The Note: The Frogless March


President Bush holds a 9:45 am ET press conference in the Rose Garden. (And we have every reason to believe this is a real press conference for which he will actually be in Washington.)

The President also plans to hold a bicameral, bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders at 2:45 pm ET to brief them on his trip to Baghdad.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have postponed a town hall meeting intended to promote their bread-and-butter economic agenda rollout. (Insert your own metaphor here.) House Democrats will hold a conference call at 1:00 pm ET and the town hall meeting will be rescheduled.

"This week and over the course of the coming weeks, we will continue to highlight the contrasting priorities of the Democratic and Republican visions. As Republicans seek to distract and divide with issues such as gay marriage, the estate tax and flag burning, Democrats will rally all Americans by offering specific plans for energy independence, health care costs, stem cell research, college tuition deductibility, and the minimum wage. As Republicans push their partisan priorities, we will clearly highlight and communicate our commitment to issues that seek common ground and what's best for all Americans," writes Leader Pelosi to her caucus members in an internal memorandum obtained by The Note.

Before his meeting with congressional leaders, the President meets with the Iraq Study Group at 1:45 pm ET and the president of Colombia at 11:00 am ET. The annual congressional picnic is scheduled for the South Lawn at 6:30 pm ET.

House GOP leaders stress their continued commitment to US troops at a 10:00 am ET event outside of the Capitol Hill Club.

The liberal Campaign for America's Future's "Take Back America" conference continues today. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) became the fourth potential '08er to address the group at 9:00 am ET.

Two Senate candidates -- Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) -- are slated to speak later today. Rep. Brown plans to speak about "The Global Deficit: Good Jobs in a Global Economy" at 9:45 am ET and Rep. Sanders speaks about media reform at 11:15 am ET.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks at the "You Have the Power" closing luncheon along with AFSCME's Gerald McEntee and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold, (D-WI), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) join veterans to oppose a constitutional amendment on flag desecration at 11:30 am ET in the Senate Swamp.

DSCC Chairman Sen. Schumer holds a 1:15 pm ET pen and pad briefing for reporters on the 2006 electoral landscape and his planned path to gaining six seats in November.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) joins Sen. Schumer, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to discuss legislation designed to protect veterans' personal data at 2:30 pm ET on Capitol Hill. At 10:00 am ET, Sen. Clinton will be recognized for her leadership on energy issues at the 17th annual Energy Efficiency Forum at the National Press Club.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) swears in Col. Mark Delaney as Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police at 2:00 pm ET.

Fresh from his first place finish in a recent Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa caucus voters, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) rallies hotel workers in Honolulu, HI.

Iowa comes to New Hampshire today (which excites the Googling monkeys more than most things) when Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) tours the Granite State's legendary Stonyfield Farm with Gov. John Lynch (D-NH). Gov. Vilsack will also dine with Manchester City Democrats at their annual Flag Day dinner.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addresses the Southern Baptist Convention messengers at their annual meeting in Greensboro, NC at 10:00 am ET.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) discusses the impact of his May budget revise on the arts, music, and physical education during a 4:30 pm ET tour of Sinsheimer Elementary in San Luis Obispo, CA.

Bush's Baghdad surprise + other good news: political analysis:

Everyone agrees: a comeback might be in the offing, but facts on the ground on Iraq matter most.

"Bush took full command of the political stage with his five-hour appearance in Baghdad," writes the Washington Post's Peter Baker. "Yet in the end, some analysts noted (sic), it will matter only if this new government can heal societal schisms and stand up effective security forces." LINK

The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg sees the President's trip as a return to his 2004 Iraq strategy, insisting he "will stay the course while at the same time making Iraq a proxy for the broader national security debate." LINK

Wall Street Journal headline: "Bush's Visit to Baghdad Signifies Upturn in His Political Fortunes"

"It is too early, of course, to know whether the positive news will be sustained enough to help him improve his standing, as well as the Republican Party's endangered majorities in Congress," write the Wall Street Journal's McKinnon and Dreazen. "Still, Republicans are relieved to hear good news after months of bad news."

A New York Times editorial dismisses the trip as a "presidential publicity stunt." LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board wishes the President had stayed longer.

The New York Daily News' Thomas DeFrank writes that after yesterday, Bush has the "Big Mo" back. LINK

On ABC's "Good Morning America," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman did not express optimism about Iraq following POTUS' visit. "The good news is that the President went to Iraq. The bad news is that he only felt safe to stay for 5 or 6 hours." He added, "We can kill people like Zarqawi, but we can't kill Zarqawism."

Asked by a reporter about the President's trip to Iraq, Sen. Clinton said: "Let's hope something good comes out of it."

Rove's freedom:

The Wall Street Journal's Anne Marie Squeo focuses on Luskin, "a left-leaning litigator who wears a gold hoop in his left ear and rides a Ducati motorcycle."

The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei writes that Rove "does not emerge from the investigation unscathed" with Democrats still (perhaps hopefully) seeing him as a "symbol of fading White House credibility" and with Sen. Schumer saying in an interview that he wants Fitzgerald to release a report that details the roles of Rove and other White House officials in the leak of Plame's name. LINK

VandeHei also has a source saying that Fitzgerald does not appear to be pursuing criminal charges against former State Department official Richard Armitage, who is believed by some to have discussed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame with at least one reporter.

