorsing a candidate for Governor. This is important business."

California recall, Arnold:

The thing about negative (or as Sean Walsh would say, "stating the facts") advertising … it usually works. Arnold Schwarzenegger's poll numbers have been somewhat stagnant of late, so his strategists decided the warm fuzzy Arnold ads might not be enough. The Finnegan/Barabak Los Angeles Times powerhouse produce a must-read on the new Schwarzenegger strategy and get an unnamed GOP strategist to do the all or nothing thing. LINK

"'It's a major, major risk,' one GOP strategist said. 'The campaign either hits a home run with this or they get clobbered.'"

ABC News' Schifrin reports: The ad features bytes from people (presented as normal California voters) attacking Governor Gray Davis on his fiscal management; his support of SB 60, a law that will allow undocumented immigrants to receive California drivers licenses; and California's high energy bills. The man who criticizes Davis on the energy bills says Davis is "not competent to do the job."

The spot is 30 seconds long and costs $1 million per week to air in all markets.

The Davis campaign pounced on the ad in a statement released this afternoon, saying Arnold was flip-flopping on his pledge not to campaign negatively.

Dion Nissenbaum leads his Arnold ads story thusly: LINK

"Despite repeated assurances that he would run a positive campaign, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday became the first candidate in the recall race to hit the airwaves with negative ads — a move that is likely trigger a flood of scathing commercials over the next two weeks."

Here's the Los Angeles Times ad watch: LINK

Although the Los Angeles Times has a debate of its own on the horizon, the editorial board calls tomorrow's fast approaching exchange, "the highlight of the special election campaign." The ed board goes on to assign homework to the candidates (as if those 12 questions weren't enough) by urging them to focus on the economy, immigration, gambling, and their ability to work with legislators. We got a glimpse of how Arnold Schwarzenegger feels about the Los Angeles Times from his O'Reilly appearance. Today, we get some insight into how the paper feels about Mr. Schwarzenegger. LINK

"Note to Schwarzenegger: Hollywood rules do not apply in this gubernatorial debate. Candid does not mean avoiding the responsibility of past statements by saying you 'made it up.'"

California recall, the governor:

Governor Davis has a new ad too.

ABC News' Singh reports: An advertisement from the Davis camp entitled "Plus" runs alongside "Circus" beginning tomorrow in San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Chico and Bakersfield. It will run for an undetermined amount of time and may expand to other markets.

"Plus" is a 30 second spot which features anti-recall arguments such as the loss of experienced and influential leaders, a winner representing a small minority, doubts concerning the winner's qualifications to head up the world's fifth largest economy and the political chaos-such as deadlock in the state legislature- that could result if Davis is voted out of office.

California recall, the Democrat:

Dan Morain of the Los Angeles Times writes up yesterday's court decision stating Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante broke campaign finance laws by accepting $4 million worth of donations in amounts that well exceeded the $21,200 contribution limit. However, the decision is expected to have little practical effect. LINK

"Richie Ross, Bustamante's campaign strategist, said McMaster's comments 'removed a dark cloud' that had been hanging over Bustamante's campaign."

"And he said the judge's order would have little effect on the race, largely because Bustamante had ceased the practice that was the focus of the lawsuit."

"'We would certainly return any money that we have,' Ross said."

"How much is left?"

"'None,' Ross said, indicating that virtually all of it had been spent on the television ads, which began airing a week ago today."

We look forward to seeing how Arianna Huffington handles this in tomorrow's debate.

The San Francisco Chronicle's story has Sean Walsh describing the money as "ill gotten booty." LINK

Charlie LeDuff of the New York Times covered the Bustamante court case too. LINK

Politics: The New York Times on the health care mammoth that is the American Association of Health Plans. (All we can ask is, will the AAHP have offices as nice as those of the MPAA?) The Note's congratulations to Karen Ignani on her new position as the association's president. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Tom Hamburger looks at President Bush's less-than-productive relationship with environmentalists and how it's affecting his plans, like the Clear Skies initiative. Compared to 41, Hamburger Notes, the president isn't making much headway.

"The first President Bush projected a more moderate image and displayed greater willingness to find common ground with Democrats on issues such as the environment and taxes. The second, mindful of the political grief his father suffered as a result, has devoted far more attention to placating the right on those same issues. And he has been more than willing to accept flak from the political left in the process."

"While the president's father reached out to environmentalists and moderates to get results, those claiming middle ground in this feud say they haven't heard from the White House."

It's been a great press day for Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie.

Gillespie tells reporters over breakfast that when it comes to blasting the president, all that Democratic fire and froth throws voters off. LINK

The Christian Science Monitor wraps up said breakfast with Gillespie offering the following quotations for your reading enjoyment: LINK

-- "[We] have a working assumption that whoever emerges from the Democratic Party primary will be a viable nominee and we are preparing for a close contest next November. We anticipate something much more along the lines of 2000 than 1984."

-- "I do believe that the rhetoric we are seeing from the Democrats today is unprecedented, is a new low in presidential politics and goes beyond political discourse and amounts to political hate speech. I do not believe the American people are going to confuse hatred for passion. People like passion in politics. But the way these Democrats talk about the president is off putting … "

-- "The fact is (the Democrats) are increasingly adopting a weak and indecisive foreign policy that smacks of the '70s, and the Democratic leadership then, and I don't think the American people are going to accept that."

And finally, the Washington Times ' Ralph Hallow reports, the Republican National Committee may look to gin up its conservative base with a plank in the party platform opposing gay marriage. The plank, according to Gillespie, would be a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as a "monogamous, heterosexual union, and would forbid states from legalizing homosexual 'marriages.'" LINK

Salon's Technology & Business section offers an investigative piece on the companies behind the new election technology and the flaws in their products that leave votes open to fraud:

" … according to Bev Harris, a writer who has spent more than a year investigating the shadowy world of the elections equipment industry, the replacement technologies the court cited may be worse — much worse — than the zany punch-card systems it finds so abhorrent. Specifically, Harris' research into Diebold, one of the largest providers of the new touch-screen systems, ought to give elections officials pause about mandating an all-electronic vote." LINK

K Street:

Hey producers of "K Street:" Alan Murray's got some scripting suggestions for you.

Last week it was lobbying against file-sharing by the recording industry. This week: Northpoint Technology Ltd., a company angling to compete for television and Internet service with giants like DirecTV and EchoStar.

Frankly, we just like any column that uses a variation on the phrase "pig at the trough."