The Note

Today, George W. Bush is talking the economy in a state Karl Rove lost in '00 (but wants to win in '04); John Kerry is in New Hampshire (and dealing with the aftermath having said something maybe iffy-squishy on the war); Joe Lieberman is in Manhattan (raising cash and picking up another endorsement); Governor Dean is in San Francisco (in his element); Scott McClellan's ascension to press secretary is official; (and that's on the record).

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And Mark McKinnon and Carter Eskew plan to sit side-by-side in Silver Spring tonight — and almost all is right with the world.

(We say "almost" because we're going to give you some evidence this morning that Democratic interest groups are actually (amazingly!) cooperating and working together. ABC News has learned that Cecile Richards, who is now deputy chief of staff in Minority Leader Pelosi's office, will leave to become the grassroots coordinator for that coalition of center-left interest groups who will pool resources for the 2004 election.)

Slight cognitive dissonance aside, it's tempting to luxuriate in what is a day of events that is pure comfort to our gentle Note readers. But, forward thinking people we are, let's push you forward to a trio of Invisible Primary cattle calls that start tomorrow.

Call it the Midwest Marathon.

Most of the candidates will appear on Friday before Democratic Party officials; on Saturday with local (and rural) party faithful in Iowa — a key caucus state; and on Sunday before the national political organization synonymous with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who is still arguably America's most prominent black leader.

What to expect?

--a lot of lovey-dovey nicey-nice toward each other, maybe, with plenty of venom for the White House (the Columbia Colliding is still viewed by the campaigns as a mistake of intra-party overaggressiveness)

--the potential for last-minute cancellations because of pesky, important, Senate votes

--games of chicken about who might show up and why others won't

We begin in the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, a rocket-propelled stone's throw away from where President Bush speaks today.

Tomorrow, the Association of State Democratic Chairs and the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will host individual candidate forums with six (6) presidentials.

(Howard Dean; 2:15 pm ET-- Senator Joe Lieberman; 3:00 pm ET-- Representative Dennis Kucinich; 3:45 pm ET-- Senator John Kerry; 4:30 pm ET-- Reverend Al Sharpton; 5:15 pm ET-- Representative Dick Gephardt (via videoconference))

On Saturday, 7 presidentials plan to attend the presidential Candidate Forum presented by Jasper County Democrats in Newton, Iowa.

Governor Dean, Senator Edwards, Representative Gephardt, Senator Graham, Senator Kerry, Representative Kucinich, and Reverend Sharpton will be there. Senator Lieberman will not participate because of his religious observance. Ambassador Moseley Braun has not committed to attending, organizers say.

After the group forum, candidates will disperse into "break-out" rooms to speak informally with local Democrats attending the forum. Candidates may also be in the "break-out" rooms before the event starts.

As far as we know, this is also the first forum to feature local, non-media people as panelists. The forum will consist of questions from three people: Jeneane Beck, a KUNI radio news reporter, along with two so-called "local folks, " a former teacher and a veteran who is also a former county attorney.

The candidates won't get a chance to question each other. They get five minutes to speak; they'll each be asked the same three questions; the remaining time will be left to questions from the assembled state chairs.

The biggie, potentially, is on Sunday. It's the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Democratic Presidential Candidate Forum. We told you yesterday that Senator Edwards will miss it because of a scheduling conflict.

The element that distinguishes it is undoubtedly the moderator: Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Yesterday on that new Lou Dobbs show, whatever it's now titled, Jackson appeared to blame the Bush economy for the riots in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Much admired in some quarters, much despised in others, Rev. Jackson remains a path breaker and a kingmaker.

The format here will be a combination of questions from a panel of journalists and a town-hall style segment in which Jackson will move about the audience of 500-600 and allow them to directly ask questions.

It's the first time the candidates will be answering questions together on "minority" issues. We expect close queries about affirmative action.

It's not unreasonable to expect a combination of heart-felt, engaging answers AND full-throated pandering.

The panel of journalists will be made up of NPR's Tavis Smiley, WTTW Chicago PBS's Phil Ponce and a CNN reporter TBD.

C-SPAN is scheduled to carry this event live.

Back to today:

The AP's Jennifer Loven reports, "President Bush chose a state he narrowly lost in 2000 to deliver a third speech this week devoted to the politically crucial issue of what his administration is doing to boost the lagging economy." LINK ABC News' Ann Compton points out that Micro Control Inc., where Bush will speak today, will accept Bush's tax cut but won't use it to rehire 50 employees it recently laid off.

"Harold Hamilton expects to buy $80,000 of new equipment for his Micro Control Inc. next year, thanks to the savings the Fridley company will realize under the Bush tax cuts," the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. LINK "What about hiring back some of the workers — about 50 — Micro Control has shed in this soft economy?"

"'I tell you, it really depends on the economy,' said Hamilton, who will be host to President Bush at Micro Control today. 'If we sell more, we'll hire more people.'"

