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NEWS SUMMARY

In the June 10th edition of The Note, we wrote that all of the top six Democratic candidates for president (besides Howard Dean) would have to raise $6 million in the second quarter or people would start to talk. We meant $5.5 million. The Note regrets the error.

Nah. Too self-involved.

Or we could lead with our latest sense of the political implications of the looming Medicare compromise; the Gray Davis situation; the violence in the Middle East; the missing WsMD; the stalled elevator on the Hill; the stalled child tax credit on the Hill; the Boston Globe 's need to get some perspective in how it covers John Kerry; the expected returns of Elizabeth Edwards and Andy Card to the Center of the Universe; the Imus triple header; Roger Simon's new toy; or the possibility of a SCOTUS fight or two.

Nope. All too tentative and sluggish (what with the Eastern humidity causing people to be on www.travelocity.com and www.secretarysnowmakeseuropeunaffordable.com more than on www.fec.gov).

So we could lead with the major political daybook items, such as:

The president is expected to take on the generic drug fight today on his trip to New Britain, Connecticut (before he heads off to Maine). LINK

Robin Vinci of the New Britain Herald writes an article on the history of presidential visits to the city. This is the first time a President has made a repeat visit to the city. Bush is expected to receive a warm welcome. LINK

The New Britain Herald's Marah Block writes on how the locals there are fairly divided in their opinions of Bush but are still excited that he is visiting. LINK

Tonight, Senator Bob Graham appears on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, hosted by Jim Lehrer. He's in New York and Washington.

Senator Lieberman has a fundraiser in Connecticut.

Governor Dean makes several "house calls" in New Hampshire.

Congressman Gephardt attends the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox game in Boston. (Go Yankees!)

Senator Edwards has a day of activities in Tennessee.

Senator Kerry begins his trip to Iowa.

But a laundry list is not a lead.

So since a recent comprehensive survey of Note readers determined that a vast majority of you are interested in the 2004 presidential race (and few of you, at this writing, believe control of the House or Senate is much in play), we can start simply.

There's one must-read today, and it is by the political reporter whose ratios of fame to influence; fame to talent; fame to fairness; and fame to sheer niceness are all as low as you can get in Washington.

His name is Ron Fournier.

Now, we don't mean THIS Ron Fournier: "Ron Fournier's career as a metal fabricator spans more than 35 years and across the custom automotive, aircraft and motorcycle industries." LINK

Or this one: "Ron Fournier, CEMVR Public Affairs, Rock Island, IL." LINK

Or even this one: "A œuvré comme arbitre de hockey professionnel pendant 14 ans (4 ans dans l'Association mondiale et 10 ans dans la Ligue nationale de hockey)." LINK

Nope, here is OUR Ron Fournier — he of the Associated Press. LINK and LINK

Fournier, as is his wont and ability, gets to the heart of the current state of play in the presidential race, and finds rich thematics in the fact that President Bush, elected after casting Al Gore as 'a serial exaggerator,' is now being accused of "stretching the truth about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction." LINK

But despite Democratic efforts to "build the issue into a consuming Watergate-style controversy," Fournier finds "many party leaders fear the president might be immune to accusations that his rhetoric falls short of the facts, and not just on Iraq, but on education, tax cuts, trade, the environment, homeland security and other policies."

"The candidates say Bush has fudged the facts on issues well beyond Iraq, including:"

"Education. While the president promotes his "No Child Left Behind" legislation, state and local officials struggle to pay for the standardized tests and other requirements of the 2002 law. 'What kind of education plan tries to add by subtracting?' Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri said."

"Tax cuts. Bush said all families will get a break, but the $350 billion bill he signed excluded many low-income families from a child tax credit. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said Bush was 'leaving 12 million children behind.'"

"Deficits. Bush pledged to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, but he 'brought back the era of big and bloated government,' Gephardt said."

"Foreign affairs. Bush promised in 2000 to have a 'humble' foreign policy, but many allies feel bullied by Bush's moves on global warming, trade and Iraq. 'Our country is viewed with increased hostility,' Graham said."

"Homeland security. State and local leaders complain they have not received enough money from Washington to prepare for future attacks. 'We should not cede this issue,' said Senator John Edwards of North Carolina."

"David Axelrod, a strategist for Edwards, said Americans are likely to continue supporting Saddam Hussein's ouster, even if White House weapons claims are never proven. They trust Bush more than they ever did Gore."

"But, Axelrod said, 'You have to ask whether he's been leveling with people on a range of things and whether he trusts people with the truth.'"

Read this one twice. All that is missing is the pro forma Matt Dowd quote about how unshakeable America's bond of trust with this President is.

Now: one more summary thing for you.

One week from tonight, there is an event in Washington so very up the alley of your typical Note reader that we feel thoroughly compelled to tell you about it.

On Thursday, June 19, at 7:30 pm, our DC-area readers have a chance to attend a fabulous evening of entertainment and good will in a marvelous setting — the Silver Theater, the Art Deco masterpiece in Silver Spring that's recently been restored, combining its original 1938 splendor with the latest in high tech.

The New York Times ' Todd Purdum calls the cinema palace the "plushest place to see a movie in Washington these days."

The evening is part of Washington's hottest film festival, SILVERDOCS, the American Film Institute and Discovery Channel Documentary Festival , a 5-day event that runs from June 18 through 22.

