The Note: Bush on State of Union Tour



President Bush continues his post-State of the Union tour through Albuquerque, NM and Dallas, TX today before heading to the ranch in Crawford, TX for the weekend.

ABC's Dan Arnall reports, "U.S. employers added 193,000 jobs in January -- fewer than the 245K most economists had expected. The nation's unemployment rate dipped 0.2% to 4.7%, the lowest level since July 2001."

A status conference in case "US v Libby" was scheduled to begin at 9:30 am ET in Courtroom 5 in Federal District Court in Washington, DC with Judge Reggie Walton presiding. "No word from the defense if they will speak afterwards. As for Fitzgerald he'll most likely keep his comments inside the courtroom," reports ABC's Jason Ryan.

Having finished up its work on the Patriot Act extension (now set to expire March 10, pending a presidential signature), the Senate stands adjourned. On Monday, the Senate will start debate on the motion to proceed to S. 852, the asbestos bill. If there is to be a cloture vote, it would occur at 6:00pm on Tuesday in order to accommodate Senators' travel to attend Coretta Scott King's funeral, which is Tuesday in Atlanta.

Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) is the "special guest" at the Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner in Hampstead, NH today. See our preview below.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) headlines the Oakland County Lincoln Day Dinner in West Bloomfield, MI.

At 10:30 am ET, Former President Bill Clinton will be joined by representatives from ACORN, Operation HOPE, and participating companies to announce an Earned Income Tax Credit initiative for those affected by Katrina. Here's the AP's write up: LINK

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is in Missouri today helping raise money for Sen. Jim Talent's (R-MO) reelection campaign and the Missouri Republican Party.

There is lots of '08 travel through Detroit this Super Bowl weekend including Sen. George Allen (R-VA), Gov. Romney, Gov. George Pataki (R-NY), Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA), and Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA), per the Detroit Free Press. LINK

You won't want to miss "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday. George's guests will be Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden and RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman.

Big Casino budget politics: Medicare:

In a must-read, the Los Angeles Times' Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar has Medicare Administrator Mark McClellan opening the door to a possible extension of the May 15 deadline for signing up for the prescription drug benefit, "a step the administration has opposed but critics have said is needed to give seniors time to figure out the program's options." LINK

"Under current rules, if Medicare recipients fail to enroll before May 15, they will have to pay higher monthly premiums permanently."

"McClellan's comments may be the first sign that the administration recognizes that the complex program may have to be retooled to succeed."

McClellan, the Times reports, also is open to simplifying the program.

"Federal spending on the new Medicare drug benefit will be 20 percent lower than expected this year because beneficiaries are choosing prescription drug plans with lower premiums, the Bush administration said Thursday," reports the New York Times' Robert Pear. LINK

Boehner: political analysis:

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney provides a must-read analysis that places the Boehner victory in the context of intense worry and concern among Republicans about their electoral prospects this midterm election year. LINK

Be sure to Note Nagourney's reporting that the White House is more concerned about the vulnerability of the Republican majority in the House than it is about the party's prospects in the Senate. And Note, too, Nagourney's reporting that the White House views the current political climate in the 1994 context -- a comparison Chairman Reynolds has been fighting hard to disprove.

Check out this quote from Republican consultant Joe Gaylord: "'This offers them an opportunity to start off in a new direction,' he said. 'We've gotten former members off the floor and out of the gym. But for Congress to look better in the eyes of voters, they have to turn a new page. There actually has to be a difference. They have to be fairer: conference committees with Republicans and Democrats on them.'"

Jim VandeHei and Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post's tick-tock on the month-long campaign leading up to yesterday's vote as "Boehner, a perpetually tanned conservative," narrowly slid into the winners seat after weeks of phone calls and meetings with fellow Republicans, yet Boehner's win could be in thanks to Rep. Shadegg who candidacy may have cost Rep. Blunt the votes needed to win. LINK

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein describes the Boehner victory as a sign that Republicans are trying to re-position their party and disassociate with past lobbying corruption ties. LINK

Boehner: lede-alls:

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers and Brody Mullins' see Boehner's "come-from-behind victory" reflecting GOPers' "desire for change at a time when public unease has eroded poll ratings for President Bush's party." The Wall Street Journal duo Notes Mr. Boehner's connections to Sallie Mae.

"Sallie Mae, the largest of the private student-loan providers, wants to retain the generous federal subsidies it receives for its loans and make competing loans from the government more expensive by preserving various fees."

