WASHINGTON, Apr. 21
Covering the news and becoming part of the story (in a very post-modern sort of way), Jim Rutenberg and Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times report/allege that Josh Bolten is considering moving Harriet Miers out of her White House counsel job. LINK
Nut graph: "It was not clear whether Mr. Bolten was floating a trial balloon to gauge White House reaction to the idea, or whether he might have been intending to send a signal to Ms. Miers that he would like her to think about leaving on her own."
ABC's Jessica Yellin reports, "In the senior staff meeting this morning we're told Josh Bolten told staff that the Harriet Miers story is not true."
The biggest mistake political reporters make is to assume that everything that happens in the White House or a campaign is by design, rather than by chaos, accident, and Jack-Tripper-style misunderstanding.
Still ask yourself, as you consider the Era of Josh Bolten (smart, never has failed at anything, has as his deputy a guy who was both a Scalia clerk AND a Marine), if these things are happening by design or accident and, if the former, what the reasoning behind the veil is:
-- Today's Harriett Miers story.
-- The McClellan and Rove announcements being made on the same day.
-- The too-public Tony Snow deliberations.
-- The decisive Rummy-is-our-guy statement.
-- President Bush walking to Marine One with a copy of The Note tucked ostentatiously under his arm.
-- The balance between "we get it -- we are changing" and "when will the turmoil end?"
While his staff and the Gang of 500 mull all of this over, President Bush heads West today for the longest Golden State visit of his presidency thus far. Mr. Bush's first stop will be at Cisco Systems in San Jose, CA where he will participate in a panel on his "American Competitiveness Initiative" at 5:10 pm ET. At 6:50 pm ET he attends a closed meeting at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, CA with Hoover Fellows followed by a closed dinner.
Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) is expected to be on hand with President Bush in San Jose. The San Jose Mercury News provides a nice primer on the meeting between the two "embattled Republicans" and Schwarzenegger's recent efforts to distance himself from and criticize the Bush Administration's assessment and response to California's waterlogged levees. LINK
Also nicely timed to the President's trip, USA Today's Barbara Hagenbaugh writes of the record-breaking California gas prices, Noting that California "became the first state in the continental USA to see average gasoline prices go above $3 a gallon in 2006." LINK
Tomorrow the President will discuss transportation technology and attend a RNC fundraising event in Indian Wells, CA. On Sunday he will attend church services and visit with Marine Corps and Navy families in Twentynine Palms, CA. President Bush will address his plan for comprehensive immigration reform on Monday in Irvine, CA before dropping in on a Las Vegas, NV fundraiser for Jon Porter's congressional campaign on his way back to Washington, DC.
Vice President Cheney hits the campaign trail today. He will first travel to Indianapolis, IN for a RNC fundraiser (with 100 attendees and expected to bring in $100,000) and then he is scheduled to head to Morgantown, WV to help raise some funds for Republican congressional candidate Chris Wakim, who is looking to unseat Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). LINK and LINK
DNC Chairman Howard Dean addresses (and chairs) the DNC executive committee meeting at 10:30 am ET in New Orleans, LA. Later today, Dr. Dean will participate in ACORN's home clean-out demonstration program at the Cooper family home in New Orleans at 2:30 pm ET.
Also on the DNC spring meeting agenda today, the Association of State Democratic Chairs meets at 4:00 pm ET and DNC members receive a polling briefing at 5:30 pm ET. At 8:00 pm ET, the Denver 2008 host committee (in waiting) holds a reception. Mayor John Hickenlooper is expected to attend.
The people of New Orleans will choose from 23 mayoral candidates tomorrow in the city's first post-Katrina election. The three top contenders are Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu (D), incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin (D), and Ron Forman (D), the head of the Audubon Nature Institute.