Tickets are available now for an exclusive screening of Ron Frank's "Only in America, " a film about Senator Joseph Lieberman's historic run in 2000 as the first Jewish candidate for vice president on a major party ticket.

Also to be shown : "We Wuz Robbed," by acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee.

Following the films, Democratic media strategist /Silver-Spring-boy-made-good Carter Eskew and Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon will participate in a panel discussion with the Washington Wire herself — Jackie Calmes, Political Features Editor for the Wall Street Journal .

The panel will be moderated by (major Note throat clearing here) ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin, and will deal with faith in politics and a preview of the 2004 presidential campaign.

But wait — as they say on your finer game shows — there's more.

Following the discussion , you'll be able to attend an "Inside the Beltway" Martini Party for a special screening of "Elvis and Us," the 1993 campaign documentary about life on the trail with candidate Bill Clinton .

It's the ten-year anniversary of this cult classic, which the Washington Post Style section in 1993 called "the hottest underground flick in town: part travelogue, part rockumentary, part outtakes of Bill Clinton and media types acting like clowns."

In the only known review EVER of the film, a younger Howard Kurtz wrote about the movie (produced by Mary Marsh and Mark Halperin of ABC News):

"This R-rated … retrospective evokes a time when Clinton actually liked to goof around with reporters. He aims the camcorder at Al Gore and declares: 'Nice teeth! What's your position on the toothpaste subsidy, senator? … '"

"We see Bill bowling, eating, speechifying, eating, lumbering around a baseball diamond and eating."

"Some juxtapositions border on brilliant. A New York Post headline ('WEIRD SEX ACT IN BULLPEN') prompts one scribe to ask, 'That's today's Clinton story, right?' In the next scene, Clinton is hugging a giant bunny."

There are some really lovely scenes of the late Michael Kelly, including one where he dances cheek to cheek with the Washington Post 's Dan Balz.

And there are plenty of other vintage shots and scenes you won't want to miss — including Adam Nagourney singing Willie Nelson (or is it Elvis?).

Again, the whole evening starts at 7:30 pm and, (this is the amazing part) it costs $12.50 for the entire thing — all three films AND the party !!

Additional information on tickets and everything else can be found at LINK.

We'll tell you more about the feature films in the days leading up to next Thursday, but what are you waiting for???? Get your tickets now!!!!

California recall:

The San Francisco Chronicle's Robert Salladay takes a look at a poll released yesterday that shows 48% of Californians would like to see Davis recalled to 41% who want to keep him. LINK

The New York Times ' Rich Oppel has an outstanding and piquant look at the Gray Davis counterattack against Darrell Issa on the soft-money-ban question, complete with "Issa" pronouncer ("(pronounced EYE-sa)"), and hilariously typical quote from Issa's lawyer, Mr. Benjamin Ginsberg, whose representation of Issa will surely become a Davis communications team talking point:

"'This is a tawdry and heavy-handed attempt to squelch opposition by twisting and turning the new law,' Mr. Ginsberg said. 'I don't think this goes much beyond the politics of Gray Davis's being worried and trying to stop anyone opposed to them.'" LINK

Subscription-only CQ has this take on Rep. Darrel Issa: "[T]he recall effort Issa leads has divided an already fractured state Republican Party and split his House colleagues. Furthermore, it has left Issa in a precarious position, opening him to personal attacks and potentially alienating national Republicans, who worry that a divisive recall fight could energize Democrats in the same year President Bush runs for re-election."

Marinucci and Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle list those interested in Gray Davis' job. LINK

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will speak at a Town Hall LA breakfast this morning in Los Angeles and take questions after.

Big Casino budget politics, Medicare:

The AP's Deb Riechmann thinks Bush's push on prescription drugs "may give a boost of adrenaline to his efforts to portray himself as a compassionate conservative." LINK

The AP's David Espo sees the Medicare drug plan gaining in Congress. LINK

Elisabeth Bumiller "with" Robert Pear sweeps up all the Medicare doings in our nation's capital and Capitol. LINK

Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post does the same thing, with an emphasis on Senator Daschle's possible support for final passage. LINK

Clinton era Medicare official Nancy-Ann DeParle urges Daschle and other Democrats to get on board the train, and will surely cause the folks at the Wall Street Journal ed board to quake with rage with this:

"If President Bush signs this bill, he will preside over the biggest expansion of government health benefits since the Great Society." LINK

The New York Times says the cost of prescription drugs to workers is still going up, up, and away. LINK

Big Casino budget politics, tax cuts:

The House-Senate logjam on the child tax credit continues.

The New York Times leads with the notion that moderate Republicans in the House could team up with Democrats to defeat Mr. DeLay's ideas. LINK

Bob Novak seems not to care much for the child tax credit or David Firestone's handiwork on the matter. LINK

National security politics: Writing about congressional Republicans plans to investigate the WsMD in Iraq matter, the Washington Post 's Dewar and Slevin say:

"Roberts, Warner and Goss said they have not heard from any intelligence officials complaining of undue influence on their work on Iraqi weapons. All three said the Bush administration had not pressured them to avoid a public inquiry … ." LINK

"In a surprise move, CIA Director George J. Tenet announced yesterday that David Kay, who was chief nuclear weapons inspector for the U.N. Special Commission in Iraq in 1991 and 1992, would become his special adviser for the current search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

Living legend Walter Pincus of the Washington Post does the Niger/nuclear/Kristoff/Cheney story in detail, with some seemingly new new facts. LINK

Al Hunt writes with careful, cool calculation about the "postwar debacle."

