The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—8:30 am: Senate convenes for legislative business —9:30 am: Senator Joe Lieberman meets with local activists, Le Mars, Iowa —9:30 am: Senator Bob Graham attends a campaign fundraiser, Dallas, Texas —9:45 am: Off-camera White House press gaggle with Scott McClellan

—10:00 am: House convenes for legislative business —10:30 am: President Bush makes remarks at the rededication of the National Archives, D.C. —11:00 am: Reverend Al Sharpton meets with BET Chairman Robert Johnson, D.C.

—11:00 am: Vice President Cheney to the 2003 Air Force Association National Convention, D.C. —11:30 am: Senator Lieberman speaks to students about the job market and holds a media availability, Storm Lake, Iowa

—11:30 am: First Lady Laura Bush addresses the National Childhood Cancer Foundation's 2003 Gold Ribbon Days opening ceremony, D.C. —12:00 pm: Senator John Edwards holds a town hall meeting, Concord, N.H.

—12:45 pm: On-camera White House press briefing with Scott McClellan

—1:00 pm: General Wesley Clark makes remarks about his presidential candidacy at the James H. Pennick Boys and Girls Club, Little Rock, Ark.

—1:45 pm: Senator John Kerry and Governor Gray Davis tour a New Directions facility, Los Angeles

—2:00 pm: Arnold Schwarzenegger meets with immigrants after a citizenship swearing-in ceremony, Figueroa, Calif.

—2:15 pm: Senator Kerry and Governor Davis make remarks at a New Directions facility, Los Angeles —4:30 pm: Maria Shriver holds a press availability, Pacific Beach, Calif.

—5:00 pm: Deadline for California elections officials and recall proponents to file briefs in support of an appellate court review of the decision to delay the recall

—6:00 pm: Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, State Senator Tom McClintock, and Peter Camejo participate in a candidate forum sponsored by the Los Angeles Press Club, Los Angeles

—6:30 pm: Senator Graham attends a campaign fundraiser, Weston, Fla.

—7:00 pm: Reverend Sharpton attends Tucker Carlson's book party, New York City

—7:30 pm: Representative Dennis Kucinich attends a rally with Ralph Nader and Patti Smith, D.C.

—10:00 pm: Governor Davis participates in a town hall meeting sponsored by the California Broadcasters Association, Sacramento

—10:00 pm: Wesley Clark is a guest on CNN's Newsnight with Aaron Brown


What does The Note know about the Wes Clark (D-CNN) phenomenon?

We know that the media interest in his candidacy proves the political press is bored with the field as is.

We know that the Democratic elite interest in his candidacy proves that many of them — including members of Congress — are apparently underwhelmed by the existing nine candidates and are willing to support someone about whom they know shockingly little.

We know that the Dean campaign is the only one that will publicly claim to see strength in Clark's bid (Jo[e] knows Web grassroots.).

We know that those of you who failed to realize that there was a lot of Clinton-Gore talent out there who hadn't signed on with any of the existing horses weren't really paying attention.

If you are John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Bob Graham, or (even) Howard Dean, you have to ask yourself as you watch these officeholders, operatives, and fundraisers sign up with Clark (and, believe us, there are more eye-catching names coming), what the heck is wrong with me?

Am I too weak? Do I have too much the stench of the loser? Why are they signing up with someone they don't even know, when they could have me, me, me?

As for the motivations of these (largely) Clinton-Gore types — they all want to beat Bush; they all are totally turned off by Howard Dean personally and by his prospects; they have all lost respect for the rest of the field (because if they can't crush Dean, how could they beat Bush?); and they all (for whatever reasons) failed to find places in the other campaigns.

Oh, and most of them are bored in their lawyer, lobbyist, PR jobs, and this Clark thing looks fun to them.

We wonder how many of them have read this tip-of-the-iceberg George Will column. LINK

So far, Clark has not taken a single position on domestic issues that distinguishes him from the field, and in fact, he appears to be a garden variety liberal on the gamut of party touchstones. There are no distinctive policy positions, third way or otherwise.

And for an alleged straight talker, we wouldn't characterize his position on, say, the Bush tax cuts, as particularly straight or crisp.

And he certainly doesn't seem to be moving toward any sort of Sister Souljah moment.

Would Clark be a good president? His supporters obviously think so.