The Los Angeles Times' Mary Curtius and Richard Simon see the Boehner pick as a sign that the GOP wants to "show a strong commitment to ethics reform." LINK

"Fresh Face isn't Roy Blunt's," reads the St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline. LINK

"Mr. Boehner is a conservative in the same vein of House Republican leaders for the past dozen years, and his election is unlikely to lead to any substantial change in direction on most policy issues," writes Carl Hulse of the New York Times. LINK

In the wake of a lobbying and corruption scandal, the House GOP yesterday elected a Majority Leader who calls for reform but doesn't necessarily embrace the most sweeping proposals that limit the influence of lobbyists, reports Jim Drinkard of USA Today. LINK

Per Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Boehner's election will no doubt bring benefits to Ohio. LINK

The East Valley Tribune's Mark Flatten has Rep. John Shadegg's (R-AZ) reaction after Rep. Boehner's victory. LINK

"'It leaves the reformers with a partial victory,' Shadegg said. 'It puts us in a position where we continue to have to fight. We have to push this leadership team to find out if they really are committed to reform or if they just kind of gave a nod to reform as a result of my candidacy.'"

Jack Torry and Jonathan Riskind of the Columbus Dispatch write that "by choosing Boehner over Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt. . . House Republicans signaled they are increasingly apprehensive about the November elections. Many fear they could lose control of the chamber for the first time since 1994." LINK

Boehner: bio:

"Easygoing and well liked, with a perpetual tan, a low golf handicap and an ever-present Barclay cigarette between his fingers, Mr. Boehner, 56, looks like a throwback to the 1950's -- Dean Martin comes to Congress. But he is known around the House as a serious legislator, a pro-business lawmaker who is one of the few senior Republicans who can work with Democrats," writes Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times. LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Maria Rulon writes up the local reaction to Boehner's new and better paying job (now $183,500), calling him "the highest-ranking Ohioan in the House since 1931." LINK

Per Rulon: "A downside for locals, however, is that Boehner's win doesn't mean any additional money for Greater Cincinnati highway projects, parks or programs because Boehner has refused to earmark money for his district in the federal budget."

Dana Milbank adds that by electing John Boehner, "House Republicans rejected a member of Tom DeLay's leadership team and resurrected a fallen Newt Gingrich lieutenant." LINK

The Los Angeles Times is luring people to its Hook and Fiore story on Boehner's "phoenix-like" rise as the party's agent of change by characterizing him as "awash in tobacco cash." LINK

The AP provides a quick Boehner bio box. LINK

The AP describes Boehner as an "old hand in house battles," and Notes that "his political action committee, The Freedom Project, has given nearly $3 million to Republican candidates since 1996." LINK

Politics of surveillance:

The New York Times' Shane on Democratic efforts to keep the spotlight on the warrantless wiretapping program at yesterday's Intelligence Committee hearing on terrorist threats facing the United States. LINK

USA Today on same: LINK

The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage focuses his coverage on Sen. Rockefeller's remarks at the hearing. LINK

Under a "White House wants Patriot Act compromise," the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports that Bush aides are working to keep security enhancements while accommodating bipartisan civil-liberties concerns."

"58%-41%, independents are "extremely" or "quite" concerned that warrantless wiretaps could violate privacy."

"Terrorism falls to Americans' fourth-ranking priority behind health care, Iraq and jobs."

On Monday, will begin airing a "Breaking the Law" ad that morphs the likeness of former President Nixon with that of President Bush.

(The Nixon-Bush comparison was first used in a DNC Web video).

The ad calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the President's circumvention of the FISA statute. will spend $100,000 to air it nationally on CNN over three days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). The ad is designed to start on the same day that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Big Casino budget politics:

The New York Times on the $70 billion defense supplemental request for ongoing operations in Iraq in Afghanistan soon headed from the Administration to the Hill. LINK

Per the Los Angeles Times' Mazzetti and Havermann, "Congress will probably approve the $70-billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan funding. But chances for a tax cut this year may founder." LINK

Politics of Iraq:

The recent Iraqi vote appears to have "undercut Bush's leverage," the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports.

"'Elections may have encouraged the American public to support troop withdrawal,' say Journal/NBC pollsters Peter Hart and Bill McInturff. Even 51% of conservatives back reductions."

The Fitzgerald investigation:

The Lewis Libby defense fund has reached the $2 million mark, per the New York Times. LINK

Politics of Katrina:

The political and racial ramifications of Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu's anticipated entrance into the New Orleans mayor's race receives front page treatment in the New York Times. LINK

Politics of energy:

Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times Notes the different sounding messages coming from the President and the Secretary of Energy on the Administration's new energy initiative. LINK

The New York Times' Matthew Wald explains how the earmark process affects the research and development the President spoke about in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. LINK

The New York Times' Tom Friedman declares the President's vision for energy independence (as articulated in his speech Tuesday night) to be ". . . more like Nixon goes to New Mexico. It was an important change in direction and tone -- but still a long way from China, a long way from a definitive change in policy and implementation."


President Bush's SOTU reference to a new form of ethanol is challenging but promising for Iowa, writes Philip Brasher of the Des Moines Register. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Per the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: "Half of Democrats say Hillary or Bill Clinton speak for party" while "fewer than 10% choose chairman Dean or congressional leaders Reid and Pelosi."

2008: Republicans:

Sen. Frist is expected to go very much on the partisan offensive in New Hampshire today, with remarks such as these, obtained by ABC News:

Freedom. Opportunity. The American Dream.