Economy:

ABC News' Schindelheim interprets some new economic data for us: "Overall retail sales for May were up a slight 0.1% last month after a 0.3% drop in April.

If you exclude volatile gasoline sales — down 4.3% because of falling prices — and auto sales, retail sales rose 0.6%."

"The bad news today — businesses continue to lay people off. 430,000 people walked into state unemployment offices last week to sign up for unemployment benefits.

That was down only slightly from the previous week and still elevated above the critical 400,000 level."

The Wall Street Journal grumps: "Economic growth remained sluggish in April and May with only limited signs of the hoped-for postwar rebound, a Federal Reserve survey found."

Secretary Snow and Charlie Rose talk the almighty dollar. LINK

ABC 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

The Washington Post 's Mike Allen has First Lady Laura Bush returning to the light, with the war in Iraq officially over (whatever) and the battle for the presidency officially beginning (sort of), and emerging as, according to a "senior Republican official," "'a high-velocity campaign asset second only to the vice president.'" LINK

Republican and Administration officials, named and unnamed alike, fall all over themselves to praise the "'[embodiment of] the compassionate side of the compassionate conservative agenda,'" who appeals to swing-voting "soccer moms" ("now known in Republican circles as 'security moms' says Allen) and is a "'trouper who will really work the crowd the way it needs to be worked. She's a very sought-after photograph.'" (this according to an "official, who asked not to be named because of Mrs. Bush's sensitivity about the limelight.")

Karen Hughes, speaking on the record, says the cultured First Lady "'is able to make inroads with a whole range of people, including ones who may be Democrats or may not be active in politics at all.'"

As for her fundraising schedule, writes Allen, Mrs. Bush has three June events, "more in July, more later this year and more next year," given that "'[s]he has committed to an aggressive schedule of political appearances, including both fundraisers and campaign stops,' a GOP official said. 'She's terrific. She's willing to help us with the president and with other candidates, too.'"

Mrs. Bush also gets credit for the sensible and selective use of her "political capital;" for maintaining a dignified, down to earth persona (according to Whit Ayres), and for keeping her husband calm on the road ("'The president can get a little snappish when he's tired, but she creates an environment where he's happy and on an even keel,' one official said.") (Note Note: traveling pillow notwithstanding).

When not serving as a non-polarizing Republican figure or enjoying good poll results, Allen Notes, Mrs. Bush concentrates on two recently assumed causes: cardiac health (Her husband is a fitness nut who runs a lot, didn't you know, and she has vowed to lose weight despite the tempting offerings of the White House pastry chef.) and her "Preserve America" campaign to protect and promote "indoor and outdoor historical sites, including parks and seashores."

She also continues to focus on education and gets appropriate NSA and State Department briefings.

Recent public events include a speech at the opening of the Anne Frank exhibit at the Holocaust Museum, which Allen ties into her writerly, librarian roots; a celebration of music at the White House (President Hayes didn't like to stay up late either, just like her "'favorite president.'"); various White House affairs, and appearances around the country and abroad.

The AP's Will Lester writes up a CNN- USA Today -Gallup poll of 1,029 adults taken Monday and Tuesday:

"Americans are about evenly divided when asked if the country was better off under Democratic former President Clinton than it is now, though President Bush holds double-digit leads over the Democrats running against him for 2004."

He also writes up a Quinnipiac poll of 865 registered voters conducted June 4-9 that has Lieberman leading the pack:

"In a matchup of the Democratic candidates, Lieberman had 22 percent, Gephardt had 17 percent and Kerry had 15 percent. Bob Graham, a Florida senator, was at 6 percent, while John Edwards, Howard Dean and Al Sharpton were at 5 percent. Carol Moseley Braun was at 4 percent and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was at 1 percent, according to the Quinnipiac poll." LINK

Chris Fusco and Courtney K Wade of the Chicago Sun-Times mention how it might have taken Bush a little bit longer than he expected to get to his Wednesday Medicare event.

"Several members of Illinois' congressional delegation joined Bush on Air Force One for the trip to Chicago. On the flight into O'Hare Airport, he asked why his helicopter trip into downtown would not end at Meigs Field."

"The president, a source said, apparently was unaware Mayor Daley had closed the lakefront airport. Bush met with Daley and Gov. Blagojevich at O'Hare before boarding his Marine One chopper, which landed at Grant Park instead of what Daley now likes to call 'Northerly Island.' " LINK

Rudy Giuliani found his way onto Imus this morning, where he touted the president's holding the convention in New York; his Friday Rockefeller Center book signing; the relative (lack of) importance of finding some WsMD for Blair and credibility; and the possibility of running for Senate in '06 ("Who knows?").

AIPAC takes a slap at the White House, and the New York Times gives it this headline: "Bush Under Fire in Congress for Criticizing Israel." LINK

PoliticsNH.com's Pindell reports that White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card will visit New Hampshire next Tuesday. LINK

Or should that item go in a "Republican 2008 nomination fight" section?

