The Note: Thumbs on Both Sides of the Scale


From outside the bubble, Brad Freeman, Roland Betts, and Don Evans say, "Mr. President -- George -- Iraq and high gas prices are killing you and you could lose control of the House, Senate, or both." (They are right.)

"But," reply the President's political advisers, Tom Reynolds, and Elizabeth Dole: "While pretending that we think the election is about local issues and personalities, we will make 2006 about -- surprise!!! -- who do you trust on national security, taxes, and family values? In a choice contest like that, with our superior wealth, targeting, and interest group allies, we will protect a lot more incumbents than the polling would currently indicate." (They might be right, too.)

But, the Gang of 500 replies, what about (these must reads):

1. The zeitgeists-setting Time duo of Tumulty and Allen, who don't mince words: if the election were held today, the House would flip. LINK

2. The current violence in Iraq. LINK

3. Twin pairs -- in yesterday's Los Angeles Times (Reynolds and Neuman) and today's New York Times (Kirkpatrick and Nagourney) -- saying voters are turning against the war enough to maybe decide the election (with squishy GOP electeds galore). Pick your poison, Ken Mehlman: the "Seymour, Ind." dateline or the "tipping point" rhetoric. LINK and LINK

4. Sunday's Washington Post on Ohio as the Ohio of 2006 -- it is hard out there for a Red Buckeye. LINK

5. Sunday's Washington Post on the latest on DeLay, Inc., which has the feel of an October Surprise prelude and a winning kicker. LINK

"Pshaw," says the Reynolds/Hazelwood Team. How about:

1. Kingmaker/dealbreaker Robert Pear in Sunday's New York Times saying the prescription drug benefit could be a political benefit for Republicans, just like the White House said it would be. LINK

2. Truthfinder/idea-minder Ron Brownstein, in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, sending a none-too-subtle singnal to Mr. Hoyer: "Democratic leaders are drifting toward a midterm message that indicts Bush more on grounds of competence (on issues such as Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and prescription drugs) than ideology….Such language is a tip-off that Democrats want Americans to cast their ballots this November looking backward, at the missteps and setbacks that have depressed Bush's approval ratings to anemic levels."

"A focus on ideology, by contrast, inherently tilts the election forward: It asks voters to decide which side has a better plan to move ahead. Most Democratic leaders seem leery about that approach." LINK

So, Brad, Roland, and Don: This will be a "choice" election, not a "referendum" and here is the choice:

Do you want the party of Mike Thompson, Michael Moore, Barney Frank, and Howard Dean to protect you while they try to impeach our commander in chief when American troops are in harm's way? That's your choice.

Do you want gay marriage or access to guns and God? Do you want to see flags burned, babies cloned, and late-term abortions? That's your choice.

[The Washington Times' Fagan breaks the code with her look at the pressure being applied to GOP members by some social conservatives. LINK]

[". . . leaders from more than 40 of the nation's most powerful conservative Christian organizations are gathering in Washington, D.C., this week to put GOP Congressional leaders on notice that they will actively look to keep 'values voters' away from the polls if lawmakers don't make good on commitments to move a 'Christ-centered' legislative agenda," reports Roll Call.]

Do you want tax cuts to keep our strong economy getting stronger, or Pelosi-style tax increases? That's your choice.

Check out this muscular press release that came courtesy of the United States government -- NOT the Republican National Committee -- on Friday afternoon:

THE PRESIDENT: "Our Party and members of the United States Congress stood squarely for tax relief for everybody who pays taxes. And the Democratic Party has a clear record.

"In 2001, more than 90 percent of the Congressional Democrats voted against cutting income tax rates.

"More than 90 percent of the Democrats voted against a bill that provided tax relief for married couples.

"More than 90 percent of the Democrats voted [against] a bill that would have put the death tax on the road to extinction.

"More than 90 percent of the Democrats voted against a bill that doubled the child credit.

"More than 95 percent of the Congressional Democrats voted against cutting taxes on capital gains.

"And recently during the budget debate, Democrats used the occasion to call for $173 billion in tax hikes and fee increases.

"The difference is clear, if you want the government in your pocket, vote Democrat. If you want to keep more of your hard-earned money, vote Republican."

