The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—8:00 am: Senator John Kerry attends a Women for Kerry breakfast featuring Kathleen Turner, New York City

—10:30 am: General Wesley Clark holds a meet and greet at the Hamburg Inn, Iowa City, Iowa

—11:00 am: Congressman Dennis Kucinich attends a rally, Bangor, Maine

—11:00 am: State Senator Tom McClintock attends a breakfast meeting with the California Black Republican Council, Riverside, Calif.

—12:00 pm: Senator Bob Graham attends a campaign fundraiser, Gainesville, Fla.

—12:00 pm: Governor Howard Dean holds a town hall meeting on the economy, Berlin, N.H.

—12:30 pm: Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed will host a press conference announcing the state's strategy following the decision declaring Washington's blanket primary unconstitutional, Olympia, Wash.

—1:00 pm: Governor Davis campaigns with former Vice President Gore to urge voter registration prior to the September 22 deadline for the October 7 recall, Los Angeles

—1:30 pm: State Senator Tom McClintock attends a car tax abolition rally, San Bernadino, Calif.

—1:30 pm: Senator Bob Graham attends a campaign fundraiser, Gainesville, Fla.

—2:00 pm: Senator Kerry tours a factory, Paterson, N.J.

—2:00 pm: Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante discusses community college fee rollback at Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles

—2:15 pm: General Clark holds a media availability, Iowa City, Iowa

—5:00 pm: General Clark makes a speech, titled "The American Leadership Role In a Changing World," at the University of Iowa Law School, Iowa City, Iowa

—5:00 pm: Governor Davis and former Vice President Gore attend a voter registration rally, San Francisco —5:15 pm: Governor Dean attends the opening of campaign office, Dover, N.H.

—5:30 pm: State Senator McClintock visits the Maury microwave manufacturing facility, Ontario, Calif.

—6:15 pm: General Clark holds a media availability, Iowa City, Iowa

—6:30 pm: Reverend Al Sharpton holds a media availability, New Orleans —6:30 pm: Senator Bob Graham attends a campaign fundraiser, North Broward, Fla.

—6:30 pm: Governor Dean attends the Seacoast Democratic Banquet, Portsmouth, N.H.

—7:00 pm: Congressman Kucinich keynotes the Massachusetts Peace Action Convention, Cambridge, Mass.

—7:30 pm: Reverend Sharpton holds a campaign fundraiser at Pampy's Creole Kitchen, New Orleans

—7:30 pm: Governor Dean participates in a conversation on choice organized by Planned Parenthood, Hampton, N.H.


Back about a million years ago (before Howard Dean was on "K Street," before the recall was a gleam in Mark Barabak's eye, before, even, Al Gore was publicly for single payer), the staff of The Note published on a semi-regular schedule our patented Invisible Primary Ratings.

The premise of the ratings was that — invisible to all but a handful of what Steve Elmendorf estimated was about 2,000 people — the contenders for the Democratic nomination for president were competing within a series of underground mini and virtual primaries that would determine their relative strength as they approached the actual voting of actual voters in January of 2004.

History records that the winner of the Invisible Primary in the year preceding the election has, in both parties, gone on to win the nomination every cycle of the modern era. With 2004's early-starting Democratic race, however, we dropped our ratings in the spring, since everything had become all too visible, well-chronicled, and fast moving.

However, with the advent of the Wes Clark campaign — overshadowing today in our world Al Gore's appearance with Gray Davis, the expected 9th Circuit ruling, and everything else in politics today — it's time to revive (for one day only) our ratings.

Or, rather, to deal with all the modern major General stuff that is out there today by looking at how Clark is doing in the various categories within which we previously rated all the candidates.

Those Dean aides who feel mighty frustration that we stopped publishing the ratings before Dean moved to number one with a bullet will just have to forgive us in advance.

First, let's dispose of Gore and the 9th Circuit.

Every sharpie in politics and the press knows that:

a. Gore will be boffo and funny and passionate today in his two events with Governor Davis

b. The 9th Circuit is going to announce today that they are taking the recall case en banc and that sometime next week they will overturn the three-judge panel and then the SCOTUS will refuse to hear it and the October 7 date will be restored

Which clears the way for us to talk about Clark, who in the last 24 hours flew to Florida (subjecting himself to a plane interview with reps from four of America' leading newspapers, during which he mightily muddied his war position); took at least five different positions on whether he would debate next week or not; whipped up a Clinton frenzy in the press and in Democratic politics; and continued to blot out coverage of his nine rivals.

Today, Clark flies to Iowa to give a paid address entitled "The American Leadership Role In a Changing World" today at the University of Iowa Law School. He also holds a couple of media availabilities.

One source tells The Note that Clark gets $30,000-$35,000 for his utterances.

On the one hand, Clark's moving around is creating a lot of excitement.

For instance, the last paragraph of the Boston Globe story about Clark's Florida event yesterday will make Mark Fabiani smile:

"'He's going to bring peace to the world, I'm telling you,' gushed Carmen Diaz-Fabian, who rushed up to Clark when he arrived, holding a handmade 'Hispanics por El General' sign. 'We haven't had somebody like him since Eisenhower.'"

From the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:

"Clark is expected to make a trip to Capitol Hill next week, speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus on Friday. … On Tuesday, Clark is to make a speech at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. On Wednesday, he is to meet with a Chicago securities firm." LINK

And the other campaigns are grousing about him and attacking him; and the list of names of Clintonistas who have at least gotten on his conference calls (if not necessarily offered outright support) continues to grow; and AFSCME seems Generally impressed.