Would he be a strong general election candidate? Again, his supporters cite his Southern roots, military background, and outsider status as factors that they say would make him the strongest one to go against President Bush.

But to get to either of those slots, Clark first would have to win the Democratic nomination, and the existing nine aren't just going to roll over and let him take the nomination away.

In his full Ginsberg of morning show appearances, Clark was his usual newsless, pacific, aw-shucks self. Said he would have a health care plan soonish.

Isabel notwithstanding, we would bet that the cable nets (including the one which has paid Clark cash over the last few months and seems to have some pretty good access to him) will take his 1 pm ET announcement live from the James H. Pennick Boys and Girls Club in Little Rock.

Per ABC News' Clark reporter Deborah Apton, General Clark will not take questions after his remarks.

He will be introduced by former Arkansas Senator David Pryor and Arkansas Congressman Marion Berry. His wife and family will join him at the announcement. There will also be members of the Draft Wesley Clark campaign in attendance. The event is expected to be brief, most likely less than 30 minutes.

Clark is already talking about maybe skipping some of the debates because of conflicts, and the scrutiny of his past is going to ramp up fast (so it's nice to have one — two? — Master(s) of Disaster around … .).

This endless blather about whose support Clark cuts into makes us roll our digital eyes. Theoretically and thematically, one can make the case that he cuts into EVERYBODY, but he won't be doing any cutting until and unless he proves he can build support.

While the speculation that Clark could end up on the ticket as someone's veep candidate continues, keep in mind that many untested candidates who run for president do so poorly that they end up seeming LESS attractive as prospects for the second slot than they did before they ran.

On the other hand, if Clark shows some political mojo, he might raise his stock.

Rest assured, all the other campaigns and candidates will have to start answering the question "What does Clark mean for your candidacy?" as opposed to "What does Dean mean for your candidacy?" (and even Dean will have days and days of answering the former … )

See more below for all there is to know on Clark.

In the recall:

Prediction is difficult — especially about the future, as Yogi once said — but if you were the betting sort, you would probably see this as the most likely path and timing of the recall appeal:

The California secretary of state and the proponents of the recall, as well as the ACLU, which filed the initial lawsuit, will submit by 2 pm PT (5 pm ET) today arguments on whether the 9th Circuit should rehear the case en banc that was decided Monday by a three-judge panel.

The court will probably decide late this week whether to take it, and the betting is that they will.

If 13 of 24 9th circuit judges decide to rehear the case (the whole court is actually 26 judges, but two have recused themselves), then 11 of them will hold a hearing (the betting is that it would be on or about Monday) and render a decision by the middle of next week — fewer than two weeks before the election.

In the meantime, candidates and election officials are proceeding as if October 7 is THE day.

Even though the court grants rehearings extremely rarely, we would be surprised if the en banc court did not rehear the case, and we would be reasonably surprised if the en banc panel did not overturn the ruling. But that's just us — and frankly, for as much as we pretend to know, nothing is certain out west.

Whoever comes out on the losing side of all of this will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court — but their refusing to hear the case is the heavy betting if the 9th Circuit overturns the ruling.

Today's 2 must-reads:

1. The San Francisco Chronicle on the latest Democratic presidential candidate Field Poll, with Howard Dean drawing nearly a quarter of the vote; "bad news" for John Kerry; and President Bush stuck at 45%. LINK

2. The reporter who got the first interview with Bill Clinton about Marc Rich (sort of) gets another big Clinton New York Sun exclusive, going to Monterey, California, yesterday to hear the former president to make provocative comments on: LINK

-- His wife's prospects for running for president herself in 2004 ("'I was impressed at the state fair in New York, which is in Republican country in upstate New York, at how many New Yorkers came up and said they would release her from her commitment if she wanted to do it,' Mr. Clinton said. 'But she said … she just doesn¹t understand how to walk away from that. So I just have to take her from where she is right now.'");

-- Wes Clark ("'Whether he can get elected president I don¹t have a clue, because once you've been a four-star general it's kind of hard to have people talk to you the way they talk to you when you¹re running,' Mr. Clinton said, adding that he had recently given General Clark some advice on how to adjust to life in the political arena.")

-- Karl Rove.

-- and more … .

President Bush is in D.C. today, where he will rededicate the National Archives.

Senator Kerry will tour a New Directions facility with Governor Davis in Los Angeles. They will make remarks together after their meeting.

Governor Dean campaigns in New Hampshire today.