Attorney General John Ashcroft praised New Hampshire's homeland security preparedness yesterday. LINK

Or should that item go in a "Republican 2008 nomination fight" section?

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam writes that strong brands (Tide, Crest, Kleenex) survive, and observes the current "brand management" of Martha Stewart, Hillary Clinton, and the New York Times . LINK

Beam also refers to Karl Rove as Bush's "product manager" who is " keeping a close eye on the 2004 sales season — sorry, election," and expresses doubt that "the independent-minded [Howard] Dean will make it past the primary/test-marketing phase of the election. Politics, after all, is the art of the bland leading the brand."

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary:

George Will gets quality time with AFSCME's G. McEntee, who has kind words for electability, John Kerry, and, as framed here, Brother Dick Gehpardt. LINK

PoliticsNH.com's James Pindell reports that the Dean and Gephardt campaigns have been knocking on doors in New Hampshire for a few weeks. LINK

This weekend, dozens, if not hundreds of volunteers are expected to canvass on Senator John Kerry's behalf in in Bedford, Concord, Exeter, Goffstown, Lebanon, Nashua, and Salem.

Says the Hispanic Voter Project's Adam Siegel in an e-mail to ABC News: "My report on the 2000 election found the Bush campaign outspent and out strategized the Gore campaign with Hispanic communications strategies and outreach efforts in key states. In Florida, the Gore campaign aired no Spanish-language ads despite the rapidly shifting demographics and political leanings of the area. It is a further reminder of the stakes in 2004. Another report found record money (more than $16 million) was spent on Spanish-language advertising in 2002. Growing spending by the Republican Party is upping the ante for the cash-strapped Democrats. Some new Democratic efforts, one to be unveiled next week, demonstrate just how important the Hispanic vote has become."

One of those "new Democratic efforts" is a New Democratic effort.

The New Democrat Network, a forum and fundraising group for centrist Democrats, will relaunch itself next Tuesday, with a goal to write a more inclusive, more focused agenda for Democrats in the next election.

There will be plenty of Bush-bashing, but also a fair amount of policy-crunching and people networking.

Six presidential candidates — Dean, Edwards, Kerry, Graham, Gephardt Lieberman — were invited. Two — Senators Graham and Lieberman — will speak at the meeting for thirty minutes each. The rest may provide videos.

Lieberman, according to a campaign staffer, will "address the importance of social issues to New Democrats," and hopes to make news doing so.

Draftee Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark is also expected to speak.

And Sergio Bendixen will release the latest round of results from his polling of Hispanic America.

Will the press treat this meeting as a chance to rehash the conflict between the Democratic Leadership Council and the Dean and Gephardt presidential campaigns?

Not all centrist Democrats are alike …

The Medical Marijuana people don't like Dr. Dean, and that's how John DiStaso's Granite Status column kicks off today. It also has information what DiStaso calls a "gentle tug poll" of voters in the state by the Lieberman campaign (MUST READ) and much, much more. LINK

PoliticsNH.com's Pindell writes about how candidate family members are becoming surrogates more and more. LINK

Bill Bradley looked so very happy sitting with Bill Russell at the Nets-Spurs game last night.

The New York Post 's Page Six has non-candidate John Cusack stewing over the 2000 election results and the results of the results. LINK

LIEBERMAN

In today's Hartford Courant Caucus column, David Lightman writes about Senator Lieberman's latest electronic effort for campaign contributions.LINK

"Joe Lieberman waded more deeply into the online fund-raising scrum Wednesday, sending out his first e-mail plea of this quarter as the spring period winds down."

"The Connecticut Democrat explained that the press is ready to dissect his second-quarter money numbers, and it's crucial that they look good."

"'Money is a key ingredient in getting organized and spreading our message,' Lieberman writes, 'and the news media will be looking closely at those fund-raising reports.'"

Hadassah L. in Manchester. "Busy day. Busy woman," says the Manchester Union leader. LINK

Senator Lieberman was on Imus this morning and the only part with any energy (the host's fault, not the candidate) was when Imus asked the Senator if John Kerry's divorce would be an issue in the race.

Imus was making some (lame) joke about Kerry breaking up with Ms. Heinz Kerry because he doesn't seem able to use her wealth for his presidential campaign, but Lieberman responded by sighting a New Hampshire campaign sign that says "Heinz may make ketchup, but we relish Hadassah."

DEAN

The Dean campaign continues its dot com fever.

Members of the campaign's finance committee have been given their own webpage on the deanforamaerica website. This webpage can be emailed around to potential donors and allow them to make their contributions through that finance committeeperson's personal Dean web page.

The Dean campaign sent out the following suggestions to the committee members for customizing their new web pages:

"- Photos: If you'd like to include a photo (or multiple photos), just send them to us. We can scan photos sent through the mail, but would prefer it if you could email us the photos you'd like to use. Send the photos … and include any captions you'd like your photos to carry."

"- Text: If you'd like to change the text, simply email any revisions to jesse."

"- Address: if you'd rather have a different URL or address just let us know. We can make the web address almost anything you'd prefer. For example, if you'd like to use it regionally and share it with your team, we could make it www.deanforamerica.com/CAteam"

"- Signature: if you'd like the page to close with an image of your signature, you can either email us the existing file (if you have one) or fax us your signature and we will scan it for you."

