The Note: Late Returns


Democrats could find out today whether their "culture of corruption" message has legs when voters near San Diego, CA choose from among 18 candidates to replace Duke Cunningham, the former Republican congressman who was sentenced last month to more than eight years in prison for taking bribes from defense contractors.

Polls open at 10:00 am ET and close at 11:00 pm ET. The day's results are expected to be known by about 1:00 am ET. There are no network exit polls.

Democrat Francine Busby, a local school board member who ran unsuccessfully against Cunningham in 2004, is widely expected to finish first in today's balloting.

Finishing first, however, will not be enough for victory. A candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff on June 6. Some handicappers believe that what will appear to be a bad night tonight for the GOP in this Republican-leaning district will be OK come June 7 because whichever candidate makes the run-off against Busby will beat her.

But (and here we will use one of the three April chances we are allocated by Disney to quote Yogi Berra in The Note to say), prediction is difficult, especially about the future.

With several strong Republicans in the race, the outcome on the GOP side is far from clear. The strongest GOP contenders are expected to be former Rep. Brian Bilbray, businessman Eric Roach, former state Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, and state Sen. Bill Morrow.

President Bush visits Lutheran senior services at Helsinger Bluffs in Jefferson City, MO at 1:10 pm ET. He participates in a discussion on the Medicare prescription-drug benefit plan at the Etta and Joseph Miller Performing Arts Center in Jefferson City AT 1:50 pm ET. He visits Wesley Acres in Des Moines, IA at 4:45 pm ET and attends a fundraiser for Rep. Jim Nussle's (R-IA) gubernatorial campaign at the HyVee Hall in Des Moines, IA at 6:05 pm ET. The fundraiser is expected to raise $750,000, according to the Des Moines Register.

Vice President Cheney visits the clubhouses of baseball's New York Mets and Washington Nationals at 12:20 pm ET and throws out the first pitch at the Nationals' opening home game at RFK Stadium at 12:57 pm ET.

The First Lady introduces former President 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.

Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times provides a preview and writes of the historic site's organizers' search for a fitting narrative. LINK

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will criticize the Bush Administration's economic policies while delivering a major speech in Chicago today. Bloomberg's Litvan and Benjamin have a preview: LINK

Grassroots activists who want Sen. Clinton to run for president in 2008 will unite at 6:30 pm ET at Arte restaurant (21 E. 9th St.) for their first 2008 New York City MeetUp. The first Hillary for President in the DC area will be held at 7:00 pm ET at Valentino's New York Style Pizza in Alexandria, VA.

In a 5:00 pm ET speech in San Francisco, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) is expected to call for capping the amount of greenhouse gases California industries can emit, a policy rejected by the Bush administration, when he speaks in San Francisco today.

More from the San Francisco Chronicle LINK and Los Angeles Times: LINK

Sen. McCain attends a breakfast fundraiser for Rep. Steve Chabot in Cincinnati, OH before campaigning for Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Sen. McCain (R-AZ) and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) hold a media availability at 3:00 pm ET in St. Paul, MN.

Sen. Evan Bayh speaks at the Harvard Business School's Democrats Club. The Energy Information Administration holds a 9:30 am ET press conference with EIA Administrator Guy Caruso to release two reports, the "Summer 2006 Motor Gasoline Outlook" and the "Short-Term Energy Outlook" at Hotel Washington.

The Tax Foundation holds a 12:00 pm ET conference call briefing in advance of tomorrow's release of its annual calculation of Tax Freedom Day. Participants include foundation President Scott Hodge and economist Curtis Dubay.

The Senate is in recess until April 24; the House is in recess until April 25.


As Democrats prepare to find out whether their "culture of corruption" message has legs in California's 50th congressional district, ABC News' Teddy Davis, Dan Nechita, and Mike Westling fact check claims made in the last-minute pro- and anti-Busby ads. LINK

"They have gone through shock, denial and anger. Now people betrayed by Randy 'Duke' Cunningham's corruption in the 50th Congressional District will have the opportunity for true acceptance: voting for someone to replace him," writes Dani Dodge of the San Diego Union Tribune. LINK

Dani Dodge of the San Diego Union Tribune lays out the logistics of today's special election in the California 50th. LINK

Mark Walker of the North County Times adds some stats to the story. LINK

Politics of preemption:

Sometimes saying "we cannot take any option off the table" does not necessarily mean "we cannot take any option off the table."

While speaking to Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs on Jan. 19, Sen. Clinton said: "And we cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran -- that they will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons." LINK

But in an on-camera interview conducted Monday with Bloomberg's Al Hunt, Sen. Clinton walked back her earlier statement.

