The Note: Key Judgement

WASHINGTON, Apr. 10

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants and immigrant rights supporters are expected to march in 72 locations around the country today. Organizers of today's events are calling it "the biggest mobilization in history on the issue of immigrant rights."

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) will address the DC rally on the National Mall at 4:30 pm ET. He is expected to address head-on the enforcement-only immigration bill passed by the House. Sen. Kennedy will be joined by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and other labor leaders.

Sen. Kennedy is expected to tell the crowd that the Republican House bill is wrong because it will make America less secure.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) joins Linda Chavez-Thompson of the AFL-CIO and other union leaders at a 3:00 pm ET rally in New York City. At some point today, at an undisclosed North American location, Sen. Hillary Clinton will sit down with Bloomberg News for an exclusive interview teeing up her major speech on the economy slated for tomorrow in Chicago. Expect there to be banter on economic inequality and good jobs at good wages (not unlike, coincidentally, what they have at Bloomberg).

President Bush makes 10:50 am ET remarks on the global war on terrorism at the Johns Hopkins Paul Nitze School of International Studies in Washington, DC at 10:50 am ET. Surely, he will not be influenced by the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, which shows that his job approval rating is at a career low. LINK

ABC News' Jon Cohen and Gary Langer report that just 38 percent of Americans now approve of Bush's overall performance in office -- the lowest mark of his presidency, albeit by a single point. Sixty percent disapprove of how he's handling his job, matching the highest disapproval of his tenure.

One of the primary drags on the President's job approval rating has been the public's negative assessment of the war in Iraq, and in this poll 58 percent say the war was not worth fighting -- a majority sentiment for the past 16 months.

A striking feature of the President's predicament is the intensity of sentiment against him. Today, just 20 percent of Americans "strongly" approve of his work in office, while more than twice as many, 47 percent, strongly disapprove. At the start of Bush's second term, he had the same number of strong supporters and strong opponents.

Vice President Cheney delivers 1:40 pm ET remarks at a fundraiser for Iraq war vet turned House candidate Van Taylor. He delivers 3:50 pm ET remarks at a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO).

Former Vice President Gore will be the meta-surprise guest at a major DNC fundraiser being held at the Mandarin Hotel in New York City at 6:30 pm ET to honor DNC Finance Chair Maureen White. Also attending tonight's fundraiser will be former President Clinton, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), and DNC Chairman Howard Dean. The fundraiser, which will be attended by 500 people, is expected to raise $1.3 million.

Early voting for New Orleans mayor and city council starts today, writes the AP. Twenty-two candidates, most of them white, are challenging the re-election bid by Mayor Ray Nagin. LINK

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson (R-AR).

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) raises money for Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) at 11:45 am ET and holds a press availability with him at 1:00 pm ET in Holland, MI. Gov. Romney tours the exhibition hall at the Biotechnology Industry Organization Annual International Convention in Chicago at 4:00 pm ET. Gov. Romney holds a closed press RGA fundraiser at the Chicago Club at 7:00 pm ET.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) speaks at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD.

First Lady Laura Bush participates in roundtable discussion and delivers 12:15 pm ET remarks to the Urban Youth Empowerment Program in New Orleans, LA. She gives the press a preview of the President's boyhood home in Midland, TX at 5:00 pm ET.

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Weld (R-NY) leads the Reuters discussion with industry and corporate leaders at the Reuters Building in New York, NY

Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) delivers the 3rd annual Dole Lecture at Kansas State University in Lawrence, KS.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) holds private meetings in Sacramento, CA today.

The Energy Information Administration releases its survey of retail gasoline prices. Prices went up by nine cents last week, making the average price $2.59 a gallon. Experts say they expect another week of price increases as U.S. supplies of gasoline and oil dip.

Sen. Tom Coburn's subcommittee holds a 12:30 pm ET field hearing on inflated prices, excessive layers of authority, and inadequate supervision of three key programs charged with rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Katrina in New Orleans, LA.

The New America Foundation sponsors an event entitled "American Foreign Policy as a Political Failure" at 3:00 pm ET in Washington, DC.

Paramount Classics hosts Al Gore for a screening of "An Inconvenient Truth" at 5:00 and 8:00 pm ET.

The Senate and House are in recess until April 24.