"Hamilton has been singled out for presidential attention, but he speaks for many CEOs in both welcoming the Bush-initiated tax cuts and taking something of a 'no, you first' attitude when it comes to the hiring trend that economists agree has to take place for the recovery to gain traction."

Back east, Senator Kerry laid down a marker of sorts when he promised to "get to the bottom" of why the administration might have "misled" America on the war.

The AP's Fournier reports that Kerry said Bush "waged a war based on questionable intelligence." LINK "'He misled every one of us,' Kerry said. 'That's one reason why I'm running to be president of the United States.'"

"Kerry said Bush made his case for war based on at least two pieces of U.S. intelligence that now appear to be wrong — that Iraq sought nuclear material from Africa and that Saddam's regime had aerial weapons capable of attacking the United States with biological material."

"Still, Kerry said it is too early to conclude whether or not war with Iraq was justified. There needs to be a congressional investigation into U.S. intelligence on Iraq, he said."

"'I will not let him off the hook throughout this campaign with respect to America's credibility and credibility to me because if he lied he lied to me personally,' he said."

"Addressing senior citizens in Hanover later in the evening, Kerry said he supported a congressional investigation because it was not clear whether Bush acted on poor, distorted or politicized intelligence."

"I don't have the answer," he said. "I want the answer and the American people deserve the answer. I will get to the bottom of this."

Mickey Kaus (www.kausfiles.com) calls the comments Romneyesque:

(From the Salt Lake Tribune 3/31/02 LINK ) "George Romney, popular governor of Michigan, was a leading contender for the Republican nomination in the presidential sweepstakes more than three decades ago. On Sept. 4, 1967, he told a Detroit television reporter that he had been 'brainwashed' by U.S. generals supporting the war in Vietnam. The comment and the ensuing media feeding frenzy destroyed his campaign, clearing the way for Richard Nixon to win the GOP nomination and the White House. "

Look for Republicans in New Hampshire and Washington to go on the offensive in this, with reference to Kerry's previous regime change remark.

The good news for Kerry, however, remains the Boston Globe series, with Part V running today. The positive effects are at least two-fold.

First, Kerry's bigger-than-life life story is being seen all over (southern) New Hampshire, and we bet some local pols whose endorsements have been long sought will come over the fence after reading this stuff.

Second, the Globe is putting out all these stories now, so months from now, when the country is paying attention (or, at least, early-state voters are), the Jordan-Lehane-Gibbs-Wade-Benander phalanx can say "old story, old story, old story," and that is often the best defense.

Reporter: "Did John Kerry do such and such?"

Jordan: "Do you mean to tell me that you are chasing a story that appeared SIX MONTHS AGO in The Boston Globe ?

"

If the Kerry campaign didn't steer the Globe to a lot of this stuff (even the negative stuff), they should have.

Bloomberg News reports that "2 administration officials" said Scott McClellan has officially been tapped to succeed Ari Fleischer. LINK

"McClellan has stood in for Fleischer at crucial times during Bush's first three years in office — most recently when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas on Feb. 1. Fleischer, who makes a practice of declining comment on administration personnel matters, said when asked who would succeed him that McClellan would have to be on anyone's guess list."

Bush-Cheney re-elect, the money:

Speaker Hastert is not just third in line for succession, he's also on his way to becoming a Ranger according to Roll Call 's Ethan Wallison and Paul Kane.

"Calling for a gesture of solidarity with the White House at the onset of the 2004 campaign, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) on Wednesday cut a $1,000 check to President Bush's re-election campaign and urged all House Republicans to follow suit."

"'We want to show it's a two-way street,' Hastert spokesman John Feehery said after the meeting. 'The president did a lot for us in the last election, and [the pitch to Members] shows what kind of team we are.'"

"Even some close Bush allies were bewildered by Hastert's plea."

"Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a Bush confidant, said he doesn't plan to contribute to Bush's campaign, preferring to direct his gifts to needy GOP Senate candidates and the National Republican Senatorial Committee."

"'The president's a pretty good fundraiser on his own,' Gregg said wryly."

"In fact, no similar pitch has been made to GOP Senators by their leadership. But Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) indicated Wednesday that he liked the idea and might ask his colleagues to make donations to the president."

Bush-Cheney re-elect:

The New York Times ' FOIA-wielding Randal C. Archibold reports that, thanks to New York City "millionaires and billionaires" (and Michael Bloomberg himself) the RNC already has raised $60 million. LINK Archibold mentions your David Rockefeller, your Jonathan Tisch , your Sanford Weill, along with Henry Paulson of Goldman Sachs and real estate magnate William Rudin, as among those who've tossed in millions from personal or company coffers.

According to host committee co-chair Lewis M. Eisenberg, the "financial commitments reflected both civic pride and deep support for the first-ever Republican convention in New York, where President Bush and Vice President Cheney will begin their drive to Election Day."

Eisenberg says donors won't be given favors in return, but are "'likely'" to receive some darned fine seats and invites.

