The Note: Symbolism, Message, Reality

WASHINGTON, Apr. 18

Neither Ed Rollins nor Bob Shrum took to the morning television airwaves this, uhm, American morning to suggest that the path to a politically resuscitated White House is a Rose Garden announcement of a new OMB director or a presidential push on American competitiveness, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Perhaps it was the desire for a "fresh face" that led the President to the guy who mastered the freshest of fresh faces (that of Sen. John Edwards) in 2004 as Vice President Cheney's debate prep partner.

ABC's Jessica Yellin reports that at 9:20 am ET, President Bush was expected to appear in the Rose Garden with US Trade Representative Rob Portman and announce him as his choice to replace Josh Bolten as the head of the Office of Management and Budget.

The Washington Post's Paul Blustein profiled Portman -- a "good man" if ever there was one, who the Hill loves -- when he was appointed as U.S. Trade Representative last March. LINK

Portman's official White House bio: LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Gregory Korte probed Portman after he played the role of stand-in for Edwards 2004 vice-presidential debate prep, but Portman didn't reveal much strategy. LINK

"I said 'y'all' a lot," Portman said.

To get a sense of his working style, be sure to read Portman's hometown paper's "day in the life" account from November 2005. LINK

As he fills one job, Mr. Bolten can now add another to his "to be filled" list. ABC's Yellin also reports this morning that Jim Towey, the director of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, is leaving the Bush Administration to head up Saint Vincent's College in Pennsylvania. LINK and LINK

No replacement has been announced.

President Bush then meets with the Prime Minister of Lebanon at 11:05 am ET and then visits a Rockville science and technology magnet school today to promote his competitiveness initiative, one of a series of events this week highlighting his economic proposals. Bush will tours and speaks at the Parkland Magnet School for Aerospace Technology, a 560-pupil middle school that specializes in applied math and science.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hosts retired military leaders in the lion's den today. The SecDef and Peter Pace also brief the media at 1:05 pm ET.

Vice President Cheney is scheduled to handle the national security messaging today when he speaks at a rally for the troops of the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Riley, KS at 3:35 pm ET. This will be the vice president's second visit to a Kansas military installation this year; he stopped at Fort Leavenworth in January.

Gov. Mitt Romney is in California and Michigan for Commonwealth PAC finance meetings today.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is expected to appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" this evening at 11:35 pm ET.

Former Sen. Edwards (D-NC) is in Dallas, TX today to speak at the "Central Dallas Ministries' 11th Annual Urban Ministries Prayer Event" and to help raise funds for the Dallas County Democratic Party.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is in Austin, TX today on behalf of John Courage, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel and one of his prized recruits, New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid, hold a 3:00 pm ET press conference in Albuquerque, NM with senior citizens.

Bolten's free hand:

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times reports on Josh Bolten's "refresh and re-energize" approach. LINK

". . . Mr. Bolten's decision to address the prospect of personnel changes so directly on his first full weekday at work, and the decision to make his message public, appeared to be a signal that he would move quickly to address Republican complaints that senior staff members were burned out and off their stride," writes Rutenberg.

The Washington Post's Peter Baker reports that Bolten's "assertive message" was "greeted wit a mixture of relief and eagerness on Capitol Hill, where Bush's relations with congressional Republicans have been strained." LINK

Analysts predict U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow is set to depart the Administration, reveals Bloomberg's Roger Runningen. Moreover, Runningen writes that "areas that may see changes include the administration's congressional relations staff, currently headed by Candida Wolff, and the president's economic teams." LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan and Joseph Curl speculate that according to a former Senior Administration Official, deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin may leave. Also, the slot vacated by Claude Allen, former top domestic policy adviser, may be filled by Bolten's deputy at the Office of Management and Budget, write Dinan and Curl. LINK

Rumsfeld rumblings:

The Washington Post ed board writes that there are many reasons for Rumsfeld to leave but "finger-pointing by retired officers shouldn't be one." LINK

The New York Times on Rumsfeld's "This, too, will pass" musings on Rush: LINK

John Podhoretz again explains in his New York Post op-ed that firing Rumsfeld would all but end the Bush presidency. LINK

Across the page, the Washington Post's David Broder urges readers to listen to the brass. LINK

"Rumsfeld and President Bush insist that the manpower and strategy have been exactly what the commanders in the field thought best, but now general after general is speaking out to challenge that claim. The situation cries out for serious congressional oversight and examination; hearings are needed as soon as Congress returns. These charges have to be answered convincingly -- or Rumsfeld has to go."

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes that making Rumsfeld the scapegoat for all that has gone wrong in Iraq is a way for other members of the Bush Administration to "dodge responsibility for a misguided policy." LINK

Politics of immigration:

The AP writes up Gov. Sonny Perdue's (R-GA) signing a "sweeping" immigration law that many critics say has some of the toughest penalties for illegal immigrants. LINK

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Harvard Prof. George Borjas argues that immigration policy is a redistribution program that transfers wealth from workers to employers.