Polls open at 7:00 am ET and close at 9:00 pm ET. Results will be available on the Secretary of State's Web site: LINK
The regular deadline to submit an absentee ballot is the close of business today. However, a law passed during the February Special Session of the State Legislature allows "displaced" voters to take advantage of the same extended deadline that applies to members of the military or overseas voters. If a voter brings a signed affidavit saying "I am a displaced" voter, they will be allowed to take advantage of the extended deadline which is 9:00 pm ET on Saturday.
If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff will be held on May 20.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman heads to Charlotte, NC today for a fundraising event.
The grand jury investigating the CIA leak is scheduled to meet at 9:30 am ET.
The Progressive Policy Institute explores the religious roots of progressivism with Georgetown University Professor Michael Kazin and Washington Post writer E.J. Dionne at a 9:30 am ET forum pegged to Kazin's new biography of William Jennings Bryan, "A Godly Hero."
Gov. Romney (R-MA) and Gov. Huckabee (R-AR) travel to Gauntanamo Bay, Cuba today to tour detention facilities there at the invitation of the Department of Defense.
Sen./Dr./Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is in San Antonio, TX today for a "Texans for Rick Perry" event.
On the 35th anniversary of his testimony on the Vietnam War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is scheduled to deliver what his aides are billing as a "major address" at Faneuil Hall in Boston, MA at 11:00 am ET tomorrow. Kerry's speech is expected address patriotism and dissent at a time of war.
John Edwards is in Philadelphia, PA today helping Rep. Fattah (D-PA) raise some reelection funds. Next week, Edwards heads to Stanford University as part of his anti-poverty initiative and to discuss his recent Council on Foreign Relations report on Russia.
Gov. Vilsack (D-IA) holds a bill signing ceremony in Des Moines, IA at 11:00 am ET.
Make sure to check out "This Week All Week," the best political webcast around to see ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Martha Raddatz on the latest White House personnel moves and which candidates ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin says advanced their presidential prospects this week. LINK
And be sure to tune in to a blockbuster of a show on Sunday. George Stephanopoulos will be sitting down with Gov. Schwarzenegger and Sen. Kerry in a politically packed hour on "This Week." Check your local listings.
Politics of gas:
The New York Times' Janofsky must writes a must read on how Democratic candidates are seeking to gain electoral edge by hammering away at gas prices. LINK
The Washington Post's Steven Mufson Notes that Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday to make sure major oil companies weren't "intentionally keeping refinery capacity offline to jack up prices." LINK
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes that the redefinition of Karl Rove's job means only one thing: "The administration's one and only domestic priority in 2006 is hanging on to control of Congress." LINK
". . . all the spin about Rove's power being diminished is simply wrong," writes Dionne. "Rove is simply moving to where all the action will, of necessity be."
Politics of Iraq:
"Under intense domestic and American pressure, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari dropped his bid to retain his job on Thursday, removing a major obstacle to forming a new government during a time of rising sectarian violence," leads the New York Times. LINK
The development caused the New York Times editorial writers to craft this headline above their lede editorial today: "A Glimmer of Hope in Iraq" LINK
Timed with today's IMF conference on "global imbalances," Treasury Secretary John Snow pens an op-ed for the Washington Post. LINK
Mr. Hu goes to Washington:
David Jackson of USA Today writes up President Hu's visit, Noting that "neither Bush nor Hu announced progress on Iran." LINK
The San Francisco Chronicle: "Bush, Hu, agree to disagree." LINK
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank Sketches Hu's "indignities" in a piece that includes three must-see photos of President Bush reaching out and pulling Hu by his suit jacket to let him know that he was walking toward the wrong set of steps to leave the stage during arrival ceremonies at the White House. LINK
"It was the fifth time that the two men have met in the past year. The mood was friendly, yet the tension was unmistakable," writes David Sanger of the New York Times. LINK
The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Glenn Kessler call yesterday's Hu visit a summit which emphasized "symbolism over breakthroughs." LINK
Michael Gordon of the New York Times (and "Cobra II" fame) writes how the agent-of-change SecDef is criticized for being somewhat resistant to change. LINK
The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer worries that the dissident generals will put pressure on the rest of the generals, retired or serving, to declare which cap they belong to. Krauthammer seems to think this, in turn, will undermine the US tradition of military deference to democratically elected civilian superiors. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports: "Senate Democrats mull pushing 'no-confidence' floor vote on Pentagon Chief Rumsfeld."
