The Note: Sprint to November

"In addition to Kennedy and Kerry, supporters of a filibuster included Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland," reports Maura Reynolds of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Will Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) break ranks with his party on Alito?

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza on Chafee's "Hobson's choice": "A Chafee vote for Alito will make for considerable fodder for either" of Chafee's Democratic opponents "(Secretary of State Matt) Brown or (former state Attorney General) Sheldon Whitehouse. But a vote against Alito could give (Cranston Mayor Steve) Laffey," Chafee's Republican primary opponent, "the GOP nomination." LINK

Cillizza has Chafee campaign manager Ian Lang saying that "from a purely political standpoint," the Alito vote "is a lose-lose situation."

"Lang said Chafee will put aside political interests, however, and make a decision that is in the 'best interests of the country and the best interests of Rhode Island.'"

While appearing on the CBS "Early Show," Biden was asked about the possibility of an Alito filibuster and said: "No. I think that a filibuster is not likely to bear any fruit here."

Tim Russert dismissed the possibility of a filibuster while appearing on "Today," assuring Matt Lauer that the Republicans have the 60 votes they need to end debate.

Russert said filibuster supporters have only "about 35 votes."

"It's not going to happen," he declared. "Alito will be confirmed."

Under a "Bring It On" header, the Wall Street Journal ed board savors the thought of the Gentleman from Massachusetts pushing for an Alito filibuster. "Imagine the political gain for Republicans after a Supreme Court filibuster – with all of its 24/7 publicity – by blue-state liberals against a modest Italian-American with impeccable legal credentials and stainless ethics."

The Washington Post writes that top Senate Democrats call for the start of a filibuster against Judge Alito's confirmation and "Republicans have relished the idea of a Democratic-led filibuster, saying it helps them portray the minority party as obstructionist and beholden to left-leaning groups." LINK

The Boston Globe reports that for Sen. Kerry, this may be the most "bold" move since 2004, Kerry leads the filibuster movement which pressures many Democrats to choose. LINK

James Rowley of Blooberg News on potential filibuster developments. LINK

The economy:

"The economy grew at only a 1.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of last year, the slowest pace in three years, amid belt-tightening by consumers facing spiraling energy costs," reports the Associated Press on the latest Commerce Department report on gross domestic product. LINK

"Even with the feeble showing from October through December, the economy registered respectable overall growth of 3.5 percent for all of 2005 - a year when business expansion was undermined by devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes."

RNC vs. Reid:

In its continued to effort to paint the Democratic Party as ineffective in keeping Americans safe from terrorism, the Republican National Committee will unveil a new web video targeting Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid later today. The only audio in the spot (other than Ken Mehlman's melodiously delivered 'paid for by the RNC' tag line) is Sen. Reid declaring in December, "We killed the PATRIOT Act."

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