The Note

Today's Schedule (all times Eastern):

—9:30 am: Senator Joe Lieberman tours Costa Manufacturing Corporation, Claremont, N.H. —10:00 am: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver tape today's appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Chicago —11:00 am: Senator John Kerry holds a press conference on corporate responsibility, Cedar Rapids, Iowa —12:30 pm: Commerce Secretary Don Evans speaks to the Detroit Economic Club, Detroit —12:30 pm: Vice President Cheney makes remarks at a fundraiser for Representative Shelley Moore Capito, Charleston, W.Va. —12:45 pm: President Bush makes remarks at the Detroit Edison Monroe Plant, Monroe, Mich. —12:00 pm: Governor Howard Dean holds two town hall meetings at Alabama A&M University, Huntsville, Ala. —12:00 pm: House convenes for a pro forma session —1:00 pm: Senate convenes for morning business —1:00 pm: Senator Kerry speaks to students at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa —2:30 pm: Governor Gray Davis joins former President Bill Clinton at the opening of William Jefferson Clinton Elementary School, Compton, CA —2:30 pm: Senator Lieberman participates in a roundtable discussion with small business owners, Nashua, N.H. —3:30 pm: Governor Dean launches "Generation Dean" at a town hall meeting, Atlanta —5:00 pm: Senator Lieberman attends the N.H. AFL-CIO's Conversation with the Candidates session, Hookset, N.H. —6:35 pm: President Bush attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser, Drexel Hill, Pa. —7:00 pm: Senator Bob Graham holds a media availability, Phoenix —11:00 pm: Senator John Edwards appears on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart


To paraphrase Potter Stewart, at the ABC News Political Unit, we Note it when we see it.

Which is to say, with so much going on in politics, we try to bring you the stuff we think you need to know that is going on in politics on any given day.

There are thousands of barriers to getting this done, but two stand out.

First is the whole tip-of-the-iceberg thing. Even when we think we know what is going on (say, with a campaign in disarray), we generally only have in our ken at most 10% of what is ACTUALLY going on.

So what we end up telling you is woefully incomplete.

Second, so much happens so fast in the inside game of political people and political reporters that things are changing even as we type, and we can't possibly capture it all.

Compounding things today is that since we did Friday's Note, so very, very much has happened.

For our lead, we had been intending to sit down and chronicle the last 80 hours in the life of Howard Dean, but we looked at the Googling monkey output when we came in (not to mention at our in boxes) and we made a decisive judgment that to do justice to the tale would take 15,000 words.

The president's political health — seen through the prism of the must-read ABC News/ Washington Post poll, some sweeping takes on the Bush budget, the efforts to feel the nation's manufacturing job pain, and the Iraq puzzle — is also quite politically hot, as is the recall (Clinton/Davis/Schwarzenegger/Oprah/Bustamante/McClintock), and there was a Boston Globe story about John Kerry yesterday that was like the Rosetta Stone.

But we think the events with the most lasting impact involve the whirlwind that was DeanforAmerica from Friday through today.

Suffice to say, this weekend was (potentially) a major turning point in Howard Dean's hold on the frontrunner status, or, at least, in his relationship to the media.

Over the weekend, we saw perfectly reasonable, non-gotcha questions raised in general about whether Dean has what we call a "Patty Loveless problem" — a trouble with the truth.

The particulars involve Israel, race, Medicare, Social Security, NAFTA, and one of the strangest truth-meets-fiction debate flaps ever.

The venues include K Street, a quintessential Des Moines living room, George Stephanopoulos' crackling "This Week," and cyberspace.

The point is not that the press should be nitpicking Howard Dean's every statement.

And Dean is right that his opponents are going hard at him because they are really concerned that he is pulling away and they sense he just might be vulnerable to being roughed up now.

And, most ominously for the other campaigns, Dean's current supporters are likely to react to all these particular challenges and the general indictment by fighting for him harder and giving him more money. Joe Trippi's "typical Washington attacks" mantra is catnip for these folks.

But there ARE two dangers for Dean: big-feet and beat reporters might begin holding him to a standard of truth that will drown his message out, and Dean's ability to grow and appeal to new voters might be stopped dead in the tracks.

Some of the attacks (about Hamas, for instance) are fairly seen as ludicrous. Others, like challenging Dean's claim about being the only Democrat who talks about race before white audiences (even accepting Dean's bizarre caveats about what he means by that) are quite solid.

But the media and Dean's opponents agree: if this latest wave of controversies don't slow Dean down, it is unlikely that anything can or will between now and January.

Now, in the swirl of everything else (and we aren't even getting yet into NAFTA, or Dean's statements on his faith from "This Week," or the two K Street controversies over the Carville line and the rehearsed race line), the fact that Dean repeated to a roomful of reporters on Saturday that he agrees with the Republican Party that restraining the rate of previously planned growth of a program like Medicare is NOT a cut hasn't really gotten much play. But it will.

