The Note: Touring The Ruins


Where will the whip count be by the Sunday morning shows? And what is the agreed upon definition of "amnesty" among the American electorate? Having answers to those questions at this point in time will make your weekends much more enjoyable.

Having helped his Mexican counterpart understand in whose court the immigration ball is in, President Bush continues to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Cancun, Mexico. Later today, he returns to his ranch in Crawford, TX where he will stay overnight.

The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) call to censure President Bush. Today's speakers include Robert Turner of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia and John Dean, former White House counsel to President Nixon and author of "Worse Than Watergate." Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) holds a press conference on the Cannon Terrace at 11:00 am ET that is sure to be well-attended. LINK

Former President Bill Clinton joins Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo at 9:30 am ET in New York City to announce the focus areas, timing, and major attendees of the Clinton Global Initiative 2006. President Clinton will also give an update on the 200-plus commitments totaling over $2.5 billion that were pledged at CGI 2005.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is in Little Rock, AR meeting with local African American leaders and addressing the 2nd congressional district Lincoln Day dinner.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) is scheduled to be in Jacksonville, FL on Sunday raising money for his One America Committee. He's expected to address the bar association in Jacksonville on Monday.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and Small Business Administrator Hector Barreto tour small businesses and hold a roundtable hosted by the California Mexican American Chamber of Commerce at 2:00 pm ET to discuss how the state can help growing businesses.

Former Gov. Christine Whitman (R-NJ) is the special guest of Princeton area Republicans at the Nassau Club.

Don't miss this Sunday's edition of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, with guests Sens. George Allen (R-VA) and Barack Obama (D-IL). Can't wait until Sunday to dissect Washington's political landscape? Then get your daily dose of inside baseball here: This Week All Week on the web. LINK

This week: ABC News' Jessica Yellin on a Cancun spring break, POTUS-style; Sam Donaldson remembers being there when President Reagan was shot 25 years ago; plus immigration politics aplenty. Check in every Thursday afternoon for a new edition.

This weekend's "Road to the White House" features March 20 remarks by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) in Roebuck, SC, at the Spartanburg County Democratic Party. C-SPAN will also feature March 18 remarks by Gen. Wesley Clark (D-AR) in Windham, New Hampshire, at a meeting hosted by two local Democratic committees.

Other weekend 2008 schedule items include: Sen. Frist's keynote address to the Orthodox Union National Dinner in New York on Sunday, Sen. McCain's address to the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in Yonkers, NY and then he appears at a Curt Weldon fundraiser in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Gen. Wesley Clark's keynote address at the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Convention in Fargo, ND, Gov. Tom Vilsack's (D-IA) appearance at a fundraiser for the Seminole County Democratic Party in Longwood, FL, and Sen. Sam Brownback's (R-KS) address the North Dakota GOP Convention in Minot, ND.

Gov. Janet Napolitano hosts Govs. Brian Schweitzer (D-Mt), Bill Richardson (D-NM), Brad Henry (D-OK), Chris Gregoire (D-WA), and Jim Doyle (D-WI) in Phoenix, AZ this weekend.

Politics of immigration:

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports that Democrats believe "they can deliver 42 votes for the bill, and Mr. McCain's office appeared confident that 18 Republicans can be found to bridge the difference and invoke cloture to cut off a filibuster. But Mr. Frist said last night that 'cloture doesn't have the votes to pass now even if they had all 45 Democrats.'"

"The White House's worst fear regarding the legislation is that it will collapse in the Senate, denying Mr. Bush the chance of getting the House to consider a more comprehensive approach to immigration."

"Senators are finding it hard to find middle ground on the question of whether undocumented workers, already in the U.S., should be allowed to both legalize their status and eventually apply for citizenship."

"'I, right now, would not support the bill if it stays exactly the way it is,' Mr. Frist said. He warned against pushing too fast for a vote on cloture before Republicans had had a chance to express themselves."