On the heels of a Pew poll showing rising voter anger, Republican congressional leaders have laid out an ambitious agenda for the coming months, "from health-care legislation to the most sweeping immigration changes in a generation." The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman Notes that Republicans will have "just 72 legislative days" to achieve their goals before the scheduled date of adjournment. "And they will have to overcome divisions in their own ranks to secure even the basics, such as a budget." LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports that the GOP could face "do nothing" attacks in the midterm elections if headway is not made on budget, tax-cut, lobbying, and immigration legislation.
"'We have got to get some things done,' warns one House member, predicting 'panic' among fellow Republicans after spring recess."
Politics of immigration:
"Conservatives point to Dean for significance of border issue," reads the headline above Charles Hurt's Washington Times story looking at Dr. Dean's comments at the Monitor breakfast on Wednesday. LINK
The Washington Post's Al Kamen picks up on a Bush-like Dean telling the Christian Science Monitor breakfast: "Most of us weren't born in America at some point in our lives." LINK
"The Department of Homeland Security is asking Congress for access to Social Security data in its effort to crack down on illegal immigration by going after employers who accept counterfeit identity and work documents," the Wall Street Journal's Julie Kronholz reports.
Politics of trade:
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports that Citizens Trade Campaign, a group of labor, environmental and consumer activists, is organizing a PAC to "slam Bush trade policy with funds raised on the Internet, targeting Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, California, New York and Colorado."
Politics of national security:
The Wall Street Journal's ed board writes that Iran is a threat that can't be outsourced any longer.
In an interview with KRNV in Reno, NV, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he wants to find a diplomatic solution to the problem in Iran rather than stoking the "powder keg" in the Middle East. LINK
"In just a few months," said Sen. Reid, "this Iraq war will have lasted as long as World War II. We can't be throwing ourselves around militarily in Iran or anyplace else. We've learned in Iraq it doesn't pay."
Reid said he thinks the United States should be actively engaged in negotiations with Iran instead of leaving it to Britain, France, or Germany.
Sen. Reid's comments call to mind Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) saying.: "I don't see the viable military options when you're looking at Iran" while speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Feb. 2.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia may have presented proposals to play influential roles in the 2008 nomination process yesterday, but yesterday's DNC Rules & Bylaws committee meeting was clearly all about the general election in November 2008.
Former Gore campaign manager (and New Orleans native) Donna Brazile tells ABC News she is eager to see a Southern state get the chance to play early in the process, but she also concedes that when the committee decides on which states will be in the pre-window, many minds will be thinking about picking states that have a strong shot at being in play in November. Brazile also said that the primary in New Hampshire in 2004 was very likely a factor in helping turn that state from Red to Blue in November.
Harold Ickes, the Rules & Bylaws committeeman who pressed the presenters from the states with the toughest questions about Democratic past performance, diversity, and experience in running caucuses said he hopes the decision of which states will play early will not be made until after the 2006 midterm election. Ickes is concerned that there could be political fallout for Democratic candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire if their supporters feel they contributed to the diminishment of nomination stature. (Of course it is out of those officials control and Iowa will still be the first caucus and New Hampshire will still be the first primary.)
On moving up 2-4 states in the pre-window period, Ickes told ABC News, "I'm not sure it is going to make one bit of a difference in who ends up being the nominee and whether or not it is a stronger or less strong nominee."