By the count of those Googling monkeys with strong abacus skills, there are 5,100,483 political lifetimes to go between now and Election Day, making today's Note merely a snapshot of where things stand this morning. Be patient. Stuff is going to happen.

Proving that he can be just as wrong as Mickey Kaus LINK, President Bush makes 10:00 am ET remarks at a naturalization ceremony at the Daughters of the American Revolution Administration Building in Washington, DC today. Later in the day, the President attends a 6:30 pm ET fundraiser for embattled Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) at the Madison Hotel.

The Senate Judiciary meets to markup comprehensive immigration reform legislation at 10:00 am ET. Asked Sunday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" about Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) threat to bring an immigration bill to the floor that doesn't include a guest worker provision if the Senate Judiciary Committee doesn't finish its work on Monday, Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) said: "We're going to get the bill out tomorrow, George. We may have to work very, very late into the night but we will."

Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist holds a pen-and-pad only dugout in the Senate chamber at 12:30 pm ET.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D-LA) delivers Louisiana's first post-Katrina "State of the State" address in Baton Rouge, LA

DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and New Jersey Assemblywoman Linda Stender discuss the potential of stem cell research and unveil a new Web ad attacking Rep. Mike Ferguson's (R-NJ) record on the issue. (See below for more).

The American Enterprise Institute held a 9:00 am ET discussion, "Tear Down This Wall? Fixing a Broken Immigration System" with US News' Michael Barone, the Center for Immigration Studies' Steven Camarota, and Cato's Daniel Griswold.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) brings HUD Deputy Secretary Roy Bernardi and advocate Dr. Benjamin Hooks to Rochester, NY to participate in a forum that will showcase the work being done by Rochester to eliminate lead-based paint in local homes and buildings.

The Energy Information Administration releases its survey of retail gas prices at 4:30 pm ET.

MyDD's Jerome Armstrong, Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas, and NDN's Simon Rosenberg speak at The George Washington University at 6:00 pm ET. Armstrong and Moulitsas are also speaking about their new book, "Crashing the Gate, at "Politics and Prose" bookstore at 1:00 pm ET. LINK

Beginning at 12:00 pm ET, Vision America holds a conference on "The War on Christians and Values Voters in 2006." Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) delivers remarks at 7:00 pm ET.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is in Phoenix, AZ to raise money for his political action committee.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) continues his two-day visit to New Hampshire.

See below for our patented and hilarious week-ahead schedule.

Congratulations to Jaclyn and Kevin on the arrival of Riley Martin Madden - who we are certain won't grow up to resent the fact that his father emailed his birth announcement to reporters within 62 minutes of his arrival.

Politics of immigration:

ABC's "Good Morning America" looked at the numerous sides of the immigration debate this morning and Noted the 2008 implications it could have.

Glenn Thrush and Peter Clark of Newsday offer us the likely summary of the upcoming immigration debate: "Throw in a little 2008 presidential intrigue, some Bible-thumping from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the prospect of new protests on Capitol Hill today and Democratic Leader Harry Reid's promise to filibuster any immigration bill he doesn't like -- and you're looking at one long, hard week coming up for the ruling Republicans." LINK

Charles Hurt of the Washington Times calls it "highly unlikely" that a consensus will be reached for Senate Majority leader Bill Frist to include a guest-worker program in his border-security bill. Hurt also predicts that the Judiciary Committee's bill dealing with future immigrants is likely to be approved in the committee today, but the terms involving 11 million illegals already here is "far less likely." LINK

The Boston Globe on the efforts of Senators Specter (R-PA), McCain (R-AZ) and Kennedy (D-MA), who are pushing forward immigration reform. LINK

On the CBS "Early Show," GOP consultant Bay Buchanan faced-off with Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) on immigration. Gov. Richardson argued for "a legalization path," tighter border security, and employer sanctions, calling the proposal to deport illegal immigrants "unrealistic," while Ms. Buchanan argued that "it is certainly not impossible to move these people out" and that every guest-worker program in the past turned into amnesty.