As for Dean angrily rejecting to both George Stephanopoulos and (unbidden!!!) to that roomful of reporters in Iowa the characterization of him as a "strong supporter of NAFTA" (which turns out to have been WEAKER than language Dean once used on "This Week" himself!!!), the Dean campaign's attitude seems to be "who cares?"

See our "Dean vs. the world" section below for more on all this.

Weekend must-reads:

1. In what is practically a daily ritual of insanity, John Kerry did yet another interview with the Boston Globe , and the Sunday Mike Kranish story that it yielded is one of the richest anyone has produced on any of the candidates this election cycle — in the inside baseball category. LINK

If you are interested in this race and/or the Kerry campaign and you don't read it in full, you are basically saying you have no respect for The Note's judgment.

But since we know that description fits many of you, here are the highlights:

A. Kerry trashes his staff for not implementing his visionary lead on the Internet.

B. Kerry seems to go back on the notion that he won't make staff changes.

C. Kerry trashes (implicitly) Chris Lehane, for issuing an announcement-day press release in Kerry's name, which, the candidate now says contained words that "weren't precisely my words. They were the words of the press release sent out."

D. Kerry seems to blame Dean's rise and his fall on Dean's advertising jump (not on, say, not having a message).

E. Kerry promises to let the Boston kitchen cabinet have more of a say in things (a recipe for … … ..).

F. Kerry says Dean will raise twice what he himself raises this quarter (We think he might live to regret that expectation setting … ).

G. Kerry has to suffer the indignity of long-time supporter Jerome Grossman panning his Iraq position (We admit we failed to notice that Kerry unveiled yet another new justification of his pro-war votes in Baltimore … .), with Grossman saying wild and crazy things.

H. Kerry, sitting with campaign manager Jim Jordan during the interview, doesn't really deal with his having repudiated Jordan's attacks on Dean, while Kerry makes tougher ones himself.

I. Kranish reports that some of Jordan's troops threatened to quit if Jordan was sacked.

J. Kranish reports on the remarkable history of the Kerry blog.

2. Frank Rich on the right-leaning punditocracy and Arnold Schwarzenegger. LINK

3. The New York Times ' David Firestone front-pager on why the deficit is so bad and what the administration's options are (with points subtracting for his quoting someone saying "perfect storm"). LINK

President Bush tours and makes remarks at the Detroit Edison Monroe Plant in Monroe, Michigan, today. He also attends a Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraiser just outside of Philadelphia tonight in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.

While he does that, Commerce Secretary Don Evans is in Detroit today to promote the administration's jobs plan.

The president is in D.C. for the rest of the week and goes to Camp David with the King of Jordan on Saturday.

Vice President Cheney is in West Virginia today for a fundraiser for Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito.

Wes Clark goes to Iowa on Friday, and is widely expected to say something about any presidential bid before then, perhaps in Little Rock, where he is today with no public events scheduled.

Governor Dean holds town hall meetings in Huntsville, Alabama, and Atlanta today. He campaigns in New Hampshire Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Senator Edwards has no public events scheduled for today. He makes his formal campaign announcement Tuesday in Robbins, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina. He holds a town hall meeting Wednesday in Concord, New Hampshire.

He must also pray that Wes Clark and a gal named Isabel doesn't ruin his announcement tomorrow.

Senator Kerry campaigns in Iowa today, where he'll meet with students and holds a press conference on corporate responsibility. He'll also receive an endorsement in Chicago tonight, though the campaign won't say who it is yet. He campaigns with Governor Davis in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Senator Lieberman campaigns in New Hampshire today. He has fundraisers this week in Boston, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio.

Senator Graham has fundraisers in Denver and Phoenix today. He will campaign with Governor Davis Tuesday in Los Angeles. He has another fundraiser back home in Florida on Thursday — this one's at SkyBar in Miami.

Congressman Kucinich campaigns in Oakland, California, today. He'll do an interview, attend a rally on Proposition 54, and attend a fundraiser luncheon. He's in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. He holds a conference call with overseas Democrats on Wednesday. He attends a rally with Ralph Nader on Thursday. He campaigns in Maine and Boston on Friday.

Reverend Sharpton has no public events scheduled for today.

Ambassador Moseley Braun and Congressman Gephardt have no public events announced for the week yet.

In the recall:

Governor Davis attends the opening of William Jefferson Clinton Elementary School with the school's namesake in Compton today — and Cruz Bustamante will be there too. Clinton later attends a fundraiser for Davis at the home of Ron Burkle in Los Angeles.

The governor's week of big meetings continues: with separate meetings with Bob Graham and Jesse Jackson on Tuesday, a meeting with John Kerry on Wednesday, another meeting with Jackson on Thursday, campaign stops with Al Gore on Friday, and a meeting with John Edwards on Saturday.

Lieutenant Governor Bustamante may attend the California State Firefighters Association's annual conference today, but no confirmation of this has been put out by his campaign since the group announced yesterday it was endorsing Arnold Schwarzenegger.

State Senator Tom McClintock has no public events today.

Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver will appear on Oprah today.