The New York Times' Carl Hulse and Rachel Swarns write, "Supporters of Mr. McCain's plan said that President Bush's comments in recent days have suggested he was moving toward their position." LINK

More Hulse/Swarns: "Lawmakers and Senate officials said the climactic votes would come next week as senators considered amendments and a choice between the Judiciary Committee plan and a proposal by Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, that focuses on tougher law enforcement."

Under a "Hill conservatives warn Bush of amnesty anger" header, the Washington Times' Charles Hurt has Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) saying that "they will remember in November," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) saying that Sen. McCain and others will find "their own career is short term," and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) saying that anyone who supports a guest-worker proposal should be "branded with a scarlet letter A," for "amnesty." LINK

As for who might be willing to pick up the hard labor many illegal immigrants now perform, Rep. Rohrabacher said: "I say let the prisoners pick the fruits."

The Houston Chronicle's Martinez and Levine have Sen. McCain saying: "It sounds great: 'Send them all back.' And then somebody says, 'How do you do that?' Duh." LINK

The AP's Ron Fournier provides a crafty digest of how the immigration issue is playing out in Arizona politics. LINK

While in Tucson, AZ on Thursday, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman "only mentioned immigration -- the issue of the week in Washington and the biggest issue in Arizona -- once during the speech, briefly saying that the country needed to secure its borders, which drew applause from the crowd," the Arizona Daily Start reports. LINK

Immigration policy is threatening to become a wedge issue among Democrats too -- with party allies in economics and labor, who fear that foreign workers decrease wages and displace native-born workers, reports Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post. LINK

Carolyn Lochhead of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that an "extraordinary bipartisan Senate coalition has emerged" in support of McCain-Kennedy, a coalition that includes Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a "long-standing hawk on immigration." LINK

The Dallas Morning News' Mittelstadt and Reddy Notice that the Senate may, "double the nearly 1 million green cards handed out yearly." LINK

The Washington Post's ed board urges President Bush to speak up on immigration reform: Does he support the Senate Judiciary measure, which mirrors an earlier proposal from Sens. McCain and Kennedy? LINK

"Mr. McCain and Mr. Kennedy sounded hopeful after talking with the president, but the White House has not been clear, simply repeating that Mr. Bush would oppose any measure that grants 'amnesty' without saying whether it views the Judiciary measure as an amnesty bill. Does the president disagree with Mr. Frist's enforcement-only measure? If that's the case, it would help if he would say so."

The Wall Street Journal's ed board asks: Is the GOP the party of Ronald Reagan or Tom Tancredo?

"The immediate danger is that Republicans will ignore their longer-term interests by passing a punitive, and poll-driven, anti-immigration bill this election year. Any bill that merely harasses immigrants and employers, and stacks more cops on the border, may win cheers in the right-wing blogosphere. However, it will do nothing to address the economic incentives that will continue to exist for poor migrants to come to America to feed their families. And it will make permanent enemies of millions of Hispanics, without doing anything to draw illegals out of the shadows and help them assimilate into the mainstream of American culture and citizenship."

The New York Times' Paul Krugman fears a large non-voting workforce. LINK

"Prediction: Congress won't send a new immigration bill to the president's desk this year," writes John Podhoretz in his New York Post column. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

National Journal's Murray Waas goes beyond those infamous 16 words in the President's 2003 State of the Union address to the immediately following 20 words to question the President's claim that intelligence sources said Saddam Hussein had "attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." LINK

Waas reports that as part of the "damage-control effort" the White House was undergoing in 2003 in response to Joe Wilson's charges, Stephen Hadley discovered an October 2002 report to the President informing him of the divide within the intelligence community as to whether the aluminum tubes were suited for nuclear or conventional weapons.

"Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration.," writes Waas.

The fate of the entire U.S. enterprise in Iraq now hangs in the balance, as the war has entered a dangerous new phase. . . You enter a realm that is beyond politics, a realm where fear and revenge dominate everyone's thinking -- and that is where Iraq is heading," writes the New York Times' Friedman. LINK

The "Win Without War" coalition is launching a nation-wide print and radio campaign to build, "support for H. Res 543, a discharge petition allowing for immediate consideration and vote on all alternatives to current Bush administration policy on Iraq."

