The Note: Sick And Tired


ABC News's George Stephanopoulos reported on "Good Morning America" that Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) understands he has more explaining to do and that he will sit down for press interviews up in Rhode Island this afternoon to continue to try to clear this story up.

ABC News' Dean Norland reports Rep. Kennedy's chief of staff, Sean Richardson, says the congressman has no public schedule today. Kennedy has called the Capitol Police and offered to meet with them, but he does not know if any meeting will take place. And he'll have those one-on-one interviews with the Rhode Island press this afternoon up in the Ocean State.

ABC News' Zach Wolf, staking out Rep. Kennedy's home this morning, reports that a man looking a lot like Rep. Kennedy had on a hat and a long sleeve shirt when he left his house at 7:40 am ET to go for a run. He waved and smiled to the journalists gathered outside his home.

Cable and then the broadcast evening shows will be all over the Kennedy story today, but, in the end (within 72 hours, we mean), it will be pretty simple. If Congressman Kennedy's unambiguously described version of events is accurate, he will be fine. If his version is not the whole truth in some meaningful way, he will be significantly less than fine.

To that end: Despite his statement that he consumed no alcohol prior to the incident, a waitress at a popular Capitol Hill watering hole claims she saw the congressman drinking "a little bit" reports Dave Wedge of the Boston Herald. LINK

(As for the Democratic Party, if they take control of all or part of Congress in the fall, they will have to address this SAT answer: Bush Administration is to the CIA as congressional Democrats are to the Capitol Police.)

As for the question of co-equal branch control, the Associated Press' ultra-balanced Ron Fournier, armed with the latest company polling data, tips his hand and practically headlines his story "Speaker-to-be-Pelosi Should Measure for New Drapes."

The trends and highlights are familiar, but the details that will spoil Ken Mehlman's day are worth summarizing:

Fournier writes that "angry conservatives" are hurting GOP approval ratings and Democratic voters are currently more motivated than their Republican counterparts. LINK

The presidential approval rating at 33 percent and the largest Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot question since President Bush took office will no doubt get Mr. Mehlman's attention as well.

However, the White House plans to tout some economic news all day, starting with the President.

ABC's Dan Arnall reports, "The government says U.S. companies added some 138,000 jobs during April – less than economists were expecting. March's number was revised downward by 11,000 jobs. The nation's unemployment rate remained steady at 4.7%."

"Dow futures ticked up significantly on the news, as traders believe slowing jobs growth likely means an end to the Fed's two-year rate tightening run. It could give us enough fuel to get to that new record Dow level (11,722.98)."

President Bush crowed about the numbers before television cameras this morning.

And well before our press time, MOCs Frist, Hastert, and Boehner had all expressed their glee over the unemployment numbers to the world via digital press releases.

(Note acknowledgement that Bonjean pulled the trigger first.)

But ABC News' Betsy Stark says there are "two schools of thought emerging about today's report:

"1. It confirms forecasts that the economy is slowing after a very strong first quarter and, as Dan suggests, that would lead the Fed to 'pause' in its rate-hiking campaign when it meets next week. This was the stock market's knee-jerk reaction but may not last the day.

"2. It's a fluke. Other numbers reported this week from strength in the manufacturing sector to retail sales to consumer inflation show the economy continues to grow at a solid pace and the true strength of the job market is being obscured by an anomalous report.

"In all, not a conclusive report on the strength or direction of the economy."

Secretary Snow and Assistant Secretary of Treasury Mark Warshawsky give a monthly economic briefing at 10:30 am ET at the Treasury Department. Secretary Snow will also be doing the cable business channel rounds today as well as appear on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews."

President and Mrs. Bush participate in an evening parade at Marine barracks in Washington, DC at 8:45 pm ET.

President Bush delivers his first commencement address of the season tomorrow at 10:45 am ET at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK.

Newsmaking Vice President Cheney is in Kazakhstan and participated in a press availability with President Nazarbayev this morning.

ABC News' Jason Ryan reports, "The grand jury hearing the leak investigation case is scheduled to meet at 9:30 am ET. Special prosecutor Fitzgerald is in town for a 1:30 pm ET hearing before Judge Walton in the Libby case. The hearing will be a status conference requested by Libby's lawyers after Fitzgerald disclosed in court papers that President Bush had authorized Libby to disclose sections of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's WMD."

Ryan also reports "at 10:00 am ET there is a motions hearing scheduled in the David Safavian case. This motions hearing will be followed by a status conference at 2:00 pm ET. Safavian's trial is set to begin May 22."