The New York Times' coverage of the protests and the Catholic Church's influential role in supporting the immigrant community: LINK

". . . with looming elections and Republican presidential jockeying casting a distorting fuzz over the debate, it may be too late for Mr. Bush's hands-off approach. If the president really wants a sensible reform bill to reach his desk, he will have to do more than stand on the sidelines, urging everyone to have good manners," writes the New York Times editorial board with seeming accuracy. LINK

Roll Call's Morton M. Kondracke writes that President Bush needs to spend some political capital if he wants to include a guest worker program in new immigration legislation.

John Stanton of Roll Call reports that Republican disunity over immigration is providing a cover for discrepancies among Democrats on the issue.

The self-declared pro-immigrant Paul Krugman of the New York Times hopes to see Congress fail to enact immigration reform this year rather than "have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles." LINK

More than half a million people marched in Los Angeles on Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security fence along America's southern border.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday that the demonstration "far surpassed the number of people who protested against the Vietnam War and Proposition 187, a 1994 state initiative that sought to deny public benefits to undocumented migrants but was struck down by the courts." LINK

The Los Angeles Times editorial board calls the weekend protest, "the most awe-inspiring political rally in recent California history. . ." LINK

The choices before the Senate on immigration "will provide a barometer of Bush's waning influence over a Republican Party increasingly on edge about midterm elections. Their debate is likely to not only color the meeting between Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox, in Cancun, Mexico, later this week, but also to lay bare the fractures that the issue creates within the GOP on social, economic and security grounds," writes Nicole Gaouette of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Washington Post reports on how immigration reform could alter business as usual. LINK

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter's immigration mark-up giving foreign students permanent residence if they utilize their advanced math, science, or engineering degrees would only help stifle outsourcing and boost our economy, applauds the Wall Street Journal ed board. LINK

Chicago Tribune's Ana Beatriz Cholo has five activist buses heading for Washington D.C. for an "immigration showdown" today. LINK

The Houston Chronicle's Gebe Martinez covers all the angles in the immigration debate, including polls, legislation, and rallies. LINK

The Arizona Republic editorialized over the weekend that it would be "a courageous move" if Sen. Reid were to make good on his vow to filibuster Frist's bill if it comes to the floor. LINK


Newsweek reports on previously undisclosed comments Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made in Switzerland concerning detainee rights, which have caused the word "recusal" to be on many bloggers' fingertips for the last 24 hours. LINK

In Sunday's Washington Post, Charles Lane called the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, which the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday, "one of the most important of Bush's presidency." LINK

Stem cells:

Believing that stem cell research holds the promise for medical breakthroughs (and sensing that opposition to expanding embryonic stem cell research on the part of some Republicans splits the GOP), the DCCC will begin its nationwide stem cell push today.

In Newark, NJ today, the DCCC will unveil a Web video depicting Rep. Ferguson as beholden to an extremist viewpoint on the stem cell issue. The Web video can be viewed here: LINK

Democrats are targeting Rep. Ferguson because they say he "voted against the final passage of a bill to loosen restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research" in May 2005.

The Web video attacks Rep. Ferguson specifically, but also goes after what Democrats call "other extremist Republicans" like the Rev. Pat Roberson and Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX).

Over the next week, Democrats are planning press events in seven districts around the country. The districts and intended Republican targets of these events are: NJ-7 (Ferguson), WA-8 (Reichert), WI-8 (Reichert), IL-6 (Roskam), PA-8 (Fitzpatrick), CA-11 (Pombo), and CO-7 (O'Donnell). Democrats are planning on releasing six additional Web videos (targeting the other GOPers) later this week.

The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman has Rep. Emanuel saying that the stem cell issue "allows Democrats to appeal to women and to talk about their bigger message - that Republicans represent the status quo and are beholden to special interests, especially the religious right, while Democrats represent change and progress." LINK

Democrats like this issue because stem cell research has received the backing of high-profile Republicans like Nancy Reagan, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Sen. Specter.

Asked how House Republicans will respond to the DCCC's stem cell push, the NRCC's Carl Forti told ABC News: "Why would we respond to something that is a waste of DCCC time and effort? We will do what we have been and continue to attack Democrats on local issues!"

