WASHINGTON, June 1
In the face of so very many nervous Republicans "close" to the Bush White House who fear losing control of one or both chambers, The Note again presents:
THE KNOWN UNKNOWNS:
1. How Haditha, Iran, and North Korea (for Sanger only) play out.
2. The price of gas on Election Day.
3. The number of U.S. troops in Iraq on Election Day.
4. The degree to which the conservative base is stoked by the war on gay marriage, etc.
5. The level and efficacy of end-game spending by conservative groups "allied with" the White House.
6. If Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi demonstrate the level of acumen in the fall that they showed this week with the Associated Press and the New York Times, respectively.
7. The indictment schedules of federal prosecutors handling politically sensitive cases.
8. The outcome of the budget and immigration debates.
9. The degree to which Ron Bonjean allows Kevin Madden to proof and edit his press releases.
10. If Ron Fournier's replacement knows the difference between an "undertow," a "tsunami," and an historical norm.
11. The outcomes of pending Senate primaries in Maryland, Tennessee, Montana, and Rhode Island, and Bob Menendez's ability to overcome stuff.
12. Robocalls, morphing, e-mails, and Jake Tapper's watchdogging.
13. The President's job approval rating.
14. The enthusiasm (and generosity) of the Democratic donor base (that is -- do they find it more annoying to write checks or to keep getting calls from Rahm and Chuck?).
15. If the opinion leaders, ministers, bloggers, and talk show hosts on the Right recognize what's at stake, and act accordingly.
16. The effectiveness of the Democrats' fall agenda rollout (in the wake of the serial comedy that produced "Together, America can do better.").
17. How a House of Labor divided performs in turning out the vote.
18. If the Republicans are the usual one-full election cycle ahead of Democrats in terms of technology, or more like 1 1/2.
19. If the NRSC's operation reflects the killer instinct of Elizabeth Dole or of Blaise Hazelwood.
20. The composition of the jaws of Democrats running against incumbent Republicans and for open seats -- steel or glass?
21. The last 72 Hours.
The King of the last 72 Hours, President Bush, made remarks on comprehensive immigration reform at 8:50 am ET at the US Chamber of Commerce.
He meets with his Cabinet at 10:15 am ET, he participates in a swearing-in ceremony for the Secretary of the Interior at 11:20 am ET, and he participates in a swearing-in ceremony for Brett Kavanaugh to the US Circuit Court of Appeals at 1:05 pm ET.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Vienna for the P5+1 talks to hammer out details of a deal to offer Iran economic incentives if it halts nuclear activities that could produce a bomb.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will address the Pacific Council on International Policy at the Park Hyatt in Century City, CA at 3:30 pm ET.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) spoke at a Putnam County Chamber of Commerce breakfast at 8:45 am ET. She visits Vassar Brothers Medical Center at 12:45pm in Poughkeepsie, NY. Meanwhile, her husband raises money for Arizona Senate candidate Jim Pederson in Phoenix, AZ.
Dr./Leader/Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) holds joint press availabilities with Sen. Santorum in Pittsburgh and Scranton, PA. They plan to focus on medical liability reform today.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) presents a gubernatorial citation to Jeffrey Chin and William Small of King Philip Regional High School recognizing them for their admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at 12:45 pm ET.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) kicks off his campaign for a full term in the Senate with "Standing Up for New Jersey" rallies in Union City and Colingswood at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm ET, respectively. In a bit of counter-scheduling, Tom Kean Jr. will discuss reform, ethics, and corruption in Jersey City, NJ at 11:15 am ET.
Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer holds an 11:30 am ET press conference on Mackinac Island with a nationally known special guest. The special guest is expected to make a major announcement regarding the candidacy of GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos.
Homeland security will be front and center when DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff holds a 2:00 pm ET discussion at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.
The US Department of Education releases the congressionally-mandated report on trends in education at 10:00 am ET.
The Cato Institute sponsors a policy forum titled, "Gay Marriage: Evidence from Europe" at 12:00 pm ET in Washington, DC.
The Black Leadership Forum holds a 1:00 pm ET press conference on the extension of the Voting Rights Act at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
The House and Senate are out of session due to the Memorial Day recess.
Note: interns are not Googling monkeys. And vice versa.