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) keynotes the "Chairmen's Lunch" at the Republican National Committee's state chair meeting in Colorado Springs, CO at 1:30 pm ET.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and John Kerry (D-MA) lead a 10:30 am ET tour through part of New Orleans where many businesses have yet to reopen, eight months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. The Senators plan to meet with local officials, business owners, and other community leaders in New Orleans East and then lead a 3:00 pm ET roundtable discussion about the long-term recovery needs of small businesses.

Former American POW's from Vietnam will take a flight on the "Hanoi Taxi" as they did during their release from North Vietnam during "Operation Homecoming" in 1973. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former POW, will be on hand to meet with participants at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Sen. Clinton (D-NY) speaks at the New York State United Teachers convention in Rochester, NY at 2:30 pm ET. She then presents a check to RIT for fuel cell research at 4:45 pm ET. This evening, Sen. Clinton plans to attend the neighborly Chappaqua School Foundation 12th Annual Gala in Chappaqua, NY at 8:00 pm ET. Sen. Clinton (D-NY) delivers the commencement speech at Buffalo State University in Buffalo, NY tomorrow, her first such address of a busy season.

Sen./Dr./Leader Frist attends the Kentucky Derby tomorrow. Riggs Lewis, with the Rotunda Group in Louisville, KY and Darrell Brock, Chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party, plan to meet with Sen. Frist and escort him to the Derby. (It helps when your chief deputy and likely successor is a home state fella.) The Senator also gives commencement speeches this weekend at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, TN and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is also doing the Kentucky Derby thing this weekend -- under the auspices of attending RGA finance meetings.

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) delivers the James Madison University commencement address tomorrow in Harrisonburg, VA. (Sen. Allen's oldest daughter Tyler will be attending JMU in the fall.) Allen is expected to speak to the class of 2006 about the importance of keeping America "the world capital of innovation." Following the commencement speech, Sen. Allen travels to Winchester, VA to participate in the 79th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival Parade as well as to Richmond, VA to attend the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

The South Dakota "Campaign for Healthy Families" will be in Sioux Falls, SD on Saturday collecting signatures for its petition drive to place the South Dakota abortion ban law on the November ballot.

Make sure you don't miss this week's installment of "It's Never Too Early" looking at which '08ers helped and hurt their presidential prospects on the trail this week. Watch the "This Week All Week" webcast today, also featuring Martha Raddatz's look a the POTUS veto pen. LINK

And if you can't watch in pattern, then be sure to set your TiVos! Sunday's edition of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" brings you a double dose of exclusives. Former House Majority Leader (and soon to be former congressman) Tom DeLay (R-TX) and DNC Chairman Howard Dean will size up the political landscape six months prior to the midterms. You won't want to miss it.

Big Casino budget politics:

How did the Republican Senators contemplating a presidential run vote in the face of the President's veto threat?

Sens. Allen (R-VA) and Brownback (R-KS) voted for the $108.9 billion supplemental Sens. McCain (R-AZ), Frist (R-TN), and Hagel (R-NE) all voted against the padded emergency spending bill. (Note that these three came down on the same side as New Hampshire's two GOP Senators as well.)

The Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds has one of the best takes of the day on the emergency spending bill, writing that "some senators and staff said the president's veto threat actually emboldened senators to add spending, because they could rely on the threat to provide cover for removing those provisions before sending the bill to the president." LINK

The New York Times' coverage: LINK

With the emergency spending bill passed by the Senate, the Washington Post's Shailagh Murray looks ahead to the "potentially rancorous" conference with the House, with House Speaker Dennis Hastert saying the bill is "dead on arrival." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers uses the bill's passage to reexamine the "growing disconnect" between the President and Republicans in Congress, with just 21 Republicans joining the President in voting against the legislation: "With his poll numbers down, the president and his new chief of staff, Josh Bolten, are eager to look tough." LINK

Rogers also looks at the politics of opposing the bill's Katrina-recovery efforts, which also means opposing Appropriations Chair Thad Cochran, "whose politeness disarms conservative colleagues: 'He's so nice you hate to go against him,' said one. 'It's like kicking a baby.'"

Buried amid all the hand-wringing over greater spending in the emergency supplemental is this nugget from the Wall Street Journal: "A surge in federal tax revenue, mainly in payments from rich Americans, is driving down government and private-sector projections of this year's federal deficit to as low as $300 billion, well below current forecasts that are near or over $400 billion." LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board, under the brilliant subhead "The Senate is challenging George Bush's presidential manhood," urges Bush to make good on his veto threat. LINK

Patrick Kennedy:

Steve Peoples and John Mulligan of the Providence Journal look at the effects of the two medicines cited, Phenergan and Ambien, and give a detailed account of Kennedy's past troubles. LINK