With regards to the specific districts being targeted by the DCCC, Forti says the Democrats running in NJ-7 and WA-8 are not yet on the radar screen. In Wisconsin's 8th district, the NRCC is waiting until the primary is over. As for Tammy Duckworth (the Democratic Iraq war vet running against Roskam in IL-6), Forti says she "doesn't live in the district and she raised less than two percent of her money in the district." As for Patrick Murphy, the Democratic Iraq war veteran running in PA-8, Forti questioned how a "vet candidate who can't articulate a position on the war" can be relied on to "take a position on anything else?" Forti's comments are in reference to Murphy dodging a question about whether he would authorize the Iraq war resolution when he appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews. (More recently, Murphy told ABC News that he would have voted against the Iraq war resolution.) As for CA-11, Forti says: the Democrat running against Pombo is not a top-tier candidate "until he shows he can raise money and gather support." As for CO-7, Forti says the NRCC is waiting until after the Democratic primary. "They're doing a great job of beating each other up."

2006: House:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told Time that his party has "so bungled the job of governing that the best campaign slogan for Democrats today could be boiled down to just two words: 'Had enough?'" LINK

Gingrich's reference to Time about people having had "enough" reminded us of comments Gingrich made to Maureen Dowd which the New York Times printed on November 10, 1994.

Gingrich on the Clintons to Dowd in 1994: "'That is honestly who he is,' he said of the President. 'He's a very smart, very clever tactician whose core system of activity is a combination of counterculture and McGovern. He was McGovern's Texas director, he and his wife were counterculture at Yale, and why wouldn't you accept that they really are who they are? Their problem is, that is a contradiction with the vast majority of Americans. So you have this constant internal stress and what the American people were saying is 'Enough.'"

"Had enough?" is also, of course, the slogan Republicans used during Harry Truman's presidency in 1946 when Americans elected the first Republican Congress since 1928. LINK

Trevor Fitzgibbon (the man at the center of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy) will go from busy to busier in April when MoveOn begins bombarding five House districts with television ads aimed at turning second-tier races into competitive contests.

Eli Pariser, MoveOn's executive director, told ABC News that MoveOn plans to spend $300,000-400,000 per district on these ads. The ads will play two weeks on, and two weeks off, for three months.

MoveOn refuses to identify which districts the ads will air in so as not to give their Republican rivals a head start in raising money to combat the ads. The second-tier districts were chosen on the basis of which seats MoveOn believes are most likely to become competitive. They were also chosen for their relatively low-cost media markets and for the substantial number of local MoveOn members who live in those particular districts.

Although MoveOn supports Rep. John Murtha's (D-PA) strategic redeployment plan, the liberal advocacy group did not make support for such a plan a litmus test in deciding where to run its ads, according to Pariser.

Pariser told ABC News that he believes there will come a time before November when the media decides that the House is in play. MoveOn is hoping that such a moment comes early because Pariser believes that it will "open the floodgates" in terms of money and enthusiasm from MoveOn members.

More from the Washington Post: LINK

In her latest "take from the trenches," Amy Walter writes that Peter Roskam "starts as the favorite" in his race against Tammy Duckworth because of the "overall GOP lean" in Illinois' 6th congressional district.

As for the GOP effort to knock off freshman Rep. Mellisa Bean (D) in Illinois' 8th congressional district, Walter writes: "We have this race in the toss-up category, but as of now, it leans slightly to Bean" because GOPers have "yet to make a convincing case as to why" Bean "deserves to be fired and Bean has not given them many opportunities to make that case."

San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci points out that the results of next week's special election for an open seat in California's strong Republican district may be a "harbinger of the midterm congressional elections this November: [Francine] Busby is pounding ethics to her audiences and the Republican candidates are tussling over who's tougher on immigration." LINK

For US News and World Report, Dan Gilgoff looks at the Democratic Iraq war vets running for Congress and explains why they're facing an uphill climb even within their own party. LINK

2006: Senate:

Sen. Burns told supporters on Saturday that he won't back down from re-election in 2006, no matter who challenges him in the primary or general elections, reports Jim Gransbery of the Billings Gazette. LINK

(Take that John Harwood!)

When asked about his connections to Jack Abramoff, burns stuck to his guns, saying, "I will continue to serve my state and country. I love my state. Broke no law. Did nothing wrong."