"- Donation Levels: You may also customize the giving levels in your campaign. For example, we could remove the $25.00 level, and add any specific levels you'd like — titling them as specifically as you want."

"- Autoresponders: You can write a special thank-you email that will automatically be sent to contributors from your email account."

EDWARDS

Justin Gest, who we hope hasn't taken "ABC News Political Unit intern" off of his resume, turned up at Senator Edwards' MALDEF speech, which Gest says was well-received. LINK

The AP's Nedra Pickler reports: "Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Wednesday proposed the creation of a national medical translation hot line that hospital employees could use to communicate with Hispanic and immigrant patients day or night." LINK

Cristina C. Breen of the Charlotte Observer got some home state reaction to the Senator's proposal. LINK

"In Charlotte, Latin American Coalition Executive Director Angeles Ortega called Edwards' plan a boon for rural hospitals but said she'd like to see more spent on outreach than on studying health disparities affecting Latinos."

Pickler also Notes: "The Republican National Committee used Edwards' appearance at the dinner to criticize his opposition to judicial nominee Miguel Estrada."

Edwards stood by his opposition to the Estrada nomination and said he will only support judges with a strong record on civil rights.

"We need more Hispanics on the federal bench, but we should choose people because they have the right record, not just the right last name," he said.

NEW HAMPSHIRE Bartlett lists staff! Bartlett lists staff! LINK

GEPHARDT

Congressman Gephardt is expected to pick up his 31st presidential endorsement from a colleague today, Rhode Island Democrat James Langevin.

James Pindell … yes, again, another 6/12/03 Note mention of James Pindell, says:

"PoliticsNH.com learned Wednesday night that Mark Bodi, the Democratic activist and media consultant, has endorsed Dick Gephardt's presidential campaign. Bodi is on the PoliticsNH.com 2004 Tally Board. The endorsement puts Gephardt with 11 endorsements of the 105 most prominent Democrats in the state." LINK

The San Antonio Express-News caught up with Congressman Gephardt on his Texas campaign swing. LINK

"Calling Texas a vital state for votes, Democratic presidential hopeful Richard Gephardt made a campaign swing through San Antonio on Wednesday, promoting universal health insurance and a sophisticated foreign policy to deal with the roots of terrorism."

"Gephardt also praised the actions of the 54 Texas Democrats — known as the Killer Ds — who walked out of the Legislature in May to bust a quorum on a proposed redistricting bill."

The AP has Gephardt speaking to a crowd of about 100 on the patio of Club Giraud in downtown San Antonio. LINK

"Gephardt promoted universal health insurance and a sophisticated foreign policy to deal with terrorism. Bush's foreign policy has dealt with terrorism's symptoms, not its root causes, he said. 'We will not solve this problem by sending the military all over the world,' he said, proposing a "nation-building corps that will help people have decent governance so we can convince people not to become terrorists."

"Gephardt also praised the actions of the 54 Texas Democrats known as the 'Killer Ds' who walked out of the Legislature and fled to Oklahoma in May to bust a quorum on a proposed redistricting bill."

KERRY

The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson followed up John Kerry's oft-stated claim that "he is the only or first person elected to the US Senate three times without taking campaign contributions from political action committees campaign," as well as his campaign website's declaration that he "joined the Senate in 1984 after 'running the nation's first successful PAC-free Senate race,'" and seems to find inaccuracies all around. LINK

Or does he?

Once again, the Globe starts parsing the Senator's words in a way that seems quite (over-)aggressive.

Johnson writes: "But the public record shows that Kerry was neither the first nor the only senator elected three times without money from political action committees. It also shows he was not the first ever to run a 'PAC-free' race for the Senate."

Indeed, Johnson comes up with David Boren as the first Senator elected three times PAC-free (in 1978, 1984, and 1990), confirming this with the current University of Oklahoma president himself in a telephone interview ("'I did not take PAC money in any of the three races'"), and with 1980's PAC-less electee Warren Rudman , who also commented by telephone ('''I just steadfastly refused to take it, and I remember [in 1984] when John made that pledge, and I just thought to myself that he was doing a great thing'").

The Kerry camp has an explanation, which some will be inclined to see as somewhat convoluted: '''Kerry is referring to the fact that he is the only sitting senator who has run all his Senate races without taking PAC money. . . . Usually Kerry uses this line on the campaign trail or in meetings where he says, 'You are looking at the only senator to run four PAC-free Senate races' '''

A campaign aide also acknowledges "Kerry was not the first candidate to run for the US Senate without taking PAC money" and clarified that Kerry challenged rivals in 1984 to refuse all donations from interest groups, which was agreed to by opponent Republican Ray Shamie.

When, however, controversy arose after Kerry accepted $41,500 from the DSCC during the race, he vowed to give back the money, later told the Boston Herald he had been unable to return it due to legal complications, and promised to raise an equivalent amount to make amends. Oh, and the DSCC isn't a PAC anyway, says the Kerry campaign now.