See our full week-ahead schedule at the end of today's Note.

Politics of immigration:

Members of both parties blamed their counterparts for failing to get immigration legislation off the ground before spring recess, report Roll Call's Billings and Stanton.

Martiga Lohn of the AP gives us a head count of yesterday's protests. LINK

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) promised yesterday to have legislation ready for debate soon after Congress returns from their two-week recess, Notes the AP's Hope Yen. LINK

As thousands gather today to prepare to march in Washington D.C., the Los Angeles Times looks at congressional stances on immigration reform made clear yesterday on the Sunday talk shows. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX), urged protesters to march with American flags, while Rep. Peter King has said legislation reform should not be deterred by the thousands marching. LINK

The Washington Times also gives a round up on Sunday's talk show voices on immigration. LINK

The Washington Post recaps Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) remarks on immigration reform and toughening up border control. LINK

Mollohan:

On Saturday, the New York Times Jodi Rudoren offered up a long and thorough look at Rep. Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) use of "his powerful perch on the House Appropriations Committee to funnel $250 million into five nonprofit organizations that he set up." LINK

Whether or not Mollohan becomes the great nullifier to the Democrats' "culture of corruption" message remains TBD. But Mrs. Rudoren spun quite a yarn.

ABC News/Washington Post poll:

ABC News' Gary Langer has some additional highlights from a new ABC News/Washington Post poll:

"Americans by nearly a 2-1 margin disapprove of the way President Bush is handling immigration."

"The public overwhelmingly says the United States is not doing enough to keep illegal immigrants out of the country."

"One-third approve of the way the president is handling immigration issues, which has been steady the last few years. But the number who disapprove has crept up to a new high, 61 percent in the latest ABC/Post poll. That disapproval runs steady across regions of the country, from the South and West to the Midwest and East alike."

"Meanwhile just 21 percent say the United States is doing enough to keep illegals out – while 75 percent say it's not doing enough. That view again crosses regions - two-thirds in the South and West say the government is not doing enough to prevent illegal immigration, as do three-quarters in the Midwest and East. And it's one of those rare issues that cross party and ideological lines, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents, and most liberals, moderates and conservatives alike, in agreement that the government isn't doing enough to keep illegals out."

"The intensity of this view, moreover, runs high - a majority of Americans, 56 percent, feel 'strongly' that the U.S. isn't doing enough to prevent illegals from gaining entry to this country."

The Fitzgerald investigation:

Who knows what lawyers the AP's Jennifer Loven knows?

And what Republicans will follow Senator Specter's call for more disclosure?

"Republicans on Capitol Hill worried that the attacks on Bush's integrity would further sink his poll ratings and hurt the GOP in November. 'Leaker in chief is something that could stick,' said a senior GOP aide, who declined to be named for fear of angering the president," report Newsweek's Isikoff and Thomas. LINK

"A senior administration official confirmed for the first time on Sunday that President Bush had ordered the declassification of parts of a prewar intelligence report on Iraq in an effort to rebut critics who said the administration had exaggerated the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein," write David Sanger and David Johnston of the New York Times. LINK

More Sanger/Johnston: "The explanation offered Sunday left open several questions, including when Mr. Bush acted and whether he did so on the advice or at the request of Mr. Cheney. Still unclear is the nature of the communication between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. Also unknown is whether Mr. Bush fully realized what information Mr. Cheney planned to disclose through Mr. Libby or was aware of the precise use that Mr. Cheney intended to make of the material."

Sen. Arlen Specter called on President Bush yesterday to give, "a specific explanation to the American people," for the leak of classified intelligence, reports David Jackson of USA Today. LINK

The New York Post's Earle on the same. LINK

The New York Daily News on the same: LINK

More from the AP's Nedra Pickler: LINK

The Washington Post's Walter Pincus: LINK

David Sanger and David Barstow of the New York Times wrote on Sunday that at the time President Bush was apparently declassifying information from the NIE to help rebut criticism of the Administration's rationale for war, the debate inside the Administration over the reliability of some of that intelligence was already well underway. LINK

The Washington Post's ed board wrote on Sunday that President Bush was "right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons." LINK

"Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do. But the administration handled the release clumsily, exposing Mr. Bush to the hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy that Democrats are leveling."