Not all big donors are Republicans; Democrats have civic and national pride too (and the host committee is officially non-partisan).

Rudin says "'It is not about politics … It is about New York City and creating economic opportunities.'"); Mayor Bloomberg asserts his attempt to lure both conventions to mighty NYC: "'New York is a place where there is a lot people who have done very well and where there is a spirit of philanthropy, sometimes for museums, hospitals, and sometimes for political stuff … I tried to get both conventions to come to New York, and we could have raised the money for both of them in the same period very easily.'"

(Yes, yes. New York has lots and lots o' rich people, while some monkeys Google for a living.)

We get a break-down of expenses from the elegant to the base ($808,500 for fabric and décor coverings! $186,250 for portable restrooms!), and are informed about podium costs, car services, air conditioning and lighting concerns, hotel selections.

Archibold also raises an eyebrow at the stated plan to ensure the availability and rates of taxicabs for participants.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post takes the paper's AmeriCorps baton and keeps running. LINK ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings has a closer look at the story tonight. Check local listings.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jo Mannies reports, "National Right to Life, the nation's largest anti-abortion group, will celebrate its 30th anniversary by holding its national convention in St. Louis over the July 4 holiday." LINK

More: "The dozens of scheduled speakers include entertainer Ben Stein and commentator Michael Medved, both outspoken opponents of abortion. Appearances also are planned by Archbishop Justin Rigali and Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt, a Republican expected to run for governor next year."

"The group hopes that President George W. Bush will address conventioneers via a taped video message, [coordinator Holly]Miller said. Last January, he marked the annual Washington march against abortion by speaking to activists via telephone from St. Louis, where Bush had traveled to promote unrelated issues."

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary:

Quinnipiac's latest New Jersey presidential poll scheduled for release today will show: "Bush beats New York Senator Hillary Clinton 54 — 38 percent; Bush tops Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman 53 — 39 percent; Bush beats Massachusetts Senator John Kerry 53 — 37 percent."

In USA Today , Haya El Nasser Notes: "National candidates may be going after Hispanic voters, but Hispanics remain a small constituency despite their huge numbers. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (and potential 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee) is one of nine "prominent Hispanics" whose photo is featured on A1 of The Nation's Newspaper. LINK

Even though John DiStaso's Granite Status is mostly about the New Hampshire congressional delegation, it's still a mustest must read. LINK

The AP reports, "The governors of Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico watched as two teenagers registered to vote Wednesday at the kickoff of a national registration drive for Hispanics and Puerto Ricans." LINK George Will mocks James Carville and the Democratic party for being, in his worldview, on the wrong side of history on all sorts of issues, including Social Security. LINK GORE

The New York Times ' Jim Rutenberg smartly catches up with Time.com on the Al Gore network story, with some hazy details on distribution and format talks. LINK Rutenberg explains about the Hyatt Touch: "Mr. Gore's chief partner in the endeavor is Joel Hyatt, the co-founder of Hyatt Legal Services and a Democratic fund-raiser during the 2000 presidential election, associates of the two men said. Neither Mr. Gore nor Mr. Hyatt would comment."

And quotes Camera Planet executive Steve Rosenbaum who consulted with the duo: "'It's not a political network, it's not an Al Gore network, it's not a Democratic network.'"

The New York Post 's Brian Blomquist picks up the story, saying Al Gore is looking to build "a liberal TV and radio empire." LINK Involved in the endeavor so far are Chicago Democratic donors Anita and Sheldon Drobny (the Paradigm Group), director-activist Rob Reiner, and Al Franken, as potential radio talk show host, and lawyer and Metzenbaum-son-in-law Joel Hyatt.

The New York Daily News' TV editor Richard Huff assesses the notion of Al Gore as Ted Turner. LINK Isn't this New York Times lead tailor-made for Gore?

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish a draft report next week on the state of the environment, but after editing by the White House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs. LINK

KERRY

And on to Part Five of the Boston Globe 's John Kerry series, with Brian C. Mooney placing Kerry on the verge of a political comeback, no longer as a "rock star" aura-d activist, but now as "Mr. Mainstream" in "the buttoned-down Reagan era." LINK Mooney describes Kerry's altered goals and concerns as he set his sights on the heavily contested yet low-key lieutenant governorship.

Still antiwar, with his "signature issue" of Vietnam replaced by a focus on the Cold War and a nuclear weapons freeze, Mooney suggests the platform exceeded the needs of the position: "For a candidate seeking a job with little influence over state policy, never mind global disarmament, the Post uring was quite a stretch."

Indeed, Kerry's core promise of "'competency, experience, and vision'" (with a little help from $100,000 of his own money) may have had more bearing on his victorious "nail biter" primary (He was well-known to the public for his antiwar activism, television career, and his firm's high profile legal work, but not popular with the Democratic party.) and his easy general win on the Dukakis ticket.

