The Note

"Moreover, in a year when angry partisans are hungry for red-meat rhetoric from the Democratic candidates, the affable senator from Connecticut is taking a more subdued approach. 'Democratic primary voters tend to be activists: environmental activists, civil rights activists, pro-choice activists,' said Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. With Lieberman, 'there's a failure to connect on a basic level with Democratic primary voters.'"

Then Ms. Dunn got her turn.

"'There seems to be a significant portion of Democrats who want to see a candidate who rhetorically punches [President] Bush in the face every day,' said Anita Dunn, a party strategist who is sitting out the primary contest. 'That's not Joe Lieberman's style.'"

David Lightman walked and talked with Senator Lieberman at the HRC event, yielding these choice morsels:

"Joe Lieberman got a lukewarm reception from gay rights activists Tuesday, as he said at a presidential forum that he does not back gay marriage and that civil unions are a matter for states to decide." LINK

"The Connecticut Democrat also would not commit to overturning the rules in hundreds of federal programs that now deny benefits to gay partners."

"Instead, he said, he would order a 'methodical review' of the rules and regulations, 'rather than come and make a declaration, shooting from the hip in this case.'"

"Lieberman's comments, greeted with sparse applause, proved to be the senator's second problem this week with a minority group. Monday, he was castigated by NAACP President Kweisi Mfume for not appearing at the civil rights group's convention."

"Lieberman cited a scheduling conflict, and said Tuesday he had tried to call Mfume. Mfume could not be reached for comment."

"'I was very upset,' he said of Mfume's comment that the senator was 'persona non grata' because of his absence. 'There was a scheduling commitment; he knew we couldn't come.'"

"What's important to remember, the senator said, is 'I have been working with the NAACP for more than 40 years.'"

"Lieberman said he left a message on Mfume's voice mail, but has not heard from him. 'I look forward to sitting down with him soon,' the senator said."

The Middletown Press' Joseph Straw reports that "NAACP officials still smarting from Lieberman's no-show [on] Monday were angered further to learn that his schedule that day included of an interview taping with conservative television talk show host Bill O'Reilly." LINK

More: "When the interview will air has not been determined, [Fox News Channel officials] said."

Kerry:

The New York Post 's Vince Morris does a mini curtain raiser on Senator Kerry's speech today and puts the speech in context of the battle for the nomination. LINK

"Kerry's remarks come at a time when he is struggling with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean over who can outdo the other in ripping the president."

The AP's Will Lester writes that Senator Kerry "says President Bush hasn't matched tough rhetoric with strong actions and is suffering from a credibility gap on national security." LINK More: Kerry "said the Bush administration has shortchanged police and firefighters by denying them 'the equipment and support to defend America from danger.'"

Gephardt:

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