The Note: Sprint to November

"The contrasting findings frame what could be a crucial dynamic in this year's elections: Whether broad, though slightly eroded, confidence in Bush's handling of terrorism will outweigh persistent dissatisfaction over his performance on domestic concerns and the war in Iraq," writes Brownstein.

As for the congressional numbers, there are enough to go around for the inevitable Burton/Forti/Singer/Nick press releases hitting an inbox near you soon.

Blomberg's poll write-up. LINK

Susan Page of USA Today reports on a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll taken last week and interviews across the country reveal that most Americans are skeptical that Mr. Bush has the best plan to address the issues closes to their hearts -- like health care and the corruption -- are divided on the war and pessimistic about the economy. LINK

SOTU:

Make sure to read the New York Times front page look at how investment banks on Wall Street may benefit from the health savings accounts program the President is expected to promote in his State of the Union address. We wonder if Democrats will fold some of the points made here into their talking points on Tuesday night and Wednesday. LINK

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the Los Angeles Times on his upcoming SOTU Spanish-language response: "My remarks depend, in part, on what the president has to say, but I think my focus will be more an alternative vision, as opposed to one that spends a lot of time criticizing the administration." LINK

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times describes the Pelosi and Durbin Democratic pre-buttal offerings as "a sweeping agenda that was long on vision and short on specifics." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood Notes that President Bush's ratings dropped after two of four earlier State of the Union addresses.

Samuel Alito for Associate Justice:

After CNN reported on Thursday that "Sen. John Kerry has decided to support a filibuster to block the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court," the RNC's communications shop issued the kind of blistering press release for which they were famous for in 2004. The Davos angle was more than some Republicans could even stand -- or resist.

Topped with a quote from RNC spokesgal Tracey Schmitt that somehow worked in the words "out of touch," "reckless," and "thoughtless" (not to mention the words "for" and "against"), all in short order, the RNC missive goes on to use quotes from former Kerry adviser Mike McCurry and another (unnamed) "frustrated Democratic strategist" expressing their displeasure with Kerry in the current issue of GQ. The RNC rounds out the attack on Kerry's flirtation with a filibuster by quoting Democratic Sens. Byrd, Johnson, Landrieu, Pryor, Salazar, Feinstein, and Nelson dismissing the appropriateness of filibustering Alito.

Speaking of a potential filibuster, the Wall Street Journal's Harwood says Democrats are bracing for North Dakota's Conrad and Dorgan to come out in support of Alito. Combined with Nelson of Nebraska, Johnson of South Dakota, and Byrd of West Virginia, "that would give Republicans 60 votes if their party stays unified."

"Democratic aides slammed the move as tone-deaf -- a key complaint against Kerry during his butchered presidential bid," writes Ian Bishop of the New York Post. LINK

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