As for the presentations, we recommend the excellent recaps below:
The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny highlights Rep. Clyburn's pitch for South Carolina as the "perfect laboratory" for the Democrats, Michigan Democratic Chair Mark Brewer's appeal for his industrial Midwest state, Arkansas' festival circuit, and Nevada's splashy presentation despite its obvious avoidance of all things Vegas. LINK
Dan Balz covers similar ground on the "beauty contest" of states and includes Gov. Napolitano's (D-AZ) admission that should Sen. McCain be the Republican nominee in 2008, an early nomination contest in Arizona will do little to diminish his favorite son status. LINK
The AP's Sidoti's account: LINK
"The Rules and By-Laws Committee of the Democratic National Committee did not decide what new states it would recommend for an early role in the process. That decision is expected to be made at a summer rules committee meeting, probably in Washington. The full Democratic National Committee will make the final decision, probably in the fall," reports the New Hampshire Union Leader. LINK
Politics of Medicare:
"As the deadline for enrolling in the Medicare drug plan approaches, the government has announced that seniors and disabled beneficiaries may have to pay as much as 7% more for their benefits next year," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK
When FEC reports come out, goo good groups typically look first to who's giving.
But the (woefully) underpaid Googling Monkeys like to know how the '08ers are spendin' it. To wit:
The candidates who received the most attention from Democratic '08ers this quarter are: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senate candidates Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), House candidate Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-OH).
The candidates that got the most attention from Republican 08ers: Senate candidates Michael Steele (R-MD), Mike McGavick (R-WA) and Tom Kean (R-NJ), Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-MN), and Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL).
Not Feeling the Leader's Pain: Nick Lampson, the Democrat hoping to replace Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) as the congressman from the 22nd congressional district of Texas, received $5,000 from Mark Warner.
The most generous contributor this round: Former Governor Mark Warner (D-VA), who spent more than $250,000 helping other candidates.
The most-eager-to-please: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who donated $5,000 to each state GOP in 24 states.
The needs-improvement candidate: Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), who has about $7,000 cash-on-hand and about $100,000 debt in consulting fees. (We know, fundraising hasn't been his focus at all and he has an already proven donor base to which he can quickly turn when the time comes.)
The least generous contributor this round: Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). (But who needs to give when you can tap the list!)
Democrats who contributed $15,000 or more to the DSCC: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD).
Republicans who contributed $15,000 or more to the NRSC: Sen. George Allen (D-VA).
The most futuristic Democrat: Joseph Biden (D-DE), who has more than $30,000 Internet-related expenses.
The only 08er who contributed to the Congressional Black Caucus PAC this round: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)
The most accuracy-obsessed filing: Sen. Russ Feingold's, which contains an entry on a payroll adjustment of $0.02. Coming in second is Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), with a "travel expense" of $0.50.
And if you're living in Wisconsin, expect a phone call from Sen. Feingold, whose PAC has spent more than $55,000 in telemarketing fees.
The poorest PAC: Former VP Al Gore's with only $3,887 cash-on-hand.
Straight from the Edwards playbook: Former Gov. Mark Warner's PAC, who spent more than $14,000 for computer equipment in Des Moines, IA
The most money spent on "non-candidate specific postage" with the USPS: Tom Tancredo's PAC at over $10,000.
Best libation: Buds Liquors and Colonial Liquors, where Dr./Sen./Leader Frist's VOLPAC spent more than $2,500.
Among Dr./Sen./Leader Frist PAC's other expenses: A $2000 donation to Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and a flowers order of $829.
The Pew Research Center is out with a new round of dismal poll numbers for President Bush. The poll also includes some fun data on the favorability of some potential '08ers. Be sure to check out McCain's favorability slippage among Democrats and independents since October and John Edwards and Joe Biden's being viewed more favorably by Republicans than any of the other Democrats mentioned. LINK
The Boston Globe's Estes and Jan report Gov. Romney announced yesterday that Massachusetts will "funnel nearly $1 million in federal funds to a faith-based organization to teach abstinence to public middle school students in a dozen more communities across the state." LINK
Two Republican '08ers – Gov. Romney and Gov. Huckabee – will tour the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tomorrow to share ideas on prison "best practices." LINK
The Boston Herald Notes that Romney has "only visited the state's troubled prisons once briefly."
