The Note

"The tit for tat over tax cuts reflects a larger philosophical battle bedeviling Democrats: how much tax cutting is too much. Most Democrats in Congress supported reductions in income tax rates for all but the wealthiest Americans as well as targeted cuts and credits for families, children and education," the Post 's Jim VandeHei reports. LINK "Bush's aggressive tax cut plans — three packages in three years and promises of more to come — have put Democrats on the spot. The sheer size of Bush's combined tax cuts — nearly $2 trillion over 10 years — leaves little room for the major health care reforms and other new domestic spending initiatives that the Democratic candidates are proposing. So every Democratic candidate has endorsed repealing some or all of the Bush cuts, many of which have not taken effect yet."

In a rebuttal to the prebuttal rebuttal, the Dean offered a few declarative sentences:

"This Democrat stands up against the president when he is wrong, even when the polls that day say it might be unpopular. This Democrat offers the American people the choice between reckless tax cuts for the benefit of a few Americans, or health care for every American, new jobs for the unemployed and a return to balanced budgets. This Democrat believes in asking the right questions before giving the president a blank check to go to war, instead of afterward. This Democrat believes that the American people deserve to know the truth all the time, and will stand up for the truth no matter what the political cost."

A Dean aide told ABC News they'd keep the focus on President Bush, and not the other candidates.

But This Note thinks This Battle is Joined.

For his part, Senator Graham issued a statement last night which asked both candidates to score their plans before promoting them.

"'I welcome Senator Kerry and Governor Dean into the debate about how best to grow jobs. However, instead of attacking each other, they should be providing real details on how they plan to balance the budget, create jobs, and provide middle-class tax cuts to the American people, as my plan does."

The Concord Monitor's Jennifer Skalka proves once again that she sees the big picture in small details with this passage of her must-read account: LINK "Tensions were high yesterday not just between the candidates but also between their staffs. Dorie Clark, New Hampshire communications director for the Dean campaign, showed up at Kerry's event. With a stack of press releases in her hands, she stood quietly in back near the press risers — quietly, that is, until Judy Reardon, a New Hampshire spokeswoman for Kerry, approached."

"In hushed tones and with a snarled lip, Reardon told Clark that she'd regret staking out the Kerry event and that it was too early in the primary process for campaign operatives to be turning up at events." (Note Note: "snarled lip"??!!!)

"In a slow, calm voice, Clark told Reardon that it was a public event. She said that Kerry's initial statement criticizing the Dean plan had hit the news wires and that it was her responsibility to respond. She also held out an olive branch."

"'I hope we can have a friendlier exchange of words in the future,' Clark said to Reardon. 'In the end, we're going to be on the same side. I hope we can have a cordial relationship.'"

The Nashua Telegraph 's Kevin Landrigan saw this metaphorical battle with his own eyes: LINK

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