"Well, I have said publicly no option should be off the table," Sen. Clinton told Bloomberg News, "but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table. And this administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven't seen since the dawn of a nuclear age. I think that's a terrible mistake."

The New York Times' Rutenberg on Bush's dismissing war with Iran talk as "wild speculation." LINK

The Washington Post's Peter Baker on the same. LINK

Politics of immigration:

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) admits the felony provision in his House immigration bill may be "overkill", but he blames Democrats, "for blocking his efforts to lessen the penalty," per Gebe Martinez of the Houston Chronicle. LINK

Dan Balz and Darryl Fears of The Washington Post report that although many legislators are away from Washington, DC this week, the immigration rallies are still directed towards them and are not likely to fade away. LINK

Jonathan Weisman, of the same paper, reports that while immigration advocates marched on the mall yesterday, frustration on the Hill mounted with Republicans anxious to move forward on legislation. LINK

In a detailed account of yesterday's protests, Frank James and Matthew Chayes of the Chicago Tribune have organizers predicting that "the result could be a political coming-of-age that could make politicians less willing to take Hispanic voters for granted and Latino citizens more willing to register and vote on behalf of undocumented immigrants." LINK

Per Bloomberg News, "the fate of an overhaul of U.S. immigration law rests on whether President George W. Bush is willing to spend political capital and the Democrats are willing to let him get political credit for doing so" LINK

The New York Times' Rachel Swarns' immigration rally lede-all: LINK

The Boston Globe has this comprehensive write-up of yesterday's immigration rallies. LINK

Per Washington Times' Charles Hurt, House Republicans view the rallies, which give Democrats a chance to reach new voters, as a short-term boost for the Dems, but they helpfully remind all that most Americans oppose "amnesty." LINK

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found the public torn: a majority wants to make it a crime for foreigners to immigrate illegally while close to two-thirds also say illegal immigrants should stay and become U.S. citizens. LINK

"With Congress debating a major expansion in the program for guest workers, the nation's largest union of farmworkers planned to announce today that it had signed the first nationwide contract covering agricultural guest workers," reports the New York Times' Steven Greenhouse. LINK

The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos sees Sen. Kennedy at the eye of the immigration storm. "Kennedy stands in the middle of it, the one indispensable figure, crowding out not only his own Democratic Party's leaders but also the suddenly hapless and put-upon Republican majority leader, Bill Frist." LINK

The South Florida News-Press writes up the Fort Myer protests that drew together about 75,000. LINK

The Los Angeles Times immigration coverage: LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, and LINK

Florida coverage: LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, and LINK

Noelle Phillips and Lisa Michals of The State write up the Columbia, SC protests. LINK

The Fitzgerald investigation:

Ay, there's the rub. (And it only took a weekend of cogitating to get the proper Eye Street focus.)

"It is now clear that Mr. Fitzgerald's account of what was happening in the White House in the summer of 2003 is very different from the Bush administration's narrative, which suggested that Mr. Wilson was seen as a minor figure whose criticisms could be answered by disclosing the underlying intelligence upon which Mr. Bush relied," write David Sanger and David Johnston of the New York Times in their must-read look at how the latest Fitzgerald filing places President Bush and Vice President Cheney squarely back in the spotlight. LINK

More: "The answer to the question of whose recounting of events is correct -- Mr. Bush's or Mr. Fitzgerald's -- may not be known for months or years, if ever. But it seems there will be more clues, including some about the conversations between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney."

Read closely and you will see while Republians anxious about the midterms and an October Surprise are worrying almost as much about the Plame case as the Abramoff stuff.

In his op-ed "All the President's Leaks," E.J Dionne gives huzzahs to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) for "breaking the spin cycle" of the Bush Administrations ability to dance around the central issue of the leak investigation. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

In a must-read, the Argus Leader has former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) telling the students and faculty at the University of South Dakota on Monday that the United States "should pull out of Iraq and leave a small force there, just as it did post-war in Korea and Germany. 'It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003,' Gingrich said during a question-and-answer session at the school. 'We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it.'" LINK

Gingrich has previously said that it was a mistake to try to occupy the country after June of 2003 (he would have preferred to see the US quickly hand over control to an Iraqi version of Hamid Karzai). But the "we have to pull back" language appears to be new.