In the first Dispatch poll before the May elections, Darrel Rowland of the Columbus Dispatch has Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) "easily besting little-known challengers within their parties," setting up "a fall showdown for DeWine's seat that will be nationally watched." LINK

George F. Will examines Brown's bid and writes that Rep. Brown is "a harbinger of a momentous, and ominous, aspect of the 2008 presidential election: For the first time in living memory, one of the major parties -- Brown's -- will be essentially hostile to free trade, the foundation of today's prosperity." LINK

Fred Dicker scored the Saturday New York Post wood with his story (a/k/a Wolfson catnip) about KT McFarland's (R-NY) claim that Sen. Clinton and her allies have initiated a spying campaign on McFarland. LINK

The Sunday follow was pretty funny too.

Fred Dicker of the New York Post reports that New York State Republican Party Chairman Stephen Minarik has sent a letter to Senate candidate McFarland urging her to dump Ed Rollins as an advisor. LINK

The Free Enterprise Fund has launched a television ad yesterday targeting Sen. Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island on the estate/death tax. The group is expanded to use the ad in targeted races around the country in a $3.7 million buy.

With the image of a hearse rolling through a cemetery in one part of the ad, the narrator intones, "At a time of loss, we take comfort in the thought that this is really not the end. And, when it comes to taxes, it's not even close to the end."

2006: Gubernatorial:

In Sunday's Washington Post, Dan Balz and Tom Edsall picked up on some tough words that Marvin Olasky has written about Ralph Reed's ties to Jack Abramoff. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

George Skelton uses his Los Angeles Times column to look at the seemingly "remarkable" pairing of Gov. Schwarzenegger and State Sen. Tom McClintock on the GOP ticket in California this year. LINK

State Treasurer Phil Angelides has formally accepted three invitations to debate state Controller Steve Westly, including a San Jose University debate in mid-April, a UC Davis debate on April 17, and an LCV debate in Los Angeles on May 3.

Widely seen as an attempt to gain a more moderate image, Gov. Schwarzenegger backed one out of 3 bills to raise minimum wage to $7.75, which is to be reviewed this week by the Califormia State Legislature. Schwarzenegger had vetoed minimum wage increase for the past 2 years, Notes the Associated Press. LINK

Politics of global warming:

Eighty-five percent of Americans say global warming is probably happening, according to a new ABC News/Time Magazine, Stanford University poll. LINK

A vast majority of respondents (88%) think global warming threatens future generations. More than half (60%) say it threatens them a great deal. About four-in-ten (38%) feel that global warming is already a serious problem, 47% feel that it will be in the future.

Bush Administration agenda:

Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip points out that according to many analyses, Bush tax cuts appear to have widened the income gap, despite Treasury Secretary Snow's argument that inequality has narrowed ever since the President took office.

Elisabeth Bumiller's "White House Letter" in the New York Times compares the staff turnover in the East Wing to the relative stasis in the West Wing which likely provided some chuckling over breakfast this morning in the White House residence. LINK

The Wall Street Journal editorial board Notes that with "judges being a key issue in the GOP base," it is due time that the 17 appeals court vacancies be filled before summer recess. Both Terrence Boyle, nominated to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Brett Kavanaugh, under review by the Judiciary Committee, deserve promotion without any case for a filibuster, the ed board continues.

Politics of Iraq:

Another day on the White House calendar which appears can be crossed off as lost to the facts on the ground in Iraq.

The AP on this morning's attack: "A suicide bomber attacked near a joint U.S.-Iraqi military base in northern Iraq Monday, killing at least 17 people and wounding as many as 30, the Iraqi military said."

Here's more: LINK

"American and Iraqi government forces clashed with Shiite militiamen in Baghdad on Sunday night in the most serious confrontation in months, and Iraqi security officials said 17 people had been killed in a mosque, including its 80-year-old imam," ledes the New York Times. LINK

Don Van Natta, Jr. of the New York Times has a Page One write up of that British memo describing a Bush-Blair Oval Office meeting in advance of the invasion of Iraq that will likely give enough talking points for both the DNC and Sen. Reid's "war room" to split up the releases today. LINK

The New York Times' Weisman writes up Secretary Rice's Sunday morning television statements that she will look very carefully into a report suggesting the Russian government may have passed American intelligence on to the Iraqis prior to the invasion. LINK

More from Bloomberg News: LINK

On Friday, three Republicans and three Democrats encouraged their colleagues to sign a "discharge petition" that would force a 17 hour debate on America's role in Iraq, reports Roll Call's Ben Pershing.