Selective portions of the NIE released to single reporter does not constitute declassification, but a leak, writes Margaret Carlson in a Bloomberg op-ed. "The president wasn't unaware of the leaks; he was on top of them. And he isn't just a leaker, but a hypocritical one." LINK

Politics of preemption:

In this week's New Yorker, Seymour Hersh looks at why the Bush Administration's plans to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon have "its allies -- and some in the military -- worried." LINK

Hersh spoke to ABC's Barbara Walters on "Good Morning America" about plans to bomb targets in Iran if the nation enriches a small amount of uranium. "This is about this President and this Vice President wanting regime change," said Hersh.

Paul Krugman of the New York Times urges his readers not to dismiss talk of possible war with Iran simply because they may find it unthinkable. LINK

Michael McAuliff of the New York Daily News wraps all the Sunday morning reaction to Hersh's story including John Kerry's criticism of what he says is this Administration's "cowboy diplomacy" and Jack Straw calling the idea of an attack on Iran, "nuts." LINK

Politics of Iraq:

In a must-read, Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold (Ret.) sounds off against the Iraq war and the "zealots" who pushed it. LINK

The New York Times' Shanker Notes Newbold makes three by wrapping his essay with recent criticism leveled against Secretary Rumsfeld by Anthony Zinni and Paul Eaton. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times writes of the 200 gay families expected to attend this year's White House Easter Egg Roll and the surrounding controversy. LINK

Bloomberg's Robert Tuttle writes that the jump to $3.07 a gallon for gasoline will only prove damaging for President Bush and General Motors Corp. LINK

In light of Bolten's taking over as chief of staff, the Washington Times' Donald Lambro has "a Republican policy adviser who is close to the White House" saying that "the administration's new sales offensive to turn around its anemic polls 'will be significant.'" LINK

GOP agenda:

Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times wrote on Sunday that the Republican Party will do its best to detoxify the environment by reminding voters that the GOP is the party of tax cuts. LINK

CA-50:

The Washington Post's John Pomfret has Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report saying: "If Busby wins, that would be the political equivalent of a tectonic shift. The next story you would hear is this is the first rumblings in what would be a major earthquake in November." LINK

Pomfret Notes that Busby favors complete repeal of the inheritance tax. ("This is, after all, La Jolla, where the median house goes for $1.75 million.")

The Los Angeles Times' CA-50 curtain raiser: LINK

NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY) predicted Friday that Busby would get about 40 or 44 percent of the vote.

New Orleans:

Brian Thevenot of the Times-Picayune details the opening today of nine satellite polling centers throughout Louisiana for the New Orleans elections, and has many seeing the balloting as "a kind of referendum on the future of the city itself, based on expectations that people who have abandoned plans to return to the flood-ravaged city won't turn out." LINK

Times-Picayune's Trymaine Lee gives us a comprehensive profile of mayoral candidate Tom Watson Noting that "Watson may be more accustomed to the pulpit than the stump, but his mayoral candidacy seems to be drawing on skills that work well in either setting." LINK

2006: Senate:

Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey of Newsweek turn their sights to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) as the next politician (now that Rep. DeLay has announced his resignation) whose career may be permanently affected by the Abramoff affair. LINK

2006: House:

On Sunday, Susan Milligan and Rick Klein of the Boston Globe wrote that Republicans are "in serious danger of losing its majority status in the House of Representatives this year." LINK

Roll Call's Stu Rothenberg Notes that while Democrats are preparing to contend in several new districts, they're still missing some opportunities for lack of a strong candidate.

The Sunday Chicago Tribune takes a look at how members of the Gang of 9 can move outside of spending caps to elect their people to the Congress. LINK

2006: Gubernatorial:

Franco Harris, former running back of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his stumping for the side opposite Republican candidate Lynn Swann may prove important to Democratic candidate Ed Rendell in this close gubernatorial election, reports Bloomberg's Henry Goldman. LINK

In an effort to "take support away from a demographic group that traditionally votes for Democrats," Florida gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist (R-FL) and Tom Gallagher (R-FL) got ten minutes of fame in Spanish at the Orlando festival on Sunday, reports Brendan Farrington of the AP. Excerpt: "Greeting another passer-by, Crist introduced himself and said, 'I need your help, por favor.'" LINK

