The Note

"Some Bush allies say he reminds them of another insurgent candidate who once bedeviled Bush: Arizona Senator John McCain. His wins in Republican primary elections in New Hampshire and Michigan rattled Bush's 2000 campaign. 'There is something going on there, and I tell you, if we don't pay attention . . . we're making a big mistake,' says Tom Rath, a Republican strategist and Bush adviser in New Hampshire."

"No top Republican Party, White House or Bush campaign official wanted to be identified talking about Dean, but he's as hot a topic inside the Bush camp as he is among his Democratic rivals."

"How worried is the Bush team? One campaign official notes that Dean is renting lots of cars in Iowa. The comment reveals that Bush supporters in Iowa are keeping an eye on him and his campaign spending."

There's also an Oliphant column about Dean you need to read, but, again, blame the Globe's online redesign, because we can't find the link.

Dan Balz on why Dean took fewer hits than expected last Thursday:

" … the hesitation of his main rivals in Iowa and New Hampshire to challenge Dean more directly in Albuquerque is a reminder that the art of the negative campaign is not always straightforward and obvious. Dean's rivals eventually must challenge him directly, but picking the time and place is part of what they and their advisers are now debating." LINK

The New York Times ' Wilgoren said the two candidates with the "least to lose" — Congressman Kucinich and Senator Lieberman — were the ones most likely to go after Dean. LINK

Joe Klein writes that the debate "illuminated a critical decision the Democrats now face-between principled opposition to the Bush Administration and populist demagoguery on the two main issues of this election, the war and the economy. This is a particularly crucial choice for Howard Dean, who wants to build his candidacy past Internet insurgency toward a broader audience. Indeed, Dean's subdued and awkward performance, and his slipperiness on both issues, seemed a rare moment of indecision in what has been a steamroller campaign. The Democrats were more united than they had ever been on the war." LINK

"Dean turns out to be a flagrantly political anti-politician. As his campaign gains altitude, he seems to change a position a week. In the debate, he changed two-first on American troops in Iraq, then on American labor standards on trade. Before that, he trimmed his honorable position on raising the age of eligibility for Social Security and his support for lifting the embargo on Cuba. Dean still proudly struts his pro-gun stance in the anti-gun Democratic Party, but as often as not he points out the political efficacy of that position in the red states. The question is: How many of Dean's positions are negotiable? As victory becomes a possibility, how much integrity will he compromise to win? Another question: How long before Dean's tough talk-the apparent candor that propelled his charge-begins to seem arrogant, uninformed, unpresidential?"

In yet another case of a good Dean oppo story landing in no man's land (remember Jim VandeiHei and the flip-flops?), the Boston Globe 's Michael Kranish's piece on Dean and campaign finance decisions appeared in Saturday's paper. LINK

Dear Marvin Kalb and Nick Lemann: is it wrong for journalists to agree to accept oppo on deepest background only if they give in to a campaign demand that the story not run in Saturday's paper? And would it be wrong to ask?

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