Big Casino budget politics:

When the $106.5 billion war spending bill reaches the Senate floor, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is planning to challenge the $700 million that Mississippi's two Republican Senators included to relocate a Gulf Coast rail line that has already been rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports on the newspaper's front page. LINK

In a well-placed Wall Street Journal op-ed, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-NH) lashes out against members of both parties who are abusing outside-the-caps "emergency spending" while calling for "substantive budget reform," including a return to Gramm-Rudman-Hollings-type sequestering if the deficit limits are exceeded.

Bush Administration agenda:

Keying off of the latest ABC News-Washington Pot poll which showed 47 percent of voters "strongly" disapprove of Bush's job performance while only 20 percent said they "strongly approve," the Washington Post's Charles Babington reported must-readily on Monday that strategists in both parties are saying that Democrats could have a turnout advantage over Republicans "for the first time in recent years." LINK

"The intense opposition to Bush is larger than any faced by Clinton. For all the polarization the 42nd president inspired, Clinton's strongest disapproval never got above 37 percent in Post-ABC polls during his presidency."

Note to Rebecca Kutler: Moderate Republican Charlotte Bruce thinks your new boss is a "wonderful gentleman."

GOP agenda:

"For years, the foundation of the Republican party was built upon eight pillars of equal importance. Those pillars, were, in no particular order: cutting taxes, reducing the size of government, balancing the budget and being fiscally responsible, creating a strong national defense, opposing communism, emphasizing free enterprise, getting tough on crime, and emphasizing social issues. Over the last 20 years or so, however, the size and number of those pillars has been reduced. . .," writes Charlie Cook in his Congress Daily AM column.

". . . Today, we see a GOP precariously balanced on two tall pillars, one emphasizing cutting taxes and the other emphasizing social conservatism. The five other, considerably shorter pillars make up the rest of the foundation. Those pillars emphasize smaller government, a balanced budget, strong defense, anti-terrorism (which has replaced anti-communism) and pro-free enterprise. . . If that depicts a rather wobbly party foundation, it is."

The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos examines the leadership style House Republicans have displayed over the last 11 years and wonders if it "is out of synch with the political mainstream." LINK

2008: Republicans:

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to raise his national profile. The New York Post's Deb Orin reports that he will "star" at an upcoming fundraiser for Gov. Schwarzenegger to be held at Ron Perelman's Manhattan mansion on April 30. Giuliani is campaigning with Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania today and will head to Iowa on May 1 to help Rep. Jim Nussle's gubernatorial campaign. LINK

Gov. Pataki's "eye-popping" Florida house sale caused his income to jump 47 percent this year over his 2004 income, reports the New York Post. LINK

The New York Times on the same: LINK

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) said he would campaign against fellow GOPers who support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, "even Sen. John McCain." LINK

2008: Democrats:

By ending last month with nearly $20 million of transferable money in the bank, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza writes that Sen. Clinton has set the bar for '08 funds. LINK

Be sure to Note that he labels former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) as "a straggler" among prospective presidential candidates, "bringing in just $261,000 via his One America committee and closing the quarter with $7,000 in the bank and debts of more than $100,000."

Gov. Vilsack (D-IA) signed legislation from abroad yesterday, "outlawing protests near funerals in Iowa in hopes of sparing an Ogden family from a planned anti-military demonstration today," writes Tim Higgins of the Des Moines Register. LINK

Rod Boshart of the Cedar Rapids Gazette writes that "Vilsack and Govs. Jeb Bush (R-FL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Mitch Daniels (R-IN) are slated to return to Washington, D.C., and spend tonight at the White House before conducting a breakfast debriefing with President Bush on Wednesday morning." LINK

The Washington Post's Richard Cohen praises Gore's new movie and writes that "on paper," Gore is the "near perfect Democratic candidate for 2008." LINK

"Among other things, he won the popular vote in 2000. He opposed going to war in Iraq, but he supported the Persian Gulf War -- right both times. He is smart, experienced and, despite the false caricatures, a man versed in the new technologies -- especially the Internet. He is much more a person of the 21st century than most of the other potential candidates. Trouble is, a campaign is not a film. Gore could be a great president. First, though, he has to be a good candidate."

Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican reports that James Jimenez is Gov. Bill Richardson's (D-NM) new chief of staff. LINK

Mike Gravel, a former Democratic Senator from Alaska and 76 year-old maverick, announced both his "long shot bid" for the presidency and his plan to give citizens direct power to make laws based on popular vote, writes the Washington Times. LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes that former Sen. Gravel plans to use the "gadfly playbook" to get free media attention for his pet causes: nationwide ballot initiatives and a federal sales tax. LINK

2006: New Orleans:

In case you missed it, Michelle Krupa and Frank Donze of the Times Picayune detail yesterday's mayoral debate, though the story is a bit more about moderator Matthews than it is about the debate. LINK

If anyone is interested in the racial politics that is permeating the New Orleans mayoral race, be sure to look at former City Councilwoman Peggy Wilson asking Mayor Nagin to answer without reference to race whether the "welfare cheats, the pimps, the drug dealers, the murderers" ought to be welcome to return to the Big Easy.