The Wall Street Journal reports that despite the violence, U.S troops are on the move: "U.S. commanders, involved in a conflict increasingly unpopular at home, are moving ahead with steps that are necessary before beginning to draw down the 132,000 U.S. troops in the country by the end of this year." LINK

Ambassador Khalilzad and Gen. Casey lay out the Administration's "path to success" in Iraq in a Los Angeles Times op-ed. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register gives us a detailed preview of President Bush's visit to Iowa today and has (semi-)retired University of Wisconsin professor Charles Jones Noting that "I don't see Bush's visit having any adverse direct effect on Nussle … But when a president comes into a state during the general election campaign, it can remind voters and sustain and reinforce the bad mood." LINK

Bob Watson of the News Tribune describes how residents in Jefferson City, Missouri are preparing for President Bush's visit today to discuss the Medicare prescription drug benefit. LINK

The Business Roundtable joins President Bush in his mission to arm patients with as much information as possible as a means to help lower overall health care costs. The group, representing some of the nation's largest employers, believes one of the best ways to do that is for the Bush Administration to release Medicare data allowing for comparative analysis of doctor efficiency, but the Administration claims a 1979 court case prevents it from doing so. Robert Pear of the New York Times has that story. LINK

USA Today's Richard Benedetto Notes that yesterday, the President both confirmed he authorized parts of the NIE to be declassified and brushed off reports that he was considering air strikes against Iran. LINK

The Chicago Tribune editorial board calls on Vice President Dick Cheney to participate in "a no-holds-barred news conference." LINK

Per the Chicago Tribune editorial board: "He's been in his bunker long enough. It's time for him to answer some questions--and not in the friendly venue of Fox News."

Vice President Cheney spoke about terrorist surveillance and the Iraq War during his stump speech for Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) in Springfield, MO yesterday, report Wagner and Fillmer of the Springfield News-Leader. LINK

New Orleans:

Brian Thevenot and Leslie Williams of the Times Picayune give us a wrap up of yesterday's voting, pointing out that "preliminary details on voter participation by race show that African-Americans are turning out roughly in proportion to their pre-Katrina presence in New Orleans, or 68 percent," but that "with four days of early voting left, and the actual election day set for April 22, it's impossible to use Monday's voting as a gauge for overall turnout." LINK

2006: Senate:

Howard Dean's brother, James, is supporting Ned Lamont in his primary challenge against Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and he is keenly aware that that creates a "weird" dynamic. The New York Times' Yardley has the story. LINK

David Chen of the New York Times reports Tom Kean, Jr. will have a primary challenge to deal with before he can take on Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in the general. LINK

"Conventional wisdom would suggest that a primary challenge is bad news for Mr. Kean. After all, he may be forced to the right on some issues, and that could be problematic in a general election in a staunchly Democratic state. He may also be forced to spend money and time on a battle that he hoped to avoid, especially since he trails Mr. Menendez (who does not face a serious primary challenge) four to one in fund-raising."

"But some people say that a primary battle may be a blessing in disguise for Mr. Kean, who has stumbled at times during the campaign, his first run for statewide office. They believe that a primary race would provide him a chance to figure out how to appeal to both moderates and conservatives, and would be a good warm-up before tackling Mr. Menendez."

The Montana Democratic Party seems to be taking a cue from the NRSC's (think "Fancy Ford") latest tactics as it launches a Web site dedicated to highlighting Conrad Burns' connections to Jack Abramoff and the lobbying scandal surrounding him. (And, of course, donating to the Montana Democratic Party is just a click away.) LINK

Per Lesley Clark of the Miami Herald, here's Katherine Harris' reply to the conservative National Review calling on her to drop her Senate bid: "Bill, come campaign with us in Florida some weekend … See the hope Florida voters share with me and catch our vision. The weather is beautiful and it would do you some good to get out of Washington, D.C. to hear what real voters say about Katherine Harris." LINK

From the National Review editorial: "It can be an act of bravery for a soldier to charge the enemy lines, armed only with his determination. It can be an act of foolhardiness, too. It takes wisdom to tell the difference. For Katherine Harris, there is still time to be wise. But time is ticking out." LINK

2006: House:

With the President's approval rating at an all time low, the Washington Post outlooks to a dismal 2006 campaign for Republicans: "A majority of registered voters, 55 percent, say they plan to vote for the Democratic candidate in their House district, while 40 percent support the Republican candidate. That is the largest share of the electorate favoring Democrats in Post-ABC polls since the mid-1980s." LINK

While stopping by for a stump benefiting Republican congressional candidate Van Taylor (R-TX), Vice President Dick Cheney was greeted by "about two dozen demonstrators" who "waved placards protesting the war and arguing for President Bush's impeachment," reports the Waco Tribune. LINK