On the other hand, The General up and announced what seems to be a new and Kerryesque position on the Iraqi war resolution — for it, but not really (Could he really have never been asked about this on CNN?); his campaign's disorganization (understandable) continues; some op-eds question his Bigness; and some key Iowans and Granite Staters are expressing skepticism.

Jackie Calmes symbolically leads the Wall Street Journal 's Washington Wire with a horizon tour of what Clark is doing to things, and gets some (first?) on-the-record reaction from a senior Bush politico:

"Gephardt camp welcomes retired general's entry, says he'll siphon votes from front-runner Dean, not Gephardt's blue-collar backers. Dean manager Trippi sees 'no sign he's slowed our growth.' After giving to Dean, TV producer and liberal activist Norman Lear sends money to Clark."

"Clark's debut gets weak reviews; a labor leader calls it 'more inspiring for who he is than what he said.' Clark says he'll try to be at a New York debate next week. One top Democrat says 'it's spectacular to have a four-star general' to jab Bush. Bush adviser Matthew Dowd concedes Clark's Southern roots could help Democrats beyond Republicans' Dixie."

"In West and Midwest, it would signal 'that the nominee is more moderate or conservative,' he says."

So see below for how Clark is doing in the key indices that will determine if he will be a player in the nomination fight or a strange interlude that history will record saved Howard Dean from himself.

The President has no public events scheduled for today.

Governor Dean campaigns in New Hampshire today, where he'll hold a town hall meeting on the economy in Berlin. He'll also be in Dover, Portsmouth, and Hampton. He holds a couple of fundraisers and campaigns in New York this weekend.

Senator Graham holds private fundraisers in Gainesville and North Broward, Florida, today.

Senator Kerry attended a Women for Kerry breakfast in New York City this morning and fundraises later. He campaigns in New Hampshire on Saturday.

Congressman Gephardt has private fundraisers today. He campaigns in Iowa this weekend.

Congressman Kucinich campaigns in Maine and Massachusetts today. He campaigns in New Hampshire on Saturday and in California on Sunday.

Senator Lieberman is in Chicago with no public events today. He's back in D.C. tomorrow with no public events.

Reverend Sharpton campaigns in New Orleans today. He's in D.C. and South Carolina over the weekend.

Ambassador Moseley Braun is in Chicago today. She will attend an awards ceremony with the National Organization for Women, but she is not scheduled to make remarks. She also appears on ABC News Politics Live today to talk about her formal campaign announcement scheduled for Monday. She will start in D.C. on Monday, travel to South Carolina, and finish back home in Chicago.

Senator Edwards tours the emergency response center in Raleigh, North Carolina, today and attends a press conference regarding hurricane damage. He's in San Francisco on Saturday with Governor Davis.

In the recall:

Governor Davis will campaign with former Vice President Al Gore in Los Angeles and San Francisco today to encourage voter registration.

Lieutenant Governor Bustamante discusses the plan to reverse the displacement of 123,000 community college students because of high fees today at Los Angeles City College.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has no public events planned for today.

State Senator Tom McClintock attends a breakfast meeting with the California Black Republican Council. He also attends a car tax abolition rally and visits a microwave manufacturing facility.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could make a decision today on whether to rehear the ruling delaying the recall.

Clark, Money Potential:

Who is the campaign's lawyer? Where is Peter Knight? Are members of Congress helping him raise money? How much will he raise in the third and fourth quarters? How much will he REALLY raise on the Web?

All of these questions make this category a true work in progress.

Political reporters often forget to "follow the money" but Clark is working this angle hard, of course.

Clark, Message Issues:

By letting Adam Nagourney, Jim VandeHei, Johanna Neuman, and Joanna Weiss interview him on the plane to Florida (for somewhere between 75 and 90 minutes), Clark certainly shook up his place in the Democratic world. LINK and LINK and LINK

Everyone led with Clark's apparently new position that he would have voted for the war resolution in order to give the United Nations leverage (what is known among the cognoscenti as "Kerry VII" or "the Kerry Baltimore position.").

But there was more than that.

See VandeHei for Clark's apparent unfamiliarity with the Brady law.

And Nagourney for Clark's views of military spending, voting for Reagan and Nixon, gays in the military, and the president's request for funding for Iraq and Afghanistan.

And don't miss Nagourney's absolutely must-read passage about the first-time candidate calling for help from the first-time press secretary ("Mary, help!") during a tough moment.

Suffice to say, the message is a work in progress. Some of the other Democrats are amazed at the manner in which Clark is taking and (apparently) untaking positions.

Speaking of positions, the Miami Herald 's Wallsten and Bolstad interviewed Clark, with The General offering this on the death penalty: LINK

"At one point in the interview, Clark endorsed a moratorium on the death penalty, saying there has been ''a lot of discrimination and a lot of injustice'' and saying cases should be reviewed with DNA evidence. Asked if he would back a halt to executions, Clark sat up straight."

"'Stop. Stop,' he said. 'I promised I wasn't going to take a strong position.'''

We'll be sure to look at Clark's Cuba comments, too.