Dean vs. the world:

The Gephardt, Kerry, and Edwards campaigns are in such high dungeon, gloves-off mode that they have been sending out e-mails going after Dean for all of this stuff without the usual "background use only" caveats.

Just this morning, for instance, the Kerry campaign wanted you/us to know that Dr. Dean's apparent/alleged participation in the NAFTA signing ceremony at the White House was exactly 10 years ago today!

Jeff Zeleny was in that living room interview on Saturday, and he had the good sense to unearth Dr. Dean's words from an old interview that will make Jim Jordan, Erik Smith, and Jennifer Palmieri laugh and laugh and laugh. LINK

"'One thing about being a doctor is that I don't often speculate about something I don't know,' Dean, a physician, said in an interview with the Tribune earlier this month. 'That's a very dangerous thing to do . . . so I basically trained myself not to do it. If you have no decent evidence, I don't think you should talk about it.'" LINK

Dan Balz of the Washington Post masterfully deals with the state of play. LINK

Jodi Wilgoren of the New York Times weighs in from Des Moines with a piece on the increasingly tempered words of Dean, chronicling the transformation from shoot-from-the-hip to read-from-the-briefing-book. LINK

(The piece Notes the increasingly tempered words of the Governor do not extend to his exchanges with national journalists … even on issues on which he is on record.)

Sunday, Anne Kornblut did her version in the Boston Globe . LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Jake Schlesinger rounds up the attacks in a pro forma manner.

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn writes up Dean's shifting stands and gets the chair of Dean's council of economic advisers in Vermont to suggest that Dean might adjust his call for repealing Bush's tax cut. LINK

"'My point is he will take each one of those taxes . . . and if the Treasury is not going to lose any money from it and it's going to put more money in consumers' hands, he's not going to repeal it,' said Sylvester, a conservative investment banker who remains in close contact with the Dean camp. 'He's going to say he is, but he's not.'"

Newsday's Ken Fireman writes up the "large bull's-eye" on Dean's back now that he is the front-runner. LINK

For your textual pleasure, here's part of the exchange on the Dean K Street/debate claim that he is the only candidate who talks about race in front of white audiences that one of the reporters lunching with Dean on Saturday before the Fry had:

DEAN: I still think I probably am the only one and I'm very willing to have you contradict me. If you believe somebody else has said something fundamentally different, I'm very interested in hearing that evidence. Have you heard them talk about it the way I talk about it?

ABC NEWS: A. People would disagree about that. B. You don't know that. You've seen them maybe 20 times.

DEAN: That's a lot.

ABC News: Well, does it qualify you to be able to say categorically in front of an audience who would find that statement appealing, "I'm the only one who talks about race in front of a majority white audience?"

DEAN: You would like it if I was less absolute in my pronouncements. Point well taken.

Sunday, the Boston Globe 's Brian Mooney wrote up the long-standing (and now fraying) ties of Dean and Gephardt. LINK

The Sunday New York Post attacked Dean on Israel through an editorial. LINK

Dean v. Kerry:

So yesterday, John Kerry went on CBS' Face the Nation and either challenged Howard Dean or accepted Howard Dean's challenge to a mano-a-mano debate — depends on whom you ask. Either way, Bob Schieffer accepted Kerry's challenge to moderate.

Within a couple of hours, the Kerry campaign's Jim Jordan fired off a letter to Joe Trippi following up on the Kerry comments, including a transcript from the show, in case Trippi didn't see it, with Mr. Schieffer's name accidentally misspelled in the transcript in all the rush. (The Note agrees it's a hard one to spell and it might even be harder to spell then other (lonnnggger) Sunday morning names.)

Then, Trippi responded to Jordan, saying in his letter that Kerry "will continue to have ample opportunity to debate the differences between himself and Governor Dean during the upcoming candidate forums in New York, Arizona and Michigan."

The Boston Globe 's Wayne Washington writes, "Other rivals for the nomination say Kerry's move is a sign of desperation." Click here to find out who these other so-called "rivals" are and what they had to say: LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence writes that Kerry became "the latest Democratic presidential candidate to cast the campaign as a two-man race: Dean vs. me." LINK


Hello, gimmick police? Arrest these people. The Washington Post 's Faler reports that the Dean campaign will attempt to host the world's largest conference call on Sept. 29. They're shooting to beat the Guinness world record of 3,310, set in September 2000 with a call to the "British teen-pop group S Club 7." LINK

What's next? Stuffing phone booths with volunteers?

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary: The New York Times ed board recommends debates down the road that debates exclude candidates who can't win. LINK

Watch them complain when someone tries to do that.

The Wall Street Journal 's Robert Bartley argues that angry Democrats need to do a little self-examination to figure out their problem with Republicans — and whether or not it all started with Florida in 2000.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch's Deirdre Shesgreen explains the SEIU's "hang test." LINK


New York magazine on Wes Clark's dreaminess. LINK

What if you threw a campaign and the candidate didn't show up? Or at least hasn't shown up yet? The Washington Post 's Jonathan Finer talks to the New Hampshire volunteers for Draft Wesley Clark 2004, who are assembled and ready to advance, if only they'd get their marching orders already. LINK

Knight Ridder writes up Clark's potential candidacy and gets Dick Harpootlian, the former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, to question his appeal.