The Los Angeles Times looks at some language barriers non-English speaking seniors have encountered as they attempt to navigate the new drug program. LINK


During a Baghdad press conference on Saturday, Sens. McCain and Feingold debated war policy.

Per the Washington Post's Jonathan Finer, "Feingold said he believed 'a large troop presence has a tendency to fuel the insurgency because they can make the incorrect and unfair claim that the U.S. is here to occupy the country.'" LINK

More Finer: "Asked a question on a different topic, McCain quickly responded: 'I believe that premature troop withdrawal is not in consonance with what's going on the ground.'"

2008: Republicans:

Janet Hook looked at the '08 Republican race through the religious conservative lens for Saturday's Los Angeles Times. LINK

Sen. McCain's home state newspaper, the Arizona Republic, describes the 2008 hopeful as less of a maverick of late: "as he edges closer to a presidential bid in 2008, the Arizona Republican is very much exhibiting a party insider strategy, cozying up with many of the same movers and shakers who helped pave the road to the White House for President Bush." LINK

The Civitas Institute, "a conservative research and public policy organization," has Sen. John McCain winning North Carolina in a telephone poll on 800 voters. LINK

On Sunday, Todd J. Gillman of the Dallas Morning News charted McCain's progress towards gaining an edge in Texas, where support for the Republican nominee is up for grabs for the first time in a long time. LINK

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times wrote up Sen. Allen's recent travels to Iowa while keeping an eye on his reelection campaign at home in Virginia. LINK

"Fiscal conservatives seem to like him, but social conservatives are uneasy. 'He's got a good voting record,' said Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, 'but the question is how committed is he,'" wrote Stolberg.

"State-sanctioned gambling has exploded by 158 percent since Gov. Pataki took office nearly a dozen years ago," according to a New York Post analysis. LINK

Holly Bailey of Newsweek writes up Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-CO) potential quest to make immigration a top issue in the 2008 presidential contest. LINK

"If Republican presidential candidates don't put the problem atop the agenda in 2008, he says he'll run himself, just to force the front runners to talk about it. Not that he thinks he'd win the White House. He declares himself 'too fat, too short and too bald' to be president. If the Republicans lose the election because he's too tough on the issue, he says, 'So be it.'"

The AP has John Cox, "a wealthy Chicago investment adviser and political unknown," testing the waters in New Hampshire for a GOP presidential nomination. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Anne Kornblut and Raymond Hernandez of the New York Times (with the help of David Axelord, Chris Lehane, and Paul Begala) offer a key expectations-setting look at some perceived electoral goals for Sen. Clinton this year including a Bush/Rove-style plan to outperform herself from 2000 among unlikely constituencies such as upstate and suburban historically Republican strongholds. LINK

The New York Post Notes Sen. Clinton has 37 staffers on the combined HILLPAC and Friends of Hillary payroll. LINK

Sen. Clinton is lending her fundraising prowess to a cause near and dear to former Sen. Al D'Amato (R-Whitewater), reports Fred Dicker of the New York Post. LINK

Washington Times' Greg Pierce Notes that Republicans yesterday on "This Week" were dismissive of Sen. Clinton's statements that efforts to prevent illegal immigration were un-Christian. LINK

John Kerry's legal defense fund for a defamation suit filed against him is up and running. However, the New York Times Notes, no funds have yet been solicited for it. LINK

While in New Hampshire last week, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) "presented himself as a Democrat who could beat a Republican on a national scale" and drew standing ovations by making it clear "he wants things to stay as they are -- with no other contests between Iowa and New Hampshire," writes Benjamin Kepple of the Union Leader. LINK

"Bayh's remarks separate him from some potential Democratic Presidential candidates, such as Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). Richardson and Kerry have said they are fine with adding a caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire's contest."