The Washington Post offers little new on the Kennedy story, but has Fraternal Order of Police President Lou Cannon questioning why it took Kennedy so long to release his statement: "'The timeliness of the statement says everything,' he said. 'It took up to 10 o clock,' or 19 hours after the 2:50 a.m. incident, to offer the expanded explanation." LINK

The Los Angeles Times, unlike the Washington Post and New York Times, reviews Kennedy's checkered past. LINK

The New York Daily News wood: "Wham-A-Lot" LINK

(The story includes a full constitutional explanation of the limited immunity members enjoy on the way to and from votes.) "Kennedy Smash," blares the front page of the New York Post. LINK

Robert Pear of the New York Times takes a break from his Medicare coverage to write up Rep. Kennedy's accident. LINK

USA Today's William Welch and Jim Drinkard point out that Kennedy "spent time at a drug rehabilitation clinic before he went to Providence College" and that "he has discussed being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and this year spoke about being in recovery 'for depression, for alcoholism and substance abuse.'" LINK

Politics of gas:

The quick rise and harsh fall of Sen. Frist's $100 gas tax holiday rebate check is well-documented by the New York Times' Stolberg and Hulse on the Gray Lady's front page. The very model of a modern major tick tock piece. LINK

If we had to guess, we would say that Ms. Stolberg does not believe that Frist will be elected president in 2008.

Edmund Andrews of the New York Times explores the inherent tension for Republicans who want to demonstrate legislative action aimed at easing the pain at the pump for constituents while also maintaining the important relationships they have formed with the oil and gas industry. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler reports there is increasing bipartisan support in Congress for lifting the tariff on imported ethanol, but Meckler reminds us of the delicate politics involved, with any attempts to lift the tariff likely to have "powerful opponents among farm-state lawmakers." LINK

The Washington Post ed board encourages the adoption of a carbon tax that would kick in when oil prices fall below a certain level. LINK

Cheney on Russia:

The Washington Post's Peter Baker reports that Vice President's harsh words for China yesterday may have reflected the political problems the Administration faces in deciding whether to attend July's G8 conference in St. Petersburg, including calls by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to have Bush boycott the summit. LINK

"Administration officials are increasingly concerned about President Bush's attending a meeting of the world's major democracies in a country that by most definitions is not."

"Mr. Cheney's remarks, which officials in Washington said had been heavily vetted and therefore reflected the administration's current thinking on Russia, appeared to lay down new markers for a relationship that has become strained and could become significantly more so in the months ahead," writes Steven Lee Myers of the New York Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times has the same take on Cheney's speech. LINK

The Wall Street Journal sees Cheney playing "bad cop against the good cop of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, architect of Mr. Bush's original outreach to Moscow. Her tone lately has been much more moderate." LINK

Politics of immigration:

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports an aide to Majority Leader Bill Frist says he "wants 'surety of how things conclude' before returning" to the issue of immigration. LINK

At the RNC state chairmen's meeting in Colorado Springs, CO yesterday, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman urged Republicans to come together and get the immigration issue behind them by supporting increased border security while welcoming legal immigrants to the country, reports Ed Sealover of the Colorado Springs Gazette. &LINK

USA Today's Kathy Kiely takes a look at how the numbers are playing out in the immigration debate, arguing that "Finding the money, manpower and technology to make a fix work may be even more difficult." LINK

President Bush celebrated Cinco de Mayo on Quatro de Mayo, and used the opportunity to address his vision of border security reports Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times. Don't miss the front page photo. LINK

Rumsfeld's rumble:

USA Today writes up Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's appearance in Atlanta, where he "faced tough questions and hecklers" as well as accusations of lying from Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst. LINK

The Los Angeles Times on the same. LINK

Atlanta Journal Constitution's Ron Martz and S.A. Reid give us some local flavor on Rumsfeld's appearance and Note that "his speech was a virtual verbatim reading of a column he wrote for Thursday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial section." LINK


Charles Hurt of the Washington Times reports Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid threatened to filibuster two judicial nominations: Mr. Brett M. Kavanaugh and District Judge Terrence Boyle. Particularly vocal against Mr. Boyle, Sen. Reid stated, "'He not only shouldn't be a trial court judge as he is, but to think that he should be elevated to a Circuit Court of Appeals is outrageous."" LINK

Bush Administration:

Interior Secretary nominee Dirk Kempthorne's confirmation may be held up by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) over concerns about energy drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Los Angeles Times reports. LINK

In what might be viewed as another defeat for the President yesterday, the House overwhelmingly passed legislation allocating $7.4 billion for port security, "just hours after the White House expressed strong misgivings over the cost and feasibility of the bill." LINK

"But the lopsided vote underscored how politically sensitive the issue of port security has become since the state-owned Dubai Ports World moved to purchase terminal operations at six major U.S. seaports in February."