The Boston Globe's Ebbert and Savage report that Romney's trip to Guantanamo was viewed "immediately" as an effort to "bolster his foreign policy credentials in anticipation of a presidential campaign." LINK
Steve Koehler of the News-Leader Notes that Sen. Brownback (R-KS) "may not officially be running for the Republican presidential nomination," but the address he gave "at Missouri State University on Thursday night had all the makings of a national campaign speech." LINK
Al Gore, with photo and the lede, is a Variety cover boy again today: "Al Gore will be rubbing elbows with Wolverine and Tom Hanks at the 59th Cannes Film Festival."
With all the recent attention on her Senate campaign account, Sen. Clinton tapped her HILLPAC funds to distribute $190,000 to Democrats and Democratic organizations. (And, yes, the Iowa and New Hampshire Democratic parties were among the recipients.) Here's the AP's account: LINK
Greenpeace is targeting Sen. Clinton's position on a Massachusetts wind farm proposal, reports the New York Daily News. LINK
"With Hillary Clinton already setting an astonishingly fast pace for 2008 with donations being funneled into her 2006 Senate re-election campaign, other Democratic hopefuls are under intense pressure to prove they won't be priced out of the contest," reports The Hotline's Marc Ambinder in National Journal.
"The competition for commitments -- even backup commitments -- is fierce. One major Democratic donor likens his friends to a school of fish that darts in a new direction at the slightest change in current. That's why several candidates -- Bayh and Warner are the most explicit -- ask to be a donor's second choice if first is no longer an option."
Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register details former Gov. Mark Warner's (D-VA) first visit to Iowa since leaving office, Noting that by calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, Warner has "set himself apart from other potential presidential candidates in his party, including Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Gov. Tom Vilsack.(D-IA)." LINK
Per Warner, courtesy of Beaumont: "'The line of mistakes in this war is almost unprecedented,' he told The Des Moines Register, including 'the failure to make a change in the architect in Rumsfeld, with unprecedented calls for his resignation from the armed services -- and those are just the public calls.'"
Lauren Dorgan of the Concord Monitor details John Edwards' visit to the Granite State yesterday, having the 2008 hopeful saying that "I'm seriously considering it, but I haven't made my decision" on a presidential run and that "he recognized a lot of people in the audience from the 2004 campaign." LINK
The AP's Holly Ramer takes a look at Edwards' visit as well and has the former Senator discussing "the concept of two Americas" and "rattling off a list of solutions including raising the minimum wage, expanding the earned income tax credit, leveling the playing field for union organizing in the workplace and improving access to college." LINK
The New York Post's Deb Orin ponders another Kerry presidential bid and naturally mentions Davos. LINK
"When he appeared Thursday on the South Lawn of the White House with President Bush, China's president, Hu Jintao, heard 'stop the torture and killings' from an Epoch Times newswoman sympathetic to the outlawed Falun Gong religious sect. But it's the full-throated critique the Chinese president isn't hearing that has one Democratic presidential hopeful worried," report ABC News' Teddy Davis and Dan Nechita. LINK
"'There is no question that our indebtedness to China weakens America's hand,' Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., told ABC News. 'Our negotiating leverage with China on trade issues and Iran is severely limited by the amount of debt they hold.'"
2006: New Orleans:
The Wall Street Journal Notes that a Tulane University poll of 571 potential voters shows Landrieu with 25.9 percent, Nagin with 21.4 percent, and Forman with 17.9 percent. Another 17 percent were undecided.