"'He's a big question mark,'" said Harpootlian. "'You have to have a political history that tells us more.'"

"'Or you have to inspire people and hit them in the gut with personality. I don't see either one with this guy.'"

The Baltimore Sun reported Sunday that Clark is hoping to reap the benefits of his ties to former President Clinton in his would-be campaign. LINK

Check out Rep. Charlie Rangel's prophetic projection in the Washington Post . LINK


USA Today has a brief write-up on Lieberman's door-to-door campaigning in New Hampshire this weekend (though we can't find it on the Web in a Boston Globe -like quandary). The blurb quotes only one door-opener, who "said she found the doorstep encounter helpful," but then went on to say "she favors [Dean]."

ABC News Lieberman campaign reporter Talesha Reynolds reports that Mandy Grunwald and a camera crew were with the campaign yesterday and again today, filming the door-to-door campaigning and other events for future television ads. No word yet on when or where those ads will run.

Operation: Liebermania gets the Holly Ramer treatment. LINK

The Hartford Courant's Keating looks at Joe Lieberman's (WWE-inspired? LINK) Granite State Liebermania tour and finds Sunday a pretty good day for the senator.

"Sunday marked a campaign blitz for Lieberman that attracted hundreds of volunteers from Connecticut and other states, joining Lieberman's wife, children and his 88-year-old mother. The town hall meeting, packed with relatives and supporters in an overwhelmingly pro-Lieberman crowd, had the atmosphere of a political rally with standing ovations and loud applause after virtually every answer to about a dozen questions."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes up Lieberman's Sunday push to revive his campaign in the Granite State and questions his "tidal-wave" strategy. LINK


The Boston Globe 's Wendy Davis has a story today that must make some West Wingers downright giddy. While it's complimentary to Edwards' "legendary" orations in trials, it also pegs him as part of the problem in excessive malpractice awards. LINK

Davis writes, "A Globe review of Edwards's career from the mid-1980s through 1997 reveals that he was more than just a practitioner of medical malpractice law. He was one of its most prominent specialists, stretching the reach of the law for nearly two decades. But he also came to personify some of the alleged excesses that reformers have sought to curb."

"For instance, his summations routinely went beyond a recitation of his case to a heart-wrenching plea to jurors to listen to the unspoken voices of injured children."

And at the end, Davis has this: "Said Wade Byrd, a fellow plaintiff's attorney, 'John then and now had almost a Clintonesque ability to understand a complex subject and break it down to very simple terms.'"

Do the pros of that comment outweigh the cons of the rest of the story?

Edwards gaining traction in South Carolina, said Lee Bandy on Sunday. LINK

Edwards announcement:

John Wagner, whose capacity to write about John Edwards for the Raleigh News and Observer, AND enjoy life simultaneously is one of the on-going miracles of the 2004 campaign (and don't read too much into that … .), expressed concern to The Note yesterday morning in the United departure area of the Des Moines airport that some of all y'all wouldn't know how to fully cover the announcement day — or, at least, enjoy it.

So, courtesy of Mr. Wagner, exclusive to The Note, here are some helpful hints:

"If it's not too late, pack your clubs. Robbins, while as small-town and working-class as advertised, happens to be just a 25-mile jaunt from Pinehurst, one of the nation's premiere golfing communities and host of the 2005 U.S. Open. For a sample of available packages, click HERE. LINK

"Downtown Robbins itself consists of two streets, joined in an L-shape, and to my knowledge, has no hotel accommodations to speak of. There's perhaps one restaurant."

"For those staying in Raleigh, the campaign's suggested hotel — the Hilton Garden Inn Raleigh-Durham Airport — is no doubt adequate. But you'll have to venture in the direction of downtown to appreciate the area's charm. It's been several years now since I've actually lived there, so I'm a little out of touch on the hot dining spots. That said, you can't go wrong with any of the following:"

"42nd St. Oyster Bar and Grill (LINK), a favorite, or one-time favorite, of North Carolina lobbyists."

"Sullivan's (LINK), a steak and seafood joint; and"

"Irregardless (LINK), which has slightly more eclectic fare."

"If all else fails, ask for directions to the Glenwood South area. It's where all the cool kids apparently hang out now."


Sunday, Glen Johnson has the interesting tale of John Kerry's body guy, Marvin Nicholson. LINK

From ABC News Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe:

Snarled by the Iowa Hawkeyes/Iowa State University Cyclones pigskin classic traffic on Saturday, Senator Kerry slowly made his way to the Story County Democrats eagerly awaiting their Saturday morning politics and pancakes.

Though one anonymous Story Dem observed, "It's too early for this crap," the remainder of the roughly 200 guests tapped their feet to the Barn Owl Band.