Politics of immigration:
Kathy Kiely of USA Today Notes apparent problems with both the House and Senate immigration bills, which some claim give too much power to the director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services and limit the influence of federal courts that hear appeals from immigration candidates, where over half of those who have appealed their right to citizenship have won. LINK
Along something like the same path, the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan reports on the Services' anger over restrictions in immigration bills proposed in both the House and Senate, claiming they will limit the ability to identify terrorists and criminals. LINK
George Will finds that on the issue of immigration, "Republicans are between a rock and a hard place. And another rock. And another." John Weaver will Note the interesting, perhaps sarcastic, McCain reference. LINK
Politics of Iraq:
The Army's first official report on what happened in Haditha is supposed to hit the desks of top military leaders by the end of the week, and the Washington Post writes that it's "likely to be explosive on Capitol Hill." LINK
Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times explores the Republican worry over potential political fallout from the Haditha investigations. LINK
"'You've got an election that the White House is doing everything possible to prevent from being a forum on the president and Iraq,' said the aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid appearing to criticize Republicans. 'And here you have the biggest P.R. problem since Abu Ghraib running right smack into the summertime before a major campaign.'"
Quick: name that "aide."
"President Bush promised on Wednesday that any Marines involved in the alleged murders of Iraqi civilians will be punished," the AP reports. LINK
Politics of Iran:
The Washington Post caps its Page One story with Secretary Rice's conclusion, which manages to sound both hopeful and ominous: "This is the last excuse in some sense . . . now we have a pretty clear path." LINK
David Sanger's New York Times news analysis includes President Bush seeking a third way on Iran, Vice President Cheney backing off his "isolate Iran" approach (perhaps due to the President's body language), and the real possibility that Iranian-American diplomatic engagement may never come to be. LINK
The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler's calls yesterday's decision to enter talks as "perhaps the biggest foreign policy shift of his presidency" and a sign of the influence of Secretary Rice. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's piece compares the move to the U.S. decision to enter talks with North Korea, which , the paper Notes, have gone nowhere.
The newspaper's ed board says the success of the talks rests on Secretary Rice's shoulders: "We'd say the Secretary has walked her President out on a limb where the pressure will soon build on him to make even more concessions. If this gambit fails, she'll have succeeded mainly in giving the mullahs more time to become a terrorist nuclear power."
Bloomberg's Holly Rosenkrantz and Judy Mathewson write that yesterday's offer to talk was aimed more at China and Russia than Iran. LINK
David Brooks praises the Rice/Bush moves on Iran and lumps it in with the Hayden and Paulson nominations to declare "Maybe there's life in this presidency yet." LINK
USA Today's Barbara Slavin on the same. LINK
The Washington Times on the same: LINK
Harry "Ringside" Reid:
"Reid's office abruptly reversed course and acknowledged Wednesday night he had misspoken about the ethics rules. The Senate leader also has decided not to take free boxing seats in the future even though he still believes it was ethical to do so in 2004 and 2005," writes the AP's John Solomon, exhibiting restraint and pity for Jim Manley. LINK
". . . on a scandal scale of 1 to 10, these free fight nights rate about a 2. The idea that Sen. Reid, who has raised and handed out millions of dollars in campaign contributions during his lengthy career in office, somehow sold his office in exchange for a few good seats to boxing matches is pretty silly," writes the Las Vegas Review Journal editorial board. LINK
Politics of homeland security:
The AP reports that counterterrorism funding to Washington and New York will be slashed this year in favor of more spending on local response units. LINK
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the always-subtle chairman of the House Homeland Security, said, "It's absolutely indefensible, it's disgraceful. As far as I'm concerned the Department of Homeland Security and the administration have declared war on New York."
Hillary Clinton's re-elect:
While disagreeing with her blaming oil companies for high gas prices and her decision to "waltz" away from the war she voted for, the New York Post ed board compliments the state's junior Senator in a must-read editorial, sure to be read aloud at the Murdoch fundraiser, complete with mirth: "Hillary Clinton yesterday won the unanimous approval of delegates at the state Democratic Party convention in her bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate. She earned it. The senator's been a hard worker, a good listener, more moderate than many expected and a champion of the state." LINK
In similar must-read fashion, the editorial refers to Gov. George Pataki's (R-NY) presidential ambitions as a "joke" and makes reference to the "limp applause" and "empty seats" that greeted his convention address.