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger remind readers that even without an indictment, the leak investigation has "dealt serious political damage" to the President's credibility in the eyes of voters, which will not be rebuilt overnight -- or even, perhaps, by November. LINK

In describing how Rove can now focus on preparing his party for the midterm elections, the New York Times quotes New Hampshire Republican activist and baseball-metaphor lover Tom Rath saying Rove had been "on the disabled list; you see him in a uniform every day but you can't have him on the mound" -- now, says Rath, "he's back on the mound." LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank seems to see Rove and the GOP "blooming from the political muck in which they have been mired." LINK


The Boston Herald's Kimberly Atkins looks at Rove off the hook and on the attack and has Kerry spokesman David Wade saying: "The closest Karl Rove ever came to combat was these last months spent worrying his cellmates might rough him up in prison." LINK

Writing under a "Frogs Aren't Marching" header, the Wall Street Journal's ed board writes that the mystery is "why Mr. Fitzgerald kept Mr. Rove twisting in the wind for so long."

Sen. Clinton was asked by ABC News on Tuesday for her reaction to Karl Rove not being indicted.

"Ugh," she said with a look that said everything, "I have noooo reaction."

Tuesday's primary contests:

In the Virginia Democratic Senate primary yesterday, James Webb defeated Harris Miller and earned himself the right to take on incumbent Sen. George Allen in November, the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Whitley reports. Whitley also Notes that the national Democrats are expected to pour money into the race to defeat Allen or at least dampen his presidential prospects in 2008. LINK

Ah, money indeed is the question.

With more than 99 percent of precincts reporting, Webb, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, scored a victory with 53 percent of the vote, while Miller had 47 percent, per the Washington Times. LINK

Sen. Kerry's role promoting Webb's Senate campaign makes it into the second graph of Michael Shear's front-page Washington Post recap of Webb's primary win. LINK

The Washington Post's Robert Barnes dubs the Allen-Webb race as the showdown at Macho Gulch between "the cowboy-booted Allen and the combat-booted Webb." LINK

The New York Times' Anne Kornblut Notices the 2008 overtones present in the Virginia Democratic Senate primary. LINK

Trailing by five percentage points (2,700 votes) with most precincts reporting, Maine GOP candidate Peter Mills refuses to concede to fellow gubernatorial candidate Chandler Woodcock. Mills waits for the final votes later this morning. LINK

(McCain goes 0-2 in GOP gubernatorial primaries this year.)

The State: "Sanford May Face Long Road Ahead" LINK

"Gov. Mark Sanford defeated challenger Oscar Lovelace in Tuesday's Republican primary for governor, but his margin of victory foreshadows what could be a difficult race for Sanford in this fall's general election."

Republican agenda:

Read every word of David Rogers' Wall Street Journal budget round-up, with his focus on the minimum wage increase and spending balance. A must read.

Democratic agenda:

USA Today's Kiely previews the Democratic herky-jerky domestic economic agenda rollout: LINK

Dean's Democrats:

DNC Chairman Howard Dean's unpredictable biorhythms were in a lull yesterday at the Capital Hilton during a speech to party loyalists. But somewhere between predictable platitudes about Democrats' new national message and Republicans' failed leadership, Dean gained a little energy when defending himself and the DNC's reinvigorated focus on all 50 states. "We are not just writing checks," he said to the spirits of DSCC and DCCC Chairs Schumer and Emanuel, "We're building outreach, absentee voting, and voter protections . . . and whatever we do in 2006 elections . . . is also going to benefit in the 2008 elections."

Rep. Kennedy pleads guilty:

The Washington Post: LINK

The New York Times: LINK

The Los Angeles Times Notes that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) was not at his son's side yesterday. LINK

The Providence Journal provides excellent courtroom color: LINK

Rep. Mollohan:

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WVA) "acknowledged yesterday that he misstated more than a dozen transactions on his financial disclosure forms," reports the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum. LINK

The New York Times on same: LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The New York Times' Robert Pear reviews some of the reasons why 48 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted against the supplemental in the House yesterday. LINK

2006: landscape:

The GOP is now cautiously optimistic of their political rebound, writes Roll Call's Ben Pershing and Erin Billings.

2006: Senate:

The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Laura Bush Praises Kean and Santorum" LINK

First Lady Laura Bush successfully raised nearly $1 million for the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Thomas H. Kean Jr. (R-NJ) yesterday in their efforts to defeat aggressive Democratic opponents.