Writes one Democrat with national political experience:

"I have read the accounts of the Clark interviews and my reaction is despair and anger. Why did my party's best operatives think it would be a good idea to subject their neophyte candidate to the country's savviest reporters for over an hour? Why have my party's elders rallied around a candidate who is so shockingly uninformed about core issues and his own positions? I am not a Dean supporter — but I am angry that our party's leaders have anointed an alternative to him who seems even more ignorant and unprepared — and that this supposed 'anti-war' candidate turns out to have been in favor of both the war resolution and Richard Nixon!! And let's not even talk about the Clintons. Today I am embarrassed to be a Democrat."

USA Today 's Walter Shapiro trashes the Clark announcement speech as having no vision (and gives Elmo something else to bcc e-mail around today!). LINK

Slate does the Clark worldview. LINK

Clark, Clinton factor:

Advisers to the other presidential campaigns seem to be of four minds about all these Clinton people getting at least somewhat involved in the Clark effort.

a. These are people who couldn't find work at their preferred level in the other campaigns, and so were flattered to be asked by Clark (who asked many personally). They say that these are the type of people who get on conference calls at the drop of a hat.

b. They are furious that these people are gravitating to Clark, when they know nothing about him.

c. They think that Bill and Hillary Clinton are out of control and however this Clark thing ends up, the Clintons will once again have put their own interests about those of the party.

d. They think the Clintons are up to something.

The AP's Fournier and the New York Times ' Seelye both look at the presumed/alleged/actual role Bill Clinton is playing in all this.

Fournier has perfect pitch on it all (and not just because he covered Clinton in Arkansas long before the rest of us new what "the Heights" are). LINK

Fournier gets John Podesta, Mike McCurry, and Carville and Begala in the mix, and sees Clinton as "emotionally invested" in The General. LINK

Deborah Orin doesn't like that Senator Clinton keeps posting supporter messages encouraging her to run in '04 on her Web site. LINK

Lisa Caputo and Howard Fineman joined Katie Couric on Today today to talk about the prospect of Hillary Clinton get into the race. Caputo was sane, Fineman ("I love Howard Fineman," Caputo intoned.) not so much.

Even Brian Lamb was asking graphically this morning on C-SPAN: "Senator Clinton for President in '04?"

Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times looks at how comments Bill Clinton made Tuesday in California reignited the "Hillary buzz." LINK

The New York Daily News reports that Clinton spokesman Jim Kennedy issued a statement Thursday that "tamped down any suggestion that Clinton was thinking about running." LINK

While all this swirls, a thematically perfect Bill Clinton is in … Kosovo today.

He's speaking at the University of Pristina and visiting troops at Camp Bondsteel today; then participates in ceremony at opening of Srebrenica memorial in Bosnia tomorrow. LINK; and LINK

Clark, Iowa:

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont still wants to know what the Clark campaign is planning for Iowa. LINK

Beaumont Notes," Despite the media buzz, no one with Clark's fledgling campaign or his Iowa supporters had contacted the Iowa Democratic Party as of the eve of Clark's first campaign visit to Iowa."

(And Pam Walsh makes the Des Moines Register !)

Clark, New Hampshire:

John DiStaso and George Bruno help fill in some of the details of next week's travel, with trips to Capitol Hill, the debate in New York, and to New Hampshire seemingly in the works. LINK

Clark, other states:

The trip to Florida, hastily thrown together though it was, seemed to have come off pretty well.

Here's ABC's Deborah Apton:

"If people think it is momentum that General Wesley K. Clark is lacking, those people were definitely not at Deli Den in Hollywood, FL today when The General showed up to shrieking fans who you would think mistook him for Elvis, just reaching out to 'touch him,' as they said."

"At exactly 17:00 hours, the General and his entourage made their way into the deli for what was his first campaign event — he shook hands, signed autographs, and thanked person after person for their support. While the crowd was mainly senior citizens, the energy level was that of 20-something year olds and the feel of the event was definitely that of a rally … a grass roots rally."

"The campaign claims they planned the event in only 24 hours, and the only reason I would believe it is because the advancing staff comprised of one Draft Wesley Clark woman from Broward County, and one gentleman who identified himself as a paid staffer of President Clinton's office in Harlem, and a former intern for Senator Nelson. This young man told me that he was vacationing in Florida when the Senator's office called him to ask him to help advance/set-up the event at the Deli and he jumped right in." (We wonder what Senator Graham thinks about that … .)

"General Clark stood on a chair in the middle of the deli to address the people: 'I need your support. I need you to bring other people on board. I need you to reach out to people who have never participated in politics before and tell them now's the time, the country's in danger, take a stand, raise the issues, get one of those Clark banners and draft Clark signs and make a statement.'"

"And support is what the people lent … check after check was handed to The General and his special assistant, Mark Nichols, as they made their way through the crowd. Some checks for as little as $100, donated by a local history professor, and others totaling in the $2,000 range."

"And also included in The General's makeshift speech — 'The next thing I need is financial support. I know, look, the simple truth about politics is, if you're going to make a difference in this country, you're going to have to have an organization, you have to be able to communicate the message, you have to travel, you have to have the signs, and all that takes resources. This is America, we operate on the greenback. I need your support.'"

"Face the cameras when you're speaking" said one reporter, a sentiment later echoed by Clark's press secretary.

Clark, perceived electability:

That's what this is all about it, isn't it?

Clark, in-person campaigning skills:

This is in some ways the man's great electoral strength. His success in Manhattan salons would translate quiet nicely if only he had time to hit all of Iowa's counties. (Quick, General, how many is that?)

Clark, television campaigning skills:

All that CNN training paid off; the man is unflappable on TV, even when asked things he has no clue about.