Senator Lieberman campaigns in western Iowa today.

Senator Edwards holds a town hall meeting in Concord, New Hampshire, today.

Congressman Gephardt is in California with no public events scheduled for today.

Senator Graham attends fundraisers in Dallas, Texas, and Weston, Florida, today.

Congressman Kucinich will attend a rally with Ralph Nader and Patti Smith tonight in D.C.

Ambassador Moseley Braun has no public events announced for today.

Reverend Sharpton is scheduled to meet with BET Chairman Robert Johnson today in D.C. He also plans to stop by Tucker Carlson's book party in New York City tonight.

As we said, Governor Davis joins Senator Kerry for a tour of a New Directions facility for homeless and jobless people in Los Angeles today. They will make remarks together after their tour. Davis will also attend a town hall meeting sponsored by the California Broadcasters Association tonight in Sacramento.

Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on the Howard Stern radio show this morning. He also meets with immigrants after a swearing-in ceremony for new citizens in Figueroa.

Maria Shriver will hold a press availability at the Cantina Restaurant in Pacific Beach today.

The Los Angeles Press Club sponsors a candidate forum tonight with Lieutenant Governor Bustamante, State Senator McClintock, and Peter Camejo expected to attend.

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary: The Wall Street Journal 's leading dateline whore, John Harwood, rode to Robbins to write his must-read column on the Democrats electoral college strategy and whether it should have some Southern comfort — tack it up on the bulletin boards of Vilmain and Rosenthal.

The New York Times ' Nagourney keys off something that probably won't happen — the possible move of the recall to March — and looks at the implications for the Democrats in the presidential race — most Notable are his gloom-and-doom quote from Jano and his colorful blind quote from "one Republican close to President Bush' re-election campaign," which sounds an awful lot like the guy who said "Breck Girl." LINK


Wes Clark will not blow the current field of 9 (now 10) candidates away.

He has raised no money;

He has no organization in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early states;

He isn't well known;

He is immensely naive about the rhythms and mechanics of politics;

He has made enemies among both the career and political people at the Pentagon (wait until you read those stories!);

He has no obvious positions on many important (and hot-button) domestic issues;

He exists on videotape at the Republican National Committee saying all sorts of (outrageous to some ears) things about the war;

He is not a world-class public speaker;

He has some of the less attractive traits of Ross Perot;

(and we could go on … .).

But, Howard Dean's rise notwithstanding, the Democratic field nationally and in key states is very fluid, and we have been struck by:

The number of Democrats attracted to the notion of Clark's candidacy;

His war record as key in post-9/11 politics;

The way some Democratic members of Congress — afraid of Dean's candidacy --see him as the savior;

His way with people in small groups;

His strong(ish) TV presence;

His Internet boomlet;

His Southern roots (electorally key), coupled with what will be moderate-ish stands on many social issues that Democrats care about;

And his projection of decency and message of change.

In one of two front-pagers on the retired general, Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post quotes Joe Trippi saying "a lot of people underestimate how strong he'll be," making Trippi's camp the only one that thinks that, or will admit it. LINK

He also has Fabiani saying that "three top California party fundraisers" are ready to help.

Jim Jordan is quoted all over the place twisting the knife a bit into John Kerry's friend Wes Clark — suggesting the Mommy Party won't give its nomination to a Pure Daddy.

The Wall Street Journal 's Jake Schlesinger gets this encapsulating quote:

"'No institutional favorite has yet emerged — Clark has a chance of becoming that,' said Mike McCurry, a veteran of many presidential cycles and a Clinton White House spokesman. 'He's a very attractive guy, and a lot of Democratic officeholders around the country are saying, "I'd be a lot more comfortable with a guy like that at the top of the ticket than Howard Dean."'"

"Wesley Clark: The new Howard Dean? The former Vermont governor is the front-runner, but some Democratic insiders wonder if the retired general has a better chance of beating Bush." LINK

Yes, from the folks at Salon, a piece wondering whether the mix of Southern roots, military background, straight-talking-attitude and skepticism on Iraq make Clark the real guy to beat. And it is indeed about electability …

Treading along this line of thought, the New York Daily News' coverage of Clark's entrance emphasizes the negative fallout it could have for "outsider" Dean. LINK

And the paper's Michael Kramer thinks Clark has "the standing to say (calmly but strongly) the same kind of things the likes of Howard Dean are screaming." LINK

So will the Hamlet-turned-candidate debate? Well, we over here hear that scheduling conflicts might keep the General from the next one up but his camp is working feverishly to make him present (to borrow an L.A. phrase) at as many of these events as possible.