Johnson, of course, brings up another pesky "miscue" ( Roe v. Wade v. the MX missile as Kerry's first formal speech as a senator), and allows Stu Rothenberg to elucidate:

'''The thing that is annoying … is it does not strike me as the kind of statement that he has to make in order to convey his point, which is to say that he has run without PAC money … You don't want to risk the reputation that you don't just push the envelope, but you tear it hear or there. If you do that, you get the Al Gore problem where you become sort of the butt of jokes and anything you say causes dozens of researchers to assume that you've torn the envelope.'''

The "Al Gore problem"? What would Sarah B. say about THAT? LINK

Now, for the group: let's not be adding any unfair-James-Lee-type data points here, please.

The Boston Globe 's Names column reports that Senator Kerry has won the endorsements of two New York Congresspeople, Gregory W. Meeks and Louise Slaughter, the actual value of which, Names writes "is debatable, [yet] the Kerry campaign has watched with heartburn in recent weeks as some of its prized catches — including former US housing secretary Henry Cisneros and former senator Max Cleland of Georgia — let word of their backing slip out in casual conversations with local reporters" despite planned big rollouts. LINK

The column goes on to observe that Kerry prematurely declared that Democratic South Carolina state senator John C. Land III would be supporting him (Land then endorsed rival John Edwards), and that the Meeks/Slaughter announcement to New York reporters via conference call was delayed when "a dozen congressmen got stuck in a Capitol elevator."

While stalling for time, Kerry discussed the success of Hillary Clinton's memoir, and when informed HRC was planning to give out free copies to her 99 colleagues, "quipped, 'I would hope so, cheap lot that we are.'''

The New York Daily News' Joel Siegel plays up the Sharpton angle in Representative Meeks' Kerry endorsement, as well as Kerry's interest in New York. LINK

Adam Sandler poked fun at John Kerry, in New Hampshire yesterday …

"Central High School valedictorian Tyler Spindel was glad his uncle Adam could make it to his graduation last night — so were his 464 fellow graduates." LINK

"Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., was originally scheduled to speak at last night's ceremony, but had to cancel when Central's graduation was moved back a day. Sandler blamed Kerry's absence on, 'a wicked bad case of a fake tummy ache.'"

"He said Kerry probably would have congratulated the graduates of 'Centerville High,' and promised everyone lollipops if they voted for him.'"

Not exactly stinging political satire, but until Saturday Night Live comes up with up with a Kerry caricature, SNL alum Sandler's humor will have to do.

The Note tries to be forward looking generally, but there was a major John Kerry Gotham fundraiser on Monday with enough interesting features that we feel we should double back.

First of all, did you know that some fundraising events have titles?

This one was called "Stick to Your Roots — Broaden Your Base."

The setting was one of The Note's favorite restaurants — 11 Madison, whose hot-dog-loving owners, Danny and Audrey Meyer, were there.

And the tables weren't numbered; they were named after states and Senator Kerry sat at Massachusetts!!

Lunch was New England lobster salad and monkfish "Kerry" style — named not for the candidate but for chef Kerry Heffernan.

Congressman Greg Meeks was there.

Also: former Mayor David Dinkins, former Senator Bob Kerrey, Carl Spielvogel, and Lillian Vernon.

Mayor Dinkins, Democrats Who Know, tell us, has not formally endorsed Senator Kerry, but was there unabashedly.

The whole thing was put together by some great hosts, including Fred Hochberg, the former Clinton SBA deputy administrator, who dealt with Senator Kerry all the time when he was the ranking member of the small business committee.

GRAHAM

Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza takes a look at Senator Graham's efforts to court some congressional support.

"After watching as his competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination racked up Congressional endorsements, Senator Bob Graham (Fla.) made one of his first direct appeals to House Members on Wednesday when he met with the conservative Blue Dog Coalition."

"More than a dozen Members attended the meeting and while only one — home-state colleague Rep. Allen Boyd (Fla.) — offered an endorsement afterward, most participants came away impressed with the message, if slightly uncertain about the messenger's prospects."

"Senator Joe Lieberman and Representative Richard Gephardt are the only two other candidates to have officially met with the Blue Dogs."

"Lieberman and Gephardt have secured the backing of four Blue Dogs. Sens. John Kerry, John Edwards, and now Graham each have one."

The AP's second day write up of "Bob Graham's Campaign CD" contains all the familiar details: LINK

But a campaign spokesperson told ABC News that the CD and progenitor Frank Loconto isn't affiliated with the campaign but is a close friend of Graham's. They support his effort; they're just not sponsoring it.

"Loconto is producing a first offering of 1,000 CDs, which will be available for sale at Graham's campaign headquarters in his hometown of Miami Lakes. Proceeds will benefit the campaign."

Which is news to the Graham people, who say they aren't planning to sell the CD. Graham-er Connie Larossa says she received dozens of inquiring calls yesterday, leading the campaign itself to scramble to find a copy.

Under federal campaign finance law, Loconto can't sell the CDs and then transfer the profits to the Graham campaign, unless the CDs sell for a buck or two each (1000 CDs times $1 = $1,000, which Loconto can contribute in his own name. That is, if Loconto hasn't already maxed out … .)

But Graham's team could hire Loconto to produce the CDs and then sell them through the campaign.

KUCINICH

Roll Call 's Ben Pershing has produces an in-depth account of yesterday's high drama on Capitol Hill.

"Here's the pitch: Fourteen House Members — male and female, big and small, liberal and conservative — stuck in an elevator for a half-hour and forced to learn how to get along."