Clark, anti-terrorism credentials:

See "perceived electability" above.

Clark, media coverage:

The Gang of Four on the flight to Florida officially ended the honeymoon — or at least, started the beginning of the end.

The Boston Globe 's Scot Lehigh pits the general against the lessons of history. LINK

Bob Herbert in the New York Times tells everyone to calm down. LINK

Clark, buzz and momentum:

Hangs in the balance.

Clark, polling, name I.D.:


Clark, fire in the belly:

We bet it is higher than it looks.

Clark, endorsements:

Watch this space for some really interesting ones.

Clark, labor:

AFSCME delays its endorsement plans, and Gerry McEntee sees generally to like Clark. LINK

Clark, Democratic base vote:

Let's see what those Brady and Nixon and Reagan answers do.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force embraces Clark. LINK

The Washington Post correction on Clark and gays in the military. LINK

Clark, Un-Gore:

We leave it to Mark Fabiani, Kym Spell, Ron Klain, and Donnie Fowler to tell us how that's going.

Clark, party support:

Clark's off, on, off, on posture toward the DNC debate is giving Debra DeShong plenty of chances to make the wire. LINK

Last night, on the flight back from Florida to Little Rock, ABC News' Apton asked Clark about the debate.

He said sarcastically, "Oh darn — I've been drafted to go to the debate?"

This morning, press secretary Mary Jacoby, continues to say they are still not sure whether he is attending or not.

Clark, staff/consultants:

Per ABC News' Apton:

"This weekend, the Clark folks will be meeting behind closed doors for policy planning meetings."

"Ron Klain will be out in Little Rock heading these meetings. In the next week there will be more organization: as of now, their headquarters has no copying machine and no e-mail."

"They are looking at real estate in Little Rock at the 'train station' --an old, converted train station turned office building."

"As for staffing, that will possibly be finalized more this weekend. For now, Mary Jacoby will probably be the traveling press secretary, Mark Fabiani will contribute, but may not play as big a role in the campaign as has been suggested."

The Democrat Gazette says this:

"About a dozen manila envelopes taped to the wall and the door outside Clark's private office Thursday provided a rundown of some of Clark's key operatives."

"The names on the envelopes, meant to hold message slips, included Eli Segal, who provided much of the brainpower behind Clinton's 1992 race and later was responsible for the legislation that created AmeriCorps; Little Rock Democratic activist Skip Rutherford; Ron Klain, a former top aide to former Vice President Al Gore; Mark Fabiani and Mary Jacobson, who are expected to supervise relations with the national news media; and former Clinton aides Donnie Fowler, Josh Lerner and Vanessa Weaver."

The Associated Press shows another manifestation of Clarkmania by putting this inside baseball on the wire:

"Mark Fabiani, strategist for Clark, said that Kym Spell, former New Hampshire press secretary for John Kerry, is joining the Clark press office in Arkansas. Jordan said Spell, who quit the Kerry campaign this week, denied she was going to work for Clark but was nonetheless given five minutes to clean out her office. Spell, who was deputy communications director for Gore's 2000 campaign, could not be reached for comment."

"Spell's departure comes one week after Kerry communications director Chris Lehane resigned. Lehane is Fabiani's longtime business associate, but said he is focused on his consulting business in California."

Pindell seems to have fallen under a Spell. LINK

Clark, the man:

Per the Los Angeles Times story:

"On a more personal note, Clark answered questions about his travel habits. He uses a Blackberry for e-mail messages and uses two cell phones; he packs with plastic wrap around each article of clothing to prevent wrinkles."

"And, as a newsmagazine photographer captured the moment, he lobbed his own luggage into the back of his traveling van."

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary: Jules Witcover looks at the Iowa expectations game. LINK


Salon poses the age-old political reporter query, "Can John Kerry turn it around?" LINK

Among the reasons for this headline season:

1) Clark's candidacy means Kerry can no longer say he's the only guy with military bona fides.

2) The media (suppose that's us) wants a two-horse race, and Dean vs. Clark looks like the most exciting exacta on which to wager.

3) "Squabbling" among "talented-but-top-heavy" Kerry staff and more expected staff changes up ahead. (NOTE that Salon Notes the possibility of John Sasso or John Marttila entering one rung above Jim Jordan.)

4) Appearances at high-profile Democratic events that have been widely viewed as lackluster, not just by we-the-piling-on-media but also by Democratic faithful, including labor folks.

5) What Salon nicely labels, "The complexity of Kerry's message, and the lack of agreement among his advisers and staff about what it is"

But all is neither doom nor gloom for the Boston Bombers. Steve Greenhouse reports the International Association of Firefighters is set to throw its support behind the Senator next week.

Why Kerry and not traditional labor candidate Gephardt?

"Harold Schaitberger, the firefighters' president, declined to discuss his union's plans, but labor leaders who have talked with him said the union would back Mr. Kerry because its leaders thought the senator was the most electable Democrat." LINK

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

"Striding aboard the CVS-11 U.S.S Intrepid Essex class aircraft carrier for a night of fundraising, Kerry now leads President Bush in two categories: 1) Kennedy endorsements, 2) appearances on or near an aircraft carrier. Soft rockin' James Taylor led the closed press, heavier wallet crowd in what we can only assume were rousing renditions of his classics. We do believe, however, that Taylor left their smiling faces having showered the Kerry people and knowing just how sweet it is."