With the race between Sen. Jim Talent (R) and Missouri Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) in a dead heat, Roll Call observes that the outcome of the Senate Missouri race could reflect which party controls Congress. LINK

The Tampa Tribune's William March's profile of Will McBride, who is challenging GOP favorite Katherine Harris for the opportunity to run against Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in November, shows the political novice to be a hard-line conservative except when it comes to immigration (he made his money as an immigration lawyer): "We need to welcome people into the country…We're basically all immigrants." LINK

2008: Republicans:

The New York Times reads former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's energy speech yesterday as "implicitly" accusing the White House of doing little to expand energy sources," in a rare public rift between Giuliani and the Bush Administration. LINK

The New York Post's Ryan Sager calls Giuliani's speech his "full-on Ross Perot" moment. LINK

Per the New York Post, Giuliani had a busy Tuesday, also raising nearly $2 million last night in a demonstration of his fundraising prowess. LINK

The New York Observer's Horowitz examines why Giuliani is in no rush to fully engage in the daily political to and fro. LINK

The New York Daily News has a review of the new website of Giuliani's PAC. LINK

The Daily News on the increasing rumors surrounding New York's current mayor -- Michael Bloomberg -- and his possible presidential ambitions. LINK

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) seems to building a foreign policy resume. He will travel to the Far East on Sunday, and his Hope for America PAC hired President Bush's Iowa press coordinator from the 2000 campaign. LINK and LINK

Gov. George Pataki plans to announce his PAC's Iowa leadership team today.

Per a copy of the prepared press release obtained by The Note: "State Senator and Former Majority Leader Stew Iverson (District 5) will serve as the PAC's Iowa Chairman. Ed Failor, Jr., Executive Vice President of Iowans for Tax Relief will join as Senior Political Advisor to the PAC. Longtime political activist Diane Crookham-Johnson will be the PAC's Iowa Executive Director. Stew, Ed and Diane will be joined on the PAC's Iowa leadership team by Benton County Republican Chairman Loras Schulte and JoEllen Hill, Republican campaign manager and activist."

2008: Democrats:

Two potential 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls (one named Clinton, the other Kerry) displayed their party's disunification on Iraq policy at the Campaign for America's Future's annual conference. ABC News' David Chalian has more: LINK

In his write-up of the cool reception that Sen. Clinton's rejection of an Iraq timetable received on Tuesday, the Washington Post's Dan Balz raises the Notion that perhaps Sen. Clinton sought to draw dissents from the crowd as a way to burnish her credentials as a strong-on-national-security centrist. LINK

Howard Wolfson, however, was quick to dismiss such questions. "She had enough respect for her audience not to pander or duck the issue," said Wolfson.

The New York tabloids enjoy the booing Clinton received during her speech of course. LINK and LINK

The New York Times offers a "Democratic divide" piece wrapping the starkly differing views about whether to set a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq in yesterday's speeches at the Campaign for America's Future conference. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Zeleny on the same: LINK

In an interview with the Boston Globe's Rick Klein, Sen. Kerry said he has "learned from the mistakes of his campaign, including his inability to articulate an easily understood position on the war. Now, drawing on his experience as a Vietnam-veteran-turned-war-critic in the early 1970s, he is making clear that he is a full-throated opponent of the Iraq war." LINK

If you missed Sen. Biden telling Wolf Blitzer yesterday that he planned to talk to Sen. Kerry about all this, we suggest you pull the transcript.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Marc Sandalow analyzes the difficulties Democrats are having turning "what was once the Republican Party's strongest asset" -- its unreservedly pro-war stance -- "into its electoral downfall." LINK

The New York Times has a wrap of Clinton's comments yesterday about family planning. LINK

Clinton also said yesterday that while she co-sponsored a bill to ban flag burning, she will vote against a flag burning constitutional amendment. LINK

In the wake of Sen. Clinton's jeers and Sen. Kerry's cheers, Gov. Vilsack (D-IA) criticized the President's handling of the war but refused to set a timeline for troop withdrawal, Notes the Des Moines Register's Jane Norman. LINK

The Des Moines Register's Beaumont (with a Manchester, NH dateline) reports that Gov. Tom Vilsack's trip to New Hampshire makes him one of the last potential Democratic '08ers to visit the state. LINK

The Quad City Times Notes that Vilsack's trip to New Hampshire could be the governor's opportunity to show people what he's got. LINK

Gov. Vilsack flexed his foreign policy muscle yesterday with a speech at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies that focused on the intersection of international relations and state governance. Rejecting what he called the Bush Administration's "unilateralism," he called for more compromise -- "Great nations don't walk away. Great nations lead" -- and said that whatever differences might exist within his party over deadlines for troop withdrawal from Iraq (Gov. Vilsack personally opposes a strict deadline), Democrats in 2006 "must say we're doing what it takes to make sure you're safe."

More from the Des Moines Register's Jane Norman. LINK

Matthew Schuerman of the New York Observer has all the details of New York City's wining and dining of DNC officials as the it attempts to woo the 2008 Democratic national convention to town. LINK

2010: Senate:

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny blogs about Sen. Obama's bathing in the limelight at the K Street Lounge, where he hosted an open mic night geared towards Washington's "Young Professionals," each of whom shelled out as much as $500 to benefit Obama's 2010 reelection fund, the contents of which could fuel "any bid for public office - senate or whichever higher office may be on his mind." LINK


Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi convinced Rep. Murtha (D-PA) to put his bid for Majority Leader on hold until after the midterm elections, per Roll Call's Steve Kornacki.