His personal life, however, was not so easy; he and Julia split up during the campaign; she had been depressed for several years and, according to Mooney, "felt abandoned and had tired of being, in her words, 'a political wife.'"

Mooney quotes from her 1996 book about divorce ("'Politics became my husband's life … I tried to be happy for him, but after 14 years as a political wife I associated politics with anger, fear, and loneliness.'"), and offers her current comment:

"'The dissolution of the marriage was my doing, not John's. I wanted something else.'"

Mooney mentions Kerry's apparently subsequent romantic relationship with then law partner Roanne Sragow (who, Kerry avows, "'had nothing to do with our marriage or breakup or anything.'") Mooney also describes Kerry's "'juggling act'" efforts of balancing work and fatherhood, with a daily schedule entry as an example.

A year into Kerry's term (during which he became nationally known for his fight against acid rain), Paul Tsongas announced he was giving up his Senate seat due to illness; and, as Kerry puts it "'I was woken up at 3 in the morning and told Paul Tsongas was not running.'"

Despite the brief stint as lieutenant governor and the campaign promise not to use the job as a stepping stone { "'I was concerned that it would be viewed as not having learned the lessons [of 1972] and that it was premature.'") the opportunity was "'tricky'" but irresistible:

"'One year into the lieutenant governor's office, to stand up and say 'Hey, I think I should be senator,' Kerry said.'You know, it was ballsy … But it was the right place for me in terms of the things that were my passions … The issue of war and peace was on the table again.'"

In the primary race against "liberal twin" Representative James M. Shannon, the nuclear freeze issue was legitimate (Mooney offers a long segment about Kerry's complicated efforts to secure the Freeze Voter '84 endorsement.), although he now considers his stance on some military weaponry: "'ill-advised, and I think some of them are stupid in the context of the world we find ourselves in right now and the things that I've learned since then,'" adding "'I mean, you learn as you go in life'" and standing by his Senate voting record on defense as "'pretty responsible.'"

Kerry won the primary after a tight race, thanks in part to his "athletic stamina and what one campaign staffer called 'laser-like focus,'" as well as vital help from Vietnam vets.

Mooney takes care to Note the presence of Michael Whouley who worked on both the lieutenant governor and Senate races, and who now serves as "an informal adviser to the Kerry presidential campaign."

As for Kerry's general race against GOP candidate Raymond Shamie, Mooney has him "puff[ing] up" his Democratic credentials with flyers exaggerating somewhat his association with JFK and the Freedom Summer (although Kerry did have an "'eye-opener'" trip to the segregated South.), but acknowledging the "thrust of Kerry's candidacy, however, was an attack on Reagan's economic, foreign, and military policies."

Kerry scornfully likened the invasion of Grenada to "'Boston College playing football against the Sisters of Mercy'" (Although he now points out he was merely dismissive of the action, rather than publicly opposed to it.) and gave the Cape Codder newspaper this currently parsable quote:

"'The invasion of Grenada represents the Reagan policy of substituting public relations for diplomatic relations . . . no substantial threat to US interests existed and American lives were not endangered . . . The invasion represented a bully's show of force against a weak Third World nation. The invasion only served to heighten world tensions and further strain brittle US/Soviet and North/South relations.'"

Kerry himself draws the Iraq parallel: "'I mean, I supported disarming Saddam Hussein, but I was critical of the administration and how it did its diplomacy and so forth.'"

In any case, in 1984, despite Reagan's 49-state-including-Massachusetts win, Kerry still took his Senate seat, with a 10% margin, and we look to part six with Kerry "a member of the club."

The Boston Globe 's Names column has a blue-suited-red-tied Kerry giving a well-received (there was whooping and applause) "mini-stump speech" at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter's commencement, with comments such as '''if we can afford to open firehouses in Iraq, we can afford to give people a livable wage.''' LINK Keep a look out for the images on that fall "60 Minutes" segment; the crew was present and "buzz[ing]." And Ed Bradley is reportedly the talent.

GRAHAM

ANGLE, the Los Angeles-based gay and lesbian political organization, will hear from Senator Graham on July 22.

DEAN

Something the Dean campaign sent out last night confuses us …

A fundraising solicitation e-mail contains this line: "We are tied for first in New Hampshire and tied for second in Iowa." [emphasis ours.]

But the new ARG poll shows Governor Dean to be in second place in New Hampshire, not tied for first.

Was this statement based on internal polling or another poll of which we're not aware? (The last poll we know of showing the two tied is an early June Zogby work up).

Which is what Courtney O'Donnell, a Dean deputy press secretary, cited this morning as the basis for the e-mail.

So we now presume the Dean campaign has faith in Zogby numbers.

David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register compares Howard Dean to another politician with whom he shares a similar background, Jimmy Carter.

"Today, the unknown former governor running for president is Howard Dean of Vermont, and Teig says "I see some parallels" with Carter. Like Carter, Dean has worked himself into a position where he could actually win the Iowa caucuses."