2008: Republicans:

"If he has not changed his positions, as Mr. McCain repeatedly insisted in an interview, he has at the very least changed the coloring of how he has presented himself to the public," wrote Adam Nagourney in his Sunday New York Times look at Sen. McCain's emphasizing his conservative credentials in this early stage of the invisible primary. LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Balz reported over the weekend that Sen. McCain tiptoed the line between maverick outsider and friend to conservatives during his weekend trip to New Hampshire.LINK

USA Today's Jill Lawrence details Sen. McCain's recent efforts to make nice with President Bush and conservative Republicans as he moves towards 2008. LINK

Linda Feldman of the Christian Science Monitor writes that social conservative leaders speak of Sen. McCain in the harshest terms. LINK

Tania Valdemoro of the Palm Beach Post writes up Sen. McCain's visit to Florida to promote his new book and has the Senator saying to inquiring reporters that "the answer [on the '08 run] will come early next year." LINK

"This November could produce what McCain could use - grim election returns for Republicans. If on Nov. 8 Republicans are reeling and a re-elected Hillary Clinton is rampant, hitherto unenthralled Republicans might suddenly consider McCain as virtuous as he considers himself," George F. Will wrote over the weekend. LINK

On Imus this morning, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter said the parameters of the 2008 presidential race changed last week and that "Mitt Romney has gone from a second-tier candidate to someone you are going to have to take a look at in the Republican Party."

And here is Alter's take on Romney in print in the current issue of Newsweek: LINK

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times explores the Massachusetts health-care plan that includes pieces from both liberal and conservative ideologies. LINK

Gov. Romney has an op-ed in the Washington Times on education reform. LINK

"Allen tossed red meat after red meat to the crowd. They ate it up," writes Lee Bandy of The State discussing Sen. George Allen's (R-VA) speech at the South Carolina GOP convention on Saturday. LINK

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) VolPAC has turned into one of the largest financial contributors to Tennessee Republicans, writes Roll Call's Paul Kane.

2008: Democrats:

The New York Sun's Gerstein reports Sen. Clinton successfully sought being dropped as a defendant in the Peter Paul lawsuit pertaining to a Los Angeles fundraising gala for Clinton's campaign in 2000. LINK

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times observes how Democratic '08ers, specifically Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), have reached out to party activists in Illinois. LINK

Sen. Clinton was on the receiving end of some anti-war heckling at her Brown University speech over the weekend, reported the AP. LINK

"While Mrs. Clinton did the political heavy-lifting at Brown, the former president hung out at Providence Prime, a fancy steakhouse and local political watering hole on Atwells Avenue," reported the Providence Journal on Sunday. LINK

"Bill Clinton sat at a long table with Terry McAuliffe. . ."

Sen. Kerry got on the slippery slope and told "Meet the Press" that not going outside the federal financing system for the general election was the "biggest mistake" he made in 2004. LINK

Joe Klein promotes his new book, "Politics Lost," in this week's edition of Time Magazine. Klein alleges that "perhaps the worst moment" of the Kerry campaign came when Kerry's consultants held a focus group to decide how to respond to Abu Ghraib. LINK

When Kerry was asked about Klein's allegation on Sunday, he said he did not know of any focus group and that he responded to the Abu Ghraib scandal by calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign and by saying that the only people who were paying a price for the scandal were the people at the bottom when people higher up the chain of command should be held responsible.

Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI) in Milwaukee for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Founders' Day dinner on Saturday.

A Badger State source tells The Note that the major issue of the night was stem cell research, as both Warner and Doyle devoted significant podium time to the topic. Also worth Noting, Sen. Feingold pitched the latest in Russwear, a t-shirt bearing the slogan, "Don't spy on me."

The evening's speakers kept a quick pace, leaving time for Gov. Doyle and other University of Wisconsin alumni to watch the Badgers win their sixth national men's hockey championship.

Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch has Gov. Doyle saying Warner, "created a real buzz, and that's a pretty tough thing to do." LINK

Kyle Zwieg of Wispolitics.com re-caps the evening's festivities. LINK

In the Sunday edition of the Des Moines Register , Thomas Beaumont has former Sen. John Edwards saying in his third Iowa trip this year that "they leaked it for their own political purposes" and that "it's beneath the president to be engaged in that kind of thing." LINK

James Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette has Edwards telling Democrats in Linn County that "Democrats have to fight for the soul of their party." LINK

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) headlined the Michigan Democrats' Jefferson Jackson dinner in Detroit Saturday, talking about trade, national security, and his ability to win with a conservative electorate, reports David Eggert of the AP. LINK

Sen. Feingold's call for censuring President Bush picked up the support of Sen. Kerry and former Sen. Edwards over the weekend.

Under the banner "Pay scandal could propel or hinder Vilsack's bid in '08," Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines had on Saturday former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi opining that "this could turn out to be one of the best things to happen to him." LINK

Tim Higgins of the Des Moines Register reports that the governor's chief of staff knew about the job training agency probe and writes that "the audit has caused an uproar with lawmakers, who want to learn what the governor knew about the scandal and when he knew it." LINK

Campaign finance:

The parties are planning "independent expenditure programs" to distribute cash to 2006 candidates in the event that Democrats are able to block, "legislation passed by the House last week would allow unlimited coordination with candidates and give the parties freer reign to spend millions in the midterm elections," write Whittington and Kane of Roll Call.

Port politics:

"Congress could actually pass legislation that begins to shoo away foreign investment in the name of tighter security," writes Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby's (R-AL) bill, which calls for more scrutiny of investments and lengthened review process, passed committee unanimously and appears to have Senate support.

The Schwarzenegger Era:

In a well-placed Wall Street Journal op-ed, Gov. Schwarzenegger urges Congress to enact an immigration policy around the pillars of "control of the border" and "compassion for the immigrant." The governor avoids making reference to any specific bills. But he voices support for a guest worker program and opposition to making teachers, doctors, and charity workers choose between "helping those in need and enforcing the law." He is silent on the question of whether the 12 million people currently in the United States ought to be provided with a path to earned citizenship.

DeLay:

While Rep. Tom DeLay isn't expected to retire from politics completely, he'll have to deal with some level of "radioactivity," reports Bennett Roth of the Houston Chronicle. LINK

Abramoff affair:

On Sunday, Philip Shenon of the New York Times highlighted the "wives club" portion of the federal investigation of Jack Abramoff's lobbying activities. LINK

Iowa:

Abby Simons and Megan Hawkins of the Des Moines Register write up the Sunday rally in Des Moines, where gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon (D-IA) addressed the crowd in Spanish pounding his pro-immigrant message. LINK

New Hampshire:

The Union Leader writes up Congress candidate Gary Dodds' (D-NH) letter detailing his accident. LINK and LINK

VPOTUS:

The Albuquerque Journal reported on Sunday that Vice President Cheney was on the receiving end of a quail hunting accident in the late 1990's. LINK

Politics:

Boston Globe's Susan Milligan on the Internet becoming a useful tool to attack candidates. LINK

Week ahead:

On Tuesday, California's 50th congressional district holds special elections to replace former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA); Sen. Clinton gives a major address about the economy in Chicago; President Bush attends a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle in Des Moines, IA and attends a conversation on the Medicare drug benefit in Jefferson City, MO; Sen. McCain attends a breakfast fundraiser for Rep. Steve Chabot in Cincinnati, OH before campaigning for Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, and Sen. Evan Bayh speaks at the Harvard Business School Democrats Club. The First Lady introduces Pres. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush at the Public Dedication and Ribbon Cutting of the President's Boyhood home at 3:00 pm. ET in Midland, TX.

On Wednesday, President Bush meets with the president of Ghana and makes remarks on the Medicare drug benefit in Annandale, VA. Meanwhile, Sen. McCain visits Minnesota with Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), and Newt Gingrich keynotes a health care leadership event in Bedford, NH.

On Thursday, President Bush makes remarks to a small business conference in Washington, DC while Sen. McCain campaigns all over Iowa, attending three fundraising events: for gubernatorial candidate Rep Jim Nussle in Cedar Rapids, for State Rep. Steven Lukan in Dyersville, and for Congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti in Des Moines.

President Bush will be at Camp David from Thursday evening through Easter Sunday when he returns to Washington, DC.