A bi-partisan group of congressmen are expected to announce their support for the discharge petition next Wednesday.

Politics of Iran:

"United Nations atomic energy chief Mohamed ElBaradei urged the international community Thursday to steer away from threats of sanctions against Iran, saying the country's nuclear program was not 'an imminent threat' and that the time had come to 'lower the pitch' of debate," leads the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Sen. Feingold calls for censuring President Bush:

Jack Torry of the Columbus Dispatch keys off of today's hearing on the censure resolution by Noting impeachment efforts in New Mexico, Vermont, and California. LINK

Laurie Kellman of the AP details Sen. Feingold's summoning of John Dean, counsel to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal, to testify today. LINK

Politics of same-sex marriage:

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday upheld a 1913 state law blocking out-of-state gays from legally marrying in the Bay State.

"'We don't want Massachusetts to become the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage,'" Gov. Romney said in reacting to the ruling. .LINK

". . .It's very important to contain a bad initial decision on same-sex marriage by this court and not impose it on the other 49 states," said Mitt Romney to the New York Times in an interview in which he reacted to the court's decision. LINK

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick voices his concern with the ruling and uses the opportunity to tie his Democratic primary opponent Attorney General Reilly to the Republican governor they both hope to succeed. LINK

The Boston Globe Notes that Attorney General Reilly may not want to celebrate his legal victory too soon because as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate this decision may cost him some liberal primary voters. LINK


Despite what the President may want on immigration, USA Today's David Jackson has him giving President Fox the verbal equivalent of a shoulder shrug. LINK

"I told (Fox) there is a legislative process that's going forward," Bush said.

The New York Times reports President Fox's understanding that the immigration issue (despite all that TV thumb sucking in front of beautiful beaches) is now in the hands of the United States Congress. LINK

President Bush said he is optimistic that Congress will pass a guest-worker program during his meeting yesterday with Mexican President Vicente Fox, reports the Chicago Tribune's Hugh Dellios. LINK

James Gerstenzang of the Los Angeles Times on President Bush's rare sightseeing moment: LINK

GOP agenda:

In the wake of the Dubai ports uproar, Republicans and Democrats are competing to advance measures that would increase executive-branch and congressional scrutiny over foreign mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. But the Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. reports that U.S. business interests, with some Senate support, have "fought back, arguing that lawmakers risk scaring off crucial investors and making life harder on U.S. companies overseas."

"The Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved a bill to extend the existing review process in a wide array of cases and to broaden the definition of investments, calling for scrutiny to include all types of 'critical infrastructure.'"

The Wall Street Journal's John Hechinger reports that the House passed a bill that mandates increased disclosure of college-pricing data and drops an anti-fraud measure that had curbed the growth of for-profit colleges.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports that anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist is pushing repeal of the 3 percent telephone excise tax with a floor vote "close to the election."

Bolten succeeds Card:

The AP's Glen Johnson reports that although GOP consultants see the move as unlikely, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) would welcome Andy Card arms-open to "run for any office he'd like." LINK

Lobbying reform:

Jonathan Salant of Bloomberg news reports that next week, "Representatives debating new U.S. restrictions on lobbyists will be able to slip out at lunchtime to attend political fundraising events sponsored by lobbyists. " LINK

Campaign finance:

In a ruling issued late Wednesday evening, a federal judge gave the Federal Election Commission a choice: Either explain in detail why regulations on 527 political committees are not needed or begin proceedings to develop such rules, the Washington Post's Tom Edsall reports. LINK

The New York Times' Hulse and Stolberg preview next week's House debate over 527's (NFTSOTTCTGT) including the Pence and Club for Growth dissent on the right, fretting among the Democrats, and MoveOn's already in-place adjustments. LINK


In his National Journal column, Charlie Cook explores why top-tier Democratic challengers are rebuffing party recruiting efforts.