2006: Gubernatorial:

The Detroit News has an EPIC/ MRA poll showing Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) down eight points since March. She is now running "neck and neck" with Republican challenger Dick DeVos, with each drawing 43 percent support among likely voters in a new poll. LINK

Gary Fineout of the Miami Herald reports that gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist (R-FL) is raising more money faster than his primary opponent Tom Gallagher(R-FL). LINK

Per the AP, Gov. Jeb Bush backs Kenneth Blackwell (R-FL). LINK

Should he lose, Iowa gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon "would support his party's nominee for governor, should it be either of his rivals," writes Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont. LINK

Gubernaotrial candidate Tom Suozzi is cracking down on Medicare millionaires, the New York Post reports. LINK

2006: Down ballot:

The Daily News has the exclusive that Democratic candidate for New York attorney general Mark Green violated anti-campaigning guidelines when he attacked rival Andrew Cuomo during a speech he gave at Baruch College. The Daily News' lede: "Poor Mark Green - he can't even give a policy speech right." LINK

2008: Republicans:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) walks through his health care plan and asserts that its basic principles can provide a map for the rest of the country to health insurance for everyone.

"How much of our health-care plan applies to other states? A lot. Instead of thinking that the best way to cover the uninsured is by expanding Medicaid, they can instead reform insurance."

"Will it work? I'm optimistic, but time will tell. A great deal will depend on the people who implement the program. Legislative adjustments will surely be needed along the way. One great thing about federalism is that states can innovate, demonstrate and incorporate ideas from one another. Other states will learn from our experience and improve on what we've done. That's the way we'll make health care work for everyone."

While in Michigan supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick Devos, Gov. Romney said "it should be harder for illegal immigrants to get into the United States but added that those who are here should not be rounded up and deported," writes James Prichard of the AP. LINK

Per the Yankton Press & Dakotan, Gingrich had this to say about Iran: "You have to take them out. You have to change the regime. Just to take out the (nuclear) facilities is a loser game. When they develop atomic weapons, they will sell them to somebody, and that will be dangerous." LINK

2008: Democrats:

On CBS' "Early Show," Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) faced off with Lou Dobbs to discuss the protests throughout the country yesterday.

Gov. Richardson compared the protests to the 1960's civil rights movements, and said that "what needs to happen now is the president, who has been using the right words, to use his muscle on the Republican Party."

Gov. Richardson also made the case for a path to legalization for illegal immigrants, arguing that "There is no alternative. What are you going to do? Deport them? Knock on the doors of 11 million undocumented workers . . . ? That is not practical."

"So what you do is create a legalization plan," he added.

Gov. Richardson's chief of staff, Dave Contarino, "is shifting to a top position in Richardson's re-election campaign," reports Steve Terrell of The New Mexican. LINK

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) talked immigration in Los Angeles yesterday as he toured Rep. Xavier Becerra's (D-CA) congressional district, reports the North County Times. LINK

The New York Post takes Note of Sen. Clinton's remarks at yesterday's immigration rally. LINK

Sen. Clinton has announced her commencement address speaking schedule. LINK

"The former first lady is set to speak May 6 at Buffalo State University's graduation, May 14 at Long Island University, May 21 at Genesee Community College in Batavia and May 22 at Adelphi University on Long Island."

Jonathan Roos of the Des Moines Register has former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) saying that a Vilsack candidacy will have an impact in Iowa, but it won't affect his decision to run, which will come in the, "not-so-distant future." LINK

Per Roos, "While he said he has no specific timetable for declaring his candidacy for the presidential nomination in 2008, 'this is a decision that will have to be made in the not-so-distant future.'"

"Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle called Monday for a 'strategic redeployment' of American troops now in Iraq," reports the Kansas City Star. LINK

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Draft Mark Warner, "a grass-roots organization supporting a 2008 presidential bid for the former Virginia governor," filed an application with the FEC as a "527" group. LINK

While appearing Saturday on Tim Russert's CNBC show to promote "Foxes in the Henhouse," Steve Jarding was asked if Mark Warner (whose 2001 gubernatorial campaign he advised) would have to be the "anti-Hillary" in order to be nominated for president in 2008.

"I personally don't see how you -- you beat Hillary Clinton in a primary right now," said Jarding. "I think she's going to have all the money in the world that she needs. If it's a two-person race, maybe, but it's not a two-person rice, and she's going to have 50 percent in Iowa, and you know. And if you become the anti-Hillary you become the anti-Bill, and I'm not sure anyone of these..."