"No, it's not a new TV show. It's real life and it came to pass on Wednesday, when 14 lawmakers and an elevator operator were stranded in a Rayburn car for 35 minutes before Architect of the Capitol workers were able to force the doors open. A pending House vote was held open for several minutes so the lawmakers could make it to the floor."

Representatives Boehner, Ackerman, Musgrave, and Osborne were all on board the elevator. However, it was one Congressman from Ohio who seems to get the credit for saving the day.

"Several lawmakers said Kucinich played a commanding role, getting on the elevator's phone and keeping in touch with the Architect's office and both Cloakrooms. This performance was variously attributed either to the Ohio presidential candidate's natural leadership qualities or to the fact that he happened to be the one closest to the phone."

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Time's Nancy Gibbs expressed amazement to Imus this morning about how much Senator Clinton knows about talk radio.

Mike McCurry did the St. Anselm circuit yesterday, per the Union Leader.

"During a question-and-answer session after his talk, McCurry was asked … if he had read Hillary Rodham Clinton's newly released memoir … ."

"McCurry said he has only had time to read part of the work that is shooting up book charts like 'a rocket.'"

"'She is more revealing than most of us thought she was going to be on her own emotions and some of her feelings about the behavior of her husband,'

McCurry said."

"The book is also filled with her travels overseas and some of the lessons Mrs. Clinton has learned, said McCurry, who has a personal fondness for the

former First Lady."

"And if McCurry had to pick Hillary or Bill Clinton to be marooned on a desert island with, he said the choice would be easy: "It would certainly

be her because he would yell at you all of the time or talk your head off."

"'But she is a much more gracious, warmer person than most people know,' he added."

The New York Post 's Deborah Orin writes that Senator Chuck Schumer will be giving his Martha Stewart donations to charity, while Senator Clinton will be giving Martha Stewart "'the benefit of the doubt,'" and keeping hers. LINK

Senator Clinton has a 53 percent favorability rating, according to a USA Today /CNN/Gallup poll. LINK

The New York Post 's Vincent Morris has more polling results off HRC's book. LINK

So does the New York Daily News' Joel Siegel. LINK

The Washington Post 's Mark Leibovich captures Hillary Clinton's familiar, and apparently ready, loud laugh, during the launch of her book tour. LINK

Leibovich observes some "loud, long and full-throated giggles," "a giggly nonchalance," a "quick giggle," many "Hahahaha"s, some grins, and lots of good cheer from HRC, as she responds to mixed reviews for the book some consider "detached and unemotional" ("'People say, my gosh, why are you telling me these things?'"); her status as chief GOP villain ("'Apparently I've raised quite a bit of money for Republicans'"); the frequency with which she is asked about her presidential plans ("'Every interview'"); her polarizing "piñata" status ("'perversely flattering'"); her privacy zone ("' Obviously, there were many things that I believed should have been kept personal and private that had been made public'"); the right-wing network ("'I think the organized opposition is really about what I stand for and the political views I have'"); and, in the press conference, her fidelity ("'Yes'").

Hey, we've heard that laugh, and have long known there must be some reason for all those wide-open-mouthed still shots of the celebrity Senator.

Lines at a suburban Wal-Mart for the light-green pantsuit-clad "signing machine," reports the Washington Post 's Timothy Dwyer. LINK

Richard Cohen columnizes on Senator Clinton in a way that will have her supporters gritting and grinding, and still leave the Senator laughing all the way to the bank. LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board jousts with Clinton about the facts of the events leading up to Vince Foster's death.

The dot drawing is musky.

The New York Daily News' 411 calls Bill Clinton "bitchy" (!!!) and "catty" (!!!) at a Brown/Evans-hosted book party for Sid Blumenthal when commenting on the author's analysis of the Gore v. Bush Supreme Court decision, according to a "spy." LINK

The Washington Post 's Lloyd Grove Notes the presence of both Bill Clinton and David Brock at the Tina Brown-Harry Evans Blumenthal book party (cheeky invite, folks!). LINK

The New York Times ' Joyce Purnick addresses the whole New York Mayor Bill Clinton theory, in all its glory and unlikelihood. LINK

Politics: "Attorney General John Ashcroft on Wednesday declined to say whether he would seize records regarding more than $55,000 in political donations by an energy conglomerate that sought favorable treatment from Congress," the AP reported. LINK

"The head of the Democratic Party wants Ashcroft to seize records from the offices of leading Republican lawmakers accused of requesting the contributions from Westar Energy, a Topeka, Kan.-based company that sought an exemption from regulatory oversight."

Roll Call 's Billings and Preston report:

"In the first of what they say will be a series of efforts to shore up support among a critical constituency with no representation in their chamber, Senate Democrats will join black Congressional leaders later this month in a summit."

"With Republicans controlling the White House and the real prospect of expanding GOP majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats are determined to block any attempt to erode support among their most reliable backers. The planned summit parallels a similar effort launched earlier this year by Congressional Republicans, which was designed to address similar issues Democrats will tackle later this month. Both parties have adopted multi-pronged approaches to the fight, designed to cater to the needs of a black constituency that in recent election cycles has expressed frustration over being ignored."

CBC communications director Doug Thornell told ABC News the summit will take place June 25.