Clark told Matt Lauer this morning he has a "hard conflict" with next week's Democratic candidates debate.

Kit Seelye (we are glad to see ya!) on Clark offers this quote from Stan Greenberg, summing up the possibilities of soar-or-snore pretty nicely: LINK

"If he succeeds, it will be because he surprises people by being credible and having depth and passion on domestic issues … But it is also possible that he disappears into oblivion. He could be flat, he could be terrible with the base, he could not have the common touch."

As well as one of a host of rather restrained reax from one Mr. Jordan:

"He's obviously impressive. But a career military man with no domestic experience would be an exceptionally unusual profile for Democrats to choose."

Staying in the Boston axis, the Globe's Michael Kranish reports on the Clark frenzy, pointing out that Congressman Charlie Rangel said "he expects to endorse Clark Monday." LINK

Reminding readers that last week "Kerry suggested that the newcomer would pull antiwar voters from Dean," Kranish also has Dean campaign cochairman Steve Grossman saying, "'I think there are probably some candidates in the race, without getting specific, whose knees are knocking together at this moment because of the impact the Clark candidacy is likely to have on them … '"

The Boston Herald's Noelle Straub and Andrew Miga write that Clark's announcement will be "blunting [Kerry's] rallying cry as the only veteran in the race." LINK

The Washington Post 's Vernon Loeb has a brief look at Clark's military career that balances some negative blind quotes with some on-the-record positive ones from those who know him best. LINK

The AP's Ron Fournier has Clark telling NBC's Today show: "I don't think anybody's got the same combination of skills and experiences I have." LINK

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Deirdre Shesgreen previews the Clark announcement — complete with comments from Dick Harpootlian! LINK

But is it too late for Clark to get in, suit up, raise some cash and hit the trail? Charlie Rangel doesn't think so, as he said on "Capital Report":

Rep. RANGEL: Well, I don't know whether it's late. I certainly have all but endorsed the general because he's all but announced that he's a candidate and — but the truth of the matter — having said all of that, I would not be considering endorsing if I thought this was late in the game. I've had those political professionals check out the political calendar and the ability to raise money, the Vermont — I mean, New Hampshire and Idaho and — Iowa, rather. And so most of them believe that he's coming in late, but that he can fill a vacuum that exists.

Reminds the Note of an old joke we like to tell: LINK

John DiStaso has the New Hampshire angle on Clark's late entry. LINK

James Pindell reports that a 30-day campaign plan is being developed for Clark and that "a key component of that plan included New Hampshire." LINK

But DiStaso has Clark's top Granite State backer trying to lower expectations for Clark in New Hampshire. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont writes that Clark will face "an Iowa dilemma" in that he "must either quickly assemble an Iowa caucus campaign or bypass the lead-off nominating state, a strategy that has never worked." LINK

Hilde says: "c'mon in, the water is fine."

Citing a Fox News report, The Washington Times ' Donald Lambro writes of Clark that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is "expected to serve as his campaign co-chairman." LINK

Fox News, however, has since retracted its report about Hillary serving as Clark's co-chair. LINK

"While sources told Fox News earlier that New York Senator Hillary Clinton will serve as Clark's campaign co-chairman while numerous other Arkansas-based supporters of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, were also lending a hand in the campaign, the senator's office told Fox News late in the day that she had not agreed to serve on the campaign. "

"Clark aides later said they had miscommunicated with Clinton's office and no determination had been made about her participation. "

Staying on the Hill, the Hill's Peter Savodnik reports on quick endorsements from the Hill. LINK

Slate offers its take on how generals get elected and finds Clark in pretty good shape — and company.