"The up-to-1,000 person crowd then gathered and mingled as they awaited the headlining act. Opening act, Chic, a group famous for penning such hits as 'We are Family' and 'Good Times' for '70s stars Sister Sledge, proposed their hit 'Freak Out' as the new Kerry campaign theme song. We leave it to the voters to decide the respective accuracies and ironies of current campaign theme song, 'No Surrender' and the newly proposed 'Freak Out.'"

"Due to acoustical constraints on the WWII-era Intrepid, headlining act Moby played three cover songs, proposing his own new campaign theme song: 'We're Not Gonna Take It.' Candidate Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and eldest daughter Alexandra Kerry listened as Moby played, then Kerry joined him on stage, made brief remarks and played guitar on a cover of the late Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire.'"

"[Friday] Kerry receives the endorsement of Lt. General Claudia Kennedy at an event in New York."

The Boston Herald's Andrew Miga reports on RFK Jr.'s endorsement and says he "will campaign for Kerry in Iowa next weekend." LINK

The Union Leader on the Kennedy, Jr., backing: LINK

The Kerry campaign answers the Dean campaign's Web "bat" and breaks out its own "hammer," so reports the Boston Herald's Miga. LINK

"Kerry's Web site, utilizing carnival-style imagery, allows donors to click on a hammer that sends a caricature of Bush toppling haplessly from a White House perched atop a pole into a trash can labeled 'History.'"

Well, we found out who hohoh@wafflepoweredhoward is. Many friends of The Note assisted the monkeys yesterday and told us his name is Eric Huebner, and here's what he told us himself, "I'm a pro-Kerry guy but did a favor for a friend (who shall remain anonymous) by setting up this site. I'm not connected to the Kerry campaign in any way but I have setup my own pro-Kerry Web site … "


Despite Wall Street Journal accounts from Schlesinger and Calmes on August 29 and September 5, respectively, that Dean was preparing to unveil middle-class tax breaks of his own, DiStaso has a piece in today's Manchester Union Leader that makes it sound like Dean has once again decided that a middle-class tax cut is unaffordable. LINK

In contrast to DiStaso's piece, Kevin Landrigan's assorted Dean quotations in the Nashua Telegraph suggest that Dean is going to advocate rolling back all of the Bush tax cuts while proposing his own "program for tax fairness for the middle class." LINK

The AP writes up the traditional (and not so traditional) ways the Dean campaign plans to raise money in the next two weeks. LINK

And Dr. Steinberg Dean is becoming less of a mystery — at least to campaign supporters. From ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder:

"In a two-page letter sent to target donors nationwide this week, Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean says her reluctance to spend more time on the campaign trail with her husband reflects the demands of her job."

"The fundraising solicitation is one of Steinberg's Dean's first public campaign actions and an indication that she may begin to broaden her role. She's given a few print interviews and was briefly interviewed two weeks ago by Vermont Public Radio."

"'As a doctor and a partner in medical practice, I have [a] responsibility to my patients. That's why my time "on the campaign trail" is limited; when people are sick they want and need to see a physician,' Steinberg Dean writes."

"'Howard is an excellent physician and we make a great team. I think Howard was a better governor because of his experiences as a doctor. He can quickly absorb the necessary information to make difficult decisions,' the letter continues."

"'I enjoy helping people on a one-on-one basis — getting to know them and their families and helping then deal with illness. That is my war; while Howard is much more talented at improving things for people on a bigger scale.'"

"Steinberg Dean wrote the letter herself, the campaign says, with minimal guidance from spinmeisters."


The Missouri Congressman went up in South Carolina with Howard, not George, in his crosshairs.

Dean's ads ask: "Has anyone really stood up against George Bush and his policies?"

Now it's Gephardt's turn to answer. Per the AP, "Gephardt's first ad in the state introduces the Missouri congressman as the only candidate who has 'led the fight against every bad trade agreement that failed to protect our jobs — NAFTA, the China trade deal and fast track trade negotiations.'" LINK

Gephardt has put out an e-mail to supporters saying this campaign is going to be about "who really represents the Democratic wing of the Democratic party."

More on the ad from ABC News' Gephardt campaign reporter Sally Hawkins:

"Gephardt went on the air in South Carolina Thursday with a 60-second radio spot targeting black voters. Here's an excerpt:

'Howard Dean claims he's fighting for our jobs, but Howard Dean supported the China Trade Deal and said he was a "STRONG supporter of NAFTA." Dean even claimed it would create jobs. Instead, those two bad deals have cost South Carolina almost thirty thousand jobs.'

"Bush might as well be chopped liver in this ad. He's not mentioned until the last sentence."

(The Note is certain the Gephardt camp heeded the advice of the sage Chuck Todd LINK in deciding to up and go negative on Dean … )

More from Hawkins:

"Gephardt didn't make much news yesterday on Hardball, but how can you make news when the guy interviewing you repeatedly cuts you off mid-sentence? Gephardt skimmed over Dean, did NOT call President Bush a 'miserable failure,' and said he thinks he has a 'decent shot' at getting the AFL-CIO endorsement."

Some highlights:

On whether he'll vote for the $87 billion the president wants to Iraq & Afghanistan: "I'm going to make sure they get the help they need. First we're going to ask questions to make sure they're going to get the help they need."

You have to win Iowa right? Gephardt laughed at the question. "It'd be a good idea," he said. "We need to do well in Iowa and we will. I've got to do well in Iowa and be in the top tier in New Hampshire. Then we've got seven states on the third week and Michigan four days later. When we come out to the West and the Midwest, I'm gonna do great."