The Note congratulates reader Representative Adam Smith and wife Sara Smith on the birth of Jack Evers Smith. Mother and baby are healthy and happy, reports Smith chief of staff Ali Wade. They're resting in a Seattle hospital.

Jennifer Senior's New York Times Magazine cover story for this coming weekend on George Pataki likens New York's governor at different points to "tofu," "a soothing and homogenized factory product, as lab-created and test-marketed as Kraft Singles," a "dork," and "a cartoon character who has been sucker-punched."

If that doesn't whet your appetite, the amazing post-modern photo of the stylish Lisa Dewald Stoll on a mission with Blackberry in hand is well worth the price of admission.*

Senior's macro description of Pataki harkens back to an earlier "Bland Ambition" work in the same publication, casting the Empire Stater as boring and unanchored in his public persona. But the story would seem to indicate that Pataki is following Al Gore's example; it zeroes in on signals that Pataki has his designs on the White House in 2008:

"Looked at a certain way, Pataki has a better shot at the presidency than any New Yorker ought to."

"He's the first politician to reflect the new suburban-and-upstate power base of the state, whose composition more closely resembles that of the national electorate."

And his decision not to present himself as interested in the Secretary of State post, according to Senior, "leaves, essentially, a shoot-the-moon bid for president in 2008, or the hope that he's fortunate enough to be tapped for vice president."

Matt Bennett and John Dingell sittin' in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g, on gun crimes. LINK

Senator Craig begins to unball his fist. LINK

We foolishly missed the Boston Globe story on Common Cause's Chellie Pingree; the Wall Street Journal ed board did not.

New York Times politics: Roger Simon turns a discerning eye to the saga of Bill of Hope and Howell of 43rd Street. LINK

The Times puts more Jayson Blair errors and improprieties on the web. LINK

Judicial confirmation battles:

Is the Wall Street Journal 's Bob Greenberger behind the curve, ahead of the curve, or just trying to maneuver his editors to let his story in the paper when he writes "Supreme Court resignation plans customarily are one of the closest-held secrets in Washington, and this situation is no exception. But there is a growing sense that one is coming"?

Greenberger focuses mostly on the Senate clearing the decks in case they are faced with processing a fight; the filibuster option; and the Rehnquist and O'Connor tea leaves.

"Senate Republicans expect to confirm a new Supreme Court justice before the end of summer if a member of the high court retires later this month as expected by some on Capitol Hill," the Washington Times Charles Hurt.

"Those plans include possibly using the 'nuclear option' if Democrats filibuster a nominee, said several top Senate Republican staffers." LINK

The 'nuclear option' would stop filibusters through parliamentary procedures that — in the end — would require a simple majority. Such maneuvers, considered 'nuclear' because of the expected nasty fallout, have been attempted only a small number of times in Senate history."

"'A Democratic filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee is a whole different matter,' said one staffer. 'If they do that, then that puts us in the position of nuclear response. What we'd be contemplating is the net effect of shutting down the Senate for the rest of the year.'"

We wonder whose staff this staffer staffs because that sentence could have repercussions.

The Committee for Justice, which will play a key role in selling a new Bush Supreme Court appointee to the public, released the results of a poll which pegs the president's approval rating among Hispanics at 65 percent.

The survey says that 88 percent of Hispanics want to see Miguel Estrada confirmed.

By the way: here's another Hispanic voter survey that is not affiliated with a partisan group. LINK

Nick Lewis has Arlent Specter undecided on Bill Pryor, and if you don't know what that means, you probably don't care much about this section of The Note. LINK

Mike Allen of the Washington Post seemed to enjoy Pryor's confirmation hearing immensely. LINK

Ana Radelat with the Chicago Sun-Times reports on Pryor's tough confirmation battle in the Senate Judiciary committee.

"In a sometimes testy exchange, pro-choice Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) questioned Pryor's staunch opposition to abortion and his criticism of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, a ruling the attorney general once called ' the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.' "

"'Not only is the case unconstitutional, it has led to a morally wrong result--it has led to the slaughter of millions of unborn children,' Pryor told Specter."

"Without Specter's support, Pryor's nomination may stall in the panel of 10 Republicans and nine Democrats. Even if the nomination makes it to the Senate floor, Pryor is likely to see his chances for a confirmation vote blocked by a Democratic filibuster.'" LINK

Legislative agenda:

Juliet Eilperin quotes Congressman Tom Cole on tort reform in the Washington Post . LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board urges the president to make a strong stand on the issue.

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

K.Q. Seelye handicaps the EPA race and includes Governor Kempthorne on the frontrunner list. LINK

A New York Times op-ed piece compares the president's WsMD policy to his stem cell policy, and finds both wanting. LINK

The New York Post 's Page Six has 43 and spouse flying to Kennebunkport for a 41 and spouse 41-day birthday weekend (Happy birthdays to GHWB and BB, by the by.). LINK

*Speaking of both Roger Simon and Blackberries, the former is a new owner of one of the latter, and here is what he told The Note in an exclusive interview by e-mail that has him sounding more like Mitch Bainwol than we have ever heard Roger sound: "Most fun so far: Answering e-mail while stopped at a traffic light."

"Least fun so far: Trying to resist using it while actual human beings are talking to me in person. (Why don't they just go away and e-mail me?)"