This is the America I see. And the America I know we can create.

A lot of folks in Washington want to stand in our way. Folks with names like Hillary, Harry, Howard, and Ted.

They filibuster. They obstruct. They peddle their talking points.

And they go on the Sunday shows and tell us what's wrong with America.

But here's the thing .. . .Americans don't need to be told what's wrong with their country. What they need to hear is . . . what are you going to do about it!

We know what Democrats are against. But what are they for?

What are their ideas? Their convictions? Where do they stand?

They don't know. We do.

Frist's remarks can be seen live on C-SPAN starting at 7:45 pm ET. The Senate Majority Leader's remarks will air again during Sunday's "Road to the White House 2008," along with remarks that former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) recently delivered in Iowa. "Road to the White House" airs on Sundays at 6/9 pm ET.

Per Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register, Gov. Pataki touted his affinity for ethanol in the Hawkeye State, "a topic he has trumpeted since before taking a political interest in Iowa." LINK

And one neutral Iowa Republican insider tells The Note that Gov. Pataki "gave a really good speech last night that was well received in Sioux City. About 50 people attended the reception at Chairman Hoffmann's restaurant."

In an AEI conference yesterday, Sen. Brownback (R-KS) called for a "toughened stance" towards Iran, writes Brian McGuire of the New York Sun. LINK

As an ardent opponent of abortion rights, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) will always be viewed by the predominantly pro-choice media as one of the most conservative -- if not the most conservative -- Republican '08er. But his political profile is more nuanced than that caricature would suggest.

In recent weeks, he's been raising questions about the death penalty, focusing attention on Darfur, and pushing for the re-integration of ex-convicts.

Yesterday, following a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, he said: "I don't see the viable military options when you're looking at Iran," ABC's Dan Nechita reports.

Sen. Brownback called for encouraging democracy and a peaceful overthrow of the mullahs, "rather than looking at the military options," a position that puts him to the left not only of Republicans like Sen. McCain but of Democrats like Sen. Bayh and Sen. Clinton.

MSNBC's Tom Curry slips a paragraph about Brownback's military option comments into his Bayh article. LINK

Brian McGuire of the New York Sun on Brownback's speech. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Economist's Lexington column looks at Al Gore and John Kerry and writes that Kerry, post-Alito, has "confirmed his position as one of the perennial losers in American politics." LINK

Gore, by contrast, with his "no-holds-barred broadsides against the Bush Administration for everything from Abu Ghraib to warrantless wiretaps to the planetary emergency of global warming, has "morphed into a more interesting figure."

"Which points to an interesting paradox: Mr. Gore is generating far more political capital by breaking the political rules than he did by obeying them. Mr. Kerry's Alito ploy looked brazenly political."

"But Mr. Gore's new persona (or perhaps, more accurately, his rediscovery of his hidden self) is causing something of a buzz. The party's cash-rich Hollywood wing increasingly sees him as a liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton; and he is persuading all sorts of people to take a fresh look at Dudley Do Right. None of this means that he is a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2008. But it does mean that he is far better placed than the junior senator from Massachusetts."

MSNBC's Tom Curry covers Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) effort to pick up Karl Rove's gauntlet at CSIS yesterday and Notes that the former DLC Chair's "most hawkish talk came on Iran," that he left "unanswered questions about whether and at what point he might call for the withdrawal of American troops" from Iraq, and that he has something that most of his 2008 rivals do not: "a solid record as governor." LINK

Reuters on the same: LINK

Bayh called for a larger military, criticized the Bush administration's "mismanagement" of the Iraq war, and didn't rule out the eventual use of force in Iran, reports Maureen Groppe of the Indianapolis Star. LINK

"Bayh for the first time called for enlarging the Army by 100,000 permanent soldiers. That would cost about $20 billion a year and, Bayh said, could be done through volunteer recruits without a draft."

Mara Lee has Sen. Bayh "shaking his head like a disappointed father who's caught his son breaking curfew" while talking about the "stunning incompetence" with which the war in Iraq has been led. LINK


The Boston Globe reports Attorney General Thomas Reilly is marching forward with his campaign after a bruising start and held a press conference yesterday attempting to smooth over his poor campaign choices by telling the media that voters don't care about politics, "they care about what's going on in their lives." LINK

The Boston Herald has more: LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

The ever-vigilant Dan Morain and Robert Salladay report that Gov. Schwarzenegger gave Susan Kennedy $25,000 after he received that amount from AT&T. Days later, while she was serving on the state's Public Utilities Commission, she voted to OK AT&T's merger with SBC. LINK

"Kennedy's agreement with the governor will pay her $100,000 from campaign funds -- the $25,000 December payment plus $75,000 this year -- on top of the $131,000 annual government salary she is making as chief of staff."


Diana Taylor summons her mother's wisdom and tells the New York Times' Cardwell that "everything works out for the best," when asked about the demise of her FDIC nomination. LINK