James Pindell of Notes that Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) was busy solidifying his position as a moderate (read: electable) Democrat this weekend in New Hampshire by criticizing Sen. Feingold's censure move and focusing on 2008… um, 2006. LINK

"While I have never faced a Democratic primary I know what it takes to win in the general in places where it is tough," Bayh told Democratic activists during his third trip to the Granite State in as many months.

Keying off of ABC's Invisible Primary ratings LINK which ranked Sen. Bayh's staff and consultants as the second best in the Democratic presidential field, Maureen Groppe ran short profiles of the people behind the Bayh punch for Sunday's edition of the Indianapolis Star. The featured Bayh aides were chief of staff Tom Sugar, deputy chief of staff Linda Moore Forbes, PAC director Marc Farinella, communications director Dan Pfeiffer, pollster Paul Maslin, media consultant Anita Dunn, and chief fundraiser Nancy Jacobson. LINK

The people who live in southern Indiana and read the Louisville Courier Journal learned on Sunday from James R. Carroll that Sen. Bayh was ranked number five in ABC's "exhaustive, perhaps even exhausting, analysis of the 2008 presidential candidates." LINK

The AP's Frederic J. Frommer writes that Sen. Feingold's call for censure is "increasing his standing among many Democratic voters as he ponders a bid for the party's presidential nomination in 2008." LINK

Sen. Specter will be busy all week writing questions to ask Sen. Feingold in this Friday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the censure resolution, per Roll Call's Elizabeth Brotherton.

John Edwards' poverty conference got some glowing space in Sunday's New York Times. LINK

In terms of the ability to attract moderate GOP voters, Knight Ridder's Wayne Madsen writes that former Gov. Mark Warner's (D-VA), "background as a telecommunications tycoon, NASCAR fan and frugal spender of government money, makes him a natural nationwide contender for the White House." LINK

Quoted by a leading Missouri Democrat as a "map-changer" who can turn a "red" state "blue," Gov. Warner is giving congressional candidates in Iowa, South Carolina and Missouri financial support in a possible effort to boost his 2008 campaign, Notes Washington Times' Christina Bellantoni. LINK

Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register wrote on Sunday that Gov. Tom Vilsack spoke about the American dream in remarks that sounded to some ears like a re-tooled stump speech to Missouri Democrats Friday evening. LINK

Antonio Fins of the Sun-Sentinel has a Sunday interview with Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM). LINK

Tipper Gore wrote of her and her husband's recent trip to New Orleans in Sunday's Nashville Tennessean under the headline "So Much Left To Do" -- with, of course, some excellent Tipper Gore photos accompanying. LINK

Lobbying reform:

Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post Notes on "revealing" lobbying reform before the House and Senate. LINK


When Tom DeLay was indicted in September by a Travis County grand jury, he lost more than his position as House majority leader -- he lost his concealed handgun permit. LINK

"He wants it back," reports Bob Dunn of Fort Bend Now.

House of Labor:

Wall Street Journal's Kris Maher reports that critics of organized labor will be able to use the now available detailed disclosure of union spending that uncovers costs on administrative overhead, political campaigns, and conventions to their advantage. LINK

Port politics:

Fresh from their win on the Dubai ports deal, federal lawmakers are "moving to gain leverage over a swath of foreign investments in the U.S., an effort that business leaders and President Bush's aides warn could harm the U.S. economy," the Wall Street Journal's Greg Hitt and Neil King Jr. reported over the weekend. LINK

The Washington Times' ed board so far only approves of the Committee on Foreign Investment reform package proposed by Sen. Richard Shelby, which would include more congressional notification, a 45 day review of all foreign government-owned companies, and the secretary of defense as the committee's vice chair. LINK

The Associated Press writes that although Sen. Charles Schumer does not oppose the $6 million U.S. contract with Hutchinson Whampoa, whose advanced technology would help scan U.S.-bound cargo for terror threats at a Bahamas port, he insists that U.S. customs agents should be there to supervise the port. LINK

New Hampshire:

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported on Sunday that Wayne Semprini -- who had the support of the state congressional delegation -- was elected the new chairman of the New Hampshire GOP over the weekend. LINK