Anne Kornblut of the New York Times Notes Sen. Clinton mentioned Iraq "just once" in her acceptance speech. LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper, who has filed in recent days for both "Good Morning America" and "World News Tonight" on Sen. Clinton, writes in his new "Political Punch" blog that Sen. Clinton's speech sounded "even more" like a 2008 presidential campaign speech than the one Sen. McCain gave at Falwell's Liberty University on May 13. LINK
The New York Sun has Sen. Clinton saying: "[I]t is more important to say 'mission accomplished' than actually accomplishing the mission." LINK
The Washington Times on Clinton's re-election kickoff and hints at her future ambitions. LINK
New York Post header: "Hill Sets Stage for '08." LINK
"In what often sounded like an Iowa stump speech, Clinton trashed the Bush administration on everything from the environment to the deficit to foreign affairs to energy policy to the gutting of FEMA," writes the New York Daily News' Helen Kennedy. LINK
Ken Lovett and Maggie Haberman of the New York Post collect convention color from Buffalo to Long Island. LINK
As does Ben Smith in the New York Daily News: LINK
The New York Times on the two Republicans battling it out in a September primary to take on Sen. Clinton. Be sure to Note Majority Leader Bruno's reference to an NRSC preference to avoid a Republican/Conservative split in November. LINK
The Fitzgerald investigation:
Valerie Plame's book deal with Crown Publishing has fallen apart, reports the New York Times. Plame is now in exclusive negotiations with Simon and Schuster. LINK
The Abramoff affair:
"Bryan Parker, an investigator for the Senate Indian affairs committee, was expected to be the last government witness before prosecutors rested their case in U.S. District Court on Thursday," reports the Associated Press on the Safavian trial. LINK
In yet another public integrity cases coming out of the Department of Justice, former Republican fundraiser Thomas W. Noe pled guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to make illegal campaign contributions, causing a false statement to the Federal Election Commission, and knowingly and willfully making $45,400 in illegal campaign contributions to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. Despite the fact that they both hail from Ohio, ABC News' Jason Ryan reports there are no known connections between Noe and Rep Bob Ney (R-OH), according to a criminal division source.
The Toledo Blade's Mike Wilkinson and James Drew report on Noe's guilty plea. LINK
The AP on the same: LINK
Former DOJ public affairs honcho (and current spokesman for the Karl Rove legal team) filed an affidavit in federal court decrying the Justice Department's quest to compel testimony from two reporters in the 'steroids-in-baseball' case in California. Here's the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein. LINK
"In an interview with The New York Sun yesterday, Mr. Corallo was even more adamant that his former colleagues had gone astray in seeking to haul the two reporters before a grand jury. 'It's disgraceful. You have a Justice Department that has now taken a complete turn in policy,' he said. 'It shows how this department has lost all perspective when it comes to the right of a free press in a free society.'"
The New York Times on the same: LINK
Seizing on Sen. McCain's decision to cancel a fundraiser for Brian Bilbray and in an effort to bleed Bilbray of support on the right, the Busby campaign is beginning a new radio ad on conservative stations emphasizing that when it comes to tough, comprehensive immigration reform, California voters have a choice between Minutemen-endorsed William Griffith, Francine Busby, a tough reformer who supports the McCain plan, and lobbyist Brian Bilbray, who "missed a vote to put 1,000 new agents on the border because of a special interest trip to Australia."
Here is the script of the ad: "Think lobbyist Brian Bilbray's a conservative when it comes to immigration? Think again. You see, even lobbyist Bilbray's conservative opponent stated that Bilbray "failed to pass any laws to stop illegal immigration during his 12 years as a career politician and lobbyist." Bilbray flip-flopped on a guest worker program. And Bilbray missed the vote for more border patrol agents – because he was on a vacation in Australia - paid for by lobbyists. Lobbyist Bilbray isn't the candidate to secure our borders. You have a choice. Independent William Griffith is endorsed by the San Diego Minutemen and San Diego Border Alert because he opposes guest worker programs, amnesty and the hiring of illegal immigrants. Francine Busby supports John McCain's position on immigration -- stronger enforcement at the border, better support for border agents, and no amnesty. When it comes to immigration, don't expect lobbyist Brian Bilbray to fix Washington, or fix our borders. I'm Francine Busby, candidate for Congress, and I approve this message. Paid for by Francine Busby for Congress."
John Kerry plans to send an e-mail appeal to supporters in Southern California asking them to volunteer for the Busby campaign over the course of the next six days. "The eyes of the nation and the national Republican party are on San Diego," writes Kerry.
