The Note: Bush on State of Union Tour

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3

NEWS SUMMARY

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

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