Kerry, the lone candidate appearing in Ames, roused the crowd with talk of tax cuts, education, health care and this barn's least favorite Administration official, Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Though a friendly audience, many remained uncommitted both before and after the event. The Massachusetts Senator ducked the toughest question of the day offering, "Dante wrote that the hottest level of hell was reserved for those who choose neutrality; well, I'm prepared to roast in hell because I ain't choosing between the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes."

(FYI: The Hawkeyes snapped a five-year losing streak to defeat ISU 40-21, recapturing the venerable Cy-Hawk Trophy.)


Joe Klein thinks Gephardt is slowly moving up. LINK

Gephardt defended his "miserable failure" line on Fox News Sunday. LINK


What, him worry? Another day and another slew of stories in Florida papers about Bob Graham's presidential campaign fortunes.

The AP, picked up by several state papers, focuses on Bob Graham's "sputtering" campaign. Bob Graham "predicts his fund-raising report due Sept. 30 will be 'solid.'" LINK

"You need to show that your candidacy has a reasonable prospect of success in order to maintain the level of contributions that it takes to be successful," Graham said.

The Palm Beach Post does it its way, writing that despite campaign "gimmicks," Graham "seems to be getting little traction" and lets Stu Rothenberg ring the funeral chimes for the Florida Senator. Said Rothenberg, "I see absolutely no hope" for the Graham campaign. LINK

The Rocky Mountain News reports that Graham brought his campaign to Denver yesterday to "bolster his low numbers." Graham held a press conference and answered questions about Iraq funding, restarting the war on terror, enforcing the Clean Water Act, raising auto efficiency standards, and a payroll tax holiday. LINK

From ABC News Graham campaign reporter Tarana Harris:

Graham continues a western fundraising swing through Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Dallas on a private jet service that's appropriately named Million Air before hitting L.A. on Tuesday with Gray Davis.

At Saturday's Steak Fry, the Graham staff was giddy about Bill Clinton's gracious words for their candidate: "Bob Graham, who I have known for 25 years. We've been friends for 25 years. We worked as southern governors on education together. He's one of the best governors I've served with … an amazing man."

And earlier in the day, Graham was just as high on Clinton: "I've known Bill Clinton since we were both elected governors on the same day in November of '78. I have a very high regard for his political intuition and skills. I'm glad that he's going to be part of the presidential campaign this year."

Graham didn't hesitate to say yes when asked if he'd want Clinton's help on the campaign trail should he win the nomination.

Graham played on the wet weather in his speech at the Fry: "It is raining today on 9 million Americans who do not have a job. It is raining today in that arid desert on the brave young men and women in the quagmire of Iraq. It is raining today on the American people who will soon be asked to bear the burden of rebuilding a nation far away."

To cheers from the crowd, Graham paraphrased Paul Wellstone's warnings about being a go it alone nation.

To critics of his campaign, Graham says that he can run on national level the campaign he ran successfully in Florida: "I'm running basically the same campaign emphasizing workdays and emphasizing a great deal of person to person contact that I did five times in Florida successfully. Florida in my judgment is a microcosm of America, and if you can do it there you can do it nationally."

We'll see. Those of us who got soaked at the Fry on Saturday do wish Iowa were a microcosm of Florida.


David Broder's Sunday column says Al Sharpton showed leadership at the Baltimore debate, and the others better step up if they want to win. LINK

ABC News' Sharpton campaign reporter Beth Loyd was in Delaware with him yesterday:

After a bit of a slow start (the first event at a church had to be cancelled) due to Sharpton's late arrival to Wilmington, he made it an hour late to Delaware State University where he spoke to about 50 students.

"American politics is not just cheering for who you think's gonna win, American politics is cheering for what you want to win. If you only engage in just trying to guess on the winner, you need to be at a horse track or a football game … . because you need to use your vote, and your time and your dollars to define who you are."

A student asked Reverend Sharpton if America is ready for a black president.

"America as a whole wasn't ready for us to sit in front of the bus. America as a whole wasn't ready for us to vote … . We get America ready when we're ready. If /Rosa Parks was ready is the question. Once she got ready, the South got ready, we got ready and we made America ready. If we sat back and waited on somebody to send us a note that we ready now, you'll never see that."

New Hampshire:

Someone named Finer has a perfectly good piece about the courtship of New Hampshire Democratic activists in the Washington Post , but he seems to think that Jeanne Shaheen has endorsed John Kerry and that Bill Clinton finished third in the '92 Granite State primary, and, well, it's going to be hard to trust the rest of the piece, now isn't it, if he thinks those things. LINK

Wendelboe in the executive branch!!???? LINK


The Detroit News reports that Michigan's early caucus date (February 7) "could decide (the) eventual nominee for Democrats." LINK

"With 128 delegates, Michigan is the biggest prize for the Democratic candidates in the first series of contests."

Michigan labor officials and politicians have yet to make their endorsements in the Democratic primary, reports Mark Hornbeck of the Detroit News. LINK

Harkin Steak Fry:

Bill Clinton was able to wow a rain-soaked crowd of Iowa Democrats even though he held back and didn't serve up all the partisan red meat he could have.