"One reason that Democrats are having recruitment problems is that they have not enjoyed a strong national wind at their backs since the 1982 midterm election, when a recession marked President Reagan's first term," writes Cook.

At the Cincinnati Reds' home opener on Monday, Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) is "slated to leave his family's seats in the second deck along the third-base line to sit with President Bush for the first few innings. This very public appearance with Bush is a change for DeWine, who had been conspicuously absent when the president visited the state three times earlier this year," reports the Associated Press. LINK

In anticipation of MoveOn's plans to air television ads in five House districts starting in April, the NRCC sent out a fundraising solicitation on Thursday asking GOP supporters for money to help them combat MoveOn's efforts to "skew the public's perception with their left-wing commercials and falsities."

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood writes that Republicans' 1994 landslide was fueled by "31 open seats that Democrats had held. So far, just 18 Republican-held seats have become open as summer candidate-filing deadlines approach."

Sen. Obama (D-IL) joined Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) at the annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner in Connecticut last night and praised Lieberman's efforts in Congress. LINK

"The fact of the matter is, I know some in the party have differences with Joe. I'm going to go ahead and say it," Obama said, "I am absolutely certain Connecticut is going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the U.S. Senate so he can continue to serve on our behalf."

Question wording is always key! Fred Dicker of the New York Post examines KT McFarland's "surprise" lead in the GOP primary according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. LINK

The AP reports the latest Keystone State gubernatorial poll numbers showing a slight lead for football hall of famer Lynn Swann (R-PA) over Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA). Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) will join the over 20 co-sponsors of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, "at least in part to regain support from unhappy conservatives in his state," report Torry and Riskind of the Columbus Dispatch. LINK


Incoming state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-FL) makes some noise in the newspapers today as he argues for moving the Florida presidential primary right after the New Hampshire primary in order to increase Florida's influence in selecting not only the president, but the party nominees as well. LINK, LINK, and LINK

The New York Daily News' McAuliff writes the effort up as a possible boon for Sen. Clinton. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Shailagh Murray and T.R. Reid report on the Washington Post's front page that Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-CO) profile has grown with his push to secure America's borders. LINK

DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) says: "I'm all for more and more nuts in their party speaking up. I want more of those guys."

Tancredo has appeared "more than 1,000 times on radio talk shows in recent years and has become a television news mainstay."

"When Tancredo was scheduled as a guest on ABC's 'This Week' last Sunday, he received 300 'good luck' e-mail messages before his appearance and 700 'good job' e-mails after the show."

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports that Sen. McCain is fueling his hopes for "wooing Bush loyalists" by "championing White House priorities" on immigration as well as Iraq.

The Washington Wire speculates that tough border-security talk by Sen. Frist could produce inroads for him among Christian conservatives who see immigrants as a burden rather than as a benefit. "But damage to party efforts to increase Hispanic support, warns former Rep. Vin Weber, could be 'so great as to be fatal to any chance of a Republican majority.'"

Anyone remember that straw poll victory in his native Tennessee a few weeks ago?

The Los Angeles Times' Curtius extends the Frist pile-on this week with Senate GOP aides expressing "growing discontent with his performance." LINK

"The more pointed such criticism becomes, the more it could undermine Frist's efforts to springboard to the White House," writes Curtius.

While appearing on CNN on Thursday, Sen. McCain was asked about his forthcoming commencement address at the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

"I put the campaign of 2000 behind me a long time ago," Sen. McCain said. "I don't look back in anger. I don't hold any resentment."

More McCain: "The Reverend Falwell came to see me. We had a good conversation. There are areas we're in agreement on, and I'm sure there are areas that we're in disagreement on. And he asked me to speak at his commencement. I was glad to do it . . ."