"I want everybody to come back to the city," Nagin said. "The ones I'm not excited about coming back are the people that have been involved in very serious crimes. Those are the folk that, you know, they need some rehabilitation, and I'm not sure where they can get that."

As for whether the candidates approve or disapprove of President Bush's performance, the field split with Republicans Rob Couhig and Wilson voicing support along with Ron Forman, who recently left the GOP, while the other four candidates on stage (including Nagin), voicing their disapproval.

2006: Senate:

The Daily News shows the Siena poll results are good news for Sen. Clinton, leading with: "Sen. Hillary Clinton was hardly shaking in her pantsuits yesterday when the latest poll figures were released." LINK

Glenn Blaine of the Journal News reminds readers of the two Democratic also-rans running primary challenges against Sen. Clinton. LINK

Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times Dispatch reads the first quarter fundraising totals and sees that Sen. George Allen has a major financial advantage over his Democratic opponents. LINK

The Washington Times Notes that Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) raised twice as much as his leading Democratic opponent, Treasurer Bob Casey, so far with $9 million in the bank. LINK

2006: Gubernatorial:

The Boston Globe reports that gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick is getting help from many prominent African-Americans and has raised more out of state money than any of his rivals. Patrick will continue to raise his national profile tonight at a fundraiser in Washington. LINK

Fred Dicker of the New York Post writes up the latest Siena poll numbers as more good news for Eliot Spitzer. LINK

2006: House:

Michael Barone pens in his Washington Times op-ed that even if Republican voter turnout is slightly down compared to Democratic turnout, Republicans still have a better shot at winning House seats in 2006. LINK

According to a Gallup poll released yesterday, public approval of Congress members reached an all-time low, dropping to 23 percent, writes the Washington Times' Jennifer Harper. LINK

Beth Reinhard of the Miami Herald writes that President Bush "is tentatively scheduled to headline a May 8 fundraiser for Rep. Clay Shaw," Noting that "the Democratic Party is also dispatching" Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), "one of its top stars," to the district on Thursday. LINK

"Bush's involvement after Vice President Dick Cheney visited Boca Raton last month to help Shaw shows how important Republicans consider the contest -- and the shaky status of Shaw's re-election bid," writes Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel. LINK

John Biemer of the Chicago Tribune Notes that Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Peter Roskam (R-IL) "clashed publicly for the first time in the general election campaign, stepping on what is typically perceived to be GOP philosophical turf: tax cuts." LINK

"New Yorkers for a Cleaner Congress" are holding an 11:00 am ET conference call with reporters to announce the launch of "TravelingTom.com," a Web site which alleges that since 2003 NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY) has taken "more lobbyist-funded luxury trips outside of western New York in the last three years than he has returned home to western New York." LINK

The group will also release a radio ad that "pokes fun" at Rep. Reynolds' "habitual travel" to Pebble Beach, which the group alleges has been "paid for by lobbyists and special interests." The group puts the cost of Rep. Reynolds' Pebble Beach travel at $205,185.

Rep. Reynolds' office declined to comment.

The Schwarzenegger Era:

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Gov. Schwarzenegger's support of a new electricity transmission line connecting Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada to California clashes with environmentalists who say that the line would do more harm than good. LINK

Gov. Schwarzenegger is expected to announce today his support for the creation of the Department of Public Health, a new agency split away from the Department of Health Services and which, according to the governor, would better prepare the state for bird flu, Notes the AP's Lindlaw. LINK

Gov. Ryan's conviction:

The Chicago Tribune leads with "Ryan guilty on all counts." Matt O'Connor and Rudolph Bush Note that "federal law-enforcement authorities expressed confidence the jury's decision would be upheld on appeal." LINK

The Washington Post's Edsall and Lydersen on yesterday's guilty verdict. LINK

Abramoff:

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff looks at the Abramoff-Safavian email exchanges. LINK

Political potpourri:

If Sen. Kennedy's being named one of the ten best Senators by Time magazine didn't do the trick. Scot Lehigh's Boston Globe column with its "The world according to Ted" headline should definitely bring a smile to Laura Capps' face. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board praises Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) for sponsoring legislation that would "limit the use of federal consent decrees" that have involved the courts in running everything from schools to prisons to transit authorities.

The Wall Street Journal's ed board praises Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) for pushing legislation that would sweep away the "conflicting and nonsensical regulatory regimes" that govern cable-TV providers, landline telephone companies, and wireless operators.

Rep. Tom DeLay took in nearly $500,000 in the six weeks before he announced his resignation, reports the Houston Chronicle's Michael Hedges. LINK

The New York Daily News writes up the Boston Phoenix's list of the 100 unsexiest men. Which politicians made the cut? Sen. Joe Lieberman, John Ashcroft, and Newt Gingrich. LINK

Musician Neil Young releases a new politically charged album that blasts President Bush in a song entitled, "Let's Impeach President Bush," reports the New York Times. LINK

2009:

The New York Post's Maggie Haberman exclusively reports that Mayor Bloomberg has talked with Time Warner chief Richard Parsons about replacing him in City Hall in 2009. (Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser denies any such conversation took place.) LINK