The Note: Focused on Winning

"Two Senate incidents during the week pointed to the failure of congressional Republicans to fulfill commitments of fiscal restraint. At their weekly luncheon meeting Tuesday, GOP senators were told there was not enough support for restrictions on spending to pass a budget this year and there would be no attempt. On Wednesday, the party's Senate leadership beat down opposition to more money to pay citizens' home heating bills."

Rep. Jim McCrery, the likely replacement for House Ways and Means chairman Bill Thomas, will face more difficulty due to Thomas' successes, high budget deficits and the political weakness of the president, reports Bloomberg News' Ryan Donmoyer. LINK

Dean's Democrats:

The New York Times' Robin Toner reported on Sunday that the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee endorsed the idea of adding "as many as four state primaries and caucuses to the early presidential nominating season, now dominated by Iowa and New Hampshire" for the purpose of adding more racial, ethnic, regional and economic diversity." LINK

The AP's Will Lester had Bill Gardner, New Hampshire's secretary of state, saying in a weekend interview that he will eventually consider whether he must move up the state's primary to comply with a Granite State law that requires it to be scheduled a week or more before any "similar election." LINK

The DNC crew is hoping to avoid triggering such a move by specifying that one or two additional "caucuses" (not primaries) be held before New Hampshire.

In a must-read, the Union Leader's John DiStaso had Gov. John Lynch's (D-NH) spokesperson Pamel Walsh saying that the governor will support, "Gardner 'in whatever he decides.' Lynch also believes potential candidates are currently giving New Hampshire 'a vote of confidence' by visiting the state early and often." LINK

Early and often, indeed … New Hampshire will soon be crowded with 2008 hopefuls, with Gov. Romney, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), and Gen. Wesley Clark all planning visits this weekend and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Sen. Allen, and Sen. Bayh attending events before March is out.

ABC News' Teddy Davis has the co-chairs of the DNC's "Rules and Bylaws Committee" -- former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and James Roosevelt, Jr. -- saying that after their committee hears state presentations on April 20 in New Orleans, the two of them would like to come up with a consensus recommendation to present to the June meeting of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. LINK

In a sign that Herman and Roosevelt have their work cut out for themselves, ABC's Davis has Don Fowler, a former DNC chairman from South Carolina who serves on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, saying, "I doubt the committee would accept that," when told of the Herman-Roosevelt plan to present a unified recommendation to the rules panel.

The view from the Des Moines Register: LINK

The Union Leader writes up Dean saying on CNN that he supports having "racially diverse states vote early in the Presidential selection process, although there was 'wiggle room' in the details." LINK

While appearing on CNN's "Late Edition," DNC Chairman Howard Dean was asked about Harold Ickes's data project. The former Vermont governor said: "I wouldn't say he was wasting money. He may want to do this for his own purpose, but it won't basically help candidates. They have to rely on hard money. It can't help federal candidates."

On the same program, Dean invoked a Clintonesque "change versus more of the same" theme.

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