The Boston Herald Notes that perhaps Gov. Romney is taking credit on anti-gang legislation that isn't really his for the taking. LINK

Patrick Healy of the New York Times writes up the strong criticism Gov. Pataki is receiving from so vocal longtime critics within the New York Republican Party. Healy also includes gubernatorial candidate John Faso's distancing himself from the man he hopes to succeed. LINK

"John Faso, a Republican candidate for governor, recently set off a stir with perhaps the most cutting remark from a high-profile party member. In a Wall Street Journal article last week, Mr. Faso said Mr. Pataki had 'lost his way on taxes and spending' in recent years."

"Such criticism is not welcome in Pataki circles, not only because his legacy is at stake, but also because it comes as he explores a presidential bid in 2008. After Mr. Faso put the Journal article on his campaign Web site, Ryan Moses, the executive director of the state party and a former Pataki aide, asked the Faso campaign to remove it. It is still there."

2008: Democrats:

The Hotline's Marc Ambinder Notes that Sen. Clinton's campaign signed up "heavy-hitter" Judith Litchman as a senior adviser yesterday. LINK

"While Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is the front-runner," Peter Hardin of the Richmond Times-Dispatch has pollster Frank Luntz also seeing former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) favorably in New Hampshire and Iowa. LINK

The New York Daily News writes up Frank Luntz's Iowa and New Hampshire focus group results as well -- which may not bode well for Sen. Clinton's presidential prospects, writes McAuliff. LINK

Helen Kennedy rounds out the New York Daily News' Clinton coverage with a look at her recent fundraising trip to Texas and other "red states" in advance of today's filing deadline. LINK

Last night, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) made a cameo appearance at the Capitol Hill bar "Hawk and Dove" -- under a disco ball and purple neon lights, the Massachusetts Senator stopped by to promote the radio endeavor of two former staffers. is a progressive radio/blog venture by brothers Peter and Matthew Slutsky. The two brothers have already interviewed the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen, DeLay foe Nick Lampson, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and Sen. Kerry.

Yesterday, we referenced comments Gen. Wesley Clark recently made during a Q&A at the Council on Foreign Relations. For more complete context on what Gen. Clark has written and said about the President's handling of the Iraq war go here: LINK, LINK, LINK, and LINK

New Orleans:

The DNC announced a plan yesterday to mobilize displaced voters upcoming New Orleans mayoral election, reports the Houston Chronicle's Kim Cobb. LINK

"The Democratic National Committee will advertise its toll-free help line, 1-888-DEMVOTE, through advertisements on radio stations catering to African-Americans in the major evacuee centers of Houston, Baton Rouge, La., and Atlanta."

Clintons of Chappaqua:

While in Iowa on Thursday, former President Clinton said Dr. Stephen Gleason, one of his former health care advisors (who also served as Gov. Tom Vilsack's chief of staff and director of the Iowa Department of Public Health before retiring in 2004), wound up in a dark place after dedicating his brilliant energy to helping others. LINK

The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont calls Clinton's tribute "simple and personal." LINK

More from the AP: LINK


Iowa middle and high school students skipped school for an immigrant rights protest on Thursday, reports the Des Moines Register's Jared Strong. LINK

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted yesterday to look further into ethics charges against Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA). LINK


A U.S. District Court has issued grand jury subpoenas to six aides to Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA) who has been "implicated in a bribery case," reports the Associated Press. LINK


Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe does some demystifying of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform by exploring the group's donor list. LINK

"An examination of Norquist's activities over the past decade shows a pattern: He has maintained a highly visible public persona as a crusader on behalf of the average taxpayer, but his work has also benefited some of his biggest donors who have specific interests."

Sen. Obama visits Florida tonight to pitch his new book to Random House execs, reports the Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny. The only problem: Sen. Obama needs to finish writing it. LINK

Sen. Obama will be the keynote speaker at the Center for American Progress's second annual Campus Progress National Student Conference. The event will be held on July 12, 2006, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC.


Yesterday, The Note mistakenly identified Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as a Republican. He, of course, is a Democrat (and a self-described "new progressive"). We regret the error.