Dean's Democrats:

Southern Voice has all the details about DNC Chairman Howard Dean's decision to shake up his gay outreach director. LINK

2006: landscape:

NBC's David Gregory packaged the President's attention on the 2006 midterms and the dilemma Republicans face as to whether Mr. 33 Percent should be embraced or shunned.

Gregory included some Ed Goeas sound explaining that if Republicans are running from or criticizing the President it will negatively affect the intensity and energy and motivation of Republican voters.

2006: Governor:

Fred Dicker of the New York Post Notes the latest poll numbers in the New York gubernatorial contest and highlights Eliot Spitzer's apparent popularity among Republicans. LINK

And Ben Smith of the New York Daily News has Spitzer claiming friendships with some of those Wall Street titans he has been policing for years. LINK

2006: Senate:

A Note exclusive for you: Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (R-TN) is once again proving a Schumer-esque talent for his "ripped from the headlines" ability to turn the hot topic of the moment into a television ad campaign. As he did with Iraq and the Dubai ports deal, Ford is taking to the statewide Tennessee airwaves with a new 30-second television spot called, "Fed Up with Fill Ups" set to start showing on cable and network stations in the Volunteer State on Monday.

The spot opens with a tight shot of a gas pump hitting $45.00. In the ad, Ford turns directly to the camera and says, "I'm Harold Ford, Jr. Last year big oil made $100 billion in profits and Exxon's CEO got a $400 million package that you and I paid for. That's wrong."

Then Ford continues saying, "No more tax breaks for oil companies when drivers need the break. . . If you're fed up every time you fill up, send a new generation to the Senate."

In a fundraising letter this week, NRSC Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) writes that, "our worst fears will be realized," when Democrats, "increase your taxes, call for endless investigations, congressional censure and maybe even impeachment of President Bush, (and) put the war on terrorism on the back-burner," per the AP's Liz Sidoti. LINK

The challengers to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) are heating up over immigration reforms reports Henry Cordes of the Omaha World-Herald. While the suggested front-runner, Pete Ricketts, supports "immigrant accountability," former Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg is taking a hard line against "amnesty for illegal immigrants." &LINK

Ricketts, the former COO of Ameritrade, has far surpassed any previous record of personal spending in a campaign in Nebraska writes the Journal Star's Don Walton. LINK

Following the heels of the Ryan Lizza's revelations of Sen. George Allen's relationship with the Confederate flag, Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch recalls Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb's praise from Confederate soldiers in a 1990 speech. LINK

KT McFarland tells the New York Daily News that she doesn't expect John Spencer's personal life to come up again in the course of the campaign. (Oh yeah - more good poll numbers for Sen. Clinton as well.) LINK

2006: House:

As Bush heads to Florida to Campaign for Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL), challenger Ron Klein (D-FL) is "taking to the airwaves" with a radio ad "criticizing Bush, Shaw and the Republican Congress," reports George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The New York Sun's Davidson Goldin was first to report Rudy Giuliani's hiring of Bush fundraiser Anne Dickerson for his Solutions America PAC. Goldin reports that Dickerson's goal is to raise $200,000 by June 13. LINK

"In recent months, Republican allies of Mr. Giuliani have said that they had urged him to build a top-tier team for 2008 and to hire people in addition to his former City Hall aides. Ms. Dickerson's hiring may be a sign that he is taking that advice," writes Patrick Healy of the New York Times. LINK

Newsday: LINK

New York Post: LINK

The New York Daily News' Saltonstall Notes the inclusion of Jack Abramoff and Ken Lay on Dickerson's donor list. LINK

Former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey takes to the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to give a careful reading of "Romneycare's fine print," making this the upteenth time the page of Mr.Gigot has given over space to scrutinizing the plan. LINK

A Public Citizen report released Thursday goes back to previously reported Dr. /Sen./Leader Frist ties to the drug industry, arguing that Frist "conspired with the White House and industry lobbyists to sneak into legislation ironclad protection from lawsuits for vaccine manufacturers," writes Bill Theobald of the Jackson Sun. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) declared yesterday that he is satisfied with the outcome of the '06 legislature, write Jonathan Roos and Tim Higgins of the Des Moines Register. LINK

Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Notes that former Gov. Mark Warner is offering "brief video and audio podcasts of his commentary on issues and politics as part of his unannounced presidential campaign," which are accessible through Warner's Forward Together PAC. LINK

Geoff Bough of the Northwest Indiana Times writes up Sen. Bayh's (D-IN) participation in the energy efficiency movement, pointing out that "Bayh sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service looking to increase the amount of money that Americans who use their personal vehicle for business purposes can deduct from their taxes." LINK