Jonathan Roos and Megan Hawkins of the Des Moines Register carefully detail the education debate set to begin today between Gov. Vilsack (D-IA) and the legislature, having Gov. Vilsack arguing that "lawmakers shouldn't plan on going home until they've approved a comprehensive plan to elevate the performance of Iowa students, teachers and schools in an increasingly competitive world." LINK

Iowa parishioners weighed in this weekend on rebuilding the Gulf Coast, reports Sara Sleyster of the Des Moines Register. LINK

Thomas Beaumont writes in the Sunday Des Moines Register that Mike Blouin (D-IA) received the Iowa Federation of Labor endorsement on Sunday but reminds us that Chet Culver (D-IA) has received plenty of union endorsements as well, arguing that "challenged by these divisions, Iowa unions face a daunting political test this year." LINK

"Iowa really is hogging the spotlight this year when it comes to House races," writes Jane Norman in the Sunday Des Moines Register. LINK

Per Norman, "Iowa Democrats continue their pursuit of Nussle, with the latest move a Web site titled 'James and the Giant Deficit' at"

Tony Leys of the Des Moines Register pays homage to Gov. Vilsack's former chief of staff Dr. Stephen Gleason, found dead Saturday in what appears to be a suicide. LINK

The AP on Dr. Gleason's death: LINK

New Orleans:

Louisiana Secretary of State Al Ater will conduct town hall meetings in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Jackson, MS, and Atlanta this week to discuss voting rights information with voters displaced from Louisiana because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In a story you have seen and will continue to see in nearly every media outlet as the New Orleans mayoral election approaches, Newsweek looks at the travel schedules the candidates must keep to reach the widely dispersed New Orleans electorate. LINK

(Attention television producers: It's a very picture-friendly story as well!)

While 12 of the 23 candidates for Mayor of New Orleans debated Saturday, there was little talk of a solid plan to rebuild the city, reports the Houston Chronicle's Zeke Minaya. LINK

The AP has a preview of today's expected federal court action where civil rights groups will ask for the April 22 election to be postponed. LINK


The New York Times' Edmund Andrews takes an excellent look at the powerful lobbying arm of the oil industry and how things get done on Capitol Hill. It's an article that will likely be added to many a political science survey course syllabi this semester. LINK

The Washington Post's David Broder indicated on Sunday that he doesn't like the John Anderson-Birch Bayh proposal to change the system of electing a president because Broder believes the plan "ignores the implications of a direction election plan for two of the fundamental characteristics of the American scheme of government: the federal system and the two-party system." LINK

Susan Miligan of the Boston Globes Notes that guest appearances for politicians on comedy shows may be a right of passage (and a press secretary's worst nightmare) for many politicians as they work to garner the attention of younger voters. LINK

Aaron Gould Sheinin of The State writes up Gov. Sanford's "most unusual of dinners," where, driven by their charitable hearts, "three Democratic state senators, a Republican senator, a Republican who wants to be governor, a lobbyist, a few more lawyers, a journalist and their spouses" got together. LINK

Week ahead:

On Tuesday, the Fed's Open Market Committee releases a statement on the federal funds rate at 2:15 pm ET, the Supreme Court hears a challenge to the lawfulness of President Bush's military commissions, Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) speaks to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-VA) speaks at the "War on Christians" conference in Washington, and ABC's George Stephanopoulos delivers the keynote address at the New Hampshire Primary Awards Dinner in Concord, NH

On Wednesday, a sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jack Abramoff, President Bush meets with the president of Nigeria at 10:55 am ET, makes remarks to Freedom House a the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill at 1:20 pm ET, and heads to Cancun, Mexico. Meanwhile, House and Senate Democrats unveil their comprehensive "Real Security" plan to protect America. Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) attends the Manchester GOP Lincoln-Reagan dinner in Manchester, NH

On Thursday, Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) hosts a fundraiser for Gov. Schwarzenegger in New York and Justice Anthony Kennedy delivers remarks to the American Society of International Law in Washington on Thursday. President Bush meets with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Cancun, Mexico.

On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on Sen. Feingold's proposal to censure President Bush, the President returns to the United States at 3:25 pm ET when he touches down at the Bush ranch in Crawford, TX, and former President Clinton discusses progress made at the midyear mark for the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, NY