"A Dean win? An upset of front-runners Richard Gephardt and John Kerry? It could happen. Early polling in Iowa shows Dean in third place and closing in on those leading rivals. No other candidate shows his kind of forward motion. Polls show Dean has come farther in Iowa than any of his rivals."

"He's an impressive person who has a young, energetic message," said Don Sontag, a real-estate developer here. Sontag, the vice chair of the Cass County Democratic Party, is uncommitted but likes Dean a lot. "I look at it as who is the most electable," he said. "Governor Dean has a new and somewhat different message than we've seen from the old Democratic standbys and I think that's kind of refreshing and I think that will catch a lot of attention. It's kind of a Jimmy Carter, new person, new message campaign." LINK Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza talks with some Democratic strategists about what effect nominee Dean would have on the down ballot races next year.

"At the center of many D.C.-based Democrats' worries is Dean's outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq and his call for a complete rollback of President Bush's tax cuts, positions that some strategists argue makes him unattractive — even potentially alienating — to swing voters needed to win competitive House and Senate seats."

"'If Dean is the nominee it will make 1972 look competitive,' said one Democratic strategist not aligned with any of the presidential campaigns, referring to the resounding defeat of Senator George McGovern (D-S.D) by President Richard Nixon. 'Members and candidates in marginal seats will be running for the hills.'"

"Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, refused to even accept the possibility that Dean could be the nominee."

"'The party wants to win,' explained Frost. 'We need to be strong on national defense.'"

"Dean's critics in Washington, Trippi said, suffer from a 'circular firing squad' mentality."

"'Always expect this when you are the guy who is coming out of nowhere and everybody has already signed up' with other candidates, Trippi said."

EDWARDS

Senator Edwards, who has spent quite a bit of time of Tennessee, will today announce the endorsements of several top statewide Democratic elected officials:

"State House Majority Leader Kim McMillan, Majority Floor Leader Rob Briley and Portland area state Representative Mike McDonald," according to the campaign.

Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza reports Senator Edwards' indecision about his senate seat may becoming costly for North Carolina Democrats.

"As Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) remains publicly undecided on whether he will simultaneously seek the presidency and re-election to his Senate seat, two prominent Democratic fundraisers are set to hold events for Rep. Richard Burr (R) prior to the June 30 deadline."

"Restaurateur R.V. Owens, a prominent fundraiser in the eastern part of the state, and Charlotte banker Jim Hance will help Burr raise money for his nascent Senate bid over the next 10 days. Both helped collect funds for Democratic Senate nominee Erskine Bowles, who is poised to run for the seat if Edwards does not, in 2002. Although exact figures were not available, knowledgeable sources estimated that Hance and Owens raised several hundred thousand dollars for Bowles in the previous cycle."

"Because of their past work for Bowles, Hance and Owens' decision to aid Burr has led to grumblings that Edwards' indecision is hampering the party's effort to hold the seat."

"Most observers do not ultimately expect Edwards to seek re-election to the Senate, a notion that was strengthened by the North Carolina Senator's impressive fundraising take over the first three months of the year. He raked in $7.4 million for his presidential effort, the most of any of the nine candidates during that time."

"Some state and national Democrats are hoping Edwards quickly greenlights Bowles, former state Rep. Dan Blue and any other Democratic interested in the race, allowing them to form campaign committees and begin raising money for a race that only becomes more difficult with time."

John Wagner's online column, "The Buzz," is chock full of nuggets today. Mr. Wagner provides details on some new Tennessee endorsements headed Senator Edwards' way. You'll also read about the campaign's attempt to woo voters for the MoveOn primary and plans for Elzabeth Edwards' trip to Manchester this Sunday to open the Edwards for President New Hampshire headquarters. LINK

Tim Funk of the Charlotte Observer offers a glimpse into the scheduling drama surrounding a Judiciary Committee hearing for 4th circuit nominee Allyson Duncan. LINK

"A political skirmish broke out Wednesday when Republicans suggested that Duncan's hearing was being postponed for a day to suit Sen. John Edwards' presidential campaign schedule."

"The Senate Judiciary Committee had sent out a notice earlier in the week announcing that Duncan's hearing would tentatively be held next Tuesday morning."

"That was apparently news to Democrat Edwards, who is a member of the committee. Edwards spokesman Mike Briggs said the senator's staff had been talking with the committee staff and Sen. Elizabeth Dole's office about finding a day that would suit all parties."

"But Republican Dole sent Edwards a letter Wednesday expressing her concern about moving the hearing day and attributing the delay to a 'scheduling conflict' that Edwards reportedly had."

"'While I certainly understand your desire to be present at the hearing,' she wrote, 'I am concerned that moving the date could potentially diminish the importance of this historic event' because fewer members of the Senate committee might not be able to attend."

"But Edwards campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said Edwards doesn't have any campaign events scheduled for Tuesday -- at least so far."

"Under consideration, she said, is a visit to the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition gathering in Chicago."