From ABC News' Edwards campaign reporter Gloria Riviera:

"Senator Edwards' campaign headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., was shut down on Thursday due to the impending hurricane. As of late afternoon Thursday the staff was still trying to figure out how to get The Candidate down to NC to play the role of Senator and do an "I'm here to help" public event in the eye of the storm."

"Edwards will tour the emergency response center in downtown Raleigh at noon today and hold a press availability afterward (officially on the hurricane damage)."

He travels to San Francisco tonight, and on Saturday will attend a meet and greet with Governor Davis."

He will appear on CBS' Face the Nation this Sunday with John Roberts.

Isabel is a "test of U.S. Senator John Edwards' ability to juggle home-state responsibilities with his presidential run," John Wagner reports in the Raleigh News & Observer . LINK

Wagner also previews Edwards' Saturday trip to California on behalf of Governor Davis and his Sunday "Face the Nation" appearance.

In New Hampshire Thursday, the Edwards campaign handed out hot dogs across from the statehouse lawn as the son of a millworker accused President Bush of "waging war against middle-class Americans," Daniel Barrick of the Concord Monitor reports. LINK


The Associated Press reports Bob Graham will air Iowa ads focused on Bush's Iraq record. LINK

Said Graham, "'In the next few days, we're going to tell the people of Iowa why we voted against the war and what the consequences of this war will be,' Graham told more than 400 people at a $100-a-ticket reception that followed a $1,000-a-plate dinner at a resort hotel."

And the St. Pete Times reports, "With his presidential campaign lagging in fundraising and public opinion polls, Senator Bob Graham is sending his Senate chief of staff to Miami Lakes to play a key role. H.W. "Buddy" Menn III, Graham's top political adviser, is moving to Miami Lakes on Monday. He will concentrate on raising money and will be a strategic adviser for the campaign." LINK

From ABC News Graham campaign reporter Tarana Harris:

"Last night the young and well-heeled toasted Bob Graham at a fundraiser at South Beach hot spot SkyBar."

"The event attracted 4-500 attractive South Floridians who paid $ 1,000 for a private reception or $100 to mingle in the humid ocean air and among the gauzy white curtains."

"Graham spoke to the entire group across an aquamarine pool, saying 'I see a lot of people who I suspect this may have been one of the first political events they've attended. I want to thank particularly you. This democracy depends on each generation stepping forward to assume responsibility for the nation.'"

"Appealing to the crowd to get out and spread the Florida love, he asked, 'How many of you would like the privilege and the special pleasure of going to New Hampshire in January? How many of you would like the thrill of going to the low lands of South Carolina in July.'"

"It's difficult to imagine this crowd trudging from door to door in snow boots. Even more confusing were comparisons drawn between the glam Miami soiree and rowdy Howard Dean affairs"

"Jamie Elias, who organized the event along with Graham son-in-law Robby Elias said, 'Certainly Howard Dean has captured the imagination of the younger more energetic crowd in the US, and this is similar to some of the events that he's been putting on. This shows that Bob Graham who's known as a very intellectual and smart senator has the capabilities of attracting a younger crowd that's not traditionally involved in retail politics.'"


Per the AP, the Lieberman campaign is challenging Clark to participate in next week's debate about the economy. LINK


The AP profiles the "preaching prodigy." LINK

ABC 2004: Taste of the Campaign:

The 5 questions you're asking about Taste of the Campaign:

1. What exactly is Lost Creek Sawdust Pie?

2. How many will tear themselves away from the dessert table to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger's only debate appearance? (Yes, indeed debate watching will be one of the evening's activities as C-SPAN is proudly pumped into the Capital View Conference Center — for what is likely to be Washington's only California gubernatorial debate watch party — or at least the capital's hottest.)

3. Will General Clark submit his recipe in time to participate in the Culinary Clash?

4. Will the Googling monkeys really show?

5. Who writes these items anyways?

It all happens Wednesday, September 24 — that's next week. And it's going to make Lloyd Grove wish he never left DC.

The politics of national security:

Congressional Republicans are starting to get antsy about the Bush Administration's $20 billion request to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, reports the Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook. Now that it's time to pay up, they're talking more and more about multilateralism — and about the U.S. claiming some of Iraq's future oil revenues. LINK

"Congress is not likely to scuttle the funding request, which is part of the $87-billion package Bush wants approved for military operations and the rebuilding efforts in Iraq and, to a lesser degree, Afghanistan. But the concerns of GOP congressmen reflect an underlying political reality as the president and his party head into the election year: Bush's foreign policy, once his trump card with voters, is no longer seen as an unalloyed benefit to him and fellow Republicans as the costs and casualties in Iraq mount."

"Against that backdrop, Republicans are not only questioning Bush's budget request but demanding that the administration do a better job communicating U.S. accomplishments in Iraq."

From the other side of the funding front:

The Christian Science Monitor examines the political juice Democrats are trying to squeeze from the debate over the president's $87 billion supplemental request, Noting "questioning before the vote gives Democrats their best platform to probe the Bush team on everything from the quality of its postwar planning to the basic fairness of the tax system that pays for it." LINK

And check out this quote on domestic-vs-international spending from one GOP Senator guaranteed to delight the White House.

"'I'd like to see a public-works project in our country,' says Senator Voinovich, after a closed briefing with administration officials on the $87 billion request. 'It's hard to say we don't have the money for sewers, roads, and schools here, but we are able to put money over there.'"