The North County Times' Kaye has all the details of an inaccurate and retracted Busby campaign press release for which the campaign has apologized. LINK
The retracted missive read: "Illegal use of taxpayer money by Bilbray."
President Bush spoke on behalf of Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.'s re-election campaign yesterday while also tipping his hat to Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's campaign fro the US Senate, reports the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan. LINK
As Mr. Dinan reports, "Maryland Senate race could figure prominently in the battle for control of Congress. Democrats would need to net six seats to gain control of the upper chamber, and a defeat in a Democrat-held seat in Maryland could doom Democrats' chances."
Meet Harris Miller, Sen. George Allen's (R-VA) prospective Democratic opponent in November, in a flowery bio from the Virginia-Pilot. LINK
After ix-naying the Bilbray fundraiser in California from his schedule, Sen. McCain will stop this month in Wheeling, WV to add some star power to Republican House candidate Chris Wakim's campaign. LINK
Keying off of Sen. McCain's recent campaigning for Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), Francis Rodgers pens a letter to the editor of the Albany Times Union, criticizing McCain for changing his tune about Falwell and criticizing Sweeney for changing his tune about McCain. LINK
The Des Moines Register profiles the two Western Iowa Democrats -- one earth- and one industry-bound -- gunning to unseat Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in the 5th district. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's veteran veteran David Rogers profiles Pombo foe Pete McCloskey: former Congressman, Ben Franklin-wannabe, and improbable candidate.
Kathleen Sebelius, the Democratic governor of Kansas, announced Wednesday that the former state Republican party chairman, who switched his affiliation to Democratic only a day earlier, will be her next running mate, the AP's David Twiddy reports. LINK
At a Baltimore fundraiser last night, President Bush helped Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R-MD) raise $1 million towards a re-election cash kitty expected to total in at well over $20 million by the end of the campaign. LINK
Pat Healy of the New York Times on Gov. Pataki's desire for a Weld-Faso ticket in November instead of a Weld v. Faso primary in September. LINK
"In sharp contrast to the Democratic nominating convention going on in Buffalo, the mood was grim at the daylong GOP convention at Hofstra University," write Fred Dicker and Maggie Haberman of the New York Post. LINK
The Orange County Register's Amy Taxin reports that Sen. McCain was in Irivne rallying Hispanic voters to support the Senate-passed immigration bill. LINK
McCain said, "The main reason why I'm here is to urge you to be heavily involved in this issue because what happens in the next weeks, perhaps months but very likely weeks, will determine not just the issue of immigration in America, but in my view, define what America is all about."
Los Angeles Times on the same: LINK
In Wednesday's Washington Update email, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council refers to Sen. McCain as "a potential presidential candidate who is giving lip service to marriage while refusing to protect it."
Gov. Mitt Romney announced a bill based on a "personal responsibility principle" that would force unwed fathers to contribute to their childrens' health care costs. The Boston Herald cannily writes up the accompanying speech, and also Notes Romney's sit-down with a camera crew from The 700 Club. LINK
"America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani polls better in the Wolverine State than any other 2008 Republican potential. LINK
Former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) doesn't say he's running for president.
Instead, he speaks of being on a "journey" that has him "schlepping" around the country, making presentations "5-6 times" a day. Yesterday, his journey took him to Washington, DC's Mandarin Oriental Hotel where he spoke to a group of venture capitalists with interests in the mid-Atlantic.
The cellphone magnate -- who improvised yesterday's remarks on education, R&D, and human capital, according to an aide -- gleefully used business lingo to describe how America could be "turned around" by the right national leadership.
After talking global competitiveness and lamenting that he is no longer called "His Excellency, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia," Warner spoke with ABC News about what it is like to be on a "journey" with the man for whom he once interned, the Nutmeg State's Chris Dodd of the Senate.
"Just talked to him yesterday," said Warner. "I said, 'Come on in. The water's fine.' He will add a lot to the race."
Warner went on to reminisce about his days as a college student at GW when he used to ride to his Dodd internship on a bicycle in his "green polyester leisure suit."
(As for Warner spokesgal Ellen Qualls, she traded in her seersucker for linen on Wednesday.)
Newsweek's Howard Fineman was also on the phone with Sen. Dodd recently.
