The Note: Witness for the Witness

The National Press Club holds a 6:00 pm ET newsmaker program on "White House Communications Press Briefings and Press Gaggles: Are They an Effective Communications and News Venue?" Participants include Martha Joynt Kumar, author and political science professor at Towson University; Mike McCurry, former White House spokesman; Helen Thomas, White House columnist; and Alexis Simendinger, White House correspondent for the National Journal.

Samuel Alito for Associate Justice:

Democrats opposing Alito's confirmation can take comfort this morning in the Washington Post's front-page decision to focus on Alito leaving the door open to reversing Roe (rather than focusing on his "open mind" as the newspaper did yesterday). But with Sen. Specter seemingly in Alito's corner, even if the Democrats were to hold onto all of their own members (no small feat) and somehow pick up the support of the abortion-rights supporting Chafee, Snowe, and Collins, Judge Alito will soon be Justice Alito. LINK

How long will it take the liberals opposed to Alito's confirmation to get the Washington Post's headline on television in Maine and Rhode Island? (A. Too long.)

And did anything break through from yesterday other than Mrs. Alito's tears? (A. No.)

And the Post has this detail: "As Democrats tried to pry loose Alito's views on abortion, a group supporting abortion rights, Republican Majority for Choice, announced it is opposing his nomination. Five GOP senators are on its advisory committee, including Specter." LINK

"Asked about the group's stance, Specter, who has said he will not decide how he will vote until after the hearings, said: 'I did not participate in their decision.'

On the Concerned Alumni of Princeton front, a "top Republican congressional source" tells ABC News' Ariane DeVogue that there is "not a thing" in the CAP documents that reference Alito. Still waiting to hear from the Democrats.

On the executive power front, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) extracted a promise from Alito on Wednesday to provide, by Thursday morning, a list of all of the people who helped him prepare for the hearings.

Based on questions Feingold asked in committee, the '08er wants to know whether it is appropriate for different officials, who might have ties to the NSA spying controversy, to be a part of a group coaching a Supreme Court nominee.

Side Note: Will Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Republican Judiciary Committee member who, according to the Senator's spokesman, "met" with Alito and spoke with him about executive power one week ago in the Old Executive Office Building, appear on the list?

While appearing on NBC's "Today" this morning, the much-maligned "Irish Catholic kid" -- also known as Joe Biden -- suggested doing away with committee proceedings and, instead, debate and vote on the nomination on the Senate floor. And for those of you who had Joe Biden in the maybe column, you can safely move him over to "nay" for now. "At this point in time, I would vote not to confirm," he told Katie Couric this morning. We have no comment on the Senator's answer to the last question he was asked.

The Democrats looked unprepared and unfocused as they tried to make a direct hit on Alito, but shot only blanks, writes Robert Novak. Particularly rousing his ire: Kennedy, who appears "to have lost his fastball in the 19 years since he eviscerated nominee Robert Bork." LINK

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