"Wesley Clark, as pundits have noted, faces many obstacles if he wants to be president, including the lack of a campaign team and a late start in fund raising. But he has mastered the two historical requirements: He doesn't act as if he needs the job, and he doesn't act as if he wants war. For a general, that's a good start." LINK

Taking a different tack, the Chicago Tribune team of Tackett and Zeleny write that glowing as it is, Clark's "resume also has a significant gap: He has never run for elective office. And he is entering an arena where the reflexive response for voters, the media and his nine other opponents will not be a salute." LINK

And the New York Post 's Deborah Orin gets an anonymous Dean strategist to say: "[Clark] has got no money and he's going to discover that it's a lot harder than he thinks. The Howard Dean Internet operation took a long time to build. It took us seven months and he can't do it overnight." LINK

The Washington Post ed board (sort of) welcomes Clark to the race, but is unimpressed with his relationship with the Democratic Party, his "memory" about voting for Ronald Reagan, and his squishy statements on Social Security, education vouchers, and the death penalty, much of it gleaned from a recent session the retired General did with the paper. LINK

Clark has the Euro vote sewn up!

A large Clark photo is running above-the-fold on the front page of the Financial Times. The accompanying story views Clark's entry into the race as a "pointed challenge to President George W. Bush's credentials as a wartime president." LINK


Yes, we know, sometimes it's hard to catch a break, even with Breck. The (talk-show-sounding) combo of Isabel and Wesley teamed up to keep Edwards from really hoggin' up the media spotlight.

That said, we will try to offer you a taste of the Edwards-and-Clark, boy-doesn't-sound-like-a-ticket coverage.

Dan Balz gets on A3 of the Washington Post . LINK

The New York Times reports that while Edwards aides "expressed frustration with General Clark's timing," the candidate himself gave the what-me-worry? treatment to the latest entrant. "I think General Clark is a good man, and he will make a good candidate. It doesn't affect me at all." LINK

Not so fast, says Salon, which runs an ouch piece under the headline, "Sunset for the golden boy?" and writes, "the question hovering over the race now is not "How far can he go?" but "Is his candidacy over before it officially began?" Even some supporters are asking how such a promising candidate wound up running such a mediocre campaign to date, and whether he can fix it. The news that Gen. Wesley Clark will declare his own candidacy on Wednesday was yet another blow on a day when Edwards hoped he'd have the news cycle to himself." LINK

The quotes from Mrs. Edwards and one Michael Bauer offer some interesting fodder for thought as well.

The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein writes that Edwards' "campaign has proved something of an enigma to political professionals." LINK

More Upstairs-Downstairs/Good News-Bad News for the Edwards team as it examines the next-day stories:

Senator Edwards gets his picture on the front page of USA Today , but the accompanying story by Andrea Stone and Jill Lawrence talks about how he was "overshadowed" by the Clark hoopla on Tuesday and how the "developments underscored the fluid contest for the Democratic nomination." LINK

Inside USA Today , Ms. Lawrence has a separate story (on page 5) on the Edwards announcement, but even her lead reports that he "was dogged by the same problem he's had all year: He was upstaged by a rival." LINK

Lawrence does Note that Edwards "is showing signs of progress" in the latest South Carolina poll and in the wake of a good showing at last week's SEIU meeting.

The Boston Globe 's Patrick Healy recaps the Edwards announcement, and waits until the third paragraph to say that the "formal announcement speech and a media blitz on morning television shows, part of a concentrated effort by Edwards to reignite his campaign, were overshadowed" by the Clark talk. LINK

Knight Ridder's Jim Morrill uses the dreaded "overshadowed" word too, but not until the fifth paragraph. LINK

But the coverage is not all grim, grey and Wesley for the optimistic Edwards. Slate's Saletan praises Edwards' economic message and its focus on the ethic of the working class, finding it a potential winner against Bush-Cheney '04. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny doesn't use the word "overshadowed." LINK

The News-Record's Eric Dyer reports that Edwards promises a vigorous challenge if given the nomination. LINK

The Raleigh News and Observer's John Wagner gives a large look at the campaign's relaunch. LINK

The State's Lee Bandy writes about how important South Carolina is to this North Carolinian. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's Jonathan Roos reports that Senator Edwards "vowed Tuesday to make a strong campaign push in Iowa as part of his strategy." LINK


Kerry pens a guest column in the Manchester Union Leader criticizing Dean and Gephardt for allegedly turning their backs on the economic legacy of Bill Clinton. LINK

" … are we going to imitate George W. Bush in forgetting the middle class or are we going to be the party that fights for the middle class? Will we turn our back on the progress of the Clinton years or will we follow his lead in assuring middle class voters that Democrats will defend their interests and honor their values?"

"That's why I am so concerned that some of my fellow Democratic candidates for President, most prominently former Gov. Howard Dean and U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, have adopted policies in the course of this campaign that — in effect — turn their back on both the Clinton economic legacy and the very middle class families the Democratic Party has historically defended."