"As the city headed into the final two days before its first post-Katrina election, state and local election officials blanketed New Orleans in an all-out effort to ensure the legitimacy of an election in anticipation of threatened court actions," reports the New Orleans Times Picayune. LINK
More from the Times Picayune on the excitement in the suburbs for tomorrow's vote. LINK
Per the Washington Post's Tom Edsall, the DSCC continued to outpace the NRSC in fundraising, "bringing in more contributions and finishing the quarter with twice as much money in the bank, according to Federal Election Commission reports released yesterday." LINK
More Edsall: "In an equally significant development," the DCCC "reported having $23 million in the bank, almost equaling -- for the first time in memory -- the cash balance of the" NRCC, "which was $24.4 million."
In explaining DNC Chair Howard Dean's energized attitude of late, USA Today's Chuck Raasch writes that "unless Bush can turn the. . . crisis around -- perhaps with troop withdrawals that don't look political or with Osama bin Laden's capture or death -- one or both houses of Congress could be in Democratic hands after the fall elections." LINK
Bloomberg's Laura Litvan reports that the high-flying campaigns of Sen. Clinton and Eliot Spitzer "might help the Democrats pick up as many as six New York congressional seats – more than one-third of the 15 they need nationally to gain a House majority." LINK
Looking at the new campaign ads released by Gov. Blagojevich (D-IL) attacking challenger Judy Baar Topinka (R-IL), Rick Pearson and John Chase of the Chicago Tribune write that the ads represent "what may be the earliest attempt by an incumbent governor to try to define a November challenger." LINK
Per a campaign release, Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA) is launching the first Iowa gubernatorial television campaign ad of the cycle today, with popcorn and pop for the media.
The Schwarzenegger Era:
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday put California's troubled prison system in the hands of a new leader who vowed to improve relations with the guards union, a powerful political force partly blamed for the departures of the last two corrections chiefs," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK
Sen. Kennedy's book:
At Sen. Kennedy's (D-MA) book party for his brand-new "America: Back on Track" at Manhattan's Parker Meridian hotel, down the street from Carnegie Hall, the Senator from Massachusetts, looking lion-like and trim, was still recovering from his 8 minutes with the one person guaranteed to intimidate and rattle all 100 senators -- Jon Stewart. Senator Kennedy made many references to his two-segment appearance on the "Daily Show" (They talked troubled Iraq, charming Bush, fierce Rove, campaign finance.). Also in attendance, the other Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry (who popped in to flash some sparkly teeth, get a shout out from the senior Senator, and give a bear hug to Bob Shrum); Lloyd Grove chatting up K sisters Eunice, Pat, and Jean; sleek Caroline Schlossberg; cheerful Ina and Bob Caro; stately David Halberstam; uber-elegant Fred Hochberg, and jet-lagged Bob Rubin, whose presence on the stage alongside members of the Kennedy family and stump speecheque remarks appeared to kick off Rubin 2008.
The Washington Post's Eric Planin reviews "America Back on Track" and writes that "many" of Kennedy's proposals seem more like liberal cant than pragmatic programs that might actually bridge the huge partisan and ideological divide in Washington." LINK
The Note has learned that Nina Easton, the Noted author, TV talking head, and Boston Globe deputy bureau chief (working right down the street from our plush DeSales Street offices), is headed up and out.
Easton will become the Washington Bureau Chief of FORTUNE Magazine, helping Managing Editor Eric Pooley re-establish the mag's capital presence.
Besides running the bureau, Easton will return to her passion -- magazine writing -- and, Note readers can only hope, find time to churn out more books, like her classic "Gang of Five" (only 495 to go), and the tome she co-authored with Globe colleagues about a fella goes by the name of "Kerry."
In a quote so pre-canned it's hard to believe that one of our spies overheard Easton herself say it at Café Milano (or it might have been at the sandwich place at 19th and L), Easton reportedly said:
"I'll be writing magazine pieces on Washington politics that (hopefully) take a step back from the daily press of events to examine people and issues. For me, this marks a return to the type of writing and reporting I did during the 1990s as the Sunday Magazine writer for the Los Angeles Times."
The Note says: congratulations.