Senator Kennedy told the AP that the Bush administration has "failed to account for nearly half of the $4 billion the war is costing each month. He said he believes much of the unaccounted-for money is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send in troops." LINK

In the Boston Globe , H.D.S. Greenway examines the Bush Administration's strategies and the influence of the neoconservatives. LINK

Krauthammer on the Democrats and national building. LINK

ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

Knight Ridder's John Walcott reports on comments from anonymous Bush Administration members who said that Karl Rove "was concerned about new polls that suggest sinking support for the president's handling of Iraq." LINK

One official said that "the entry of retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark into the race this week gives the Democrats a candidate who opposed Bush's policy in Iraq but has strong national-security credentials."

The Boston Globe 's Derrick Jackson really lets Vice President Cheney have it. LINK

California recall, the courts:

We expect to hear from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today and even though we don't like to be in the predictions game, we think they will take the case and schedule a hearing for early next week. Nearly 500,000 absentee ballots have been received by county elections officials and more than 2 million have been shipped out to Californians.

Jackie Calmes of the Wall Street Journal keys off the potential for delay and chaos in California to ask what happened to all of that post-2000 talk about election reform.

"The nationwide movement for election overhaul that Florida's ballot chaos sparked in 2000 crested long ago, short of its promise amid big deficits and small attention spans."

"But now California's recall fight suggests a new development as the 2004 presidential election nears: The prospect of lawsuits against cities, counties or states that may be out of step with the changes. The plaintiffs' ammunition: The U.S. Supreme Court's same Bush v. Gore ruling that gave rise to the movement itself."

"Though that decision to stop Florida's presidential recount was 5-4, seven justices agreed that hand-counting ballots violated voters' equal-protection rights, since counties used different standards to judge disputed ballots. Citing that ruling, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in San Francisco Monday postponed California's Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election to perhaps March, saying the use of antiquated punch-card machines in just six heavily minority counties would breach voters' rights there."

The uncertainty caused by the 9th Circuit's decision has slowed absentee voting to a "dribble," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK

The Los Angeles Times looks at the 2004 implications for slowly arriving elections reforms. LINK

USA Today 's John Ritter surveys the recall scene and realizes there are some big questions to be answered regardless of when the recall actually happens. LINK

And while we're all on pins and needles waiting to hear what the 9th Circuit will do, the show goes on for the candidates, the New York Times ' John Broder and Charlie LeDuff write. LINK

Bustamante would like to see the election take place on October 7. LINK

California recall, the governor:

All this talk of ballots and court cases is perfectly appropriate, since the picture of the day will be Gray Davis side by side with former Vice President Al Gore. Gore is expected to urge Californians to register to vote before Monday's deadline and reiterate the anti-recall message espoused by national Democrats campaigning with Davis all week long.

The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold and Miguel Bustillo deliver a must-read about Governor Davis' tenuous relationship with African Americans in California. LINK

"Usually a loyal Democratic constituency, many black voters are instead frustrated with the governor's centrist policies and unimpressed with his administration, according to political analysts and recent interviews. But they also view the recall as a partisan maneuver to push Democrats out of office."

"Their approval affects Davis' political fortunes. In 1998, black voters made up 13% of the electorate and Davis romped to a 20-point victory. When he ran for reelection last year, however, African Americans made up only 4% of the vote — an absence of 800,000 voters that contributed to his narrow win."

"With Californians split evenly on the recall, a large black turnout could prove decisive."

The governor attended a fundraiser last night in Los Angeles where the likes of Annette Benning, Warren Beatty, Republican Bruce Willis, Jack Nicholson, Harry Hamlin, Alan Thicke (who some might have thought would be supporting Gary Coleman, what with writing the Different Strokes theme song and all), James Cromwell, and Mr. long distance dedication — Casey Kasem were all seen having a good time.

A buoyant Peter Ragone getting more and more comfortable with his California style pink shirt and Terminator-esque shades showed up well before his candidate at Los Angeles Southwest Community College yesterday to chat up reporters about how much he likes what he's seeing in the Davis camp's internal polls.

Although, he took pains to say that he isn't overly confident and there is still work to be done, he made it clear that they see a trend of Californians moving away from the recall. We wonder if Mr. Schwarzenegger's internal polls are beginning to show the same trends?

USA Today 's Martin Kasindorf reports that Governor Davis took the immigration debate in California to a whole new level on Wednesday. LINK

Well, they've finally found a measure of message discipline, anyway. Davis has latched onto the notion of the California recall as a Republican plot to overturn elections they couldn't win — and as it's echoed by every prominent Democrat who comes to California to campaign against the recall — and now the Christian Science Monitor has taken it one step further to include the battle over redistricting in Texas. LINK

"In the minds of Democrats, Republicans are trying to systematically reverse elections around the country: from the impeachment of Bill Clinton to the recount in Florida to the recall in California to redistricting in Colorado and Texas," says Harvey Kronberg, editor of Quorum Report, a political newsletter based in Austin. "That's one of the things that made this Texas battle rise to such extreme showmanship on the part of the Democrats."

California recall, the rest of the field:

Bustamante, McClintock, Huffington, and Camejo are still threatening to boycott Wednesday's debate unless the format goes from scripted to unscripted. The Broadcasters' Association has no plans to change the format. LINK

Note to assignment editors at California television stations: You might want to send two cameras to this event.