"I believe we should repeal President Bush's special tax breaks that go to the wealthy. I believe we should end corporate welfare as we know it and tax giveaways to special interests. But I do not believe we should abolish tax cuts for middle class families — whether it's the child tax credit or the elimination of the marriage penalty. In fact, I believe we should give middle class families a tax cut, not a tax increase."

The Los Angeles Times gives the Kerry team a nice nod on the DiFi endorsement. LINK

But even here a Clark mention seeps into the last graph as one Senator Boxer calls herself "intrigued" by the late-arriving General.

The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson offers his endorsement take. LINK


The San Francisco Chronicle's John Wildermuth has Dean leading the new Field Poll in California "buoyed by liberal, white and college-educated voters." LINK

"The new survey puts Dean on top in the March 2004 primary at 23 percent, with Lieberman at 15 percent, Kerry at 11 percent, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt at 8 percent and the rest of the Democratic field at 4 percent or less."

The Hill's Jonathan Kaplan writes about Tom DeLay going after Dean.



From ABC News Graham campaign reporter Tarana Harris:

"Serendipity is what Gabriel Sanchez, spokesman for Californians Against the Costly Recall, called Graham's appearance with Gray Davis Tuesday in Los Angeles, just one day after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the recall election can't go on because some votes will be cast using punch-cards. Referring to Davis and Graham's timely appearance together, Sanchez said, 'The best campaigns are those that make their own luck.'"

"Graham commented on similarities between the California recall and the 2000 Florida recount: 'I think the cases on their fundamental principle are very similar, but they have a different consequence in terms of whether you're preventing or advancing the case of every person being counted.'"

"Referring to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and US Supreme Court Graham said, 'I hope they will follow the precedent of the Florida case in order to achieve a fair election, not to gratify a suspect election.'"

"Graham on Clark getting into the Democratic presidential race: 'If [Clark] joined the campaign he would bring a voice and set of ideas that I think would be very beneficial to the American people.'"


The Gephardt campaign has launched a new Web site:

In a release, the campaign said that the site "documents the policy speech Rep. Dick Gephardt delivered on Friday in Iowa regarding Howard Dean's positions on Social Security and Medicare."

There's lots and lots of big font on this site, and like the campaign says, it provides a rundown of Dean and Gephardt positions on those two issues.

ABC 2004: Taste of the Campaign:

The David Westin/Peter Jennings A Taste of the Campaign is only seven days away — next Wednesday night in D.C. Yes, the recipes are in, but what, you ask The Note, separates each of these candidates and their deserts?

Astute political observers may notice candidates often turn to their families for political support and the Culinary Clash in the Capital turns out to be no different.

At least three appear to be old family recipes. John Edwards' mother Bobbie sent us her (hand-written!) recipe for chocolate torte, Carol Mosley Braun provided "Mom's Favorite Pound Cake" and Teresa Heinz sent a recipe for those Mama T Brownies so many of you have raved about.

This is culinary style retail politics. OK, it's no steak fry; it is not even a fish fry — but we nonetheless expect the campaigns to be out in full force.

Ronald Reagan's letters:

This Sunday, "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" will feature a rare conversation with former First Lady Nancy Reagan and a special look at the publication of "Reagan: A Life in Letters."

The book is a collection of more than 1,000 of President Ronald Reagan's personal letters, remarkable in quality and volume. Mrs. Reagan will reflect on the extraordinary career of her husband, and discuss the letters published in the book, which provide a unique look at his personal correspondence with friends, actors, world leaders, politicians, and everyday Americans.

The segment will also feature Ron Reagan, President Reagan's son, reading from some of the letters written by his father. Hugh Hefner will talk about his exchange of views with President Reagan about communism and the First Amendment.

The editors of the book, tasked with selecting letters from an extraordinary archive, will also be interviewed.

This is a special look at an amazing project and an amazing book, and you won't want to miss it.

The ever-fair Ms. Liz Smith touts Stephanopoulos' Sunday's visit with Mrs. Reagan. LINK

The Divine Ms. S. offers readers a taste of what's to come, with Mrs. Reagan telling George that she wants people to "know" and "understand" her husband and asks "what better way than to read the letters that he's written in his own hand?"