GEPHARDT

Congressman Gephardt became the first presidential candidate to address the SEIU janitor's strike in Sacramento:

"Unfortunately, hard working people like Sacramento's janitors had to go on strike today simply because they want to ensure access to health insurance for every employee and their family. For less than a penny per square foot, Sacramento's janitors could get the security of health insurance so many of us take for granted. I can not be in Sacramento this week, but I want the members of the Service Employees International Union there to know that I support them in their struggle."

SEIU, as we've been telling you for months and months and months, will play a critical role in determining whether the AFL-CIO will endorse a candidate itself or allow its members to do so individually.

Speaking of Gephardt and the SEIU, the candidate talked about his health care plan with members of SEIU Local 660 in Los Angeles.

"Longtime Democratic activist Katherine Rogers endorsed Dick Gephardt's presidential campaign," PoliticsNH.com's James Pindell reports. LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci reports, "Chrissy Gephardt — the first child of a major presidential candidate to come out of the closet — says former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean may be getting attention as the most "gay-friendly" Democratic presidential candidate, but her dad, Rep. Dick Gephardt, 'can beat George W. Bush.'" LINK

More: "Chrissy Gephardt met in San Francisco on Wednesday with Democratic supporters and gay community leaders, pushing hard to boost the presidential bid of her father, the former House majority leader from Missouri. With gay rights issues taking a decidedly higher profile role in the 2004 Democratic presidential contest, all the leading party hopefuls have stepped up efforts to woo the influential gay voting bloc."

LIEBERMAN

The Oklahoman's John Greiner writes up Senator Lieberman's campaigning through the state on Wednesday where he delivered standard stump speeches and collected cash. The Lieberman campaign intends to open its Oklahoma City headquarters on July 1. LINK

"Lieberman spent part of the day in Tulsa, talking with American Airlines workers, including some who will be laid off Friday. He also attended a fund-raiser."

"In Oklahoma City, he met with Democratic state officials, attended a fund-raiser, and then went to downtown Oklahoma City to meet with more than 300 Oklahomans at the Oklahoma City Firefighters Local 157 Union Hall."

The Associated Press portrays the Liebermans laser focused on February 3rd, 2004. Mrs. Lieberman was in South Carolina yesterday while the Senator was in the Sooner State. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

Senator Hollings of the Palmetto State asks "where's the outrage and the Washington Post coverage?" on the op-ed page of that very paper in a piece on the Bush deficits. LINK

Big Casino budget politics, Medicare:

The White House's poetry-in-legislative-motion on getting the Medicare process moving and staying moving bears fruit in the Senate, per all accounts, including those of the Washington Post and New York Times . LINK and LINK Dow Jones' David Rogers calls the rejection of a Democratic attempt to alter the Medicare bill in the Senate "a strong first showing."

Big Casino budget politics, tax cuts:

Democrats inability to make headway on (let alone win) the estate tax debate is nearly comical. LINK Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn writes, "The House of Representatives voted Wednesday for a third massive tax cut in the past two months, this time permanent repeal of the estate tax, a move that would permit heirs to keep an extra $161 billion in inherited fortunes by 2013 while adding to federal budget deficits." LINK More Kuhnhenn: "The likelihood of repeal's failure in the Senate has prompted some tax-cut advocates to call for a compromise."

"Stephen Moore, the president of the Club for Growth, which pushes tax cuts, has called for taxing estates at 15 percent, the same as unearned income such as capital gains and stock dividends."

Reporting on the House's repeal of the estate tax, the AP's Mary Dalrymple writes, ""I don't think they have the votes to repeal," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Democrats would have supply some votes if Republicans are to pass the bill in the narrowly divided Senate." LINK

Keying off numbers released by the Tax Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice, The Washington Times ' Stephen Dinan reports: "President Bush's two major tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 have removed nearly 4 million taxpayers from the income tax rolls, so that nearly 30 percent of all income-tax filers pay nothing." LINK We're pretty sure this is NOT the spin Bob McIntyre wants.

Noam Scheiber thinks Grover Norquist is too smart for his own good. LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board writes in praise of Tom DeLay's tough stand against the child tax credit (and gives a little slap and tickled — not in the Squeeze sense — to the POTUS).

California recall:

Cuauhtemoc Ortega takes on those driving (read: funding) the recall effort in an editorial observer in today's New York Times . LINK "Some pro-recallers argue that there's always a possibility of stumbling on a candidate possessed with the genius to save California from bankruptcy while simultaneously sparing tax hikes and public service cutbacks. It's worth the risk, they say, since there's not much more to gain by keeping Mr. Davis."

"But there is. California is already well known for the influence of money in state policy — those with the most money, not necessarily the most sense, usually win the state's endless string of proposed ballot referendums. The proposition to recall Mr. Davis has become a realistic threat only since Mr. Issa started pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars from his own fortune into a larger-scale campaign, making the traditionally expected — but usually ignored — gubernatorial recall effort a forefront issue. Allowing money to popularize and influence recall efforts the way it has other propositions is not good policy or precedent."