The Los Angeles Times asks: Are Bustamante and McClintock in cahoots? LINK

Here's the Los Angeles Times' "Ad Watch" on a new spot supporting Mr. McClintock but not paid for by him. LINK

The San Jose Mercury News on today's other court decision: whether Bustamante has broken campaign finance laws: LINK

California recall, Arnold:

The Washington Post reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger has become the main target in the campaign. No word yet on whether or not Mr. Schwarzenegger will begin using Bill Clinton's favorite "Baby Huey doll" comparison. LINK

ABC News' Schifrin reports Arnold Schwarzenegger chose what he called the early 20th century's most powerful special interest-the special interest that Hiram Johnson "defeated" on his way to giving Californians the ability to recall their governor-as the backdrop for his proposal yesterday of state government reforms.

"In front of a replica of the lead Central Pacific Railroad car, Schwarzenegger proposed four initiatives to "bring the trust back": increasing access to government documents and meetings via an improved California State Amendment 1; giving the task of redistricting to a group of randomly selected retired judges; criminalizing violations of campaign finance laws and prohibiting elected officials from raising money during the entire budget season; and requiring candidates and elected officials to post all campaign contributions, regardless of time and dollar amount, immediately on the Internet."

"Schwarzenegger also took the opportunity to attack Tom McClintock's decision to air TV ads sponsored by California's Indian gaming tribes. "He knows that they're financing him not because they want him to be governor-they just want to interfere with the process so that Bustamante wins. That's it. So he has to decide in the end which side is he on-the Republicans' or Bustamante's."

"And just in case that didn't send the message, communications director Sean Walsh Noted to reporters after the event that Cruz Bustamante's lawyers were in court today to defend his campaign financing moves, and that 'Mr. McClintock appears to be potentially in the same arena as Mr. Bustamante … Mr. McClintock frankly owes the public an explanation of what he's doing.'"

"Walsh couldn't help himself when Al Gore's visit was brought up, Noting that 'some of his more onerous fundraising scandals have happened here in California … so bring him on.'"

The Sacramento Bee covers Schwarzenegger's proposed reforms: LINK

Mark Z. Barabak and Joe Matthews of the Los Angeles Times go deep inside the Schwarzenegger camp and write how the organization and strategy would likely change if the election is postponed until March. LINK

"In interviews, campaign aides and others familiar with the Schwarzenegger operation who spoke on condition that they not be identified described a bureaucratic organization, riven with disputes and slow to make strategic decisions."

"Aides have long predicted a certain amount of tension would occur, given the sudden start of Schwarzenegger's candidacy and the candidate's desire to include nonpolitical advisers in the campaign."

And it's not only Gray Davis who gets high-profile allies to come out and endorse him. The Boston Globe 's Frank Phillips and Rick Klein report that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney may head to California to lend his star power to fellow Mike Murphy client Schwarzenegger. LINK

Ronald Reagan's letters:

Yes, folks, you still have two days to run out (if you haven't hoarded everything in your local Safeway already), grab some orange juice and champagne, and settle in for this Sunday's exclusive interview with former First Lady Nancy Reagan on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

George shared some thoughts about the interview with the Note as the storm prepared to barrel down on the Washington area.

The Note: Any surprises?

Stephanopoulos: The sheer volume. The man must have been writing for hours every day to produce these kinds of letters.

We always knew he was a great talker, I never realized what a wonderful writer he was. And as George Shultz says in the forward, you can't be a good writer without being a good thinker.

The clarity of thought, the consistency of thought, his intelligence and humor, just shine through.

The Note: How is Mrs. Reagan?

Stephanopoulos: Mrs. Reagan looked great. She looked terrific. We talked on- and off-camera, and despite the fact that she is caring for him full-time, she is fully engaged and on top of a lot of different issues, she tries to get out as much as she can. Obviously this was a labor of love for her because I think she really felt it would show people a side of Ronald Reagan they didn't expect.

We have been working with them for several months, they've been discovering more and more letters as we go along. They think eventually the collection will be around 10,000, if not more.

The Note: Did it inspire you to write more letters?

Stephanopoulos: It did inspire me to write more letters. As I was in California, it was my daughter's first birthday. I read this wonderful letter Ronald Reagan had written Patty when she was 21-months old. I could always get her another toy, another dress, but I thought if I write her a letter on her first birthday, she'll always have that.

Bush Adminstration strategy/personality:

With the President facing a steel tariff decision soon, the Washington Post's Mike Allen and Jonathan Weisman get on the front page with what Karl Rove would call (under different circumstances...) a FANTASTIC story about the history and results of the President's anti-free trade posture. LINK

Our only quibble with this must-read piece (which includes the rarest of 43-era tick-tocking of Administration deliberations!) is that the phrase "legacy costs" doesn't appear anywhere in the whole thing.

Politics: The Washington Post 's Al Kamen assigned former Perot aide Russ Verney to try to get Mr. Perot to comment on the state of affairs in America.

Verney came up empty, but who knew he was "now southwestern regional director of Larry Klayman's Washington Legal Foundation"!!

Even the Palm was a desert Thursday. And Bob Stevenson is our weather-braving hero. LINK

In a flag flap sure to continue … The Daytona Beach Journal reports Gov. Jeb Bush "left open the possibility Thursday that Florida could offer a license tag that includes the Confederate battle flag." LINK

One Michael R. Bloomberg is the 36th-richest American. LINK (Ten slots ahead of one Henry Ross Perot!)