Big Casino budget politics:

The Associated Press's Alan Fram says the deficit is starting to become a political issue with both parties.LINK

The GAO's David Walker (already an Administration favorite) makes himself heard today in a speech sure to set the White House cringing.

Reports the Los Angeles Times, Walker "is giving a speech today warning that the nation's long-term fiscal outlook is seriously out of whack. And he challenges the assumption that economic recovery will solve the problem painlessly." LINK

"'We need a wake-up call,' Walker said in an interview. 'We need to come to terms with reality: The gap is too great to grow our way out of the problem. Tough choices will be required.'"

The politics of national security:

Democrats are steamin' mad, and they want you-the-voter to know it. Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who voted for war in Iraq, urges the canning of some of the president's national security team — without exactly naming names — with the help of Minority Leader Pelosi. LINK

"You can't fire the president unless you're in California," Mr. Murtha said. "But somebody recommended this policy to him, and he took the recommendation. Somebody has to be held responsible, and he's got to make the decision who it was."

ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

June Kronholz of the Wall Street Journal went to Florida to check out how No Child Left Behind is doing, and her piece is scarcely an advertisement for the measure.

The Hartford Courant's David Lightman spent some time with the president and other reporters at the White House on Tuesday and has a vivid look at the man up close and personal. You should definitely read it. LINK

Condoleezza Rice "has written South Florida Republican legislators to stress that President Bush is committed to the economic embargo against Cuba and bringing democracy to the island," the Miami Herald reports. LINK

Deborah Orin writes up the Bono-Bush "tussle" over AIDS funding. LINK

Dick Morris calls on President Bush to "ratchet up his rhetoric to remind us that threats still loom." LINK

The Washington Times writes up a Democracy Corps survey that shows that "nearly half of Americans say President Bush is "in over his head." LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

Mike Allen and Dan Milbank of the Washington Post — shamelessly gunning for jobs at USA Today — team up to write six paragraphs on Dick Cheney and Halliburton, with Cathy Martin expressing umbrage. LINK

California recall, the courts:

The Los Angeles Times' Mitchell Landsberg and Henry Weinstein turn in an excellent read at how the 9th Circuit decision is playing with the candidates, election officials, pro- and anti-recall activists, and the people who actually have to turn up to vote in this election — the citizens of California. LINK

They also gave a look at the timing.

"The observers said they thought the court could complete a vote by Friday on whether to rehear the case. If a majority of the judges voting decides to reconsider, a hearing could be held as soon as Monday and a ruling could be rendered by the middle of next week, the observers said."

USA Today 's Martin Kasindorf delivers an excellent rundown of what could happen next in the recall ruling, including this quote that might help your planning: "'We should assume there is some sentiment within the court to issue another decision, but that doesn't necessarily mean the decision will be different,' said John Siegal, an election-law litigator with the New York law firm of Proskauer Rose. 'It's likely that they wanted to make the most solid possible decision before they put the Supreme Court through this election wringer.'" LINK

The New York Times ' Dean Murphy walks through the ramifications for everyone involved … . LINK … while his colleague Adam Liptak looks at the legal issues unfolding: LINK

As only he could, USA Today 's Walter Shapiro Notes, "Federal courts, of course, do not factor in the fun quotient in rendering their decisions." LINK

The USA Today ed board writes that the decision regarding voting machine inequities could impact other states in the near future (as in 2004). LINK

Bob Novak weighs in on the decision to delay, saying that it took three Democratically appointed judges to slow down the Republican revival in California. LINK

"The notoriously liberal 9th Circuit of Court of Appeals had struck to terminate the terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger had been on a roll, climaxed by an impressive performance at the state Republican Convention in Los Angeles last weekend. Unless the panel is reversed, the Republican momentum will be dissipated by a six-month campaign, giving Democrats a fresh start."

The Los Angeles Times' Megan Garvey looks at how the decision could gin up congressional Republicans who want to split the 9th Circuit, and includes a laundry list of its controversial rulings. LINK

"With its 26 judges, 17 of them appointed by Democratic presidents, the 9th Circuit is widely considered to be the most liberal in the nation's federal appeals circuit. The court has so many Democratic appointees in large part because it was expanded in the 1970s, during the Carter administration."

"Critics point to its high rate of reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has overturned about 80% of cases reviewed from the 9th Circuit over the last seven years. In many instances, the reversals were unanimous, which critics cite as evidence that the 9th Circuit disregards existing law."