There's a page-full of Los Angeles Times letters on the complicated California politician known as Representative Darrell Issa. LINK

The Clintons Of Chappaqua:

Michael Barone flexes some of his pan-right-wing tendencies in writing about "Hillary 2008!" on the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

If the rain (or a lack of an invite) kept you from going to Senator Clinton's Bethesda book party on Tuesday night, you are in luck.

Marian Burros of the New York Times and Lloyd Grove of Some Other Paper were both there, and we can tell you that they both did a fabulous job of writing up "you are there" accounts — and you don't even have to wait in the rain 15 minutes for your car to be returned by the swarming valet parkers. LINK and LINK Bonus points to Marian for leading with a Tammy Haddad quote and obsessing over the amazing house.

After a few days of feelin' the Clinton love (okay, love mixed with contempt), the New York Post 's Page Six is back with rumors of 42's romantic life, this time with a Canadian billionaire; Jim Kennedy says "'Frank [the lady in question's father] and Belinda Stronach are friends and supporters of President Clinton and his foundation, and that's all.'" LINK The New York Post 's Liz Smith expands on her sleek Clinton eyeful at the Four Seasons: "I did note how good the Clintons looked and now I learn the cause is that both are working out religiously with a trainer." LINK Smith also acknowledges the D.C. party.

The New York Post 's Andrea Peyser follows up on yesterday's anticipated Clinton/Giuliani encounter at the Four Seasons of Hope event at Cipriani 42nd, where the two men shook hands, possibly to spite her, albeit in a private VIP section and not in the dining room before public eyes. LINK Clinton (according to an eyewitness): "'Isn't it funny that The Post reported it today that we wouldn't do this?'"

Giuliani (to the audience): "I want to make it clear that on the way in, I shook hands with President Clinton … Just in order to prove that any allegation to the contrary is untrue. I gave him a little hug (Long pause) … I'm only kidding.'"

The New York Daily News' Rush and Molloy were not impressed by the Peyser piece, and quote Giuliani saying as he entered the event, "'I didn't even know President Clinton was coming till I read it this morning,'" while attributing his scheduled late arrival to his attendance at a golf game with Tiger Woods and son Andrew. LINK In addition to shaking hands, the two former office-holders reportedly posed for photos and, Clinton, according to Jim Kennedy, "'has been at several events with Mayor Giuliani in recent times … and enjoyed visiting with him today.'"

The New York Times ' Joyce Purnick casts Hillary Clinton, her choices, and her baggage in a Wendy Wasserstein play. LINK SILVERDOCS:

The person responsible for spearheading the revival of downtown Silver Spring, Maryland --the site of tonight's SILVERDOCS film festival — is Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan. On the day he announced the resignation of Police Chief Charles Moose, the man The Washington Post called the "Mayor of Montgomery" took time to talk with ABC News.

Although downtown Silver Spring is only a few miles from the White House, we suspect many of you who are coming tonight have never even been there, so we offer this primer.

We started out asking Duncan about the restored Silver Theater:

Whatt will people think when they step into the theater?

"Their jaw is going to drop and they are going to go 'Wow'. You step back in time. The theatre is restored to the way it looked in 1938. You're going to see movies the way the were meant to be seen."

Is Silver Spring the poor step-sibling of Bethesda?

"It was."

What happened?

"It was the economic center of the county from post-war until the mid-1960s. But then the Congressional Plaza opened up, other shopping centers opened up, and Silver Spring went into decline for 20-30 years."

What did you and the county do to turn this around?

" … We went to AFI and said: 'we'll restore the theatre if you agree to run it. They agreed and they got it at no cost to them. Now we've got the Discovery (Communications) world headquarters across the street."

What's still to come?

"There is still a lot of construction around The Silver — restaurants, shops, more movie theaters."

When will it be done?

"It will be done in the next 18 months."

Traffic, commercialization--the problems typically associated with this kind of development--are they being managed?

"The development was welcomed. People wanted to come to their own town not Bethesda."

Part of the cynicism about public officials is that something like this is done to appeal to their current constituents and to potential constituencies. We think that's the point of politics. Is the record you've built in Silver Spring and throughout Montgomery County the kind of thing you think you can use to run for governor?

"(Laughter). I think it's a model for anyone. I will tell it until the day I die. People now leave their homes in Chevy Chase and go east toward Silver Spring instead of west toward Bethesda."

Are you interested in being governor of Maryland? Is your record worthy?

"(Laughter). The record in Silver Spring and throughout Montgomery County is clearly a good record if I were to choose to run for governor."

Politics: The Washington Post ed board beats the Westar drum. LINK Relatedly, "A group with Democratic ties is filing complaints against Rep. Billy Tauzin of Louisiana and Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, saying they may have solicited campaign donations from a utility in exchange for legislative assistance. Both men deny soliciting the donations or providing any help," reports the AP's Pete Yost. LINK Complete with handsome dot drawing, the Wall Street Journal puts on the front page a piece about Note sidekick K.B. "No Relation" Forbes (whose work for the Pats — Buchanan and Rooney — and his namesake presidential candidate has brought him in and out of our lives).