In an online piece, Fineman writes that Dodd is running for president because "most of the Democratic Party's savviest veterans . . . are convinced that Hillary Can't Win." LINK
"Unless you live in Connecticut, or followed the insider mechanics of the 1996 Clinton re-election race (when Dodd served an unhappy year as party chairman) you probably have no idea who (Dodd) is. . . . Dodd's argument is that, in an uncertain world, and one divided by Red and Blue, voters are ready for someone who can make politics work by bridging gaps, talking turkey and doing deals."
Bloomberg's Roger Simon reports on the continued speculation of another run at the White House by Al Gore. LINK
Former Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley tells Simon he was surprised Gore didn't run in 2004. ``I thought he would have,'' Daley said. ``And I thought he had a good shot. We could have had Gore and Joe Lieberman again, the Rumble in the Jungle II. Their motto could have been: `We won last time, let's win again!'''
Per the Northwest Indiana Times' Jeanne Hovanec, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) took on the nation's dependency on foreign oil in a campaign stop at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. The Senator described the issue as "the defining challenge of our generation." His solution? His Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act legislation, which has gained 23 cosponsors--15 Democrats and 8 Republicans--since its introduction 8 months ago. LINK
Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) is keeping a report under wraps that details the involvement of state employees in a job-training agency scandal that resulted in mismanaged funds. LINK
The Raw Story reports that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) will "kick-off" New Hampshire's Democratic Convention on June 3, followed by a similar address at the Maine Democratic Convention. LINK
Jefferson and the separation of powers:
When the House reopens, the Associated Press's Laurie Kellman reports that the entanglement between the Justice Department and Congress will grow as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller will field questions from Rep. James Sensenbrenner's (R-WI) investigative panel. LINK
Calling President Bush and Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist's agenda "hate-filled," DNC spokesman Damien LaVera led a PR attack on the Republican leaders' planned June 6 White House event (which will be held to the disappointment of VPOTUS, presumably) in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. LINK
The Washington Post reports the Federal Election Commission will maintain its hands-off stance on spending by 527s. LINK
Kate Phillips of the New York Times on the same. LINK
The House Appropriations Committee has become an increasing source of future lobbyists, report Jonathan D. Salant and Kristin Jensen of Bloomberg. LINK
Laura Litvan of Bloomberg reports that Speaker Hasert has set the record as the longest serving Republican House Speaker. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
The Los Angeles Times looks at the business backgrounds and records of both Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls: LINK
Steve Westly and Phil Angelides are running intense negative ad campaigns on television and more positive issues-oriented campaigns in their stops around the state in the final five days before the primary, report the Los Angeles Times' Finnegan and Saillant. LINK
Bob Novak wonders where California gubernatorial candidates Schwarzenegger and Angelides will land on a new plan to raise taxes on oil to pay for alternative energy sources. LINK
New Hampshire Republicans and Democrats agree on one thing, concludes John Distaso in this week's Granite Status: the search for ready and willing candidates for state Senate seats has led them to the intersection of frustrating and cumbersome. LINK
Per a New Hampshire source, there are no more tickets available to either Sen. Feingold's breakfast or Gov. Warner's lunch in New Hampshire this weekend.
Political pundits call next week's Iowa gubernatorial primary too close to predict. LINK
Asian American Action Fund:
The Asian American Action Fund issued a report yesterday showing an increase in Asian American political participation. Some key findings include:
--Over the past decade, the number of Asian American candidates for political office has increased - roughly 21 percent every two years.
--Over the past decade, the number of Asian American office holders has increased. The number of city council members has increased by more than half. The number of state representatives has more than doubled.
--In the 2004 election, more than one third of Asian American voters were first-time voters.
--Today, almost one in five U.S.-born Asian American voters reports having donated to a political campaign.
The Campaign for America's Future plans to unveil its impressive list of speakers today for its annual "Take Back America" conference to be held at the Washington Hilton from Monday June 12 to Wednesday June 14. Speakers include at least four potential '08ers (Clinton, Kerry, Feingold, and Vilsack), a bona fide movie star (Robert Redford), and some labor power (Sweeney and McEntee). Other boldfaced names include: Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Rendell, and Hart.
The attendees at the Harvard Yard memorial service for legendary economist and presidential adviser John Kenneth Galbraith reads like a who's who of Northeast politics and letters. LINK
The Boston Globe reports that an Iraq veteran is suing Michael Moore after his unwitting cameo in Fahrenheit 9/11 came to his attention. LINK
The Houston Chronicle's Clay Robison reports on the Texas legislature's restructuring of educational funding and taxes. LINK