"Already, the 9th Circuit is the target of bills introduced by Republicans in Congress that seek to split the massive Western court in two — a proposal Democrats allege is motivated more by politics than judicial expediency."

And the campaign goes on …

The San Francisco Chronicle's Robert Salladay on why nobody may benefit from the delay: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan looks at how the candidates keep campaigning, and wonders if the air war (TV ad air war, that is) will continue. LINK

"It's going to drive every campaign crazy, but they've got to do it," said Democratic strategist Bill Carrick. "They have no choice."

California recall, the GOP:

There's nothing like the possibility of a delayed election to electrify the forces who are trying to make it happen. The San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Simon turns in a really really must read on why the 9th Circuit panel's decision was the best thing to happen to the Republicans since the recall began. LINK

Not to mention revving up former (and possibly future?) candidate Bill Simon.

"'If it took place in March, I'd look at getting back in,' Simon told The Chronicle Tuesday. 'But I don't think the election's going to be put off,' he said, adding that his focus is on recalling Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and helping Republican candidates Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Senator Tom McClintock.

Meanwhile, former candidate Peter Ueberroth is deciding whom to endorse. LINK

The Los Angeles Times ad watch on McClintock's latest spot: LINK

California recall, Arnold:

The Los Angeles Times' Joe Mathews was at Schwarzenegger's event yesterday in a Latino neighborhood, where he talked about immigration and was challenged on his opposition to allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses — by the brother of one of his economic advisers. LINK

ABC News Schwarzenegger campaign reporter Nick Schifrin Notes:

"Who would have thought that Schwarzenegger's appearance on Oprah would have created more color from the candidate's mouth than this morning's appearance on The Howard Stern Show? Stern and his sidekick Robin Quivers were mightily impressed by Schwarzenegger's stump speech, which he used to answer their various questions about how hard it must be to run for public office and spend so much of his own money. Stern was so impressed that he pledged to throw his weight behind his old friend. (After all, Stern's support of 1994 New York gubernatorial candidate George Pataki didn't hurt.)"

"Schwarzenegger said he intends to spend up to $10 million of his own money and $20 million total, provided the election is held on Oct. 7."

You knew it was coming at some point: the Schwarzenegger Governator action figure. LINK

"Press the button and it plays a voice chip of the real candidate declaring, 'All of the politicians are not anymore making the moves for the people but for special interests, and we have to stop that. … I will go to Sacramento and I will clean house.'"

No Gray Davis action figure is planned.

California recall, the governor:

The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold and Gregg Jones write up Davis' event yesterday with Rev. Jesse Jackson, where they stayed on message talking about the forces trying to overthrow democratic elections. LINK

"The recall backers are 'the same forces that used the extraordinary power of the Supreme Court to intervene in a state election and stop the count and determine the outcome,' Jackson said, adding, 'There is a line of disenfranchisement, a line of destabilization.'"

California recall, the Democrat:

Lieutenant Governor Bustamante picked up some endorsements from environmental groups. LINK

And according to the Los Angeles Times' Dan Morain, he may have to deal with some fundraising questions. LINK

Bustamante's campaign spending may violate state law, the California Fair Political Practices Commission said yesterday. At issue: whether Bustamante violated contribution limits "by accepting single donations as high as $1.5 million into an old account not covered by the new law, and using the money to wage his current campaign. Proposition 34 bars candidates in the recall race from accepting direct donations of more than $21,200 from individual donors."

Legislative agenda:

By our decidedly new math, that works out to once a minute!

The Times ' Stevenson reports that "in a 21-minute speech in the East Garden of the White House, Mr. Bush mentioned jobs or the economy at least 21 times, saying his plan for reducing emissions from power plants and other major polluters would clean the air without driving up costs to business so much that it would kill employment." LINK

And the Los Angeles Times reports the White House may soon be tasting some bitter pills: LINK

"A small but crucial bloc of House Republicans, whose late-night votes in June kept alive the prospect of a Medicare prescription drug benefit, is threatening to vote against any compromise bill that does not meet its conservative demands."

Any piece with Stephen Moore quotes is a friend of ours …

Politics: The Christian Science Monitor had breakfast with Carville, Greenberg, and Shrum the other day. LINK

Seattle voters have espressed themselves and voted no on a $.10 coffee tax whose proceeds would have financed early childhood education. LINK