K.B. is using his PR skills to get hospitals to not overcharge the poor and uninsured for medical care, and he is focusing on Hispanics.

Muy bien, El Gordito!

The Associated Press reports on last night's soiree, saying, "President Bush and members of Congress set aside their legislative battles for an evening and feasted on barbecue Wednesday on the South Lawn." LINK Note Note: Is it really a barbecue if there's no actual barbecue served? The Note thinks this was really a "cook-out."

Here's what they chowed on, as provided by the White House:

"Potato Salad Marinated Cole Slaw Sliced Tomato and Avocado Salad with Jalapeno Dressing Green Bean and Spinach Salad with Bacon-Ranch Dressing Deviled Eggs Fried Chicken Hot Dogs Corn Pudding Ranch-Style Pinto Beans Strawberries and Crème Vanilla Ice Cream Pound Cake Chocolate Chip Cookies Wine and Seasonal Beers"

The AP's Will Lester reports, "The Democratic National Committee is taking steps to ease tensions with the Congressional Black Caucus after members of the group were angered by the party's minority hiring." LINK

National security politics: For the life of us, we can't figure out to what this New York Times headline is referring, but Begala and Carville will think it a cruel, all-too-true catch all: "A Democrat Is Loath to Seem Partisan on White House Handling of Iraq Intelligence." LINK Rush Limbaugh (and, perhaps, a researcher/ghost writer) use a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece to ask Senator Carl Levin what he knew and when he knew it about WsMD.

Moveon.org uses a full-page New York Times ad (A17 in DC editions) to try to raise money off of WsMD questions.

"Delving deeper than Congress' inquiry, the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks has made far-reaching requests for documents from the Bush administration and does not expect President Bush to invoke executive privilege, officials say," writes the AP's John Solomon. LINK

Media:The editorial board of OUR polling partner (the Washington Post ) sides with the New York Times over the Times ' polling partner — CBS News — in the Booking Private Lynch flap. LINK

Judicial confirmation battles: Mike Allen of the Washington Post gets all Fed Pagey and writes, "President Bush plans to nominate White House lawyer Brett M. Kavanaugh, an author of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's report on President Bill Clinton, for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Republican sources said yesterday." LINK Keying off of a poll paid for by the New Democrat Network, The Washington Times ' Stephen Dinan reports: "Democrats aren't suffering politically among Hispanic voters for blocking the nomination of Miguel Estrada to an appeals court seat, according to a new poll out this week."

The caption in the hard copy indicates that many Hispanics "confuse the actor Erik Estrada of the popular television show about the California Highway Patrol with lawyer Miguel Estrada, President Bush's stalled nominee for an appeals court seat." LINK The Washington Times ' Greg Perce reports that Texas Senator John Cornyn has sent President Bush a letter expressing his concerns regarding a proposal by Sens. Daschle, Leahy and Schumer that the president "consult with them before making any nominations in the event of a vacancy at the end of this month."

"Referring to Mr. Daschle's letter, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said yesterday it was 'a novel new approach to how the Constitution guides the appointment process.'"

"Next week, Mr. Leahy plans to share his views on the selection process at the National Press Club in a luncheon address titled 'Supreme Court Preview: It Doesn't Have to be Armageddon.'" LINK "The White House rejected a suggestion by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle on Wednesday that Bush meet with Democrats before filling any Supreme Court vacancies to avoid a potentially bruising confirmation fight," reports the AP's Tom Raum. LINK

Legislative agenda: Not since Bob Strauss dined alone at the Palm has there been such meaningful bipartisan bonhomie:

Boyden Gray, John Podesta, and Tim Wirth are teaming up to help break that savage energy policy gridlock. LINK The AP's David Ho reports, "A bipartisan effort is underway in the Senate to overturn parts of a Federal Communications Commission decision that freed media companies from decades-old ownership limits and allowed them to merge and buy new outlets." LINK The AP's Rebecca Carroll has an interesting look at the impact of issue ads on legislative affairs. LINK Carroll writes, "Lobbyists and advocacy groups spent more than $105 million on ads to influence Congress in 2001 and 2002, and the biggest spenders usually won legislative battles, according to a report released Thursday."

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

The AP's H. Josef Hebert reports, "White House officials are narrowing the list of candidates to head the Environmental Protection Agency and congressional Democrats are making clear they plan to use the nomination to challenge President Bush's environmental record." LINK Did anybody see Administrator Whitman on one of those neato people movers on Letterman last night?

Tribune News Services report that the Senate Agriculture Committee approved the nomination of Thomas Dorr to head the USDA, despite Senator Harkin's concerns that "neither the department nor Dorr has answered questions about Dorr's racial views and farm finances." LINK

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