Whether by design or not, several of this year's candidates left the stage before Clinton started his 22-minutes speech (Note to Ann Compton and Jake Siewart: Clinton arrived 45 minutes EARLY!), so behind him as he spoke was only Graham, Moseley Braun, Kucinich, and (for most of the time) Dean.

Despite the rain — or, probably because of it — the Dean organization was out in greater force than anyone else's — supporters came from all over Iowa and the U.S. — and they were unmistakably the loudest presence during the candidate speeches.

On Sunday, the Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont wrote, "Based on the reaction Clinton received, he eclipsed the field he was there to promote, some Iowa Democratic activists said." LINK

The Washington Post 's Ann Gerhart Stylizes today on the mud and fun. LINK

Harkin Steak Fry, Notes:

1. The Harkin staff, dealing with rain and mud, did a fantastic job of moving thousands of people and grouchy reporters through a tough several hours.

2. With one exception: reporters who took into darkness to finish filing had to crawl on their hands and knees in the muddy parking lot looking for their rental cars.

3. It was nostalgically refreshing to see Doug Sosnik juggling a red apple and a Blackberry while he strolled on the ropeline.

4. Happiness is … .Mike Glover holding a baby.

ABC 2004: Taste of the Campaign:

One of the biggest burdens of the Googling monkeys is their exorbitant dental bills, which is why we were reluctant at first to lend our full support to the Culinary Clash in the Capital.

But when the Bush/Cheney team submitted their recipe for Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies, The Note had no choice but to sign up for ringside seats.

The cookies may have creamed Tipper Gore's Ginger Snaps, but the competition next Wednesday night will likely prove, shall we say, … more sweet? The David Westin /Peter Jennings hosted taste-off will have Washingtonians begging for milk, and The Note begging for fluoride.

Big Casino budget politics:

A trio of serious Big Casino stories in Sunday's papers:

The New York Times ' David Firestone front-pager on Le Deficit. LINK

Paul Krugman in the Times ' Magazine on the history of supply side. LINK

And Steven Mufson in the Washington Post , speaking for 480 members of the Gang of 500 in demanding the president raise taxes. LINK

The politics of national security:

Ron Brownstein writes that the war in Iraq and its aftermath caused the end of an era of unity not only here at home, but around the world as well. LINK

"But the principal dividing line between the unity of 2001 and the discord of 2003 has been Bush's decision, with Blair's support, to identify Iraq as the next front in the war against terrorism and launch an invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein."

The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Hitt and Tom Hamburger write that while President Bush's approval ratings — in the low 50s — are not exactly the stuff Karl Rove dreams about, they're positively rosy compared to those of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose approval among Britons is at 30%.

Hitt and Hamburger examine the reasons why Blair has a tougher row to hoe on Iraq — including tough questioning by his own party and conservatives in the House of Commons (what we wouldn't give to see how American politicians would fare in Question Time), the apparent suicide of a government weapons expert and intense scrutiny from a hostile press.

In a tiptoe of a step toward an admission of fallibility, Condoleezza Rice tells the Financial Times, "I'll be perfectly honest, I think we had in the first phase and maybe even a few weeks after the end of major military operations, some problems of co-ordination." LINK

ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

The must-read ABC News/ Washington Post poll. LINK and LINK

Dave Morris analysis and numbers: LINK

Americans generally support the war in Iraq, but anxiety and dissatisfaction is growing over the way the mission has been handled, as is fear that there's no end in sight, reports the New York Times ' Adam Nagourney in today's front-page must-read. And it marks the first time that the president hasn't been able to buck up the American people with a speech. LINK

The ABC News/ Washington Post poll published this weekend "found a nine-point jump in the last three weeks, to 46 percent, in the number of Americans who disapprove of Mr. Bush's Iraq policy, while the number who expressed support for the policy slipped to 52 percent from 56 percent."

Last week's $87 billion budget request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan feeds the perception that the conflict will continue and didn't shore up confidence, the poll found, with 6 in 10 Americans saying they do not support the plan.

Is it too early for people — and not just Democratic presidential hopefuls — to start throwing around the word "quagmire?" Yes, said historians that Nagourney interviewed.

And the president's support remains buoyant, with even critics conceding that the Vietnam comparison is at this point overwrought. Though that clearly won't stop the Democratic presidential candidates from saying it every chance they get.

The Boston Herald's Noelle Straub writes, "Two years after the country rallied around President Bush in the wake of the devastating Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he no longer can rely on that surge of patriotism to boost his political fortunes, polls are showing." LINK

If you can't sense the skepticism reeking from everything paragraph of the Milbank/Pincus Washington Post story on Cheney's "Meet" appearance (even correcting his factual errors!), they you aren't actually reading the story. LINK

The New York Times ' Raymond Hernandez surveys Ranger/Governor George Pataki's national fundraising activity and asks, what's it all about, Georgie? LINK

Let's all go to 21 today for the DeLay stakeout!!!