At that point, Mudcaut Saunders jumped in and said: "I think Edwards is a dark horse."

Jarding and Saunders advised Edwards' "New American Optimists" leadership PAC in 2002.

Do the Netroots dig HRC?

Today marks the first 2008 MeetUp events for the Hillary Clinton for President Committee, a organization dedicated to supporting a Clinton presidential bid that is wholly unaffiliated with the Senator.

"We've decided to focus on two cities for our pilot MeetUp event. The enthusiastic response thus far in Virginia and New York has far exceeded our expectations and we look forward to a turnout of between 30-40 in Alexandria and 25-35 in New York," says Peter Feddo, the leader of the committee.

Feddo adds, "At our first MeetUp of the 2008 campaign we will introduce guests to our movement, our goals, and get them to take action for Hillary and sign petitions to deliver to influential DNC members. In addition to taking action for Hillary at this event, supporters will engage in a dialogue about why they support Hillary Clinton for president. Our supporters will also be provided with brand new Hillary for President bumper stickers and signs for their homes."

Dean's Democrats:

"Even though Mr. Clinton left 20 minutes before Mr. Gore arrived, the night felt a bit like a unity event, for the two do not attend many of the same public functions," writes the New York Times Pat Healy of last night's $1.3 million DNC fundraising gala. LINK

"Bill Clinton invoked Scripture and Al Gore warned of the looming calamity of climate change as the former president and vice president appeared onstage to honor an outgoing Democratic Party official," writes the AP's Beth Fouhy. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

The AP on Gov. Schwarzenegger's big payday from Mayor Bloomberg. LINK

According to USA Today, northern and central California's rainiest March on record prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency yesterday in seven counties. LINK


Tod Lindberg pens in a Washington Times' op-ed that DeLay's resignation "may have been the opening act of his comeback." Lindberg surmises that perhaps Mr. DeLay will be the point man to generate GOP clout among the conservative evangelical political movement. LINK

The New York Post's Cindy Adams says that DeLay will take a course in "How to Be Your Own Best Friend," adds the gossip columnist: "and flunk." LINK

New Hampshire:

New Hampshire Democrats are asking whether calls to the White House were part of a scheme by Republican National Committee official James Tobin to jam phone lines at Democratic offices on Election Day in 2002, reports the Union Leader. LINK

More from the AP's Larry Margasak. LINK

You can read more about it here: LINK

Tom Fahey of the Union Leader writes that New Hampshire State Senators are split over whether the Real ID Act is a boon to national security or a threat to privacy. LINK


After pleading no contest to ethics violations in August, Gov. Bob Taft (R-OH) is being recommended for further discipline for, "failing to report golf outings and other gifts while in office," reports the AP. LINK

Politics of education:

The First Class Education campaign, aka "65% solution," headed by Republican political consultant Tim Mooney and his friend Patrick Byrne, is gaining traction with four states approving the effort and eight states pending, according to USA Today. The proposal would divert 65% of the school systems' dollars directly into classrooms. LINK


Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun looks at the ACLU's decision to withdraw -- pending further review -- its support for Rep. Carolyn Maloney's (D-NY) bill "calling for federal regulation of advertising by anti-abortion counseling centers." LINK

As Bob Novak reported over the weekend, LINK, the Free Enterprise Fund is launching its second targeted television ad as part of its previously announced $3.7 million campaign urging Senators to vote to kill the estate/death tax. The ad will begin airing on broadcast stations and Fox News Channel tomorrow statewide in Arkansas urging viewers to call Sens. Lincoln (D-AR) and Pryor (D-AR) and tell them to support the repeal. From the release: "The ad features live footage of vultures eating away at dead carcass', symbolic of the federal government seizing your estate after you are dead. The ad reads: 'When the vultures circle it means they've come to take their share of your savings. The death tax can rip away 55% of what you save for your loved ones. . . But the vultures want to keep feeding on your savings- that's wrong.' The ad continues with the superimposed heads of Senators Clinton (D-NY), Kennedy (D-MA), and Reid (D-NV) on the bodies of vultures wanting to tax one's estate after death."

Americans United "is launching a multimillion dollar ad campaign against President Bush's domestic security record, particularly the recent controversy over a Dubai company's planned takeover of operations at several US ports. Americans United expects to begin its ad campaign sometime early next week.

The Daily News has the retirement of the nation's longest serving politician. LINK

The New York Post runs an AP article on the same: LINK