The economy:

The Federal Reserve is expected not to tinker with interest rates when it meets Tuesday, but with the economy showing signs of strength, the question remains whether Fed governors will nudge interest rates if inflation inches upward, the Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip reports.

With the Commerce Department reporting an uptick in retail and restaurant sales as well as producer prices, some signs point to inflation moving up in the coming months. However, the flagging job market inserts considerable question marks into hopes for accelerated economic recovery.

"The economic developments are probably too tentative for the Fed to shift its assessment of risks yet. Given ample unused business capacity and unemployment and business's inability to raise prices, Fed policy makers and staff still generally believe inflation is more likely to go lower than higher. And the lack of job growth casts a pall over an otherwise optimistic economic outlook."

"Thus, the Fed is likely to repeat that lower inflation is a greater concern than higher inflation. It's conceivable the Fed could say there are upside risks to economic growth. But investors would see that as a 'definitive sign' that the period of low interest rates 'had gotten considerably shorter,' said former Fed Governor Laurence Meyer."

Read Grover Norquist's lips: No new taxes. LINK

California recall:

A friendly reminder from the Note: This whole recall thing could come to an end (or, a delay) as early as today. Court watchers will be doing what they do best as we await a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A court, by the way, of which the Washington Times is no fan. LINK

California recall, the Democrats:

In his Sunday Los Angeles Times must-read, Mitchell Landsberg goes beyond Californians' dislike for Governor Davis and ponders the fairness of the recall. LINK

"The recall is baldly partisan; threatens the civility that allows American democracy to work; has become a 'circus' that mocks the electoral process; is inherently undemocratic; and has exposed serious flaws in a nearly century-old law that had never before been put to the test."

Bill Clinton's outstretched arms appear to reach across the entire front page of the Los Angeles Times today. Perhaps the former president is trying to wrap his arms around all of the glowing coverage he received for his speech/preach appearance with Governor Davis yesterday. LINK

"Former President Clinton waded into the California recall fight Sunday, offering an impassioned defense of Gov. Gray Davis during services at an African American church in Los Angeles — the first in a series of planned appearances this week by prominent Democrats casting the recall as part of a national confrontation with Republicans."

And make sure to read this little Davis/Clinton dialogue:

"As Clinton stepped away from the podium, Davis stepped forward, shook Clinton's hand and said, 'Thank you.'"

"Clinton replied: 'I hope it helps.'"

The Washington Post reports that President Clinton agrees with Governor Davis believing the recall is a Republican "power grab." LINK

Clinton tries to brighten Gray's day: The New York Times ' John Broder on the charismatic and the not-so and their Sunday morning visit to the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. LINK

(As for Clinton's schedule, the Times Notes that Mr. Clinton Monday "headlines a big-dollar fund-raiser for the anti-recall campaign at the Beverly Hills home of the billionaire Ron Burkle, a longtime contributor to Democratic causes. The former president will be in Northern California on Monday night and Tuesday for two policy speeches.")

The New York Daily News headline: "Bill gives Calif. recall a jolt of hubba Bubba" LINK

The Associated Press' Erica Werner compares Bill Clinton's star power with that of Oprah Winfrey's. LINK

Here are some other Clinton oxygen-sucking clips: LINK; LINK; LINK; LINK

ABC News' Apton on Bustamante's missed endorsement:

Where is Bustamante these days? With no scheduling adviseries released to the press, it's a game of hide-and-seek. And when you can catch up with him, he's not in California.

In the past week, Bustamante has sought out-of-state help in his fundraising efforts — first in Chicago, then in Las Vegas at the Oscar de la Hoya fight Saturday night.

Then, he was a no-show at yesterday's Mexican American Political Association special endorsement caucus. A communications spokesman for MAPA said five minutes before Bustamante was scheduled to speak, his campaign called to say he couldn't make it, he was stuck in Denver. But another source who attended the MAPA caucus said that Bustamante was not in Denver and indeed could have made the event since he was in Santa Ana at a fundraiser at the home of California State Senator Joseph Dunn.

The MAPA spokesman said had Bustamante come to the event, he probably would have secured the organization's endorsement. Instead, MAPA voted for an open endorsement whereby each district can decide whom, if anybody, they want to endorse. Nobody at the official office was reachable for comment and calls to the Bustamante campaign yesterday evening were unanswered.

The San Jose Mercury News also Notes that Bustamante (but not Davis) failed to show to a Latino convention waiting to endorse him. LINK

We can't wait to see the Davis-Bustamante-Clinton photo op today at the dedication of the William Jefferson Clinton Elementary School.

California recall, the GOP:

Coile and Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle write, "Republicans closed their statewide convention Sunday still stuck with a pair of confident candidates for governor and small prospect of narrowing the field anytime soon." LINK

ABC News' Schifrin reports from the GOP convention:

At the well-stocked LAX Marriott, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock spent their Saturdays at separate parts of the same convention. (The Note wonders, by the way, whether Sean Walsh and Jennifer Cressey would have anything to say to each other before a second round of Guinness.)

Many many delegates showed off their Join Arnold stickers and Terminator pins and gave The Note an earful about why McClintock should drop out of the race, including a few of the state's county chairs.

But McClintock delivered a rousing speech about California's golden era — the 1960s, when a certain former actor rose to governor. The speech, campaign staffers said, was completed right before delivery.

The weekend ended without an endorsement, as per bylaws and commitment to the first half of the ballot, but it did not end without this better-than-fiction event: McClintock and Duf Sundheim in suit, tie, and construction glasses smashing a non-working 1998 Audi with three-foot-long sledge hammer after McClintock's dinner speech. No word on whether the foul-smelling oil dripping from the car by the end of the smashfest violated any California environmental laws.

Forty-four percent of registered voters in California are Democrats and 35% are Republicans. The GOP has high hopes that the recall election will cause a surge in registration. In fact, the Republicans are counting on that for victory. However, James Rainey and Allison Hoffman of the Los Angeles Times report with a week left to go before the registration deadline, county elections officials are seeing something less than a surge. LINK

Mike Murphy was apparently so tired of reporters pestering him about the Schwarzenegger's campaign's internal polls he directed pollster Jon van Lohuizen to produce an email analysis which even we Note writers understand. Von Lohuizen's "State of the race" is a must read for all those looking to understand why Arnold will fail to get a large crossover vote and why he really does need McClintock to drop out. Von Lohuizen also Notes that Bustamante is his own worst enemy. (Question for the people currently inhabiting Johnny Carson's old office: did you give a non-working cell phone number for von Lohuizen on purpose?)

An excerpt from von Lohuizen's analysis:

"Simple back of the envelope math shows that under these circumstances it is vital to maximize the share of Republicans voting for Arnold. Even under the most optimistic turnout scenarios Democrats will cast more ballots than Republicans. With more Democrats showing up at the polls and Bustamante getting a greater share of Democratic votes cast than Arnold getting of Republican votes cast, is a clear prescription for losing our best shot at winning the Governorship. Let's not divide the Republican vote! Of these voters 56% would go to Arnold and 24% would go to Ueberroth and 8% to Simon (both were still in the race at the time the survey was conducted). Only 4% would go to Bustamante."

If McClintock were to drop out, though: "I don't see any reasonable scenario under which we lose if this happens."

Arnold's first American girlfriend says he's a swell guy: LINK

The Sacramento Bee on why, unlike last year, the California Republican Party will choose the moderate candidate. LINK

The Los Angeles Times contrasts Schwarzenegger's ignoring McClintock and McClintock's increasingly confident attacks on Schwarzenegger: LINK

The San Jose Mercury News refuses to let the Schwarzenegger visa story die: LINK

Legislative agenda:

George Will's Sunday column on vouchers as the great civil rights issue of our time was fabulously done. LINK

Bob Novak on Harold Ford and Social Security reform — will the Democratic young gun help the GOP's Jim DeMint pass a bill allowing private investment by younger workers?

Novak is waiting to see.

"But will he really go through with it this week? I have found Ford to be an amiable young politician with a sparkling personality who never has been averse to publicity. He knew why I was trying to contact him when he declined to talk to me. Harold Ford Jr. risks a lot this week as he decides whether to cast aside partisanship and to open the door of America's wealth to its poorest citizens." LINK

Republican National Convention, 2004:

The New York Daily News writes up the Democratic affiliation of Kevin Sheekey, the City Hall aide tapped by Mayor Bloomberg to oversee planning for the 2004 Republican National Convention. LINK

Politics: Elisabeth Bumiller writing on the Family McLellan and the book about to be published the White House Press Secretary's father arguing that Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson engineered the John F. Kennedy assassination. McLellan has no comment on the book and his mother very smartly closes the story by saying the most important doing in her family will happen in November — of this year. LINK

The Note sends condolences to the family, friends and staff of Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon who died on Saturday after suffering a stroke.

O'Bannon was succeeded by Democratic Lt. Governor Joe Kernan who declared Sunday a statewide day of remembrance in honor of O'Bannon, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. LINK

Kernan announced last December that he would not run for governor in 2004, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. LINK

The Christian Science Monitor joins the string saying the relationship between the Hill and the White House is fraying, reporting that while party discipline has held fast for most of this Congress, "suddenly, Democrats are finding unexpected openings in that GOP line on issues that usually don't usually engage members of Congress: new administration regulations." LINK

No, not Fraggle Rock (LINK), "Donkeys Rock!" The Daytona Beach News Journal picks up on a two-week voter registration drive from the Florida Democratic Party coming to Sunshine State universities near you. LINK

**Note to Jacksonville's Mayor Peyton: It's not just baseball, it's a way of life. (And to all you sports-phobes out there, better bone up if a Bush visit is in your future.) LINK

K Street:

Shales review in the Washington Post . LINK

Sunday's New York Times reviewed it too. LINK


Howie Kurtz lets Dan Balz, Adam Nagourney, and Ron Brownstein claim they aren't all that powerful. LINK